The Gleaner will mark its 160th anniversary on September 18, 2023. It is a noteworthy point in time to celebrate – not just because 160 years is a long time for an institution to exist, but also because The Gleaner is doing relatively well despite some pretty big challenges in recent years.
In this age of “digital this” and “information technology that,” community newspapers are going out of business on a daily basis in North America, and The Gleaner was almost one amongst that number just five short years ago. Handed off from one media chain to another over the last two decades and buffeted by the significant drop in advertising and subscriber revenue in the transition to digital platforms, The Gleaner temporarily ceased publication for seven long months between November 2018 and June 2019.
In some respects, that temporary closure was fortunate because the community that The Gleaner served quickly realized what a gap in the Valley’s social, political, and cultural life had been created. People wanted The Gleaner back, and people stepped up to make that happen.
People became members of the steering committee to figure how to get The Gleaner going again. People donated through a GoFundMe campaign, bought subscriptions, and purchased advertising to help finance the relaunch of the publication. Once things got rolling, people volunteered to serve on the board of directors to guide the enterprise forward, and people offered their skill and expertise as employees to ensure regular publication of quality local news.
It should also be noted that both the federal and provincial governments also deserve credit for bolstering the community media sector, especially during the pandemic years, with financial support and strategic development initiatives. But then, who are governments if not the people themselves.
Now, as a non-profit social enterprise, The Gleaner is firmly re-established as an essential component of Chateauguay Valley life, and its future is a lot brighter as a community-owned media that is, above all, “by and for the people.” Here’s a toast to 160 years – and counting!
Publisher, The Gleaner