Is it time to End Small Town Cronyism in Cornwall Ontario? An Editor at the Cross Roads by Jamie Gilcig

CFN – My apologies to those of you who have asked why I’ve commented so little these past two weeks.

Things are nuts here at CFN.   There are not enough hours in the day.  We are busy working on getting Seaway TV going and getting our Christmas print issue ready to roll!

It’s been an interesting and educational summer.    We’ve hit some high points and endured some low points.

As some of you know here in Cornwall CFN is under fire.   The City, Chamber of Commerce, & a certain clique are not only boycotting us; but have intimidated some of our clients.

At one point as we’d lost 80% of our revenue in a six week period.  Luckily with a lot of hard work and support from this amazing community we have fought back.  We now have had over 1,000,000 page views per month for over 5 months which may be more actual content read than all the media competition in our market combined.

Why the boycott?   Well maybe some of those people can answer that question better than I can.   We’ve yet in over 5,500 stories published had to ever print a single retraction or been sued.  For that matter we’ve only ever had one letter of complaint and that we published which is where that ended.

When you do a lot of opinion; whether it be my own, one of our contributors, or you our amazing viewers who have posted over 20,000 comments in three years you’re bound to step on a few toes.  Some toes are more sensitive than others and sadly some instead of dealing with reality make up lies and try and run people out of town…  For example I don’t steal from charities and never have.   I have no hidden 666 tattoos on my scalp, CFN is not OFTEN filled with profanity and vicious personal attacks ….

This Summer I’ve seen two friends come down with very harsh cases of Cancer.  It’s really given me pause to think and look at life.   At 48 I have my own life decisions to make.

As I’ve shared with some of my friends who have marveled at CFN’s endurance and ability to survive the incredible attacks we’ve had and still be the number one ranked media in our market; I’d never change things because of the bad guys (and they know who they are) but would because of the apathy of good guys.

I’m proud of the impact we’ve had on Cornwall.  I’m proud of all that we’ve accomplished and helped change in this community even if it’s seen more by outsiders than the cliquey elite ruling class of Cornwall.  I’m blown away that even though the big three media outlets all rejected hiring me that little independent CFN has dramatically changed media in this city.

And I’m blown away by the support we get from greetings on the street to phone calls and emails, and of course the local response to our Intensely local program.

But we are at a cross roads as we enter the last quarter of 2012.

One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced is that the “Cornwall” brand is complicated.  Our traffic is National.   While Cornwall is our biggest market it’s only about 28-30% of our traffic followed closely by Ottawa.   Yet when we pitch CFN in Ottawa it’s a challenge because of the name Cornwall Free News.

Locally when we approach a prospective client like MacDonell Motors, a local VW dealership, and they tell my rep they won’t advertise with the number one ranked media, even though we offer them a $1 ad, because it’s “A Small Town” I find it shocking.

Cornwall is a city of nearly 50,000 people.  A business of course can choose to do what it wishes, but this sentiment is not how you grow a community.   I mean our staff, readers, and people we bump into are not inspired by that sort of response.

Likewise when a hotel tells us they were pressured by a service club and city officials to terminate their advertising with us.  Again this is not how you grow a community.

And ultimately life is about growing communities; bringing people together and sharing in mutual success.

Any business or organization has the right to run itself anyway it chooses, but what are the messages that CAS, JobZone, CCH,  St. Lawrence College, Bensons, all of the city connected institutions like the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, Seaway Tourism, Aultsville Theatre, CRAG, The Woodhouse Museum, Heart of the City, the Cornwall DBIA, Le Village, and so many others are stating by boycotting CFN?  Same with many local events.   Is it just small town cronyism?  Is it the same people on the same boards with too much power and control?  Again what actual business reason would any business not want to be on the number one ranked media outlet in its city? Could that be why Pitt Street has so many empty spaces and Cornwall finishes at the Bottom of the Communities in Boom report like they did last year?

Are certain people here so insecure that they just lash out and try and kill something that has been successful in so many ways?   I mean Bizfest lost nearly $10K last year.  It was a colossal failure with Joey Gault of the chamber forgetting to put in the single largest line item in his budget.

The Chamber’s solution is to have Joey go for another round while the chamber itself runs in the red?  And they think somehow CFN which runs with no external debt is a villain?

