Earlier this year, the Public Policy Forum released a major report on the state of the news industry in Canada. Called “The Shattered Mirror: News, Democracy and Trust in the Digital Age” and written by former Globe and Mail editor and publisher Edward Greenspon, the report paints a gloomy picture of today’s landscape, especially for the country’s daily newspapers, where both the number of readers and the advertising dollars that support the papers’ journalism are falling fast. Meanwhile, the Internet, “once an extraordinary manifestation of a freewheeling information market, has quickly come to be dominated by a pair of global giants from Silicon Valley – Google and Facebook – that are not only lacking in passion for news, but actively avoiding the responsibilities of a publisher.”
The situation for Canada’s community newspapers is not as grim, but it’s not all sunshine and roses either. According to figures presented to members attending the annual convention of the Ontario Community Newspapers Association over the weekend by Ryerson University researcher April Lindgren, 137 community newspapers have closed their doors since 2008, and in less than half those cases has any kind of local alternative sprung up to replace them.
In the face of all that gloom and doom, what would move three people to agree to buy out this community newspaper from its previous owners, the Deep River Community Association? The answer is right there in the wording – community. The new owners – myself, Kelly Lapping and Vance Gutzman – are not just long-time employees of the NRT. We are deeply rooted members of this community – born here, raised here – for two of us, raised our families here. This community is our home, in a way it would never be to an outside buyer. We believe in the importance of the North Renfrew Times to our community, and we believe both the business model and the public support are there to keep the paper viable in the longer term.
In fact, we want more than for this to be our community newspaper – we want it to be yours. The NRT has always been open to community submissions – we invite even more. Tell us what is happening in your corner of the community – tell us what your group is up to, or about the accomplishments or amazing interests of your friends, family or neighbours. Send us a news tip. If you see something interesting, snap a picture and send it to us. Communities thrive when everyone is engaged, and we want to be at the very heart of that. Tell us what makes this community special to you.
From Tee Lake to Tack Point, from the Wylie to Burke’s beach, from the Chutes to Old Mackey Park and a thousand places in between, this is home and we look forward to serving all of you for many years to come.