This week The Meaford Independent celebrates its ninth birthday, and we enter our 10th year – how time flies!
When this paper was born in November of 2009, Stephen Harper was our prime minister, Dalton McGuinty was premier of Ontario, and Francis Richardson was mayor of Meaford. It's just nine years, but at times it almost seems an eternity ago.
This paper started out as an online newspaper, and that had been the intent, but it wasn't long before we were regularly receiving requests asking that we consider producing a print paper. In May of 2013 we launched our very first print paper, and we've been helping line bird cages ever since.
While surviving nine years in an era when community newspapers are closing up left and right might seem like a feat, in reality if it wasn't for our readers, we wouldn't exist at all. No newspaper big or small can survive without the support of its readers, and we've been fortunate at The Independent to have outstanding support from the community.
Not that everybody took us seriously from the start. In the early years, one member of council even said that we weren't a “real” newspaper but rather just a “glorified blog”. That member of council is gone, but we are still here. I guess we were “real” after all.
As we enter our 10th year, I have been reflecting on some of the major stories we've covered over our first nine years. Municipal elections of course are always big news, as are major community events like the Scarecrow Invasion or the downtown Window Unveiling. I always enjoy covering stories that involve the community, like Meals on Wheels deliveries by Knights hockey players, or the big community cleanup that was held this year for the first time.
Some stories of course are more serious. I recall the attempt to bring a waste incinerator to town with a plan to plunk it on the site of the municipal operations centre on the 7th Line with residential homes nearby. We reported, the community rallied in a big way, and the plan was quickly abandoned.
Fortunately, crime isn't a large component of our news coverage – a benefit of living in a rural farming community – so we've only had to cover one murder and a handful of other serious crime stories over our first nine years.
We've all seen what has been happening to the community news industry in recent years. Most community newspapers these days are owned by one of the few big players in the industry, and as a result many community papers have lost touch with their community – a criticism that I often heard of our competitor, the Meaford Express, which had been owned by Metroland for the last decade or so of its life. Metroland is owned by TorStar, and about a year ago, the Express found itself in the midst of a large number of community newspaper closures as TorStar and Post Media divvied up regions, swapped a bunch of papers, and closed many of them down.
Community news is a tough business these days, but we've been crazy enough to stick with it, and plan to keep going as long as we can. We can't do it without the support of our readers and advertisers, as it's our readers and advertisers that help put the 'community' in community newspaper, and that is something that we never forget in our office.
From our Publisher Susanne Wussow, Circulation Master Earl Helland, Graphic Designer Rhonda Iadinardi, Office helper and Events page coordinator Elaine Burns, Advertising Sales manager Katharine Peat, and myself, Editor Stephen Vance, the entire Meaford Independent team extends a heartfelt thanks to our readers and advertisers for your support in our first nine years. We will do our best to keep bringing you the local news you count on for the years to come.