Editorial guidelines

History & Background

The idea of starting a newspaper just for the Woy Woy Peninsula on the NSW Central Coast as the first of three regional Central Coast Newspapers arose from early meetings of the Peninsula Community Forum.
The community forum was formed of representatives of all significant organisations active on the Peninsula to discuss issues facing the community.
During discussions, it soon became apparent that many individuals and groups were active but were unaware of each other.
They also had difficulty letting the community know about their activities.
One participant noted that he was new to the area but, where he came from, the role was served by the local paper.
It became evident that the existing suburban papers were regional, rather than local, in nature, and did not provide the possibility of a comprehensive local coverage.
In addition to communication needs within the community, at that time, a number of important developments were planned for the Peninsula by the then Gosford Council as well as the private sector.
These represented investments of many millions of dollars and had long-term implications for lifestyle of the area.
A major deficiency in the Coast’s social infrastructure was identified and the idea to pursue the idea of establishing a community-based newspaper.
He believed that a newspaper was needed that was a rich information source and provided the community with the opportunity to discuss topical issues.
Mr Mark Snell felt the area was already well served with advertising media and material with an emphasis on entertainment.
It was with this background that a newspaper association was formed with an aim to provide a newspaper that was conscious of its community development role. Mr Snell was the founding chair of that association. The Association still provides local editorial guidance for the Peninsula News.

Unique features
The vision for the composition of Peninsula News was unique in a number of respects.
With an emphasis on news rather than advertising, it would reverse the normal advertising ratio of 75 per cent.
Budgets were prepared that showed production of a newspaper with a 25 per cent advertising ratio was possible.
The initial quarter-fold (half-tabloid) presentation, the five-column format, the smaller than usual headline type size, all differentiate Peninsula News from other newspapers.
Unlike other suburban papers, this paper relied on council stories as its major news source, rather than the police and courts.
It was felt that news of plans being made for readers’ future, as revealed at council meetings, reinforced the social health of the community and engendered a positive attitude towards the community and its collective future.
This was in contrast to continuing stories that highlight the occurrence of crime, the more negative elements of the community and a spectator mentality, rather than encouraging participation in controlling the community’s own destiny.
Each paper actively encourages all groups and individuals to contribute their news, opinions and items of interest for publication.
It also encourages voluntary involvement in all aspects of its production.
The paper continues to attract volunteers with a range of experience, mainly being school students seeking work experience and journalism graduates wanting to break into the industry.
Even some editing and proof-reading of the newspaper is undertaken on a voluntary basis. But volunteers have not been limited to literary fields.
Work undertaken by community members in the past has ranged from typing to computer configuration and programming.
These unique features were subsequently extended to the relatively newer Central Coast Newspapers’ publications, Coast Community News and Wyong Regional Chronicle, as they were established. This ethos continues today, despite a growing professional journalistic capacity.

Editorial policy
The newspaper’s editorial policy reflects a desire to reinforce the area’s sense of community.
To qualify for publication, articles must have specific relevance to the postcode areas covered by each newspaper.
For example, they must be about activities or events happening in that area or are being organised by or involving people in one of those areas.
The individual newspapers are not regional or national in nature, so regional or national issues will not be canvassed, except as they affect one of the areas covered by one of the papers.
Regional sports will only be covered from the perspective of clubs based in the area covered by each paper.
Regional plans will only be aired in the context of their ramifications for the area covered by each paper.
Each paper aims to mention as many members of the community in its area as possible.
The papers concentrate on events which shape the communities they serve: council decisions and expenditures, commercial developments, as well as activities of the community itself.
The papers are fiercely local, primarily interested in building the communities they serve: the Peninsula, the former Gosford City Council local government area and the former Wyong Shire local government area.

Readability and composition
To ensure that each newspaper serves its purpose, it must be readable and represent the interests and activities of the community in its content.
Contributions to the paper are edited to consistent standards of readability.
Guidelines are available for intending contributors.
All items will be dated and will be attributed a source or author.
For example, a press release received on October 12, 2010, by Debbie Notara from Beachside Family Centre, the by-line would read:
Press release, 12 Oct 2010
Debbie Notara, Beachside Family Centre

What does our journalist’s job entail?
Above all else, the journalist’s role is informing the community and giving the community a voice with which to speak.
As such, their most important task will be reporting on the events and decisions of the Central Coast Council, as they are obviously the largest, and in terms of finance, the most powerful entity currently affecting the Central Coast.
This also makes it the most influential in terms of the changes and decisions that affect each area.
Secondary to reporting on Council is reporting on other events and people from each area, these include fundraising, sport, educational, health & cultural activities. Journalists are expected to be non-partisan, locally minded and represent the community’s view of events and happenings.