Editorial

As people would be aware, the North West Star newspapers were late getting into town on Saturday.

The North West Star team apologies for any inconvenience caused but stresses that like the previous time this occurred, the fault was entirely that of Qantas.

The papers were printed at the Ormiston print works at the usual time and delivered to the airport well in advance of their deadline so it is not clear to us at this stage why Qantas did not load them on to the plane.

We are still trying to get to the bottom of the problem but early indications are that Qantas has a new system in place for dealing with freight and there are clearly some gremlins in the works, this being the second time it has occurred in three weeks.

When I put a message on Facebook advising people of the delay, it was greeted by some in the community –as I suspected it would - as an excuse to bring back the issue of printing the papers in Mount Isa.

And I’d like to deal with that issue here and now, once and for all.

Last time I looked, Fairfax Media Ltd (publishers of the North West Star) was not a registered charity.

It is a business, and like all businesses it needs to run at a profit to survive.

The printing operation in Mount Isa was closed before I joined the team and while it is regrettable, I totally understand the business drivers behind the decision.

The printing press at the North West Star was old and outdated technology, it had poor quality print, could not print colour on every page and was prone to breakdown, often requiring technicians from out of town who might take days to get here to fix the problem.

It would have cost in excess of $20 million to replace, and frankly that was not a decision any business in their right mind would take, given there were much lower cost alternatives available.

The trend across Australia is for print operations to amalgamate in larger operations, and Fairfax is not immune from that trend.

So yes, there is the occasional drama when Qantas stuff up, but the alternative is worse still: no paper at all in Mount Isa.

And as much as I embrace our online culture, I still like the fact we have a print publication. Long may it continue, even out of Brisbane. DB

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