Opinion/Comment

THE FALL AND FALL OF OUR LOCAL PAPER?

When we moved to Coffs in 2005 we were pleased to find that our local paper would appear twice weekly on the front lawn.

By Julian May

In those days, it was often quite a beefy publication, with local content featuring, and including a healthy number of readers’ letters. Jenni and I enjoyed the read with a cup of coffee and I began to contribute to the “Your say” column.

Our local paper, not what it used to be in the opinion of Julian May

Fast forward a decade and the rot had well and truly set in. In 2019, the publication has degenerated to the point of self-destruction.

It’s not just the fact that the publishers want us to sit at a keyboard and stare at a screen in order to access our local news, the “punch” has gone out of the paper. I’m not interested in looking at page after page of ads, and I no longer trust what content there is, to be accurate and most importantly, unbiased.

I have sent a number of letters to the Advocate since the eruption of the “Emerald City” volcano. I have done so because I believe that it is an extremely important issue, with a high probability of long-term negative effects.

Initially the “Civic Centre” plan was about enabling our mayor to construct a memorial to her greatness, whilst providing a new library, museum and art gallery for the hoi polloi. Now it’s about that same mayor flexing her political muscles at public expense.

Be certain that Denise will win, regardless of the outcome of the current conflict. If, god forbid, she wins, she’ll be a legend in her own lunchtime, a huge fish in a very small bowl. If she loses (please), she’ll be a martyr to her cause.

Several weeks ago I’d had enough, and I decided to send the Advocate’s editor a “rocket”, which would undoubtedly be my last, again unprinted, contribution.

(If you wish to be informed of my views in greater detail, you’ll find my most recent letters copied below).

Here’s a run-down of my recent experience:

15 September – My letter is submitted and not printed.

30 October – My letter is submitted and not printed.

6 November – My letter is submitted and, at the time of this writing, has not been printed.

During the following week, (13& 16 November) the letter sent on October 30, and which had not been printed, appears in the column.

23 November – My letter is submitted and, at the time of this writing, has not been printed.

Is it my paranoia kicking in, or has there been a quick shuffle back through the files to find and print my letter about Ben Quilty, in the expectation that I will no longer be pissed off by the editor’s refusal to support debate?

During the last half-century, Australians have been subjected increasingly to a very-American style of politics, highlighted by self-serving and deceptive bullshit, spiced with a huge element of fear. Malcolm Fraser, John Howard, Tony Abbott, Scomo and others have all used this tactic (communist influences, invasion by boat people, risk of terrorism) to good effect.

More than ever, we now need an unfettered press with the guts to call our alleged leaders on their lies and obfuscations.

I vehemently oppose the Government’s attempts to shackle journalists and whistle-blowers, and despise the playing of the “national security” card, as a means to keep their dirty tricks secret.

 I strongly support the current press campaign to retain free speech, but I’m starting to think it’s a pointless exercise, when that same press selectively edits the news and views of their readers.

In our house, we’ll still look forward to the arrival of the “Advocate”, twice each week.

There’s nothing better for wrapping the vegetable scraps in.

________________________________________________________________

Copies of letters to the editor referred to above:

15 September

Although perhaps not immediately obvious, contributions by Phyllis Taylor, Peter Higgins and Chris Johns (Your Say 14 September), share a common thread – dissatisfaction with Coffs Council. They speak for a huge number of fellow residents.

This disaffection arises from the fact that some of our local pollies are more interested in exercising the power given to them by the electorate, than they are in following the wishes of that same electorate.

Politicians at all levels tend to fall into two broad groups – those who have a wish to serve their community, and those who wish to express their own self-importance.

Phyllis asks for a regional gallery, museum and performance centre at City Hill, a cost-effective way to enhance the lifestyle of locals and attract tourists. Peter reflects upon the pollies’ refusal to tell us how they will spend our rates and Chris speaks about their attempts to prevent public discourse on vital issues.

