My minority share holder Reg Coffey and his wife Kathy who have both stood through this adventure and helped in so many ways. Don Smith who has contributed immensely and more importantly has suffered as he’s tried to sell ads while this boycott is going on.
Friends, family, even some really good people that aren’t fans of CFN, but understand how important what it stands for is for any community, and how we stand up for those that would not normally get any support.
This year has been the biggest test and most difficult year of our short history as the City of Cornwall has boycotted CFN and spread it’s corrupt tentacles to the point where at one point we lost 80% of our revenue, and staff, contractors, and clients have been intimidated and bullied.
It puts a lot of good people in sticky positions. Heck I don’t even like being involved in this mess. Only Mayor Kilger & Council can answer for this. I feel most sorry for some of the city staff as they are caught having to follow through on policies they clearly don’t support.
Where did this all start? It goes back chiefly to two events. One our asking why Lift Off had to borrow $30K from the city in 2011 after a record year in 2010 and the second believe it not a sad pathetic incident at former MPP Jim Brownell’s retirement announcement.
CFN arrived 45 minutes early to set up and try and snag some interviews. Mr. Gilles Latour arrived late with a cameraman in tow. I was forced to stand with another journalist after the Brownell family gobbled up our seats whichwas fine.
Sadly Mr. Latour decided to LOUDLY voice his issue with the size of my posterior complaining that my rump ruined shooting for his camera guy with over 20 people in the room. I kid you not.
Normally this could result in dental work, but being Mr. Cornwall who lives in Long Sault, it simply was resolved by some text and emails going back and forth and the educationally handicapped Mr. Latour grovelling out an apology.
After that it became a whisper campaign that resulted in a report to council over Online Anonymity at first, but quickly showing what it really was, a Witch Hunt against CFN. Why? I can’t answer that other than Mr. Latour & some of his friends like Mr. Peters have some media friends that our upstart newspaper were hurting in the sense that the public was responding and we were taking ad dollars out of their pockets as Councilor Thibault once phrased it.
“A review of local news websites show that only two allow anonymous posts: the Standard-Freeholderand the Cornwall Free News. Both sites have some moderation of comments, but a review of activity over the past several months have led staff to concur with the generalized assessment of the practice by the American Journalism Review: “Comment sections are often packed with profanity, and vicious personal attacks.”
Could you imagine seeing that in your inbox? Anyone that’s ever read CFN knows that there is little to no profanity. And we pre-moderate each and every comment and always have as Mr. Peters, the author of this report knew clearly.
When contacted before it was released Mr. Peters refused to modify it. One of our readers pointed out that the American Journalism Review never posted such a comment to quote from. Mayor Kilger and the City have now been asked SEVEN times including twice by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business to allow us to appear before Council to rebut the lies, but we have been refused; in the mean time having to read this exact excerpt on other sites such as the CBC.
Now we’re not looking for sympathy; maybe empathy, especially from some of the other businesses that have been ravaged by City Hall. There’s a reason why Cornwall finishes in the toilet in the CFIB Communities in Boom reports and why nearby Brockville has four times the membership in the CFIB with us having double the population. It’s not even about money. It’s about how media are treated by municipalities and government who are trying to excerpt pressure to control what we write. That’s just wrong. Freedom of the press should be sacrosanct.
What our options as a small business in Cornwall? We could sell CFN. I could fold CFN. I don’t think either of those things will happen. I was shocked Friday when after three weeks of bs and drama Mr. Norm Levac, the new CAO, decided that Cornwall could not support a three month letter campaign where the public would write in about how amazing Cornwall is. It even refused to put the entry request info on the city’s facebook wall, city bulletin, or websites.
Now I ask you, the public, what really is profane and which a vicious personal attack? Mr. Levac while stating that the city could not support the campaign because of the policy which he stated CFN violates(without offering up proof or there ever being a single direct complaint to CFN) yet said he was prepared to offer us some shirts and swag to give away.
Mighty White of you Norm! Was there a reason why it took three weeks to invoke that position? Could you say “Let’s sabotage an even that could actually help our city’s brand?”
Councilor Rivette spoke about the 100 Letter campaign this past week.
I and an awful lot of people just shake our heads at this behavior. It’s a sad end to Mayor Kilger’s career and legacy as I personally hold him responsible for this boycott and the drama that has ensued. It’s as though he has the Rob Ford handbook of Mayoralty in his back pocket for daily reference? It’s almost as embarrassing to the city as Project Truth or when the Mayor was in trouble while working at St. Hubert BBQ.
So the struggle continues. Luckily there is light. There is hope,and there are the 41,000 Unique Visitors per month not counting Social Media who visit CFN each month. It’s almost like each sleazy corrupt dirty trick galvanizes us as much as when we get some of the feedback we do each day.
After all, the community should always come first and that’s what CFN is here for. From our Vision & Mission statements.
In these days of spoon fed values and massive societal conformity for people to think about issues and not just follow the pack. Whether it be questioning why decisions are made or confronting people and holding them accountable; CFN’s vision is to help empower people while educating and entertaining.
The news can be a living thing. And one newspaper can be very different than others. We also want to create a haven to attract the most talented people in the Universe where they can excel and gain from their talents, voices, and artistry with less restrictions, not more.
It’s sad that that vision scares so many and in particular people like Bob Kilger, Bob Peters, Mark Boileau, Norm Levac, Elaine MacDonald, Denis Thibault, Syd Gardiner, Denis Carr, and those that take their lead like management at EOHU, CCH, CAS, Seaway Tourism, CRAG, The Woodhouse Museum, The Chamber of Commerce, Team Cornwall (Gilles Latour), Candy Pollard, the Kinsmen, the Lift Off Committee, the Winterfest Committee, the other local media that have allowed one of their own to be victim for over a year and tread fearfully about losing their own ad dollars, and the businesses that have allowed themselves to be intimidated by them or cooperate like the Benson Organization. One car dealership loved that campaign and asked if I could get one of the other media to run it!
You can’t run a city of 46,000 with a tiny clique holding such sway and control. Not successfully. In spite of all these cancers on our city good things still happen and that’s where CFN is focusing this year as we prep for Seaway TV.
I invite anyone that really cares about Cornwall and wants to see it grow to really look at CFN and realize what we’ve all built. I’m hoping that next year, for our fifth anniversary we have a lot to celebrate. I welcome our growing list of new sponsors and viewers, and of course some of the many new writers and contributors to CFN, your INTENSELY LOCAL Newspaper!
And as our birth day gift to the small business community of the region for the month of February we have some very special offers. Call 613 361 1755 for more info!
Again, thanks to everyone in this great city and let’s all work to make it greater!
Jamie Gilcig – Editor – CFN