Newspapers do still play a vital role

There has been a great deal of negative reporting about the state of journalism over the past few months.
As I read the news items and listen to the commentators, one would think that newspapers, independent television stations, and radio stations are about to die.
Yes, there will be some newspapers that will cease to publish. There will be some radio stations that will be amalgamated into a bigger base no longer attached to a single community and there also will be some TV stations in smaller markets that will disappear.
We already have seen that change in CHCH from Hamilton that let their whole newsroom go. The Montreal Gazette has stopped putting out a daily printed edition (today it has become an online daily paper).
The Huffington Post probably was the first large publication to go strictly online. Many smaller communities in southern Ontario and B.C., meanwhile, have gone from publishing twice weekly to once a week.
Newspapers tell the stories of the communities in which they serve. One of the most expensive parts of publishing is the cost of reporters, editors, and photographers. It is those people who go to the council and board of education meetings, sporting events, courts, concerts, and fairs.
It is the reporters, editors, and photographers who write and produce the stories about doctor recruitment, modernization of hospitals, upgrades to local manufacturing industries, and new businesses opening their doors in the community.
Unfortunately, they also are the people who tell the story of tragedies, unexpected deaths, and business closings.
All of these things matter to the people in their communities. The story might appear as insignificant as the rescue of a cat, or as big as following the exploration and opening of a mine over decades.
Newspapers have built their business model on two parts. The first is selling subscriptions to purchase the paper and the second is selling advertising in the paper. Those two branches of publishing pay for the trunk of the tree to remain healthy so the stories that blossom as leaves can be shared and seen within the 20 some communities here in Rainy River District.
Both television and newspapers have experienced significant declines in advertising revenue. The revenue has been transferred to flyers and to the businesses’ own websites and social networks.
In Canada, as already has happened in the U.S., large daily newspapers and large television networks have cut back in their newsrooms. The number of journalists telling the stories of the people in their communities has been reduced dramatically.
With those cutbacks, the numbers of stories have declined and it has become a vicious circle. Our news holes have been reduced.
Across Rainy River District, we have five people covering the events of our communities. They work countless hours through weekends and nights to tell our stories. They cannot always be everywhere at the same time. They also must have the time for their families and their own lives.
We strive to be everywhere but it is impossible.
We always need more help and that help can be in someone taking a photo with their cellphone and sending it to us, or writing a story and submitting it to our editors.
We also would like lots of lead time to co-ordinate effective staffing so we can arrange for someone to be important events.
The newspapers remain the recorders of the history of our district.

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