The drive by some of our councillors to enhance their own working conditions, at public expense and at the expense of a performance centre, smacks of self-interest. The refusal to reveal all costs associated with the development of their luxury accommodation, speaks of megalomania. The desire to prevent the expression of individual opinion, even that which is in the public interest, reflects paranoia.

Remuneration for elected councillors comes from our purse, as do the wages and salaries of council employees. While we pay the bills, we have the right to expect complete transparency from those who spend our money. Instead, we are expected to wade chest deep through bovine excrement to get at the truth.

I can’t wait for our next council elections.

30 October

I applaud the support offered by Ben Quilty for a “state of the art” gallery in Coffs, in which to display artworks properly. The present venue has been inadequate for many years and there is no doubt that our community needs and deserves a better space.

However, I am concerned that readers of the article (Advocate, October 30, page 3) may misconstrue the visiting artist’s support for a new gallery, as support also for the Mayor’s proposed combined cultural and administrative centre in Gordon Street.

Mr Quilty stated “Mayor I am behind you. I will back you all the way for a proper gallery”.

I’m certain that most of the more than 15 000 people who added their signature to the petition against the Mayor’s plan, would support the building of a new gallery and library.

I believe it likely that the principal objections to the Mayor’s scheme lie in her determination to include new council offices rather than a performance space, thereby negating the opportunity to obtain funding grants for cultural development, and to erect the building in an unsuitable location.

Yet, in the face of massive opposition, the Mayor still believes that she has “ticked all of the boxes” with respect to her plan.

I’m sure that Mr Quilty, as a visitor to our town, would not wish to have his words interpreted in such a way as to imply his unconditional support for a contentious scheme about which he may know little or nothing.

6 November

Community members are invited to join in mourning the passing of the “Coffs Coast Advocate” as the printed voice of Coffs Harbour. Following a long illness and decline, the newspaper has, in effect, been replaced by a news-screen.

This once vibrant and informative paper, renowned for its willingness to tackle local issues without fear or favour, has regrettably degenerated into a political voice for the elitist and commercial interests which now influence community news.

Symptoms of the sickness have been surfacing for some time. Chief amongst these is the decay in the effectiveness of the “Your say” page as a means to facilitate debate.

At a time when our community needs to be able to argue the pros and cons of the controversial proposed administrative centre, art gallery and library, voices have been silenced by what may well be seen as editorial censorship.

Remarkably, it has been several weeks since anything of significance, other than articles and mayoral advertisements in favour of a scheme considered dubious by at least 15 000 Coffs residents, has been published in the printed version, thereby denying those who cannot or do not wish to access the paper electronically, a chance to be informed.

The decision to allow the paper to die a lingering death is undoubtedly driven by legitimate commercial interest. After all, a newspaper’s first responsibility is to provide profit for its investors. The news must always come second, and if bias enhances profit, so be it.

Farewell “Advocate”, it was nice reading you.

23 November

We receive our Council Rates Notice by email. I suspect that many residents do. Would it be feasible for Council to email residents seeking an answer to a single, simple question?

It could be something like: “Do you wish Council to go ahead with the proposed administrative centre, library and art gallery in Gordon St?”

We could reply with a simple “yes” or “no”. There would be no provision for discussion or expansion on the question. At the residents’ end, the physical process would take seconds.

Following a scrupulous, independent audit, Council might use the data gained from this survey, to inform decisions regarding the current proposal.

If 50% or more of the responses were in the negative, a further, similar, more detailed, but still simple survey could be conducted, again by email. It would also require strictly “yes” or “no” answers. It might contain questions such as:

“Do you want a new building for council offices?”

“Do you want a new art gallery?”

“Do you want a new library?”

“Do you want a space for performances?”

“Do you want new facilities built in Gordon St?”

“Do you want new facilities built at City Hill?”

Again, data gathered from such a survey could be used in modifying the current proposal into a form which most residents would support.

