Good Turnout at Town Hall on Local News

About 160 people were at the meeting in Victoria Hall tonight led by Rob Washburn.  When Rob introduced it he said that it was more a conversation than a meeting – no decisions were made but a lot of ideas were presented.  At the meeting I saw many political figures: Lou Rinaldi, John Henderson, Brian Darling, Aaron Burchat, David Piccini and Adam Bureau. During the meeting many of the local journalists and media representatives were there and spoke up – too many to name individually.  These included Northumberland News, SNAP, CHEX, My Broadcasting, FM89.7 as well as Social media: Now Network, Cobourg Media and Cobourg Internet.  Many in the audience spoke of many years of experience in newspapers or radio so the input was knowledgeable about the subject.  Loyalist College journalism School was well represented and Tony Grace from Loyalist was the moderator.

The conversation was divided into three topics; I have abbreviated the comments but you can see the depth and range of ideas:

What does local News mean to you

Rob Washburn and Tony Grace
Rob Washburn and Tony Grace
  • Fake news can be a problem unless there are journalists managing news
  • We need a business model that works – one example of a working model is the Globe and Mail where original content is the key.
  • “Online things” can’t give photos of hockey teams and other very local stuff that we’d want in a scrapbook – nostalgia is important. 
  • Newspapers preserve local history
  • The Cobourg library has a good archive of old newspapers.
  • A column where people can write in about things that “tick them off’ can be very popular
  • Being connected turns us into a community
  • We need to know what happens at the Hospital
  • We need to know about crime – it does happen here
  • A non-profit model might work and give a few jobs to journalists.

The Current State of Newspapers – where do we get local news

  • Online
  • There are not enough trees for paper for all the newspapers to be sustainable. Let’s not be romantic about them.
  • Radio
  • There is now more choice
  • The question is “how do we make this sustainable?”
  • Only a few stories are of interest to everyone – a single newsroom can’t be everything to everyone
  • There are not many young people in the audience
  • Why not sign up to multiple newsletters – Hospital, clubs etc
  • Council news comes from John Draper
  • Snapchat, Twitter and facebook
  • The online format has changed
  • But are we willing to pay for it? – a survey by a show of hands showed that the majority were willing to pay $1 a week.  Many already subscribe to (e.g.) the Globe and Mail

What can be done?

  • At one time we paid for music but then people got music for free on the Internet.  But now the trend is to pay for music online
  • Graham Beer (17) of Cobourg media said that youth do care and do look for news although they want it short and engaging.  Although he and his immediate friends would pay, Graham said maybe most youth would not pay
  • How do people find out about other news outlets?
  • Maybe a Government central site could provide a guide to what’s there.
  • Lou Rinaldi commented that you get what you pay for, that the world is changing and we need to adapt.
  • We need to distinguish between a credible news source and the voice of an angry person.
  • We need court coverage since justice needs to be seen to be done
  • We don’t want newspapers owned by conglomerates in towers in the city – we want local ownership.
  • Would like to know the Global connections to Cobourg – there are many
  • News media should be “pushed” via email
  • News needs to be paid for – journalists need to be paid.

Next Steps

Rob said that the information would be collected and a report produced.  This would then be made available to the public.


A list of additional local Media sites

Print Article: 

A video from Facebook of the full event by Graham Beer of Cobourg Media (1 hour 30 minutes)


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6 years ago

Northumberland News was well represented at the meeting but was not challenged as the party that benefitted most from the swap in which Nortumberland Today was shuttered. The News now has the largest slice of local media advertising. If it were to expand back to a biweekly and/or hire more reporters, local news could be on the road to recovery.

Reply to  CamC
6 years ago

Good idea Cam! I was also thinking along the lines that maybe a bunch of us ‘old retirees’ could maybe find a spot that we could set up an old “Heidelburg’ or ‘Guttenburg’ press and print out a weekly ‘rag’ about what is going on in our town!? I know it sounds a bit ‘far fetched’, but I think the possibilities are there.
Comments are welcome.

Deborah OConnor
6 years ago

I appreciated Rob Washburn’s opening for the evening when he acknowledged we were on unceded land belonging to our First Nations peoples. It was a classy start, despite the man sitting beside me who groaned out loud as Rob was saying it. Some people just don’t get it, likely the same ones that seem fixated on somehow restoring the daily newspaper. Time to move on, folks. Online news is our future and if you can’t learn how to do it you’ll be left in the dust.

Reply to  Deborah OConnor
6 years ago

Rob did an excellent job of organizing the meeting and should be congratulated for his work. However, his “unceded land” comment was irrelevant and did absolutely nothing to further the discussion.

Miriam Mutton
Reply to  Dubious
6 years ago

When did Rob refer to ‘unceded land’? In the video not at the beginning in his opening welcome statement.

His acknowledgement was appropriate and seemed to me to have been intended in respect.

Reply to  Miriam Mutton
6 years ago

I believe that it was his first sentence as he began speaking.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Dubious
6 years ago

Mr Washburn did not use the words “unceded land“. Perhaps you were quoting someone else somewhere else? Mr Washburn did use the phrase, “traditional territory“. It’s an acknowledgement of historical fact and our collective place in the world. The claim that it did not “further the discussion” is an irrelevant concern. The relevant concern should be whether it impeded discussion, or interrupted discussion, or caused some harm. It did none of those things.

A Fan of Watershed
6 years ago

Watershed Magazine was there as well… while not a daily… Jane Kelly does an amazing job of supporting local businesses, not-for-profits, the arts communities and so much more. Watershed Magazine tackles the tough issues as well that affect all of us here… from Human Trafficking to Mental Health, Water, Agricultural Issues .. etc. … a great resource for local news and events!