ON THE ROAD: Betoota Advocate editors Errol Parker and Clancy Overell are coming to Newcastle. Picture: Nic WalkerFor an outback Queensland newspaper that prides itself on being “arguably Australia’s oldest”, The Betoota Advocate has a remarkably astute grasp of the modern media world.
Overseen by editors Errol Parker and Clancy Overell, the publication’s 2014 transition to a digital format has appealed to an online audience tired of mainstream news. The pairare hitting the road to share theirstories and will stop off at Newcastle’s Civic Theatre on November 13. Tickets are on sale now.
It was 9.20am when Weekender called and Overell was “just starting to tap into the news cycle for the day”. Kind of late for a daily publication with its finger allegedly on the pulse, but OK.
What do you say to critics who reckon the Advocate’s a bit of a joke?We just say, it depends where you get your news from nowadays.Most people recognise what we are. A lot of people enjoy tuning in to a more regional perspective.
Your emblem is a lyrebird. Is there any particular reason you have chosen this bird to represent The Betoota Advocate? It’s native to the shire. And it’s theBetoota Bitter logo …it’s one of those things, in Perth they bang on about the swan, and in Queenslandthey bang on about broncos.
Who covers your sporting news?Tracy Bandinger. She’s an ex-rugby league prop. Female sports journalists are great because when they’re writing, they can do so without having to bring their glory days into it. I find that so refreshing. Any ex-player turned reporter, there’s usually a bit of “what could have been”.
It also removes all-too-frequent references to “the boys”?Yes [laughs]. Fitzsimons eat your heart out. Actually we were talking the other day about how the Newcastle Herald broke maybe one of the greatest stories of the ’90s. It was when that American bloke came out and tricked theKnights into thinking he played for the NFL. Greg Smith is hisname, and he fooled everyone. They pushed him in over Timana Tahu to start with the Knights. It was pre-internet so you can’t look this stuff up, but it was a big sting by you guys.
A lot of your health stories are about alcohol and other drugs. Do your writers speak from experience?No, no, that is honestly by keeping our ears to the ground. Young people these daysdon’t really know what’s right or wrong. You’ve got to wonder about some of the people tagging their mates in those stories.
How has The Betoota Advocatemanaged to survive without a paywall?We’re trying to see how we go without. In this day and age media consumers need to be conditioned to pay for it.
Do you think you will ever win a Walkley Award?Well, wedidn’t know you had to nominate yourself for a Walkely. We spent 100 years wondering why we’d never got one. We did go in 2016 and they put us on the table with the cartoonists. Maybe one daythey will bump us up to a table with our peers, like you.