It’s not often that a newspaper can make its own front page headlines, but we thought that this ‘five century’ milestone is one worth shouting about, especially as the growth (and indeed survival) of this community newspaper really has been a community effort.
Some locals may well be able to cast their minds back to November 1998 when The EDGE title was first launched, but if the truth be told the newspaper was officially started in February 1997 by Dee Bernard, under the ‘Sedgefield Advertiser & Wilderness Ways’ banner-head. It had a print run of 1500 copies.
Kelly and Bomber Webb bought the business in February 1998, and it was run by Kelly’s brave sister Kirsty Hayward whilst the Webb family finalised their immigration. At the time it was an A4 publication printed on bond, which normally ran to 10 pages, mostly as an advertising platform.
The new owners felt that in order to sustain the paper (there was a flood of ‘only advertising’ publications at the time) it would be better, and definitely more fulfilling, to steer it in the direction of ‘Community News’. The decision to change its name was made, and a competition launched to get the community involved in the process. Mrs Kruger, a retiree from Plett, suggested it be called The EDGE (she said that’s what the paper had on its competition) and so Sedgefield’s new community newspaper was born.
It seemed that the decision to include as much local news as possible paid off as the community soon adopted The EDGE as its own – even popping in to the offices on occasion to remonstrate with staff members about the odd spelling mistake. (“But what about the 25000 words I spelt right?” the editor would ask.)
With readership numbers growing year on year, the newspaper acquired a single-colour printing machine early in 2006, and in April that year, when it had reached a regular 32 pages per edition, the owners took the next bold step and increased the page size to ‘tabloid’ (A3).
“It’s like a real, grown up newspaper,” the staff told the elderly reader who came in to enquire why it no longer fitted into her handbag.
At that stage the printing process was lengthy, and the black and white publication, which was by then at a print run of 5000, took the best part of five days to print. A team of ladies would come in to fold and collate each edition.
By 2009 there were more and more advertisers asking for the inclusion of colour in The EDGE, so enquiries were made to a large print company in Port Elizabeth to see if going the full colour route would be a sustainable option. As it turned out the costs were not prohibitive, and the real clincher came when the company’s production manager was asked how long it would take for their high-speed web press to print, fold and collate The EDGE.
“About forty five minutes,” was the answer.
This meant, of course, that the newspaper could report on the latest news right up until the night before publication – which would obviously be far more satisfying for the editorial team and their readership.
And so, on 11 March 2009, edition 306 of The EDGE ‘hit the streets’ in glorious full colour.
From its humble beginnings of being run from a small corner of a lounge by a solitary, except-ionally stressed person, The EDGE is now designed and produced in its own dedicated building by a happy team of six. Still stressed, but cheerfully so.
This phenomenal 18 year ride would not have been possible without the wonderful support of our staff (paid and volunteer), advertisers, editorial contributors and, of course, our readers. So to you all we raise our grateful glasses (champagne, not reading) and say a heartfelt Cheers! Here’s to the next 500 editions!