A goodbye note

By Tim Preston

Castlemaine Independent (CI) was established in February 2010 by Andrew McKenna as a local online news site. It was an experiment with the "new media" - a shift away from hard-copy and big centralised news corporations, enabled by the internet.

Andrew, a journalist, writer, editor, and storyteller, sought to establish a forum for his work and to engage in the politics of Castlemaine. I had enjoyed his writing in the local hard-copy and as a fan of independent journalism, was very excited about CI.

I got involved, assisting with the site, and we fumbled our way around our content management system with us technical help from Greengraphics. I learned a lot about websites and also enjoying posting a few stories on design, and some interviews including my moment as a rock-journo! We were joined by others who could see the potential - Arabella Davidson and Matt Wobbly, along with journalism interns and many story and photo contributors.

The tone was soon set: political, literary, poetic, anti-war, supporting community initiatives, a forum of local argument, an exploration of "new media" (as the old media collapsed). And we played with the new possibilities afforded by the technology: music, videos/slideshows and animation.

We managed to sell some advertising and where supported by local businesses, though we didn't have the killer sales instinct to drag more businesses over to online advertising. So we failed to make enough money to justify the work involved in CI. That said, the attempts at monetisation where a learning in itself - many interesting experiments where undertaken and I still love my Castlemaine Independent mugs, hand-made by a local potter.

We were supportive of local businesses and events, helping them connect online. A new website would turn up in an internet search on a CI page before it got ranked in its own right. CI's social engagement also extended through the Kiva loans assisting individuals and micro-businesses around the world.

Many events and arguments aired through an interesting time for Castlemaine - pokies, pool, Western oval, floods - I feel CI was a part of these community shaping experiences. We even got a national scoop with Matt's photo's of the bomb squad at a Castlemaine property going live on mainstream news services.

Andrew's been filing stories regularly for four years now and dealing with the expectations of a local news service on a budget that failed to materialise. It has been a labour of love, but sadly, unsustainable.

I'm still enthusiastic and reckon CI is an achievement to be proud of, I certainly am for my small part in it.

It leaves me with many happy memories and new skills, and a sense that you can create what you want in the world - live a dream and have fun doing it.

The social circuit
as at

Some random happenings from the best Castlemaine venues...

 

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Has to be said

Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.Albert Einstein
I am also a psuedo intellectual, tree hugging, chardonnay sipping, black, gay, left wing, enemy of the state-and loving it!Anon latte-swilling blow-in

Contact

Thanks for all your interest and support over the years.
However, we are no longer fielding any messages through this site.

Best regards, the Independent

 

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