It’s become an annual trek that gets better each fall.
Publishers from across Ontario converge at Queen’s Park for an industry awareness day. There we meet with MPPs, ministers and senior staff to talk about issues affecting the newspaper industry.
In order to make best use of everyone’s time we typically stick to two major themes.
First off is the advertising file. There is little doubt, community newspapers can deliver timely messages to communities across the province. Provincial advertising used to be a sizeable account for our association. In recent years the allocation for print advertising has dwindled to a paltry sum. That money instead has been spent on digital campaigns often using American companies – who by the way pay little or no tax here.
Years ago, at one of our first meetings with Premier Kathleen Wynne there was recognition of this shortcoming. Conservatives, then in opposition, shared the association’s outrage of being shut out of the process. It wasn’t until this year that we were able to bend an ear of a high-placed Liberal to find out they just wanted to be seen as being ahead of the technology curve and of course influence the upcoming demographic of young, hip voters.
For people with limited access to the internet, often those still reliant on newspapers as their primary source of news in rural Ontario, they remain forgotten citizens as the digital whims of government forges on. We think it shortsighted in many respects.
The second issue was the recycling file, as Ontario joins other jurisdictions that have instituted producer-pay programs to curb the costs of recycling. Regrettably, as the program currently stands, efforts to recycle packaging tend to contaminate the newsprint in the blue box. Instead of netting good money with recycled newsprint, the product is rendered less useful by incorrectly recycled food packaging or other incongruent items.
An agreement set up years ago to use newspapers as an educational tool to promote recycling is still in place. Efforts in some circles to convert that in-kind contribution into cash would greatly harm the newspaper industry, this title included.
The source of being Wellington proud, as the title on this column suggests, is how great Speaker Ted Arnott (Wellington-Halton Hills) and Randy Pettapiece (Perth-Wellington) treated our delegations. Both were consummate professionals and provided good feedback. There’s something to be said for peers being impressed with obvious good relations between elected officials and their local publisher.
Some MPPs weren’t very happy with their local newspapers, citing examples of news holes continuing to shrink. The cause of that is falling sales and increased costs. Others railed against poor or unflattering coverage.
The Advertiser continues to grow and with perseverance will remain this area’s source for local news, local ads and local community groups.
That too is a source of pride.