The Gleaner
Opinions

How long can The Gleaner continue to beat the odds?

According to a Canadian Press article in December of 2023, 29 Canadian community newspapers closed their doors during the year, and only one new publication was launched. Research by Northwestern University in Illinois indicates that the U.S. is losing 2.5 community newspapers each and every week of the year; over 200 counties are “news deserts” with no local community media at all.

Yet here we are, amongst all the turmoil and discombobulation that is afflicting the community media sector, celebrating five years since the relaunch of The Gleaner in June 2019.

It’s a success story that beats all the odds, and one that is founded on the premise of community ownership – no far-away corporate headquarters is going to make dispassionate decisions on whether our local newspaper lives or dies. We’ll do that for ourselves, thank you!

Despite the success of the last five years, the task of maintaining The Gleaner won’t get any easier. The substantial financial assistance provided by various levels of government during the pandemic have begun to recede. At the same time, the dominance of the tech giants such as Meta and Google continue to have negative impacts on the revenue prospects of everyone else involved in delivering the news.

And The Gleaner is a very small fish in a very large pond. Serving an official language minority community in a rural area, the critical mass to support community media is as small as it gets. In this context, The Gleaner has to reflect on its business model to ensure that it can keep serving Chateauguay Valley communities with quality local news for the next five years.

The Gleaner already has twice the average number of subscribers for a community newspaper in a given demographic. It is only one of eleven media in Canada to be approved for charitable status by the Canadian Revenue Agency. It is an innovator in developing alternative revenue solutions such as the Quebec Connect news service focused on the English-speaking communities in the regions.

Yet more will still need to be accomplished to ensure that The Gleaner can continue to keep the pace in providing quality, local news. Because it is a community-owned non-profit publication, your input is important – so please take a few moments to respond to the short questionnaire we have prepared as part of The Gleaner’s business planning process. Let us know your thoughts on the best way for The Gleaner to continue beating the odds for the next five years.

The questionnaire can be found in English at: https://tinyurl.com/gleanernext5years.

Thank you to all volunteers, staff, contributors, subscribers, advertisers, and government programs for making the past five years a great success. Looking forward to continuing to beat the odds for another five!
Hugh Maynard
Publisher, The Gleaner

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