—-

Julian May’s first column for Outlook last week can be found here; https://coffscoastoutlook.com.au/has-the-queen-become-a-high-profile-proponent-of-an-australian-republic/


Coffs Coast Outlook welcomes reader contributions. Details about how to do this can be found at this link; https://coffscoastoutlook.com.au/about-us-faq/

Opinion/Comment columns and comments by contributors do not necessarily always represent the editorial opinions of the Coffs Coast Outlook.

37 Comments

  1. The Advocate is a council newsletter. Residents money being used to spruik propoganda back at community. The worms seem to enjoy it though.

    • June 22 2016 MURDOCH’S NEWS TO BUY COFFS ADVOCATE

      The buyer is Murdoch’s News Corp and he has picked up the Advocate and sister papers for a bit more than $36 million dollars.

      In a statement Australian Regional Media’s editorial director ,Bryce John’s has said selling the paper was to help the longevity of print.

      Doing things on a larger scale has to mean you do it more efficiently,” he said.

      Mr John’s said that CEO Neil Monaghan told staff yesterday ” It is much better to be working for someone who wants to own you than someone who wants to sell you.”

      (Sourced from the Bellinger Shire Courier-Sun )

  2. Gabrielle Brabander

    ‘In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act’
    George Orwell

  3. After 30 years i dont read the advocate anymore far to many ad’s not enough good local news

  4. Bonnie Capell

    Quite simply – it is not a local paper.
    News Corp Australia is part of the News Corp (Nasdaq: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV) Headquartered in New York.
    I read it on-line with a subscription – I will often click on an article, only to find it is about someone in Toowoomba or Rockhampton – nothing to do with Coffs!
    It will have three or four local stories – and the rest are syndicated from their other papers

    • Bonnie.
      This is a real pain in the ass to me too.
      I’m not interested in what the cows are doing in Rockhampton.
      Id brewer to be abreast of the locals issues. And there’s plenty of them at the moment.

  5. You realise you have reached nirvana in Coffs Harbour when these boxes are ticked:
    1/ The local paper, the Advocate is delivered twice a week for free, and you beat your neighbour to the only copy and you win. You enjoy the balanced reporting on local issues and resist checking the death notices first
    2/You stay up way later than Big Dog and enjoy Love Island
    3/Local weather reports on the local radio are the same everyday ie slight chance of showers

  6. What’s worse about the Coffs Coast Advocate is that they edit and delete Facebook comments all the time.
    So much for freedom of speech. As Donald Trump says FAKE NEWS!!!!
    It’s only the Coffs Coast Outlook that seem to allow Freedom of Speech.
    Facebook seems to have the biggest amount of Traffic . What I have observed about Facebook Group pages that the Moderators of these groups can be like the Advocate as well. They like having power and pick and choose what can be published and shared as well. All about Power and control. Not about freedom of speech at all.

    • If you dont edit defamatory comments on social media and in comments you run the risk of getting sued. There’s a few borderline ones here below.

  7. Julian, we need your voice on Council. I can get through the Advocate in may five minutes. They used to have local reporters who would cover Council meetings a stories of importance to the local community. Those were the days when Graham Singleton was the editor. Now it is just press releases and ads
    I took a short term subscription to the on-line Advocate to see what I was missing. Not much.
    However, I do object that our so-called “local paper’ will run important public interest stories by subscription only.
    My main use of the Advocate is to wrap the garbage.

    • Thanks for the positive thought Buster. Many years ago it was suggested to me that I should stand for Council in our home suburb of Campbelltown, NSW. I was flattered but was forced to decline since, although an accomplished liar, I could not do it face-to-face.

