Well, maybe not “own” in the sense of a home or a car, but as a member or subscriber you have a stake in The Gleaner as true “community media.”
When The Gleaner was relaunched in 2019, ownership had been transferred to the Chateauguay Valley Community Information Services (CVCIS), a not-for-profit social enterprise. The newspaper operates as a business, but any surplus is re-invested into the publication rather than being issued as a dividend to shareholders. The Gleaner is truly ‘by and for’ the community.
Support for The Gleaner has been nothing short of fantastic, especially in the context of the pandemic and the general turbulence in media operations worldwide. Approximately 50 per cent of English-speaking households either subscribe or pick up a copy of The Gleaner at their local store. Advertisers, who have lots of promotion choices, have been loyal in using The Gleaner as one of their primary marketing vehicles.
It’s a precarious economic situation for small community publications everywhere in the shadow of the Google and Facebook behemoths, so The Gleaner will be doubling down on its subscription and retail sales promotions in the coming months. There are more and more new residents in the Valley; perhaps you can help us let them know the value of local news ownership by welcoming them with a gift subscription gift form, or pointing out The Gleaner stand at your favourite retailer.
The Gleaner wouldn’t truly be “community” without its volunteers and donors. Nearly 40 community members showed up to an open meeting in November 2018 to set the relaunch of The Gleaner in motion, and over a dozen have since volunteered on the board of directors. And others have stepped forward with their cheque books to give above and beyond their subscriptions without expectation of additional benefit, other than to know that they are helping.
The Gleaner has been extremely fortunate that a core group of staff has stepped forward to ensure great content every two weeks and on the website. Having experienced personnel has made the task of relaunching and maintaining The Gleaner that much easier in the context of the pandemic. Their hard work has already been recognized with several awards and will be a key component as The Gleaner works toward a larger digital presence in delivering the news to the Valley.
It is important to note the helping hand provided by both the governments of Canada and Quebec – there is no doubt that The Gleaner would not have survived the economic downturn in 2020 that followed the destructive path laid down by the COVID pandemic. The Gleaner benefitted from COVID advertising and special measures from both levels of governments, as well as access to planning funds and internships that helped cross the bridge to the other side of the pandemic chasm.
The Gleaner recently received approval from the Canadian Revenue Agency for charitable status – your community newspaper will soon be able to issue tax-deductible receipts for donations. The Gleaner now becomes a cousin with other notable publications such as La Presse, and it is anticipated that this new measure will be an important source of revenue to complement subscriptions and advertising in the transition to “digital first.” Hugh Maynard, publisher