About 160 people were at the meeting in Victoria Hall tonight led by Rob Washburn. When Rob introduced it he said that it was more a conversation than a meeting – no decisions were made but a lot of ideas were presented. At the meeting I saw many political figures: Lou Rinaldi, John Henderson, Brian Darling, Aaron Burchat, David Piccini and Adam Bureau. During the meeting many of the local journalists and media representatives were there and spoke up – too many to name individually. These included Northumberland News, SNAP, CHEX, My Broadcasting, FM89.7 as well as Social media: Now Network, Cobourg Media and Cobourg Internet. Many in the audience spoke of many years of experience in newspapers or radio so the input was knowledgeable about the subject. Loyalist College journalism School was well represented and Tony Grace from Loyalist was the moderator.
The conversation was divided into three topics; I have abbreviated the comments but you can see the depth and range of ideas:
What does local News mean to you
- Fake news can be a problem unless there are journalists managing news
- We need a business model that works – one example of a working model is the Globe and Mail where original content is the key.
- “Online things” can’t give photos of hockey teams and other very local stuff that we’d want in a scrapbook – nostalgia is important.
- Newspapers preserve local history
- The Cobourg library has a good archive of old newspapers.
- A column where people can write in about things that “tick them off’ can be very popular
- Being connected turns us into a community
- We need to know what happens at the Hospital
- We need to know about crime – it does happen here
- A non-profit model might work and give a few jobs to journalists.
The Current State of Newspapers – where do we get local news
- There are not enough trees for paper for all the newspapers to be sustainable. Let’s not be romantic about them.
- There is now more choice
- The question is “how do we make this sustainable?”
- Only a few stories are of interest to everyone – a single newsroom can’t be everything to everyone
- There are not many young people in the audience
- Why not sign up to multiple newsletters – Hospital, clubs etc
- Council news comes from John Draper
- Snapchat, Twitter and facebook
- The online format has changed
- But are we willing to pay for it? – a survey by a show of hands showed that the majority were willing to pay $1 a week. Many already subscribe to (e.g.) the Globe and Mail
What can be done?
- At one time we paid for music but then people got music for free on the Internet. But now the trend is to pay for music online
- Graham Beer (17) of Cobourg media said that youth do care and do look for news although they want it short and engaging. Although he and his immediate friends would pay, Graham said maybe most youth would not pay
- How do people find out about other news outlets?
- Maybe a Government central site could provide a guide to what’s there.
- Lou Rinaldi commented that you get what you pay for, that the world is changing and we need to adapt.
- We need to distinguish between a credible news source and the voice of an angry person.
- We need court coverage since justice needs to be seen to be done
- We don’t want newspapers owned by conglomerates in towers in the city – we want local ownership.
- Would like to know the Global connections to Cobourg – there are many
- News media should be “pushed” via email
- News needs to be paid for – journalists need to be paid.
Rob said that the information would be collected and a report produced. This would then be made available to the public.
A video from Facebook of the full event by Graham Beer of Cobourg Media (1 hour 30 minutes)