Community journalism is really important, and that was made abundantly clear this week when 22 small communities in our country lost their local newspapers.
On Monday, Nov. 27 two gigantic media companies, Torstar and Postmedia, traded 41 local newspapers, shutting down 22 of them in the process, as well as two big-city free dailies Metro Winnipeg and Metro Ottawa.
The closures have resulted in the loss of 290 jobs and have left many communities, mostly in Ontario, without any kind of journalistic oversight.
Shortly after the announcement on Monday, the Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson tweeted “this is how democratic accountability erodes.”
Think of all the town councils, schools boards, police, and community events that will have no coverage. These communities are losing not only a “place of record” and but also losing a reflection of themselves.
Some of these papers are hundreds of years old, like the St. Marys Journal Argus which will be shut down after 160 years in operation.
This also means less opportunity for young journalists, like myself, to begin their careers.
Two of my former classmates worked at Metro Winnipeg eventually becoming senior reporters, and now with the closure of the successful daily paper, that opportunity for someone else is gone.
While we at the Gazette are not directly affected by this, we recognize it as a sad moment in time for community journalism.
It’s no secret that the journalism industry at large has been on shaky ground ever since the advent of social media and many other modern factors, but that doesn’t mean its importance is diminished.
At the Gazette we devote ourselves to covering as many things in as many North Island communities as possible.
Whether it’s good news, bad news, smile of the week, or a controversial opinion piece, there are important things happening in our communities, and they deserve to be represented.
I’m thankful I’ve been able to be apart of that for the North Island, and feel for the communities that are losing what I believe to be an essential service.
All industries go through changes and fluctuations, as the North Island knows all too well, but at the Gazette we are embracing the digital age as it has allowed us to publish stories daily and get important news out faster than ever before.
For me, the news of these closures was a reminder to reflect on why I chose to pursue journalism in the first place and made me feel thankful that it has given me the opportunity to get to know the North Island so well.
Make sure to give us a like on Facebook, and here’s to another 50 years!