Publishers, editors and journalists rarely talk about their own industry although lately, print newspapers talk about their dwindling business. Large news media companies such as the Toronto Star have recently got some publicity but the small ones just seem to fade away. The Cobourg Star was a daily Newspaper for over a century but recently merged with others until it became Northumberland Today. But when it finally closed in November 2017 (see link below), Cobourg residents were unhappy and were vocal at a “Town Hall Meeting”. As a result a small group led by Rob Washburn and John Miller started a portal web site (Northumberland Hub – Sept 2018) that provided brief news synopses plus links to all local news sources. This steered Cobourg residents to the multiple local news sites. However interest in the Hub was low so it shut down in February 2019.
So like it or not, Cobourg now has one weekly print newspaper and several web sites providing news.
Obviously one of these is Cobourg News Blog but I often tell people that these days one must visit multiple sites to get all the news, especially for local news. Gone are the days when one could subscribe to a local daily paper and find out all that was happening in Town.
But each news site covers different topics but more importantly each has different attributes. For example, not all provide for a daily email with news updates and few provide for comments which allow debate on current topics and provide a sense of community. Most also cover all of Northumberland and not just Cobourg.
At the risk of offending operators of other sites, here is my summary/review of each of the major sites:
|Northumberland News||The web site of the remaining print Newspaper||
|Northumberland Today||Operated by Pete Fisher and Steve White||
|Cobourg Now||One of a group covering Northumberland – operated by local businessman Jay Robinson||
|Cobourg News Blog||This site. Operated by John Draper||
These are the major sites but there are some other sites – notably the radio stations, one by Rob Washburn and another by Graham Beer. Most news sources also have twitter accounts and tweet breaking news there.
For a list of all sites covering local news, go here.
Operating a news web site has the advantage of immediate feedback on what people find interesting. Here are the top 6 topics on Cobourg News Blog (since Sept 2017):
|Topic||# articles||Total Hits||Avge Hits/article||Total comments|
Note that web site statistics ae notoriously unreliable. There are multiple methods and multiple ways that numbers can be misleading. For example, hits can be counted by Server hits, WordPress (or Joomla) hits or Google analytics. Even surveys can be inaccurate – participants may not be a fair sample (e.g. only one side of an argument bothers to participate), participants may not be local and the demographic may be skewed.
But it’s clear that most people do want local news and based on the decline of the newspaper businesses, it seems most now prefer online sources to paper.
- Northumberland Today to Shut Down – 27 November 2017
- Good Turnout at Town Hall on Local News – 20 March 2018
- New Web site helps fill news gap – 4 September 2018
- Northumberland Hub to Shut Down – 12 Feb 2019