An Aussie Story
Saturday, 7th November, 2020
By Emily Ferguson
The city is well aware of the struggles the Barrier Daily Truth has faced this year, but now the rest of the country is about find out through the popular ABC television series, “Australian Story”.
The “Australian Story” crew comprising producer Lisa McGregor, cameraman Quentin Davis and sound recordist Robert Mackay came to Broken Hill to document the newspaper’s story.
The show features interviews with General Manager Gavin Schmidt, Editor Michael Murphy, mining company executive Robert Williamson and several staff.
“The main people in our story are the people who work at the newspaper, so Gavin, Michael, Emily and Craig, and then the other important people in the story are Robert Williamson, who came and helped the paper out in the time of need and the owners, the Barrier Industrial Council,” Ms McGregor said.
“Christine Adams also spoke to us about the birth of the paper and painted a picture of the history of the town,” she said.
“There is also a group of women who play scrabble and we talk to them about how they felt when the paper stopped. It was really terrific to hear their thoughts and feelings, they were all such passionate readers.”
“Australian Story” has no narrator and is usually about one person but Ms McGregor said this show was different.
“It’s a broader story than our usual stories, so it’s about a community rather than a person, it’s about a town,” she said.
“There are more characters who we hear from instead of focusing on an individual perspective or journey so that’s how it’s different.
“Broken Hill is a unique place - it’s a city in a desert and it looks different to anything else I’ve ever seen. I think you can feel that uniqueness, you can see it.
“Not many towns have the mining presence so close to the centre of town, you walk down the main street and you can look up and see it, that’s quite unique so the town is visually arresting and it’s a great place to make a TV story.”
But Ms McGregor said the story was also about an issue important to the rest of the nation - the future of local newspapers.
“The ABC also tells local stories but as far as the nitty gritty of town life, the sports results, the births, deaths and marriages, the local charity events, articles about local businesses, these are really only found in the newspaper.
“I think (the Barrier Truth) has a fantastic spirit, a great culture and the community is behind it but it is suffering like all newspapers everywhere from the digital disruption, the gradual decline and difficulty of accessing advertising money,” she said.
“COVID has sped up the process, it’s been the straw that broke the camel’s back if you like, the problems were underlying but this exaggerated them and brought them forward.”
* The Barrier Daily Truth’s “Australian Story” episode will shown on Monday at 7.30pm.