Another three community newspapers will come to a halt next week. Postmedia is shutting down the Lacombe Globe, Edson Leader, and Hinton Parklander because they are losing money.
The Lacombe Globe closes after 119 years, the Edson Leader after 109 years and the Hinton Parklander after 65 years.
I started in the newspaper business at the Hinton Parklander 14 years ago after a decade of writing books and publishing a couple of magazines. I learned much during my brief time there about the news business, reporting on community news and telling stories with photographs. They were skills I transferred to another of the then Bowes rags – The Morinville Mirror when I moved here later that same year. They are skills I’ve used the past ten years running this publication.
Back in 2006, almost a decade and a half ago, we worked stupid hours covering meetings, attending sports events, photographing community programs, and just running around to see who could get the best front page shot that week. Every community has an almost limitless supply of great stories, and we tried to cover them all.
Ad revenue was decent then. As recent as 2008 here in Morinville, we were cranking out as many as 40 pages a week at the Mirror. It was easy to have the staff resources to comb and cover every corner of the community.
But communities with print rags are hard-pressed to see more than a dozen pages these days, sometimes less. A dozen pages are what we were at when we dropped our redundant print edition in 2017.
As an exclusively online publication, page count does not dictate the number of stories we can run, but lower revenue each year means fewer stories get covered. That is simply the reality as we have had to offer other services and shift revenue from non-news sources to underwrite producing community news.
Sadly, the number of businesses willing to support local news continues to decrease across the country, and when the decisions are made in the board room and not the newsroom, papers fold. Those three Postmedia papers will end next week. It is unlikely that other factors beyond the bottom line got factored into the decision.
Fortunately, Hinton has an excellent weekly publication left – The Hinton Voice, who will continue to tell that community’s stories.
In an Internet world where Facebook and Google are dominant players in the advertising business, it is all too convenient for business owners to boost their Facebook posts for a few bucks. In so doing, they send their revenue to American companies that do not put one dime into the community. And last we heard, Facebook was not covering community events, open houses, and hosting FREE movie events, although you are free to post your images there.
Morinville News can only do what we do because there are a core number of businesses in Morinville and area that understand supporting a community news publication is not only about advertising. It is about building community by helping to fund those who tell the stories about that community. In that sense, our clients are not merely advertisers; they are community partners.
And for that, we have always been truly grateful. We could not exist without them or our readers.