News in Cobourg – August 2020

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.

Rob Washburn at Town Hall Meeting
Rob Washburn at Town Hall Meeting

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:

Web Site Description Review
Northumberland News The web site of the remaining print Newspaper
  • Updated most days
  • To see more than 5 articles in 30 days, you must register
  • Email subscription available
  • Range of topics attempts to be like a print newspaper – e.g. includes an advice column
  • Typically quality reporting with professional journalists
  • Not all Council matters or police events are reported – staff is limited.
  • Subscribers may comment but rarely do
  •  Recently added a poll to get reader input – good move!
  • Relies on subscriptions and advertising for revenue.  Parent company Torstar was recently in financial difficulties and sold to a new owner.
Northumberland Today Operated by Pete Fisher and Steve White
  • Updated most days and is often first with news
  • Email subscription available
  • Pete Fisher does an excellent job of covering Public Safety events (Police, Fire, accidents) and covers some others but rarely Council meetings
  • Articles written by Pete Fisher and occasionally by other professionals
  • No provision for comments.
  • Has many good photos
  • Relies on advertising sold by Steve White – Business Manager – rates here
Cobourg Now One of a group covering Northumberland – operated by local businessman Jay Robinson
  • Updated most days
  • No email subscription
  • Focus is on general interest topics – that is, few Police or Fire reports and few Council reports
  • Articles written by professionals
  • Comments are not allowed
  • Relies on Advertising and donations.
Cobourg News Blog This site.  Operated by John Draper
  • Usually updated every second day
  • Focus on Cobourg (only) with emphasis on what’s happening in Cobourg Council
  • Email subscription available
  • Comments allowed and encouraged and extensively used.  Also thumbs up/down available on comments.
  • Operates at a loss with some limited advertising via Google.

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
Northumberland Mall 4 18,701 4,675 299
Cobourg Beach 13 37,424 2,879 1,049
Golden Plough 2 4,744 2.372 29
Marijuana Facility 6 12,876 2,146 190
Recycling 4 7,316 1,829 123
Affordable Housing 10 14,589 1,459 289

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.


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Linda Mackenzie-Nicholas
3 years ago

Thanks John for this info. I must say though that Pete’s media is called Today’s Northumberland and Beyond and you can comment on facebook and people do- in a big way. For local Media Pete’s Today’s Northumberland probably has the most comments of any local media. Another good source of local news by email is 93.3 MYFM

3 years ago

It’s widely known that negative stories attract more readership than positive reporting. Accordingly, it should come as no surprise to see the high local attention levels to our stories about our Mall(Insolvency); Beach(Closure), Cannabis Plant(closure), Recycling (ending up in landfill sites), The Golden Plough Lodge thinks they need $100mm for improvements while the entire community Affordable Housing initiative only gets $8mm in funding…all grim & contrary news…dripping with political intrigue, conspiracy possibilities, misdeeds and stirring emotional responses…

What has been lost locally with the decline in local coverage might be the thoughful opinion pieces and coverage of positive news.? There are many good stories that continue to come out of our community that don’t attract any media attention. Maybe that has become our preference?

Reply to  Dunkirk
3 years ago

“The Golden Plough Lodge thinks they need $100mm for improvements “

it doesn’t thinks it needs it , it does need it

Reply to  Mark
3 years ago

Not in my opinion. I’ve been visiting there regularly for a fairly long time and it all seems in good working order to me.
It certainly could continue as is for another decade or two and maybe then need replacing, but they are going to destroy a perfectly viable facility just because of some arbitrary standard implemented by some bureaucracy out there somewhere.

Reply to  JimT
3 years ago

That is also the opinion of an elderly relative who lives there. However, as a visitor ((when we were allowed to) I did notice the lack of air conditioning in the rooms. The Legion doesn’t have any in the rooms, either, unless the residents provide their own.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  GailR
3 years ago

Far less than $100M would pay for air conditioners in the rooms. Consider that the Golden Plough has only 151 beds so $100M is $662,000/bed!

Reply to  Ken Strauss
3 years ago

Actually, Ken, there will be 180 beds. This decreases the cost per bed to a paltry $555,555

Reply to  Bryan
3 years ago

Or about $1852 per bed per month for 25 years (today’s dollars), excluding repair/ maintenance and operating costs. Move in ready, new building for long term care and hopefully built to reflect realities of being better prepared for serious infection or pandemic protocols for especially vulnerable members of community.
Also to be included should be the related costs of removing 151 beds from a growing and aging community by demolition vs. retrofit to optimum use as other home options.

Robert Washburn
3 years ago

Thanks for the mention, John. You could also give a nod to several podcasters in the area who provide great interviews and news. JG Media was recently started by Jeff Gard, the former sports reporter at Northumberland Today. It is a great source for local sports news in the form of a podcast. Lyss Warmland’s Nothing Exists Radio Hour is a wonderful show featuring issues and voices rarely heard, yet talking about crucial issues in the community. Dale Bryant does a podcast on local real estate and is a good information source.

The key is something you already mentioned, John. The luxurious days of sitting down and getting all the news in one place like a local newspaper are gone. Now, it is like a buffet. You have a plate, and fill it with what you like – a bit of Today’s Northumberland, Northumberland News, an hourly newscast from a radio station, plus a couple of favourite podcasts. Then, you supplement it by following reliable sources of information carefully selected from social media (that you actually read, not just like with the twitch of a finger).

While we enjoy multiple sources of news and information, we still don’t have a robust news environment. Similar stories get covered. There is not a lot of original reporting. Press releases often get posted unedited or without follow up interviews to confirm information or obtain additional voices or reactions. Many stories are driven by organizations sending out media releases rather than reporters digging up or following up on issues. All reporters want to do this type of journalism. They work long, hard hours. It is not their fault. But owners are not willing to invest the necessary resources of money and adequate staffing to cover the number of stories out there properly.

All of this must be supported by people paying. The days of free will draw to a close. Either news companies ramp up their data collection technology and sell it, or individuals will start coughing up. Otherwise, we will be left with rumour, gossip, and disinformation as a constant diet. And, that will create an unhealthy society.

Thanks for the update, John. It is genuinely appreciated.

Marc Cowin
3 years ago

Northumberland County Breaking News Feed (previously known as Baltimore Ontario News Feed) posts all articles on Facebook allowing for comments and input.

Linda Mackenzie-Nicholas
Reply to  Marc Cowin
3 years ago

There are also other pages who do similar activities, such as Politics in Northumberland, Port Hope Politics, Cobourg Politics, etc

3 years ago

I think the reason most news print declined so badly was that most reporters were so opinionated and only reported their view on most news events, if they would have just simply reported the news event as it happened and what was stated ( no hidden meaning or interpretation needed ) they would still be in business.

3 years ago

Today Northumberland and Northumberland News has a Lot comments on Facebook , each article are post there
Pete will also do live feeds on FB on breaking stories
Chex News also covers the area