Former Byron Shire News editors Gary Chigwidden, Digby Hildreth and Christian Morrow.
Former Byron Shire News editors Gary Chigwidden, Digby Hildreth and Christian Morrow.

Memories of covering ‘incredibly vibrant’ Byron Shire

DIGBY Hildreth began his time in newspapers at the age of 17.

He worked at Byron Shire News for a period of 15 months a few years back.

Mr Hildreth said the Byron Shire was “an incredibly vibrant place” to work as a journalist.

His time at the paper gave him the chance to interview Santana in association with Bluesfest.

Along with rubbing shoulders with the stars, he said regional journalism gave those working in the field a chance to “become a figure of trust within the community”.

“It’s absolutely crucial that there’s something like that and that there are people who are paid to go out and cover the local stories and have the time and the freedom to do things like go do council and talk to people,” he said.

He said quality journalism was “a pillar of democracy”.

Teena Hulbert (nee Tranter) had the “great pleasure” of working for Byron Shire News in administration and classifieds in her early 20s before moving on to sales support.

“I grew up with the Byron News, Mrs Busy Line and the excitement of reading your name in the list of birthdays in her column,” she said.

“First day of school, sporting achievements – you name it, I have the clippings from the Byron News to look back on and remember the good old days of Byron Bay.”

While she left the company to start a family, she still has fond memories of her time.

“Those almost 10 years were filled with much laughter, some great Christmas parties, weddings, births and losing loved ones,” she said.

“The Byron Shire News was always like family.”

For Jann Burmester, one of the joys of covering stories in the Byron Shire was helping to champion the Byron Writers Festival.

“I gave them a lot of support and wrote about them for all the years” Ms Burmester said.

“That was one of my real loves.”

Ms Burmester was also at the forefront of reporting on the push for the Byron Central Hospital. And she was on the job when the New Year’s Eve safety committee was formed to address concerns in Byron Bay after a particularly troubling year.

Now, New Year’s Eve is a family-friendly affair.

“For better or worse I’ve seen Byron Bay grow from a little town to a mega international destination,” she said.

Byron born and raised, Vicki Moerig worked as a sales rep from 1997 to 2013. She went to school with John Wright, the son of the paper’s founders.

“It’s really been part of my life since it started basically. I loved working for the paper,” she said.

Having run a business in town before working at the paper, she knew how the publication could help people.

“I knew the value of it and I knew what it could do for people,” she said.

With many of the staff heavily involved in community events and a “face of the community”, she said her time at Byron Shire News had also led to lasting connections.

“The friends I made through my time there are long lasting,” she said.