Coverage of local news in cities and towns across the province has been dealt another blow, as Canada’s two biggest newspaper chains — Postmedia and Torstar — swapped more than 40 community newspapers across Southern Ontario, and will be closing most of them.
“It’s bad news for the community. There’s no doubt,” Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson said.
In Kingston, two weekly papers, the Kingston Heritage and Frontenac Gazette were closed. Their employees were informed as they tried to open locked doors Monday morning.
“There’s been lots of newspaper closures, particularly community papers, over the past ten years. It just doesn’t usually all happen at once like this,” Ryerson University media analyst April Lindgren said.
Lindgren runs a website called the ‘Local News Project’ which analyzes different aspects of local news, including when and where new local news outlets open, or in most cases, close their doors.
“The newspaper business model is in trouble, and nobody has figured out a solution to it yet,” Lindgren said. “In fact, the main response seems to be to slash and burn the content that’s available.”
Locally, about a dozen full-time employees here have lost their jobs, plus a number of freelance writers. As far as print journalism goes, the Whig-Standard is now the only paper left standing in the City of Kingston.
“We’re going to get more and more news that’s brought to us by the chains, and less and less actual local news,” Kingston city councillor, Jim Neill said, “Which will be really unfortunate.”
“The continuing costs of producing dozens of small community newspapers in these regions in the face of significantly declining advertising revenues means that most of these operations are no longer have viable business models,” Postmedia Chair Paul Godfrey said in a statement Monday.
In total, nearly 250 jobs will be cut as a result of the mass closures – as well leaving many smaller communities in the province without a newspaper to call their own.