As another year comes to an end, an opportunity presents itself to reflect on 2023 and everything it was.
On the news front, international stories certainly dominated the headlines, particularly in the Middle East, but let’s stick a little closer to home.
A State Election in March saw Chris Minns become Premier, while Stuart Ayres lost the seat of Penrith – and as one local politician’s star fell, another’s rose in the shape of Prue Car, who became Deputy Premier.
We saw a changing of the guard at Council, with Todd Carney becoming Mayor and Andrew Moore the new General Manager. Veteran Councillor Jim Aitken confirmed his retirement too, ending a long career in local government.
A beach in Penrith? It happened, finally. New restaurants and businesses opened, others closed.
The Voice referendum suffered a resounding defeat, and Lindsay was emphatic in its ‘No’ verdict.
Sadly, our city’s domestic violence shame continued with a number of high profile murders that left us shaken and bewildered that this continues to happen.
Through the pages of the Weekender in print and online, we brought you stories of tragedy, triumph and everything in-between.
On the sporting front, the Penrith Panthers made it three straight NRL Premierships, entering rugby league folklore as the best side of the modern era.
Jessica Fox continued to dominate the world paddling stage, while Penrith’s First Grade women’s cricket team created a slice of history, taking out the NSW Premier Cricket title.
One thing that never fails each and every year is that Penrith delivers a plethora of stories, and we at the Weekender are privileged enough to share them with you.
To that end I’d like to take some time to thank those who play a part in us producing the newspaper we do every week, as well as our online digital coverage.
I’d like to thank our CEO and Publisher Kathryn Garton for her ongoing commitment to the Weekender and Western Sydney Publishing Group as a whole. It will never be taken for granted.
To our team of hard-working journalists – Nathan Taylor, Ellie Busby, Cassidy Pearce and Makayla Muscat – thank you for your efforts during a busy 2023, delivering literally thousands of pieces of content across our different publications.
Thanks to Melinda Sanders and Megan Dunn, who both capture the images that shape our city each year.
To our production team – Kacey Wilson, Zoe Merrick, Ian Beard and Madeline Dantier – thank you for your commitment to delivering excellence in terms of what we produce each and every week throughout the year.
A big thanks to our sales team, and particularly captain Chris Pennisi, whose above and beyond efforts during the year certainly don’t go unnoticed.
His team – Andrew Harris, Chris Middleton, Megan Dunn, Darlene Annaleah and Angela Jevdich – continue to play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of our business.
A huge thanks to Amanda Coskerie who heads up our accounts and bookings operations, and to Naveen Chand who leads our distribution crew and ensures the print edition gets into everyone’s hands each week.
To every supplier, columnist and partner, thanks for the role you play in our year. Every piece of the puzzle we call the Western Weekender is important.
A big thank you to our advertisers, whose support of local news couldn’t be more important in ensuring the Weekender continues to do what it does every week.
With no cover price on our print edition and no paywall across our digital content, it is these advertisers who fund what we do; and our appreciation knows no bounds.
Last but certainly not least, a huge thanks to you – our readers.
Whether you engage with us on social media, write letters to the Editor or just take it all in as an observer, we do it all for you and can’t thank you enough for your continued support of the publication. We hope we meet your expectations each week.
As I engage with many of you throughout the year, plenty of you tell me what you love about the Weekender, and also what you don’t. Both are important pieces of feedback to receive and we love hearing from you.
2024 promises to be a big year for not only the Weekender, but Western Sydney Publishing Group as a whole.
We will continue to produce our sister publication Parra News each week, replicating for the Parramatta and Cumberland communities what we do here in Penrith.
And on February 1, we will launch new digital products – the Blue Mountains Record, focused on the Blue Mountains community, and Bradfield Bulletin, the new airport city’s first media outlet.
It will be an exciting year, and our priority will of course remain delivering the very best content we can for our Penrith community; a city we love being part of.
The final print edition of the Weekender for 2023 is out now.
A limited news service will run across our digital assets during the summer break, while our office will re-open on Monday, January 15, 2024; when our full digital service will also resume.
Our first edition of the new year will be out on Friday, January 19.
On behalf of the entire Weekender team, I wish you and your family all the best for the Christmas period, and hope that everything you aim for is achieved in 2024.
Stay safe, and we’ll see you refreshed and raring to go in the new year.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.