Editorial – Why local media matters

The role of independent media is to present the facts to the readers and viewers to enable them to form opinions and make informed choices about what affects them. That responsibility includes holding government to account when officials, elected or otherwise, are not representing your interests. What we have seen in recent years by politicians and governments at all levels is the increased desire to act as reporter and choosing to report on the issues themselves. Why have media discern the message and present the facts when government can contact the people directly? There can be no harm in that, can there? Except there is great harm being done by this.

Across North America, vast regions have become media deserts where news is only disseminated through press releases and social media posts. On a near weekly basis, and currently amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, newspapers and other media outlets are shuttered. Seven community newspapers in Canada announced their closure on June 1st. Government attempting to control the message has not helped in this respect.

Media representatives for various levels of local government now “live-tweet” council meetings as they occur. All filtered through the lens of the government employee using the account without context or background. Without the context of the entire discussion, how do you know if your elected official(s) are really representing you?

A June 2nd conference call between journalists and local MP Eric Duncan highlights this point. Journalists from most of the riding’s media outlets were in attendance, but the call was also streamed by Duncan’s office to social media for constituents to see. No news or announcements were made, leaving journalists to ask questions for show.

Look back in the past five years of The Leader. Had it not been for a local independent press, readers would not have learned of discussions in 2017 to sell off South Dundas park land, the issues with the Carman House would not have come forward, and Forward House would already be an empty lot. Readers would not have learned of issues at the Galop Canal Marina, South Dundas’ schools would probably have been closed, and Grand Trunk 1008 would likely be in its new home in Brockville.

Local media, including this paper, needs your continued support. Buy a paper. Subscribe. Share the stories posted online too, and shop at local businesses who advertise in The Leader. Let those businesses know you saw their ad in the paper. Without independent media, how will others be held to account?

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