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Niagara Falls
Saturday, April 13, 2024
Editorial: The future of news in NOTL
The Lake Report's weekly editorial. File

The media business is one of the most highly competitive forums on Earth.

News hounds like us strive to bring readers, viewers and listeners all the latest, up-to-the-minute information. Plus we want to do it exclusively and first – to give our loyal followers all the reliable info they want and need.

We’re also competing in the marketplace, relying on advertisers to help cover our costs, while those advertisers in turn rely on our products and readership to get their messages out, thereby maintaining and growing their businesses.

It has been sad to watch large corporate owners shutter dozens of print newspapers in the past year – and Bell Media announced the closure of numerous broadcast operations just a few days ago.

The thirst for reliable, unbiased information produced by dedicated, professional journalists has not waned. If anything, it has grown. People want the news – but many deep-pocketed corporate owners apparently are unwilling to continue to provide it.

That’s not new. In fact, it’s the very reason why The Lake Report exists.

Our news website, Niagaranow.com, already was established when Torstar and Postmedia on Nov. 27, 2017, carved up the media landscape and shut more than 35 newspapers, including the long-established Niagara Advance.

That prompted young Richard Harley to launch this newspaper a few months later, in 2018.

Interestingly, a year ago at this time, Niagara-on-the-Lake had three hyperlocal weekly print publications serving the community. Now there are two and after Feb. 28, there will be just one – The Lake Report.

The NOTL Local on Wednesday announced it is ceasing publication of its weekly print edition on that date. Having sold its website to a company called Village Media a year ago, it was an inevitable move.

The Local, led by its venerable editor, Penny Coles, has been dedicated to providing a voice in the community every week in print – and plans to now continue doing that online-only.

We wish them well.

Perhaps it could have turned out differently. Twice in the past four years we broached the idea of combining forces with the Local to offer Niagara-on-the-Lake a stronger, united news publication. Alas, it was not to be.

Yes, online-only news is probably the future for many communities.

But not every community, not yet.

Just as hybrid work has become the norm thanks to COVID, hybrid news publications like The Lake Report – with a strong print presence every week and an award-winning news website available 24 hours a day – are not going away.

Thanks to our loyal readers and dedicated advertisers we continue to flourish and grow as your community newspaper. And those same readers and advertisers keep telling us they want their Lake Report in its tangible, printed format.

It’s part tradition, part demographics and partly that people in smaller communities really do embrace the concept of viewing news about themselves and their neighbours via an old-school printed product.

And let’s not forget that Ontario’s first newspaper, the Upper Canada Gazette, was published here in NOTL starting in 1793.

But we’re not dinosaurs. We recognize there also are people who enjoy the convenience of reading The Lake Report online – whether they live in town, have moved away or are travelling the world.

That’s why Niagaranow.com (and our print archive at lakereport.ca) continue to carry all the news that’s in The Lake Report, plus a whole lot more.

But there’s no news or features about St. Catharines, the Falls, Fort Erie or the GTA and beyond. You can find all that in any number of places online.

What The Lake Report offers is true, hyperlocal NOTL news that you cannot find anywhere else. News that affects those who live here, work here or visit Niagara-on-the-Lake.

That was our promise six years ago and it remains our promise today.

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