  8. Peter Farquhar

    I too have a diminished opion of the ‘Agrovate’.
    I would like to read a balanced presentation of local news and, if it was available, pay for it online.
    Infortunately, apaet from major news items (details on line) like the Fires, Floods and Elton John, all we get dished up is an advatorial dressed up as a news item.
    Unlimited access to the Telegraph and its bunch of sicophants is the last thing I would pay good money for.
    I’m thinking I’ll sleep in on Saturday mornings rather than travell a couple of cliks to grabba paper before they’re gone only to read the funeral notices. As a non Telly reader, I’m smart enough to tell if I’m still alive.
    The Advocate used to be called the egg timer but it’s not even goid for that any more.

  9. Richard McDermott

    I was an avid reader of the Advocate on line from the time it entered the cost cutting platform. Then as amalgamation of regional newspapers spread and the Advocate was gobbled up things changed. Local news was replaced by regional news, obviously cheaper as one article often of no interest to Coffs residents is duplicated in all the regional mastheads, yes and ads ballooned. Then the crunch came and a paywall was set up to punch up the profits of the master publisher News Corp. It was then I stopped my association with the Advocate as a subscription cost more than the monthly subscription for the SMH an utter joke. The biggest insult was that the paywall came with a concurrent subscription to the Daily Telegraph, Australia’s print equivalence to Fox News and an insult to one’s intelligence. Thank goodness for this news outlet the only free and open place to find out what’s really going on in our community. The concentration of the media is rapidly contributing to the downfall of our democracy.

  10. It’s the elderly and those who are isolated and are not online that I feel sorry for. The local rag with local news is what they look forward to keeping them informed of what is happening in their communities.
    The term dinasour is used as their label for not entering the Digital Age and they will become extinct like dinasours as they pass away.
    It’s all about $$$$$ for the Rupert Murdoch Empire Newscorp .
    A very reliable source from the inside told me subscriptions to the Coffs Advocate are very small for the population figures on the Coffs Coast. Why would you pay for subscription when it consists of unrelated local news and mostly click bait garbage. View Coffs Coast Outlook ,ABC Coffs Coast , Triple M Coffs Coast , Citizens Voice Coffs Coast , Coffs Ratepayers and Prime 7 North Coast Facebook pages for FREE local news stories.
    As others have commented the print delivered( full of advertisements and biased CHCC reporting ) Coffs Advocate is good for garbage wrapping .Those of the dinasour age that still have an outside dunny it could be put on the nail and used as toilet paper…like the good ole days! It’s all about re-cycling.

  11. Warren Sankey

    Many thanks Julian – you have eloquently expressed what I’m sure many of us have been thinking for some time. An excellent summary of the parlous state of affairs regarding our local council and our local newspaper.

    I remember ‘The Advocate’, as it was then known, as a highly regarded, informative local newspaper delivered free six days a week. Even though it was later printed on only two days a week, journalistic rigour was maintained under the editorial control of Graeme Singleton. The Coffs community could always rely on the content and being kept fully abreast of local issues and afforded, more often than not, opportunity to express their views.

    But unfortunately nowadays, the Coffs Coast Advocate does not live up to its name and is nothing more than a chronically anemic imitation of the former publication and about as useful as junk mail. It has dwindled in relevance as a reliable source of local information and merely reflects the unquenchable greed for subscription and advertising revenue by the Murdoch dynasty.

  12. Illiterate old Pensioner.

    I have experienced the pro-Council political bias of the ‘Aggravate’. By so doing, they write their own epitaph!
    May “Coffs Coast Outlook” prosper in its endeavours to deliver the truth in our community. A fitting tribute to Founder Hugh Saddleton who saw this coming a decade ago.

  13. Richard McDermott

    The massive advertising campaign the Advocate is presenting in an attempt to get subscribers for their digital platform is an insult. The $1 a week for an introductory period then reverting to $25 a month is $10 a month higher than an equivalent SMH subscription. The ‘sweetener’, access to the Daily Telegraph is an insult. The price of the current Advocate should be $1 a week forever as it is definitely worth no more and must be raking in the advertising dollar as the ads are rife, oh and can be accessed free of course. We knew this sort of thing was going to happen when regional newspapers began being subsumed by the Murdoch mega media monster. I had to laugh when the paywall went up and we were told just some articles would have the little coloured cross that blocked access now it’s everything except what the proprietor wants you to read, definitely a form of censorship. There still are a tiny number of independent regional newspapers that can be accessed but whereas one used to be able to log in occasionally and read the news from past residences this is now impossible without a paid subscription that most cannot afford especially pensioners. This corporatisation of regional stinks.

