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Newspaper chief has confidence in future
Pic: John Mokrzycki WA Newspapers chief executive Chris Wharton addresses the WAN annual general meeting last year.

The Albany Advertiser and its sister regional mastheads owned by West Australian Newspapers are in excellent shape and not suffering the strains of Eastern States competitors Fairfax and News Limited, according to Seven West Media WA chief executive Chris Wharton.

Mr Wharton visited Albany late last week with West Australian Regional Newspapers general manager Ian Jones to meet with local business people and took the opportunity to reassure them WAN was in a strong position in the media industry.

The company, which also owns The West Australian, is the biggest of its kind in Australia and its executives have watched with interest as a wide-sweeping shakeup of the media in other States has taken place.

Two weeks ago, Fairfax announced its decision to slash 1900 jobs and downsize its flagship newspapers the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age from broadsheets to tabloids in a bid to cope with the rise of digital media.

Two days later, Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited revealed plans for massive restructures in the way it operates, including reducing its Eastern States divisions from 19 to five and an unknown number of redundancies.

Mr Wharton was adamant the changes would not be taking place locally or Statewide in any part of the company.

“Regional newspapers in Australia generally, and WA particularly, have got probably the rosiest future in the printing industry, ” he said.

“West Australian Newspapers as a company is in an excellent position (and) Seven West Media has the best media assets in the country. The travails that Fairfax is facing at the moment are challenges that we’ve dealt with over the past three years … we saw these problems and then we addressed them.”

Mr Wharton said the Albany Advertiser was one of the State’s best regional newspapers.

“It is a great example of a very solid newspaper, ” he said.

“It’s involved with its community and it’s part of the community.”

Mr Wharton said he expected the Advertiser, set to celebrate its 125th year next year, would continue to grow and prosper and last Thursday’s bumper 120-page edition showed the paper was in good health.

“Just because Fairfax is in strife, doesn’t mean the newspaper industry’s had it, ” he said.

“We’ve got a flourishing business and we expect it to flourish for many years to come.”

“West Australian Newspapers as a company is in an excellent position.”