Community before profits

 In Opinion

Community journalism took another blow with the news that Metroland Media Group has declared bankruptcy and will no longer be printing its weekly community newspapers, opting to publish online only.

It is a bold move at a time when news sites cannot push their stories out through social media, thanks to Bill C-18, and there are still many barriers to monetizing online posts.

Across Ontario there will be 605 layoffs, nearly two-thirds of the workforce, including 68 journalists. Because of the bankruptcy, no severances will be paid.

Locally this means The Stayner Sun, as it was known before it was merged with The Wasaga Sun, will no longer be delivered to our driveways. Although the paper delivered as a flyer bundle wasn’t what it once was – a solid small town broadsheet with paid subscribers – it is very sad to see it close.

The Stayner Sun was established in 1877 and was a valued community asset. I was hired there in 2001, and worked with a dedicated news team. It was only my second newspaper job and I learned a lot about how a newspaper can be the glue of a community, how it can divide people on two sides of an issue – and most certainly how annoyed people get when their name is misspelled (and rightfully so).

The Sun was purchased by Metroland three years into my 15-year employment with The Sun group of newspapers. During that time the paper shrunk both in physical size and content and bit by bit creative decision making was taken away from the news team in favour of highly prescriptive formulaic design and off-site production.

Newspapers are a business and decisions are made with the bottom line in mind but as an independently owned and operated newspaper The Creemore Echo is able to balance that with community impact and doesn’t have to answer to faceless shareholders – we answer to our advertisers, subscribers and the people we see at the grocery store.

As the only print newspaper remaining in the region we intend to pick up the slack. We are the local newspaper for all of Clearview Township, Mulmur and surrounding areas. As long as there are printing presses in operation and Amazon hasn’t bought up all the paper supply, we intend to keep printing.

Every time a news product is sacrificed on the corporate chopping block we are bolstered by encouragement from the community, and for that we are grateful. We believe we will be able to grow our product and expand our distribution with the support of the community.

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