Community journalism critical to rural Canada’s survival

With the closure of a number of community newspaper, the search for a sustainable model is elusive. While most academics frame the debate over these closure in terms of the impact on local democracy or the failure of an economic model, there may be another way to view the issue – through the lens of rural sustainability. Here are three articles I recent wrote for J-Source indicating some thoughts on this important aspect of journalism.

Here is the introduction I wrote for the three-part series:

When a community newspaper closes, it is a great loss. Still, publishers will argue it is the economic reality of the times. Many scholars argue the importance of community journalism to democracy and citizenship, often separately from the business decisions. The historic tension between public service and economics is longstanding. But, what if there is another set of lenses beyond journalism, political economy communications theory and other traditional disciplines to shed light on the significance of news media in rural Canada? This three-part weekly series will place community news media within the context of rural development in the hope of exploring the role journalism plays for sustaining hamlets, villages, towns and cities in rural areas

Why we should care when a community newspaper shuts down:When community newspapers close in towns and villages across rural Canada, the loss is bemoaned. But publishers and owners often justify the decision based on the economic realities forcing them to shutter the operations. Read more…

Why sustaining an advertising-driven business model is difficult for community newspapers:Rural economies face an unusual combination of pressures unlike major urban centres, where there is more diversity in economic drivers. These create a number of challenges for community newspapers. Read more..

The future of community journalism spells economic survival of rural communities: While community newspapers are not the only source of information, they are a critical component in rural development. In light of the innovations taking place, such as hyperlocal journalism, and new practices, such as e-journalism’s call to educate, engage and empower audiences, it appears there is a larger economic imperative to have a strong, vibrant news media.  to assist in building community resiliency, which is defined as the ability of a community to withstand and adapt in the face of major changes. Read more…
Thanks to Tamara Baluja, associate editor,  and Bruce Gillespie, editor in chief, for their support in publishing these ideas.