Local media's challenge
Posted: Friday, January 29, 2016 7:27 am
Dire straits at Dougall Media is the latest bad news for Canada's news organizations.
Dougall operates two television stations, four radio stations, a weekly newspaper and a website. Unless it gets some form of relief through the federal broadcast regulator, the company's boss said Wednesday, the TV stations will close by September. Maybe it needs to find new ways to operate rather than seeking public relief. Does it still need eight outlets?
When Postmedia announced cuts nationally this week, it signalled another injury that stems in large part from people's increasing use of online sources for news and entertainment - sources that cost nothing but which have little or nothing to do with them and their communities.
When Dougall Media's general manager told the CRTC this week it needs help or its TV stations - both network affiliates - will go dark, the implications hit home. But will a resumption of federal aid for small market stations get Dougall over the hump or merely prolong its demise?
No media company in Canada is without some of the same challenges - declining revenue and fewer consumers. If their local media disappears, where will people get news about their communities? Will Huffington Post cover Thunder Bay city council? Will some blogger provide news of a plane crash at a remote Northern Ontario airport? Will a Facebook post give you confidence that you've got a factual story about a murder in Marathon? Will a Twitter post cover all aspects of a promising mining development in the Ring of Fire?
Media right across Canada are being forced to cut back as consumers turn to "free" sources of news and information. This newspaper is not immune and reductions in our news department were met with genuine concern and some criticism. While challenges remain we changed and found new ways to engage readers. We have been operating in this community for well over 130 years and our readers naturally think of us as "their" newspaper. Their concern is understandable as is concern over the prospect of no local TV stations.
We survive on the support of our subscribers and our advertisers. We have a building to maintain, a printing press, computers, vehicles. We still have a sizable staff that is paid from our revenues. None of these responsibilities fall to "free" Internet news sources that bear no allegiance to local people or to the news that concerns them.
Read Warren Kinsella's column in this newspaper Thursday, titled What If Newspapers Die? Read Heather Mallick's piece in the Toronto Star Wednesday, We Know the Price of Journalism But Not Its Value. Listen to Dougall vice-president Don Caron before the CRTC and sense the reality of what he is saying. The trouble in our business is not ours alone.
Original article can be found here: http://www.chroniclejournal.com/opinion