  14. How extraordinary! From “Funding myth revealed” headline on Wednesday to “Space not in funds race” today and without retraction/explanation from the editor on how they got it so wrong. Even today’s report is slightly inaccurate as it reads as though Cr Townley conceded that the funding was no longer on the table during the last council meeting. Nevertheless, instead of owning her mistake gracefully, Cr Towney has chosen to lash out at the former member for Coffs Harbour, accusing him of interfering in the process, which he categorically denies. Make of this what you will. I bet there are a few red faces around town today! And if Cr Townley got something so wrong as the $9million grant funding, the question is; what else is there about this project does she and the other members of the ‘fab four’ not fully understand?

  15. Max Brinsmead

    I maintain a subscription to the Advocate in the forlorn hope that I am supporting local journalism. I have good reason to believe that Rupert Murdoch controls its content…

  16. Tom Strickland

    More half-truth from the Advocate today about losing a $9M Grant. THE DETAIL WILL APPEAR IN THE TIMELINE! The application was lodged in 2018, probably at a time that no one was aware that “Civic Space” = “Office Space”. We need to read the submission to ascertain precisely whether the application REVEALED CLEARLY that Office Space was involved. And, the timing of this Govt. Grant submission in relation to the shock revelation of new offices. The timing is critical. I have grounds to believe the Minister was unaware.

    Information revealed by Steve Gooley is that NO GRANT APPLICATIONS SUCCEED THAT INVOLVE OFFICES!
    Council must have had doubts of its success from the start. IF THEY WERE CONFIDENT, WHY DID THIS $9M NOT APPEAR IN THE PUBLISHED ESTIMATES? ANOTHER UNDISCLOSED SECRET?

    • Yes Tom, as you say the timeline and detail in the grant submission will reveal the facts, but knowing council’s form, they won’t release this important detail lest the truth gets out. Also, by introducing a ‘last minute axing’ conspiracy theory, it appears suspiciously like an attempt by the Council/Advocate ‘tag-team’ to absolve both parties for the recent misleading/misreporting that has occurred on grant funding.

  17. Thanks Tom. McGrath and Beswick, what were they thinking. A spare $9Mil for the slush fund? If they told us our loan was $9m smaller, we might have believed them. As you said, they didn’t believe it themselves.

  18. Ron Richards

    Right so they have treated us like mushrooms – kept us in the dark and fed us cow manure? And “The Crapvocate” is complicit too via it’s less than honest reporting? They knew this $9m was never likely to happen?

    And Cr Townley appears to have sunk to a low I never thought she could stoop to? She arguably mislead Council on 28 November IMO.

    I voted for her in the previous two elections and thought her to be an honest citizen’s representative. Silly me. On current form I will preference her way down the list at the next Counil election. Very, very dissapointing.

    It’s time to go through the CHCC with Dettol and a wire brush. “Knight’s Fab Four” need to be flushed way past the U bend next September in my opinion.

  19. The American drama series “THE LOUDEST VOICE” is well worth viewing. Tremendous acting performance by Russell Crowe but the content will send chills down your spine so “Be Prepared” for the horror of watching the impact one man’s actions on the degradation of the moral fibre of a once decent society and the even greater horror flowing from the deafening SILENCE from those standing in the shadows whose only concern was banking the cash and watching the bottom line grow. There are a number of reasons for societal collapse: intellectual ineptitude, unethical and immoral conduct and disregard for the FAIR PLAY & DIGNITY OF PERSONHOOD PRINCIPLES. Whilst watching this series is tough, the series provides some understanding as to how we have come to inherit a world that is in such poor shape. Janne C Lindrum

