OPINION: Exciting times ahead for local papers

Last week, after the announcement that the North Wellington Community News would be expanding its coverage and distribution into Wellington North and that the Independent Plus would no longer be published in Wellington County (except Palmerston), a lot of people had a lot of questions for me.

They wondered what would happen to myself and the team that worked at the Plus and what the announcement of Wellington Advertiser publisher Dave Adsett purchasing 50 per cent of Midwestern Newspapers means.

It means that exciting times lie ahead for local newspapers.

For readers of this publication, you will finally be getting a paper that’s sole focus is north Wellington – something that north Wellington really hasn’t had in three years.

Yes, the Mount Forest Confederate, Minto Express and Arthur Enterprise News were published and delivered each week up until the formation of Midwestern Newspapers last summer, but they were the Independent Plus with a re-plated front page in what was a poor attempt at keeping those papers alive.

Reading Chris Daponte’s piece on the front page of the North Wellington Community News last week left me with mixed emotions.

My initial reaction was sadness; these are legacy publications that for over 150 years were the voice of the community and were operated by local legends of journalism such as Art Carr, Laverne Long, Clive B. Williams and David Wenger, to name a few.

I, like many of you, grew up with the Minto Express – and before that, the Palmerston Observer – in my home each week. If it wasn’t the Express, it was the Confederate (I can’t count the number of times someone mentioned to me they were the “Confederate Kid” one week) or the Enterprise News.

While the re-plating of the front page of the Independent Plus stopped in September 2019, those papers really died in January 2017. And it took me until last week to realize that.

Now that I have completed grieving the loss of these titles, of which I am proud to say I was the editor, and have moved on to acceptance, a wave of excitement came over me. And jealousy. Excitement because for the first time since late 2016, residents of north Wellington will finally have a weekly, locally-owned paper that focuses on the news and people of north Wellington. And jealousy because I pitched a very similar concept for a weekly paper on multiple occasions over the past 18 months because I believed that north Wellington could not only support a weekly paper, but that it could thrive.

I’m overjoyed that the Wellington Advertiser feels the same way.

It also means that the staff of Midwestern Newspapers will be able to direct our complete focus on our publications in Perth, Huron and Bruce counties, something we haven’t been able to do in the past.

In an industry that often delivers negative news about itself – newspapers closing, journalists losing jobs and declining revenues – the news of this new publication is something that we all should be excited about.

I know I am, and I look forward to picking up the North Wellington Community News each week.

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Mike Wilson is editor for Midwestern Newspapers Corporation, including the Independent Plus, Listowel Banner, Walkerton Herald-Times and Wingham Advance Times.

Mike Wilson