YOU’RE reading edition 1000 of the Perth Voice, still going strong after the first paper hit your letterbox 20 years ago on June 5, 1997.
At that point the paper was still under the dual mastheads “Vincent Voice” and “Lawley Voice”, but a few years later it became The Perth Voice and adopted the iconic Chook logo.
In a dusty vault at Voice HQ—think the final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark—we dug out the oldest copy of the paper we have in storage: edition 148 which marked the day when Voice founder John Arthur sold it to current owner Andrew Smith, who added it to his Fremantle Herald imprint.
At the time then-editor Brian Mitchell (now retired to a quieter life as the federal MP for Lyons in Tasmania) said “we had exciting, challenging days ahead” and even back then there was talk of how tough it’d be for a small print publication to survive in a changing media market.
“It is no mean feat to run an independent newspaper in one of the most concentrated media markets in Australia,” Mr Smith said in his first edition as owner.
A peek at this earliest edition shows that some things haven’t changed: there’s an ad from Voice mainstay Cr Rod Willox, announcing his intention to recontest his seat at the City of Stirling in the 2001 local government elections (he remains a councillor to this day).
There was a story about street prostitution around Highgate, a perennial issue we got a call about just a few weeks ago, and a letter to the editor complaining about “Fitzgerald St traffic snarls,” a bug bear to this day.
Some of the advertisers in our first edition are now under new ownership, but still continue to advertise with us, including tradies like Celtic Plumbing and Gas, and local institutions like the Oxford Hotel on our front cover.
Back in that first edition Mr Mitchell, a proud gourmand, gave us a glowing food review of the Paddington Alehouse.
He related that he’d first been there in 1988 on a first date with his wife, and he “must have done something right, because the poor creature later agreed to marry me”.
He raved about the “marinated lamb rump,” and a pint of Coopers back then was also a mere $6.70.
Our chief of staff Steve Grant just revisited the Paddo two months ago, shortly after it was the centre of a bit of barney when they hosted an event with a different politician—Pauline Hanson. Apparently the lamb’s still good, “well cooked and tender,” Steve writes.
“The Paddo’s a local institution,” he concluded, “it should be with us long after politicians come and go”.
We’ve had some die-hard loyal letter writers too.
Mt Lawley author Ron Willis kept our letters page filled with his ornate missives for years, though in his letter to our 1000th edition he announced it’d be “my last offering to Voice mail”.
But he did pose: “How many times have I vowed such?”
If you change your mind, Ron, we’ll still be here next week.
• In September 2010 a story by Katie Bastians (who’s still working as a journo over east) named a City of Stirling worker who had committed suicide just before he was due to testify in front of the Corruption and Crime Commission over dodgy tenders. All other media outlets censored his name. Then-Stirling mayor David Boothman complained to the Press Council saying we shouldn’t have named the man. Editor Andrew Smith argued “whenever possible all known facts should be made available to readers” and suppressing names of people who committed suicided compounded “outdated and unhelpful prejudices” and inhibited the “urgent need to confront these issues”.
by DAVID BELL