  20. I called out Cr. Townley on Facebook “Citizens’ Voice Coffs Coast “, saying that I believed that she misled Council at the last meeting.
    Her response was that I had called her a “liar”.
    She invited me to meet with her in private in order for her to show me documents. she says she used to make her claim.
    My response was that it was inappropriate to do this.
    Too many times, Politicians and Councillors instead of facing the community hold these meetings with one or a few people to shield themselves from any wider scrutiny.
    I ‘ve challenged the Council’s Facebook page, “Heart of Coffs” to do the right thing and hold a Public Forum, open to all with an Independent Adjudicator (from outside of our region),with the Mayor, Councillors, General Manager and Senior Staff involved in the C&C Space, plus the CEO and President of the CEX Club, President of the Chamber of Commerce to be present, to answer questions and all given the opportunity present their case why they want Gordon Street and the sale of the buildings as outlined.
    They could also hear first had from their supporters and opponents in an open and public manner.
    They also should say what are the other plans are in play that have not been disclosed.
    So far this has not been taken up.
    Instead we hear little except at Council meetings or through a weekly column in the Advocate or via Press Releases from Council.
    I challenged Cr. Townley to take this opportunity to face the community, in the proper way as already put out there, as outlined above.
    We need an open and transparent public debate and so far this has not been forthcoming.
    Council meetings are not open and public for debate by the community, except for the limitations placed at the regular Council meetings controlled by the Mayor.
    It is a rigidly controlled environment that can never suffice as a means of engaging the community as we have seen so many times before.
    I am sick of secret back room deals, cosy coffee meetings to smooch any opponents in accepting what is planned.
    If there is to be “Progress & Prosperity” for Coffs Harbour, this Public Forum has to happen in early 2020.
    If need be, hold the Forum at the Coffs Harbour CEX Stadium to accomodate the number likely to want to attend.
    Over to you General Manager Stephen McGrath and Mayor Denise Knight. The ball is your court.

    • Rob Trezise I like how you are a straight shooter and back your honest comments with facts. I am asking you to listen to the 2 radio interviews with Mayor Denise Knight & Cr Nan Cowling. The links are on the Article on Dec 4th on Coffs Coast Outlook (with the mug shot of Andrew Beswick ) under comments from Old Timer.
      Listen to Mayor Knights interview 1st. Everything she said you must do she did not apply to Gordon St.
      Cr Nan cowling speaks the truth and reveals how sneakily they took it back from City Hill to Gordon St.
      The LGA needs to hear these interviews.
      I love your work Rob . Thanks for all you are doing for the Citizens of the LGA regarding this debacle of the CCCC.

    • Tom Strickland

      Thank you Rob for your splendid effort. I’m sure the whole community would appreciate such an outcome. As I review the process that you propose, I realise that none of the people you seek to question will ever willingly submit to a public hearing. Not collectively nor individually. The LG Act of 1993 handed too much independence to elected Councils. As ratepayers we need to be equipped with better legal tools. Certainly we have the power to elect, but little by way of process to rectify our current situation. We are virtually hamstrung for the duration of the Council term. Corporately, it is not difficult to “spill” a Board – but to spill a Council is obstructed by our State Government. And our Minister for LG , Shelley, won’t do the research necessary as you have done, to address our problems.

    • Perhaps the pro CCS group is reluctant to partake in a face to face public forum because it would rob the mayor of the ability to control the debate and the outcomes the chamber provides her; it might indicate the true number of people who actually support the development; and, expose the lack of intellectual wherewithal amongst the group to convincingly argue their case.

