The Gleaner
Opinions

Through fair weather and foul…

It is far from breaking news that local news outlets are shrinking, folding, and cutting staff at an alarming rate – The Local News Research Project reported that 50 community newspapers ceased publication in early 2020, compared to just 215 closures in the 12 years prior.

On the (somewhat) bright side, Statistics Canada reported than in the early days of the pandemic, more than 50 per cent of Canadians relied on local, regional, or national news outlets for information about the health crisis (with less than 10 per cent citing social media as their source of information), so Canadians do recognize the value of traditional media outlets.

Here at The Gleaner, we’ve seen a bumper crop of encouragement and support since the newspaper was revived in 2019, but like so many other publications, we’ve also seen a huge spike in the number of people just “tuning in” in times of crisis. All this is perfectly fair; people who might normally not be “all that interested” needed that vital content at the time – information that could only come from an independent local source. Through the early days of the pandemic, The Gleaner was one of the only ways for the Chateauguay Valley to find out what was going on in its backyard. Between our daily COVID updates online, and the mass of information about local services we put together for the print editions, we worked hard to keep everyone informed.

To those who have stood by The Gleaner and cheer us on as we continue to rebuild it (pivoting as needed to cope with the problematic industry climate): Thank you so much – we could not have done it without you! To those who might not have been prepared to commit to a subscription, or who are buying their own copy of the paper at retail, it is indisputably within your rights to make that choice, and we understand that the economy is difficult for everyone, not just newspapers. However, please keep in mind that most news providers’ bottom lines depend partly on subscriptions and retail sales, as well as advertising; and if many locals neglect to support us when the weather is fair, options for local coverage may be limited the next time a storm rolls around. Chantal Hortop

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