19 July 2023
Nearly 30 years ago, a free, weekly community newspaper was launched, covering local news and events throughout the Thames Valley region. 100% locally owned and operated, it was delivered to every household and business in the region.
Originally named the Plains Profile, it was bought out by Valley Media in 2020 and renamed The Valley Profile, to better reflect the region it served. Then, more recently, Valley Media also launched The Coromandel App, as a way to keep both locals and tourists up to date with local news and information.
Before receiving funding from the Public Interest Journalism Fund (PIJF), The Valley Profile was being produced with only one reporter, Kelley Tantau. While it was covering the essentials, Kelley says she wanted to do more.
“A lot of people had the impression, because we were a community newspaper, we would be doing light stories only and I thought ‘no, we want to do big important stories too’. With no funding and being the sole reporter, I didn’t have time to, for example, stay at a full council meeting. I’d go and get the basics then shoot off because I had other jobs to do, and I didn’t cover court at all. When we got the funding, it just kind of opened up all sorts of possibilities.”
PIJF funding meant a second reporter for The Valley Profile, which editor Teresa Ramsey says doubled production and meant a much greater range of local stories could be covered.
When Valley Media decided to start The Coromandel App, they applied for more funding, for a dedicated Coromandel reporter. Alice Parminter, who took up that role, says the funding means “we have time to concentrate on people. Hard news is great but what people really are about is the people. We’re not just doing bare bones reporting. We’re able to come at it from a community perspective and how it’s going to impact the community as a whole, which is really important.
"We wouldn’t be able to do that without the funding, because we wouldn’t have enough time.”
Coromandel MP Scott Simpson says national media outlets don’t do enough local news. He says “communities absolutely benefit” from the fact that PIJF funding has increased the amount of local content via the The Valley Profile.
Hauraki District Mayor Toby Adams also agrees, saying locals really value the increase in community reporting which the PIJF has brought. He says before Valley Media came along, no reporters attended council meetings at all. “Now they report regularly on council meetings – on things good, bad and otherwise – and it’s fantastic that they do.” He says having local reporters on the ground is invaluable. “The big media outlets do get in touch but only for really big stories, they’re not here all the time.”
Adams says seeing more of their own local news is really important, not just for the Thames Valley region but for all communities around the motu.
The Valley Profile reporter Kelley Tantau, The Coromandel App reporter Alice Parminter and Valley Media editor Teresa Ramsey