The changing landscape of the media

SIX NATIONS – American media mergers have set off a wave of buy-outs, corporate takeovers and forced closures here in Canada. Some believe this will sacrifice independent news reporting for corporate sponsored and centrally driven news giants. But this trend may not be bad news for those of us who operate outside of the reach of media monopolies.

National and regional 24-hour news TV and live streaming has made even the daily newspaper reports on large national stories redundant by the time they hit the streets. When these conglomerates gulp up smaller papers like a shark takes in a school of minnows. Those that miss the chopping block will now sub-in advertising and stories from the network. It’s cheaper and easier to pool stories and advertisers together.

It’s not only happening here in Ontario, Canada and North America, media mergers and closures have been happening throughout the world. Many fear the ultimate end could conceivably be to control the masses. Maybe there is some truth behind the old phrase, “Control the media and you control the masses.”

But without the local community newspaper, something is lost from the sense of community many smaller markets have known.  This is just another sign of a changing landscape of the news industry. Rather than watching out and protecting the freedom of the press, we could soon be dealing with issues of “freedom from the press,” if these mega-mergers continue.

The latest mass-merger is estimated to close as many as 36 community weekly newspapers. “Postmedia Network Inc. and Torstar Corp. announced Monday they plan to close 36 papers in places where their newspapers used to compete,” according to a Postmedia press release.

“All-told, the merger affects 34 papers in Southern Ontario, one in Winnipeg and one in Vancouver, eliminating 291 jobs and save each company between $5 million to $7 million annually.

Freedom of the press is under attack today in North America like never before and that is why the locally owned and operated news outlet will survive much longer than the gargantuan juggernauts, who need to feed thousands of people every day.

Their efforts to cut their losses and send thousands of journalists, pressmen, photojournalists and office workers to the unemployment lines just before Christmas, will produce several small, independent newspapers to fill the void and possibly flourish while big-media has no way to fix itself. Cutting into the bone can only be a temporary Band-Aid on the much bigger problem.

Even Postmedia executive chairman and CEO Paul Godfrey called it a sad day for the newspaper industry.

“What makes this particularly difficult is that it means we will say goodbye to many dedicated newspaper people. However, the continuing costs of producing dozens of small community newspapers in these regions in the face of significantly declining advertising revenues means that most of these operations no longer have viable business models,” said Mr. Godfrey.

“The growing strength of digital giants has caused seismic shifts in the allocation of advertising revenues — putting all media companies under massive pressure,” said Andrew MacLeod, President and Chief Operating Officer, Postmedia. “Our digital strategies are showing promising signs but we must take all possible actions in order to give these new initiatives time to grow momentum while managing the decline of legacy revenue streams and their associated costs.”

The properties acquired by Postmedia from Torstar include the Brant News.

But as a Native News outlet that also covers regional news and sports, and is free to the reader, distributed throughout not only Six Nations but several surrounding counties distributed on more than 400 newsstands, and more than 15,000 followers online, has positioned the TRT in exactly the right place at the right time. That’s not including our widely read e-edition and website, making the TRT the best spent advertising dollar.

Our wide and growing circulation with a loyal and active readership is making us the leader in weekly Native News in Ontario, at the same time when major media outlets are floundering.

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