Keeping print alive, The Lake Report celebrated its official office opening last Thursday.
Coinciding with the second weekly edition of the year, it was a symbolic new start for the paper and staff.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony, held at the newly renovated office on Mississagua Street, had more than 60 people in attendance; it was a resounding success.
Richard Harley, editor-in-chief, stood by the new sign at the front of the building.
With onlookers braving the cold, he commented on the growth of the paper and the steps it has taken to get to this point.
It wasn’t an easy endeavour, but he said he’s proud of how far it has come.
After speeches by Lord Mayor Betty Disero and MPP Wayne Gates, the ribbon was cut; a new beginning for The Lake Report.
Gates congratulated Harley and staff on previous editions and spoke of the need for local, unbiased reporting.
“You need to know what’s going on in your community, you need to know what’s going on in your city council. It creates that debate, and it creates a healthy community.”
Commenting on the turnout, Gates said the importance of a local paper is evident.
“You can tell how important a local community paper is by the number of people that show up to an opening, in the middle of the week, at 10:30 in the morning, at wintertime.”
Gates encouraged everyone to support the paper, adding that he will do the same by advertising within for as long as his budget allows.
Though Disero jested she and Harley have had their “ups and downs” over the years, she spoke of how far he has come, commending his efforts to create a genuine local newspaper.
She said part of what makes a good community is its economic development. The Lake Report is joining that community and contributing to it.
“From a very small idea and a big dream from one person, we now have a new business in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It is flourishing, blossoming and bringing the news, both in the traditional manner, through newspapers, to the new millennial experience, online and through social media. I’m thrilled to be here to open this new business.”
Disero commented on the future of NOTL and bringing the youth here through employment. She said, particularly important to her, the second reason she was thrilled to be there was to encourage youth employment in NOTL. It is an issue she said she is focused on, wanting youth to live, stay and prosper here.
“Look at this group of [young] people here that are running this paper; they are our future.”
Disero offered her encouragement and support, “Just know that I respect everything you do and the work that your colleagues put into this newspaper for the residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake.”
Light refreshments were served while those in attendance came out of the cold to mingle. Supporters stayed for the afternoon, getting to know each other and discussing the future of the paper.
The event paralleled what The Lake Report aims to accomplish; community coming together. The support and appreciation were palpable.
Neighbours and councillors standing alongside writers, both on staff and by submission, gathered to celebrate the official opening of the new office.
In his speech, Harley said he always had a passion for journalism and for print.
“I think a lot of people love holding a real newspaper in their hands. One that’s relevant to them, informative, they can trust to be honest and unbiased. It makes me proud to put together every single issue, knowing it’s for this community. It’s here that I am fortunate enough to be able to follow my passion.”
It started as the pipedream of a young local resident. The paper began in Harley’s house with one Niagara College intern, and it has since grown to a weekly edition employing six full-time staff.
He said he created The Lake Report for several reasons, one of them being his love for NOTL.
“I love this town. I’ve been raised here my entire life and have fond memories here. The first time I ever learned what a bylaw officer is, was when they chased me down Queen Street as a youngster, because I had been playing guitar on the street — and making a decent buck doing it.”
In what many people may call a dying industry, The Lake Report aims to keep print alive. With over 10,000 copies in circulation it’s well on its way.
“When the Niagara Advance closed — the closest thing we had to a community paper — being how I am, I couldn’t sit back and watch NOTL be left out. Our community is unique, diverse, full of news to write about, and an all-around great place to live. We deserve a paper, I thought.”
New jobs have been created, bringing full-time staff to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Watching the day unfold, Harley said he couldn’t have asked for a better turnout.
“As this chapter of Niagara-on-the-Lake unfolds, the paper will be here to document it, fairly and truthfully.”