Many people in Cobourg and nearby areas were unhappy when Northumberland Today closed down. The weekly Northumberland News and various blogs (like this one) do not fill the big gap. What’s needed is not just a daily coverage of all kinds of news but also coverage of community activities such as entertainment events, births, engagements, deaths and club meetings as well as local classifieds – preferably daily. And of course multiple reporters (and others) were put out of work. But John Miller, professor emeritus at Ryerson University School of Journalism and resident of Port Hope, wanted to do something. With the help of interested citizens and in particular, Rob Washburn, John got people discussing the issue. John is “out of town” right now but passed the baton to Rob who called on his colleagues at Loyalist college. They believe they can repeat what was recently done in Belleville: that is, “have a constructive conversation with the public around the state of local news, successes and challenges facing the industry and what potential next steps could be taken to address concerns.”
At the next Cobourg Committee of the Whole meeting, Rob will talk about the idea of having a Town Hall meeting to accomplish this. He will ask for a waiver of the normal fee to rent Victoria Hall on a Monday or Tuesday evening in April and asks for help from Town staff to organize the event.
We will be inviting the public, as well as contacting the various councils, community groups, service clubs, agencies, non-profits and, most importantly, the public within Northumberland West to join us. We also hope to record the event, as well as stream it live, to ensure we reach out to as many people as possible. We will also be using various tools to engage the public in advance and to follow up after the event.
There is no magic answer nor even a single idea of exactly what the problem is but the start is to get a conversation going with people who are interested – not just journalists but consumers of newspaper content. Various solutions have been suggested and some actively tried.
- A paywall so you pay to get online news (won’t work for small local newspapers)
- Employee owned newspapers
- Subsidized local newspapers
- Expanding existing news gatherer/outlets – radio and online
- Creating a local Portal (e.g. the now closed Northumberland View)
- Expanding the role of a library
- Designating local news as an essential service so that it gets funded by Government.
To get a background on the subject, you can watch the following video of John Miller discussing the problem in an interview on TVO shortly after Northumberland Today shut down.
Will the Cobourg (or West Northumberland) community rally around and find a solution?
- Download Rob Washburn’s letter to Cobourg Council.
- Northumberland Today to shut down – Post on 27 November 2017.
Feb 11, 2018
The Meeting will be in Victoria Hall Tuesday March 20, 2018 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m
Feb 20, 2018
At the Committee of the Whole meeting, Council approved Rob’s request for support.