Hugo Hugo Hugo – Freeholder Editor & CAJ Director Kvetches About Corus Cornwall News Room Shut Down by Jamie Gilcig

jg2CORNWALL 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.

(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.)

Comment policy reminder 

CFN suggests you post comments using your real name. If you wish to post with a pseudonym you can register that user id by emailing with your name, address, phone number and user id you wish to register. 


  1. The big corporate medias are going down and do you know why folks because most of what those corporate news come out with comes from the same source and gives nothing but a bunch of lies to the people and when they repeat the same words over and over again like a parrot to penetrate into the brains of the sheeple then the sheeple begin to believe it – that is known as propaganda. To propagate the news. You don’t get that from Jamie’s CFN news – you get the truth about what is going on in Cornwall and the surrounding areas. CNN from the US (a humoungous corporation) is losing ground and the people are turning them off including Fox and others. Appreciate what Jamie is giving you and he is the best. The toilet paper of record SF and the lesser toilet paper – Seaway News is only junk and only good to clean your windows and line your bird cage and some other menial tasks like mulch your garden, etc. but as for news CFN is tops.

  2. I agree to a certain point. I find the news nowadays so generalized and sanitized that it’s hard to follow.

  3. Jamie, even when they had a full time news department, the most you got was typical ‘happytalk’ news format, with local colour thrown in just to say they were fulfilling their mandate. I actually think that Corus missed a golden opportunity to turn their AM station into a newstalk format.Along with the typical syndicated shows slugged into the feed, they could have really brought up the local flavour by giving you actual in depth coverage of local events, perhaps even hiring certain ‘Personalities’ to host shows that would no doubt be edgy, to say the least :)…however, let’s not kid ourselves here. What’s happening in commercial radio is standardization of the industry. That is: one feed for everyone, one style of news reporting/gathering, one format of music choice spread over the maximum amount of stations. why? this is the cheapest way to do things, lowest common denominator. I really feel sorry for anyone getting into media arts or radio commercially as a career; It was a tough go at its height, now? I don’t see how this can survive much longer. Narrowcasting, Satellite Radio (despite its growing pains) online and internet radio are slowly but surely filling the gaps for people out there who just can’t take the Happytalk news/Timecompressed songs to fit in more ads, speaking over the intros and extros of songs, and the endless, mind numbing autorepeat of ‘hits’ that all the commercial stations out there are guilty of. There’s more I could say, but why bother? no matter what locals do, or say, or protest about, when your music is satellite fed in by packages, when your local news is reduced to a soundbite, when anything bringing a local flavour or character to your media is Cheez Whizzed out of existence….You have to laugh. because the alternative is pitchforks.

  4. Author

    Jim I would love to see talk radio; but we tried that with Seaway Radio. People would rather gossip than talk it seems in these parts….Again, if you don’t support local media you won’t have local media. People don’t realize what they have until it’s gone. With the digital age it’s upped the level that local media have to compete to keep its local audience.

  5. Corus missed the boat on two occasions….one shutting down the AM station and two shuttering The Cornwall Daily. What’s next?

  6. Journalism is a very shaky field to be in nowadays and it is going down hill especially in the US. Well not just the US when I think of CBC which has been going downhill for many long years. When we were first in Ottawa 40 years ago CBC on Bronson Avenue vacated a nice building right where Taxation is located. I don’t know how many jobs were lost back then and today the lay offs are continuing the cycle. Mainstream “lamestream” media is going out because they don’t tell the people the real truth of what is going on both at home and abroad. I used to like listening to Carl Fisher in Cornwall (I went to school with Carla at CCVS (daughter) and she was a very nice person indeed) and Carl would be on CJSS back then introducing himself and the news in Cornwall. Later on news went downhill.

  7. Journalism is an ever changing field. But some are in it for the money. It doesn’t bode well for the consumer.

  8. Remember Robert Fisher on Global TV well that is Carl Fisher’s son. Cornwall had very good people back then and I mean every word I say but today the vast majority of the good have left town. If Cornwall had vision back then can you imagine what Cornwall would be like today. It would outstrip many cities and towns if there was good administration. Today I speak from my heart when I say that I never saw anything more crooked and corrupt than what is in Cornwall’s administration today. I remember so many good people and they are planted in my memory. We all saw that there was no future at all. Even my own husband says the same thing that Cornwall could have outstripped many places but it didn’t because of the stupidity and lack of vision and the corrupt people who run the town.

  9. Hugger, Most people in any profession expect to make a living from doing what they do. Should journalists be forced to live on the streets and beg for their food?

  10. Clarification…..I was referring to corporations. Yes, they have a right to make a profit. But does it have to come by ripping a community apart by killing a radio station and news department?

  11. What is happening in Cornwall is that the toilet papers of record – SF and Seaway News feel very inferior to Jamie because they have nothing but crap in those papers. Honestly my parents didn’t want the Seaway News delivered to their home and it wasn’t until I occupied that house did the papers return. I used it for other things but not for reading back then. I never once took the main toilet paper of record – SF – not once and never looked at it. I used to laugh at the price that they charged for such garbage. When mom died the paper died with it we cancelled her subscription. Jamie is the best and they know it.

  12. Author

    Actually Jules when I was developing CFN one of the features I studied a lot was the scuttblebutt section of the Seaway News. They actually charge more to have ads in it.

    Cornwall loves its dish. Frankly I think you might wish to temper your attacks on those media; especially if as you claim, you don’t read them. Both have their strengths and weaknesses as CFN does. A media outlet doesn’t have to be all things to all people. I just think its sad that the culture of abuse from The Seaway News to myself exists. They did after all have first chance at hiring me back in 2008, and then Rick took me out to lunch before hiring Todd to ask me to sell CFN to TC and be their editor.

  13. I agree with Admin. I don’t understand how you can complain about the CSF and CSN if you never read them. That’s like a movie reviewer writing a review on a movie they’ve never seen.

  14. Author

    Actually hugger a lot of reviewers do just that 😉 Again, everyone please avoid criticizing each other personally in the comments section. Debate the principle, not the principal. It makes our job of moderation easier and keeps conversation more entertaining and informative for all. If you don’t like someone just ignore them…or post it on the Freeholder 😉

  15. How can movie reviewers review movies without watching them? I thought this was settled a few years ago when some were caught doing this?

  16. I think that I only looked at Seaway News once or twice or so and I remember hearing about Dr. Ralph Randlett (my parents doctor) son killed on his motorcycle in Cornwall and I went there to see the story. The son was married to Dr. Mary Jane Randlett. We knew the Randlett family since he came to Cornwall in the early 1950’s so can you imagine how long ago that was and mom would pick wild strawberries and make jam and the Dr. wanted mom’s homemade strawberry jam back in those days when we had to pay for a doctor then and my parents didn’t always have the money and Dr. Ralph would accept payment on mom’s jam. When Dr. Ralph’s son died I cried and even now I am very emotional. Dr. Ralph died very shortly after at age 86. There are some good memories in Cornwall and when Dr. Ralph died so did a part of Cornwall.

  17. Jamie the toilet papers of record cannot stand competition and your paper tells the truth and keeps people informed and I guarantee you and all which is the whole truth that I don’t look at other papers. The only time I look at Ottawa’s papers is when a crime is committed in my area and want to find out about it. Believe me shootings have happened (not where I live but nearby) but otherwise I never look at any. Here in my building and elsewhere selling a newspaper to someone is mighty hard. We get calls from everywhere including the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Toronto Sun. Companies are really desperate.

Leave a Reply