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Niagara Falls
Friday, June 14, 2024
Editorial: A strong commitment to community
Doing grassroots community journalism is a reciprocal relationship, writes managing editor Kevin Maclean — one that wouldn't be possible without deeply caring, engaged and loyal readers (who let the paper's reporters into their lives to tell their stories). DON REYNOLDS/FILE PHOTO

We often hear from people in the community how happy and proud they are that their community newspaper — The Lake Report — regularly is recognized with awards for the work our staff and contributors do.

That’s heart-warming and much-appreciated.

But we don’t do what we do in hopes that it will earn accolades or awards. Those prizes are just the byproduct of doing good work.

We also realize that writing about the work we do can feel a bit over-the-top and self-congratulatory, but, again, that is not our intention.

Yes, we want you, dear reader, to know that we’ve been singled out for a job well done (who doesn’t?).

However, there is far more to it.

Publishing a newspaper is a tough job in the digital age. The costs of staff, printing, distribution, rent and a whole lot more just keep going up.

Yet the demand for a printed version of quality news about our community has not abated. It remains huge here in Niagara-on-the-Lake both with readers and advertisers.

Readers will go online if they have to, but most still want to hold the paper, clip items and settle down to read about their community. As someone noted, “Reading the paper is relaxing. Having to go online all the time is work.”

A year ago at this time there were three newspapers covering NOTL and environs. Last fall we lost Niagara This Week when Torstar Corp.’s Metroland division shuttered all its print products.

And in February, the NOTL Local printed its final edition and moved to online-only under the auspices of the Village Media corporate umbrella.

That leaves The Lake Report, locally owned and operated, to focus on what’s known as hyperlocal news — which means if it doesn’t have some sort of direct connection to NOTL, you probably will not find it in our pages.

Because there is no shortage of places for you to find provincial, national, world, entertainment news etc., we train our sights on NOTL and only NOTL, which makes us unique.

Unlike too many media outlets nowadays, we refuse to simply reproduce unedited, unchecked, unadulterated news releases from officialdom. That’s easy but it’s not journalism. It’s really just public relations. And lazy.

Whether it’s the police, the town, elected officials or corporate entities, we will not just replicate their messages to the masses.

We’ve always promised to offer you balanced, reliable and professional reporting.

You might not always agree with what we do — and when we mess up, you always let us know — but that is the joy of doing such a very public job.

Looking down the road, we recognize that printing a newspaper every week might eventually change. The high costs associated with print have already claimed NOTL’s two other papers.

That’s one reason why we continue to encourage the community to contribute or donate to our enterprise — for the communal good.

There likely will come a time in a few years where the only way publications like ours will be able to carry on is if you are willing to pay good money for good journalism.

Doing grassroots community journalism is a reciprocal relationship — one that wouldn’t be possible without our deeply caring, engaged and loyal readers (who let us into our lives to tell their stories).

Without you reading and supporting us, without our valued advertisers using our pages to get their messages out, we simply could not exist.

NOTL is an awesome community to live in, to visit, to grow in — and to write about. From politics to community events to agriculture, businesses and tourism, sports, schools, service organizations, community groups and much more, there really is no shortage of news in our wee town.

The honours we win are as much your awards and a testament to this community as they are to our ability and commitment to report on NOTL.

Because, no matter what, without you, there is no “us.”

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