It takes a community to produce a newspaper

Matt Markham.


After almost four years at the helm, Matt Markham signed off on his last edition of the Ashburton Guardian as editor last night. He looks back on a journey that is set to go full circle over the next few weeks.


They say you never know what’s around the corner, good or bad there’s always something lurking.

Opportunities arise at every step, then it’s up to you to decide whether you want to grab them, or let them slide on by in the hope of something bigger and brighter approaching at the next turn.

In 2016 when I noticed the Ashburton Guardian was on the look-out for a part-time sports reporter, I took one of those chances.

Coming back to the very newsroom I’d cut my teeth in a decade earlier was an exciting prospect, and the chance to dive back into community sport was a welcome distraction from what I had been doing.

If you’d said I’d end up sitting in the editor’s chair for nearly the next four years though, I would have laughed.

But fate can be a funny thing and today I can look back on that moment in time and have a real great appreciation for the journey that it has taken me on.

Succinctly put, it’s been one hell of a ride. Plenty of ups – too many to try and remember them all in fact – and the odd down along the way.

But it has been a great privilege and honour to sit in the position I have at one of the greatest newspapers in this country.

I say that with only a small amount of bias too and my only wish going forward is that people appreciate a little bit more just how fortunate this community is to have a newspaper like the Guardian available to them.

The landscape has changed significantly in the past decade.

The subtle art of newspapers has become an ever-moving feast and all around the goal posts are shifting.

Yet here, in Mid Canterbury, the Guardian has remained largely unwavering in the way it supports its community.

Yes, the significant change of last year to three-day-a-week publication was a big moment in time and not everyone was happy with it, but you’re still getting a newspaper devoted solely to this district and you’re still getting to read and learn about people who you walk past in everyday life out on the street.

In so many ways, we don’t know how lucky we are.

I’ve been lucky to have been a part of some huge moments in time during my tenure.

The Ashburton Guardian turning 140 was a monumental occasion and one we celebrated with great respect for a longstanding bastion of the community. There’s been key moments too though; the closure of the i-SITE and being at the forefront of that drive to see it reinstated was special and playing a part in seeing the decision to remove the water fountain on East Street was big too.

Those last two examples showed the power of the community newspaper.

That it can be the voice for the community and can inflict change and hold those in power to account. Again, a lucky ally for people to have on their sides.

But while the big news stories and huge moments in time have been real highlights, what has made this job has been the people I’ve met and the people I’ve worked with along the way.

Be it the casual Guardian reader out on the streets or at an event anywhere around the district, the business owner, dignitaries, chief executives or some of the amazing people who’ve been through this newsroom, and the ones still here.

My ever-lasting memory will always be the faces.

I’m going to give special mention to a few people here – Sue Newman, Linda Clarke, Susan Sandys, Erin Tasker, Lisa Fenwick, Steve Devereux, Donald Hurst and Joyce Bingham.

Some of the most passionate, experienced and skilled people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with – people who have made this job easy.

To everyone I’ve interviewed, chatted with and discussed life in general in Mid Canterbury over the past few years, thank you.

It’s been a great deal of fun and a great privilege to sit in the role that I have.

After a massive 12 months, it’s time for more change here at the Guardian and new managing editor, Daryl Holden will inherit a wonderful team of staff and a desire to see the Guardian continue to be successful.

I wish him all the best.

I’m going back to where it all began – on both occasions – the sports department.

I can’t wait to dive head-first into community sport and everything that it entails.

That the Ashburton Guardian still sees the value in covering sport, from the smallest of children playing football on a cold Saturday morning to the elite-level women playing netball on a Thursday night, it’s one of this newspaper’s greatest strengths and long may that continue.

I want to thank our loyal reader base and our passionate advertisers for the support they’ve shown me during my time here.

It might take a village to raise a child, but it takes a community to produce a newspaper.

Matt Markham