So what makes a rural community? Some people believe that it is about the hospital, the hockey rink, the school or maybe the post office. What about the local newspaper? Is it still a fabric of the community like it once was? We might not even know how much they mean until they are all gone. If the recent trend continues we could be missing most of them very soon.
In late November, Postmedia Network Canada Corp. and Torstar Corp. traded 41 daily and community newspapers, and then decided to close most of them down, which also eliminated 291 full- and part-time jobs in Ontario.
In Saskatchewan last week, Star News Publishing announced it is trying to sell the 13 titles it purchased in 2016. If the papers are not sold they will be closed down as well.
The reasons for the failings of these publications are numerous, but clearly urbanization and the internet, including social media, are factors.
Just look around your rural farming community and you can see the density of population continues to decline in many areas. Additionally, most of these publications are not locally owned and instead are apart of larger publication conglomerations. The publication is a line on the income statement or balance sheet and nothing more. It might even be making money by itself, but it is much easier for the head office to close the doors in a small town.
Barrie Mckenna has an interesting perspective in an opinion column in the Globe and Mail. He says the blame for the death of local news outlets should fall at the feet of CBC’s digital success. CBC is doing such a great job of local news websites that people feel they are covered.
Even the two national papers of the National Post and the Globe and Mail suffer from their own major struggles in this increasingly fragmented media market.
Agriculture media companies like RealAgriculture and Rural Radio 147 report rural news but not all local or community news gets covered like in a local weekly newspaper.
If people do care about their local community papers, they might want to enjoy them while they last, because sadly, the trend is not their friend.