Value of local news re-discovered

It is often difficult to keep up with the heartbeat of the district. Even catching up at a Tim’s or McDonald’s with friends, we miss out on lots of activities that are taking place across our communities that enhance or have some effect on our lives and those of our families.
Yet every Wednesday without fail, the Fort Frances Times tries to provide the district with stories and features about the clubs, organizations, and governing bodies that impact our lives. The paper includes the births, obituaries, socials, and upcoming events.
Back in 1934 when my grandfather, James Cumming, and his partner, Russ Larson, restarted the Fort Frances Times, they made a commitment to try and cover the news of the people of the district. We continue to meet their standards today.
Amazingly, newspapers across Canada and North America are rediscovering the value and importance of local news about school concerts, high school sports, dance recitals, and cribbage and dart tournaments impacting readers. It is old-time journalism being reborn.
Sometimes that local journalism is found in bloggers. Sometimes local news is being found behind subscription paywalls. Much still is in the form of hard-copy print.
The world of journalism is changing but the methods to create and write those stories remains the same. Local news costs money and the changing form or delivering news also costs money.
The federal government has recognized the value of local news and is providing funding to make the transition. It has recognized the value of local newspapers to the health and vitality of communities across Canada.
The Government of Canada announced $500 million to be spent on local news gathering across Canada over the next five years. It is an important undertaking to keep alive journalism in smaller communities right across the country.
In the past half-decade, 149 newspapers across Canada have ceased publication and that number continues to grow week after week. In the U.S., more than 1,400 local papers have closed their doors.
The attrition of reporters and photographers in newsrooms across Canada keeps climbing. It is no wonder that Facebook, with their local content for larger centres, published a story last week that they face a major shortage of local news in the United States and only are able to provide feed for 400 larger cities.
Most of those stories used by both Facebook and Google are amalgamated from other journalism sources. Neither social media groups have their own journalism teams in those communities.
Rather, they are dependant on U.S. community papers similar to the Fort Frances Times, International Falls Daily Journal, The Mesabi Daily News, The Timberjay News of Orr, Mn., Kenora Miner and News, the Steinbach Carillon, Goderich Signal Star, the Cornwall Seaway News, and other community papers across Canada and the U.S.
At the Fort Frances Times, we continue to have three reporters and an editor try to capture as many events and happenings across the district. Often those four individuals are requested to be in five or six different places at the same time and many requests are last-minute.
We ask that you help us by taking photos of the event or writing an article for the paper. It helps create the fullest community newspaper possible.

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