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Not closing our doors

You’ll have to excuse me while I take some time to not only toot our own horn but, more importantly, clear up any possible misconceptions.
For anyone who follows provincial or national news, you may have heard that yet another group of community newspapers in Manitoba and Ontario announced they will be closing their doors this week.
Post Media claims the move was necessary after watching their ad revenues take a severe hit during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Paint me skeptical but I can assure you there’s a lot more to the story than what they wanted people to hear.
In Manitoba, the closures included newspapers in Altona, Carman, Gimli, Morden, Selkirk, Stonewall and Winkler.
Let me first advise you that five of the above affected Manitoba communities were being served by two separate community newspapers - that in itself is an uphill battle for both publications to thrive.
But, common sense will always prevail and for one, in this case, the Post Media publications, they did themselves in.
To backtrack, about ten years ago, giant media corporations went across the country and bought up as many community papers from independent publishers that were willing to accept the over-inflated prices they were willing to pay for them.
I won’t lie, there was a time when owning a community newspaper was a licence to print money. Corporations saw that and threw money at newspaper owners everywhere in an effort to maximize their profits and keep their shareholders happy.
As a family, I can’t say we never seriously considered the offers we were presented. But, it was our livelihoods and we liked the fact business was good and didn’t want to work for a corporation. The money was good but it wasn’t everything.
It should never be all about the money in anything you do. More money, more problems as the old saying goes.
But, many did take advantage of the offers and the end result is what we’ve been seeing the past couple of years - newspapers locking their doors, thus leaving some communities without a local newspaper.
First off, there’s an extreme lack of “community” when financial decisions of a newspaper in Altona are being made from an office in downtown Toronto, Ont.
When all you have are employees whose hands are tied as to what they’re allowed to do, they were fighting an uphill battle all along the way. Supporting the community was next to non-existent and any profits that ever were made were going into the pockets of those same shareholders far, far away.
That’s not the way we operate at any of our publications, be it in Roblin, Russell, The Pas, Dauphin or Swan River. As much as the community supports us - and it’s been phenomenal in the 27 years I’ve been in this office - we also do our absolute best to return the support.
Whether it’s sponsoring youth programs, schools, sports organizations, the arts community, the business community or anything else asked of us, we’ve stepped up to the plate. Without our readers and advertisers, clearly, Swan River may have already lost their community newspaper and historical reference guide.
That’s not to say business hasn’t gotten tougher the past number of years. No business is immune when rural communities continue to shrink. The smaller populations alone is enough to make any business feel a pinch.
I will advise everyone though not to take anything in life for granted. We are, and will continue to be unique, but we certainly do need the support of the entire Valley to continue doing what we do.
Take us out of the picture and who will give you unbiased coverage of municipal politics, school board happenings, along with the endless coverage of local events, news and sports?
The answer is simple. No one. It would be a huge void in the Valley.
Even in this day of social media, we still get people gushing overseeing their photo in the Star and Times, or a story written about them.
Do yourself, ourselves and your community a favour. Stay in tune with what is happening around you. It’s as simple as becoming a subscriber of your locally owned, community newspaper.

Brian Gilroy