Again, I ask why bother with Cornwall?  Why not simply move the paper to another community?  I had a venture capitalist try and lure me to Ottawa and refused.    I have roots in this community and love living here.   I have friendships and frankly there are literally thousands of people that would be quite upset if CFN stopped or drastically changed.  And they are the ones that truly have built CFN.  It’s been their support that have made it number one.   I think Cornwall Ontario has massive potential and a huge future.  So did some very corrupt people that tried to sneak 2,000 waterfront condos on the public which we outed.

I could sell CFN so that it would stay local or sell it outright.   I can change the name and focus too.

But in the end would it be best for this community?  Maybe it’d be better if those that simply can’t play by the rules; who can’t succeed honestly were the ones to change or be run out of town?   What makes a community successful is success.  You want to attract people to your city create an environment where they can succeed.

We need to retain and attract young people.   That won’t happen unless things change in Cornwall.   Just like many small towns and cities that are losing their futures to greener pastures out West or in bigger cities like Ottawa and Toronto.   Low paying distribution jobs are not the solution.   Neither is running things like an old boys club.   Neither is not having an intercity bus terminal not in the city or playing games with the waterfront.

It’s going to be an interesting Fall and Winter here in Cornwall.

I’m not going anywhere.  CFN is not leaving.   But maybe it’s time for some of the bad guys and gals to be publicly confronted…..

It’s time for change and we’re going to be a part of it.

Jamie Gilcig – Editor – The Cornwall Free News.

(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)

Video Preview


  1. Excellent article! I think you are very much in need of a change of administration. Here in Cambridge, ON, we’re having the same problem. We’re also not a small town, but our cronies operate as such. Folks here are discouraged and disgusted. We only had about a 23% voter turn out for last election. What does that say about this place? We are also going to do our best to ensure that we see a change of council next election and the alternate news sources are absolutely the best way to go. Hang in there. Keep doing what you’re doing. Next election, do all you can to encourage as many as you can to get out and vote the fools out of office. Start a new administration who will put everyone’s best interests forward.

    Here in Cambridge, our council voted to add a tenant’s delinquent water bills to the landlords’ tax rolls. They stirred up one huge hornets nest over this one. We organized, grew strong in numbers, and now we have 10 divisions across the province and many MPPs supporting our efforts to change the Municipal Act so that these greedy councilors have to do their jobs and not just dump their problems on someone else. If you know of anyone having similar troubles, contact Ontario Landlords Watch for help.

  2. Elizabeth…I understand your angry and confused…who wouldn’t be after being kidnapped by a religious nut job…Oh wrong LIZ…
    But your still so wrong….

    CFN..which i don’t always agree with methods…has a better track record as far
    as retractions or lawsuits than Standard Freeholder…Jamie even published my not so funny Gluten free news comment that was meant to be funny..but attacked his mistake that won’t happen again.

    Its a disgrace that thei(Standard Freeholder) “retired” scribbler could screw up the Rivette story so badly..WAS ANYTHING CORRECT..other than Andre’s name???
    Adding to insult…they repeated the gd column online…the Editor should have been fired for that alone…then the apology was the worst lame-axx reply to such a garbage column.

    Cornwall gladly supported Rick Shavers newspaper..they didn’t boycott…despite the fact that week in and week out…their scuttlebutt column was filled with lies..mistruths..gossip…licence plate numbers…having no shame..they make this guy chamber pres…what nonsense.

    Ask any pro journalist…a first rate publication would have booted McIntosh, like Yahoo News did to guy who made comments about blacks drowning caught by an open mike at RNC convention.

    Should post the helmet cam video from my last motorcycle ride thru Cornwall last week…its a sad sack mess of a town so glad its not my home anymore…Empty buildings…vacant lots…daily drug raids….a mayor who goes on a charity walk looking like a HOBO

    Liz if your town is doing so well…why can’t you solve a simple problem like the bridge to USA…looks like a third world country down there…and our Native brothers are still facing the same nonsense that were present 35 yrs ago.

    If this was happening to Cornwalls dwindling elite..who used to hang with scum like Willie Wize..had to wait hours to go thru customs to return home…they would riot in the streets.Lets not forget Ponzi Willie manged two tours thru city hall
    Our Federal member Ed Lumley gave us the white elephant civic complex along with the green eye sore between Cornwall and Long Sault…Hundreds if not thousands were going to get jobs there but the cornwall golf club announcement was the hightlight of this plant that still liters the beautiful “St Lawrence waterfront.

    So Lizzy…continue your assault on provides me with a good laugh!!

Leave a Reply