    • Thanks Rob, for a succinct summary of the issues. As I suggested in my article, the Emerald City proposal began as an opportunity for Denise Knight to build a monument to her own ego. However, debate over the initial proposal has now been sidelined by the need of her “not so secret” cabal to exercise power.
      Some people enter politics with a view to making contributions to society, others in order to compensate for aspects of their flawed personalities. Such people are often manifestly elitist and see politics as a means to gain and exercise power which they otherwise would not have.
      Hence we are faced with a secret circle of individuals who are privy to information which might make or break their project, but who also have the power to prevent the discussion of vital issues in relation to that project. They refuse to divulge for two reasons. Firstly, they know that an open and transparent discussion might enable community members to affirm their opposition to an unsound plan. Secondly, they gag debate simply because they can.

  21. Tom Strickland

    Thank you Rob for your splendid effort. I’m sure the whole community would appreciate such an outcome. As I review the process that you propose, I realise that none of the people you seek to question will ever willingly submit to a public hearing. Not collectively nor individually. The LG Act of 1993 handed too much independence to elected Councils. As ratepayers we need to be equipped with better legal tools. Certainly we have the power to elect, but little by way of process to rectify our current situation. We are virtually hamstrung for the duration of the Council term. Corporately, it is not difficult to “spill” a Board – but to spill a Council is obstructed by our State Government. And our Minister for LG , Shelley, won’t do the research necessary as you have done, to address our problems.

  22. Fran Stephenson

    At our house we call The Coffs Coast Advocate ‘three minutes of silence’ !
    I have twice spoken with Editor Matt Deans complaining that the most important issue of the moment is only scantly reported then we are directed to the online site. Instead we get dog photos. He tells me that that is want the reader wants! Errr – not this reader – I want news, local news.
    Matt Deans told me that 9,000 subscribers enable 62,000 free papers to be home delivered ! I thought those advertisers who, in my opinion get poor value for their advertising $, support the paper not 9,000 subscribers paying $26 per month. I, too, am not getting my Letters to the Editor printed. One has to ask why? Following is my unpublished letter of 22/11/2019.

    Letter to the Editor..

    I refer to Blake Antrobus’ story Wednesday November 20. Yes, we do have a need and a right to know what our Governments, local councils and authorities are doing, what decisions they are making on our behalf and what information they are keeping from us.

    It is heartening to read that The Coffs Coast Advocate supports the Right to Know Coalition and seeks the full information from these bodies to convey to their readers. As this is the case, then can we please have the full story published in the printed newspaper rather than being directed to the online site?

    With critically important issues like the new Council Chamber, Civic, Cultural Space debacle and other Council matters and issues the whole community, not just the online subscribers, do have a Right to Know the full story and it is pleasing that The Advocate, as our only local printed newspaper recognises this obligation.

    I look forward to reading the full story in future.

    Frances Stephenson

    • With Fran’s letter getting a run today just goes to show Matt Deans gets his news from Coffs Coast Outlook too! Her letter was finally published eighteen days after it was sent to the Advocate only because of all of the negative feedback above I expect. I just wonder if Geoffrey Watts, a regular feature on the ‘Your say’ page, who’s letter published today chastising Andrew Fraser’s expressive language (reported in last Saturday’s Advocate), has ever had to wait eighteen days to have his letters published? I think Andrew, now free of the shackles of parliamentary codes of conduct and political correctness is simply expressing the bleeding obvious (that “this council is as rotten as a chop”). And as far as your overly dramatic accusation that Mr Fraser is “damaging the fabric of Coffs Harbour” Mr Watts, I believe this accusation well and truly lies at the feet of the mayor and her buddies with their divisive agenda that has torn the Coffs’ community apart.

      • Interesting arguments CLB. Just a couple of facts in relation to this story that may be of interest to you and others in turn;

        * As of 5.00 pm. last night direct interactions with the story over 5 days according to Google analytics were 2,283,
        * Direct interactions via Facebook, according to facebook diagnostics, were 2,569.

        These figures put this story in the top five over a five day period for stories published here in the past two years.

        And of course the 34 qualitative comments is also indicative of an opinion piece that has attracted public interest and ‘struck a nerve’ elsewhere too?

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