Perfect timing for a newspaper

Bernice and Bill Marwick with the original newspaper, and as it is today. d423084
Bernice and Bill Marwick with the original newspaper, and as it is today. d423084

Unsure where to find local information, Bernice suggested to her husband that a newsletter would help inform newcomers like themselves.

That conversation with Bill, who had previously published a small community newspaper serving the North Beach area, proved a milestone for them and the community ” from it was born the forerunner to today’s Times.

With business partners Dale and Gladys Anderson, they put out the first copy of the Wanneroo Community News on August 8, 1974, six small buff-coloured pages with a classified advertisement for the National Bank repeated four times.

Their initial print run was 3000, letterbox delivered to the Wanneroo townsite and produced from their home among the chaos of a young family.

Embraced by the community, the newspaper, relaunched as the Wanneroo Districts Times in 1975 after the death of Dale Anderson, never looked back.

‘We didn’t have a long-term view about having a newspaper when we started,’ Bernice said of the initial publication.

‘We were helping the community and that was it.

‘Looking back, our timing was perfect.

‘We came to Wanneroo at the right time and met some wonderful people, including pioneers who opened up to us and told us their stories.

‘We didn’t know a soul, not even the shire president.

‘People did not see us as newspaper people but as part of their community.

‘This was a community of proud people, close knit and protective of each other and we had to earn the right to be part of that.’

Bernice remembers shopping in Wanneroo taking extra time as people stopped them with snippets of news, bits of paper or suggestions to ‘talk to so and so’.

‘That was the Wanneroo grapevine,’ she said.

When the Marwicks sold what was then Community Newspapers in 1984, the business included several publications ‘covering an area from the Horseshoe Bridge to Yanchep and the coast to Morley’.

‘We had about 50 staff by the time we left ” and I left another five times after that,’ said Bill, who returned in various roles over the years.

These days, the couple’s community involvement is as strong as ever.

Both work tirelessly for Joondalup Wanneroo Relay for Life, while Bill is long-time president of Wanneroo and Districts Historical Society and has turned the pioneering stories he heard as a journalist into books.

‘I still email the paper with news items I hear about,’ Bernice said.

‘Once you’re in the business, it never leaves you. The fact that the Times is still going strong is testament to its own strength.’

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