The 'Inside Canberra' newsletter was founded by the late Don Whitington, who first published the newsletter in 1947 and it has been published continuously ever since.
On Whitington's death in the mid-seventies, Rob Chalmers took over the newsletter until 1996 when he sold it to Melbourne-based publisher, Information Australia. From that time through to 2003, Chalmers wrote and edited the newsletter under contract. This arrangement ended in early 2003 when the newsletter again changed hands, and was sold to Crown Content.
Rob didn't feel comfortable with the new publishing arrangements after selling out to Crown Content, and reluctantly cut his ties with his life-long passion to start up his own newsletter 'Chalmers-in-Canberra', re-creating the feel of the former 'Inside Canberra' when first sold to Information Australia. This time around Rob teamed with one of Australia's most dynamic electronic publishers, the Business Communications Group (BCG), which is owned by Canberra entrepreneur, Trevor J Thomas.
With Trevor's help, Rob turned 'Chalmers-in-Canberra' into an overnight success, using BCG's technology to get ahead of competitors by delivered the newsletter electronically every Friday, rather than mailed. In fact, the new format was so successful that over 2003 Rob won back most of the subscribers to the former 'Inside Canberra'.
Subsequent negotiations saw Crown Content agreeing to transfer 'Inside Canberra' back to Rob and Trevor, where it has now taken a place alongside other BCG and partner titles such as: Defence Industry & Aerospace Report, Australian Defence Business Review, Inside Defence & Australian Aviation Magazine.
Despite forecasts of independent commercial newsletters disappearing because of the plethora of free newsletters sent to clients by banks, accountants, stock brokers and the like, Rob says the commercial newsletter market is not only surviving, but prospering. "Free newsletters from such organisations are clearly not independent, nor unbiased. They are often written by contract staff, and published principally to sell the services of the newsletter provider."
Rob says newsletters such as 'Inside Canberra' are independent and free of any paid advertising material. "They fill the specialised needs of a variety of subscribers, who don't have time to wade through four or five newspapers each day to get information essential to their business, assuming that it's reported." Rob adds that nearly all of his current subscribers, which span both the private and public sectors, have a professional need to keep up to date with what is happening in Parliament, and in the Federal administration.
What these readers find of significant value, he says, is that "the newsletters' content is not filtered, as is newspaper content by editorial conferences, news editors and sub-editors. What subscribers receive is the exact news content the author wants to see in the publication." If you add to that modern technology's role in consistently delivering on time each weekly edition (ie: e-newsletters are never held up in the mail!), the new-look 'Inside Canberra' seems headed for a long and prosperous future.