CORNWALL Ontario – For a new comer Hugo Rodrigues, editor of the Standard Freeholder and poobah at the Canadian Association of Journalists is upset. He’s mad. He’s talking radio licenses. He’s not happy that Corus radio shut down their newsroom in Cornwall terminating three jobs.
I agree with him. Local news is suffering in many ways, but it in fact has been suffering because of the very company he works for and the very agency is presides over.
There really is one locally owned news media in Cornwall, and that’s this very online newspaper The Cornwall Free News.
Since we entered the fray back in 2009 local news has never been the same. Back in 2009 there was very little local news which is a key reason I started CFN.
Since then the “big three” in Cornwall, The Freeholder, Seaway News, and Corus had to adjust because frankly; since 2011 we’ve had the most viewers. (61,928 Unique Visitors and counting for June as of press time) Even since we’ve opened South Stormont News we’ve seen a huge upswing in stories and coverage by other media about stories emanating from South Stormont. That’s a great thing. Competition is great until it gets sleazy and Kilgeresque.
The Freeholder to Hugo’s credit has improved since his arrival. He’s a very smart and shrewd gentleman. I’ve enjoyed jousting with himself and his team so far for stories. He’s also shown some initiative tackling in the mildest forms some of the grittiest issues Cornwall is facing and that is the corruption at City Hall under Mayor Bob Kilger.
But the Freeholder also refused last year to compare numbers with CFN when they published a full page ad boasting their “rankings” but not their numbers. CFN is the only media in Cornwall to lay those numbers out there. The Freeholder, Seaway News, and Corus refuse. The humble Seeker Chicks have essentially been caught “gaming” Alexa which is used to measure stats via an Amazon Algorithm. (Does anyone believe that a mass of actual viewers spends 20:48 per day viewing the limp offerings by the paper and website? Or that they have 11.9 pages viewed per visitor compared to the areas of the Freeholder (3:18 and 2PPV) or CFN’s (4:30 and 2.5PPF)and CFN )
Hugo gnashes his teeth and renders his garments;
In an increasingly fractured media landscape, not everyone gets the local news and information they value from the same source. Few get it from a single source.
The loss of this newsroom, with its associated website, means one less source of news and information. One less source means the diversity of perspectives, opinions and content will only decrease.
It’s tough times across our industry – no one is immune from these sorts of decisions – but to completely abandon any commitment to local news? Shame on Corus for abandoning this market.
It’s a business. People were upset when Corus shut down the AM station. It’s not like they put it up for sale. As for diversity, part of that comes from people in an industry playing fair dinkum.
It was only since Hugo’s arrival that the Freeholder seemed to acknowledge that CFN is actually media as opposed to the Mayor, , Councilor Grant, Rick Shaver, Kevin Hargreaves, and Claude McIntosh’s bizarre tarring us as a “Blog” even though blogs themselves are in fact media as well? They sure thought we were an online newspaper before the 2011 boycott of us?
We regularly scooped all the media on stories like the closing of No Frills. During the big fire at the Cotton Mill lofts Corus was locked out of their studios and as it was a Sunday night had no apparent way of linking up externally. Seaway Radio ran all night. It was incredible.
Would Hugo grieve if CFN shut down too? Is he upset that we had to shelve Seaway TV which would have employed four and had a daily local newscast online?
We have offered a diversity rarely seen in media. The majority of those that write for CFN are in fact women; something very rare, and it’s happened organically; not by corporate decree.
In Cornwall, Corus committed in 2012 to 90 minutes a week of local news on CFLG-FM (Variety 104.5) and 77.5 minutes a week of same on CJSS-FM (101.9). Additional commitments were made for weather updates, sports updates and business news.
Without stealing material from its local competitors – a tried but hated practice known as the “rip and read,” Corus is going to have a tough time meeting their own promises. That would be something to take note of in the months ahead, with an eye to mentioning it to the CRTC the next time Corus seeks a licence renewal for these two frequencies.
Well even while Corus had a news room they ripped and read. I called John Bolton once in studio as he literally read our scoop on a story that was a CFN exclusive. He roared with laughter, admittedly I did too, when I called him in studio. Sometimes media even share or assist. I know I’ve allowed content to go to Montreal and other cities. It’s called professional courtesy which is usually returned when asked for.
Corus at the end of the day is a big corporation that may in fact chop both stations or sell them. 104.5 Morning host Sue Stewart has already got her back up gig selling Real Estate for Remax, and it would be truly sad to see Cornwall lose its only stations,especially after we had to stop running Seaway Radio.
As for the Seaway News, well they and the Freeholder, as well as Corus have given some very big free passes to City Hall over the Whistle Blowing scandals. Omission of the truth is considered lying in most places. Looking away from major stories surely would be considered by reasonable people to be an omission. I remember back up until 2010 people would question some of our stories as not possibly being true because the other media hadn’t covered them only to see the story appear as long as two weeks later.
When I was taken out of Council by 7 of our finest because our mayor didn’t like my shirt it was David Akin on Sun news tweeting about it; not the Freeholder (owned by Sun News) reporter. The CAJ didn’t btw, do anything over the t shirt incident when we contacted them back in February. Not even an email response.
As for quality and integrity all you have to do is see how Todd Lihou and the Seaway News is handling my candidacy for mayor. Both the daily and the Freeholder have refused to interview me when I wanted to talk issues recently (as well as continued comments from Claude McIntosh whose last column in the Freeholder was an attack on myself which triggered an unsettled lawsuit again the Freeholder)
So Hugo I agree with you. It’s darned sad that Corus made the decision they did; but frankly the state of media in this city is darn sad too. I’m glad that you’re attempting to make it better, and hope that we can all help improve media in this city; but some media people need to step it up and some need to start to be more professional and show more respect to the community and that includes all media outlets, even ones that they are behind of.
And one final note Hugo, how about fixing up your comments section? It’s beyond insane what is allowed to be posted. It’s hostile, ugly, full of personal attacks and even profanity at times. Post moderation has that impact. Surely there are solutions while you guys still have three editors?
Getting gang attacked by pseudonyms is not professional, productive, or entertaining and has been proven to scare people from posting. Also, not allowing comments is equally weak, or cutting off contentious subjects which clearly the community cares about.
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