The four-hundredth edition of a newspaper is no big issue.
In a world which boasts of publications that are more than 300 years old (The Post Och Inrikes Tidningar was established in Sweden in 1645 and is still in circulation, although as online format since 2007; the London Gazette did not appear until 20 years later), it would be presumptuous to celebrate a publication that is just 400 issues old.
Newspaper business in our own little country spans three centuries, with the Otago Daily Times tracing its origin to 1861. It may have been dwarfed by publications that came a while later, but its harbinger status cannot be disclaimed.
Hope and Confidence
And so why is the fuss over the 400th edition?
Because it marks a major achievement for a small newspaper.
Because it narrates how odds and ends were overcome.
Because it relates a story of success, built on a saga of struggles and challenges.
Because it is a story of hope and confidence and not despair and diffidence.
How it began and how a single fire destroyed everything we had and how it outpaced itself to become a newspaper of standing forms the best part of our story later this year.
Voice of the Community
Today, this little newspaper raises the concern of the community, along with its voice and carries it to the people who matter and makes them listen and act.
True, we have tended to be contentious in the process, having suffered the wrath of some.
We have been chastised, chased and excluded.
We have been excluded by some.
All because we have put our faith on the finest qualities of journalism, of taking people’s woes and trying to solve them.
All because everyone does not share the same ideals and principles that we hold dear.
All because we stand alone in the community, holding the torch of free and fearless expression, without expecting anything in return.
A publication given away free is often seen as frivolous, with news and features mercilessly and blatantly lifted from other media (and traded as one’s own) and as an entity too sweet to speak the truth. Issues are sidelined and criticism if any is camouflaged in chorus.
Which is again why, the celebration of the 400th issue is justified.
As we move towards the realisation of our objectives (there are many), we are constantly aware of the characteristic changes that the print medium is constrained to undergo, at times altering the course of journalistic values.
We believe the future would be exciting and replete with challenges.
And we love them.
For in every challenge we see an opportunity.
An opportunity to grow.
An opportunity to foster the ideals of journalism, the community, the society and the nation.
An opportunity to pursue excellence.
Image of the first issue dated November 15, 1999
Image of Issue 400 Front Page