Letters: Newfoundland gov’t policy change is a blow to community newspapers

Dear Members of the House of Assembly in the coverage area of The Shoreline News, The Pearl News and Irish Loop Post,

I’ve just learned that the provincial government is soon abolishing the requirement in the Municipalities Act that towns advertise their public notices and tenders in their local newspapers.

This will be a serious blow to a Newfoundland industry that has already seen some dozen community newspapers across the province close in the past few years, in part because of a continuous withdrawal of advertising and support from the provincial government.

Some time back I took the trouble of checking to see how many people were actually viewing the social media ads which the provincial government places with U.S.-based social media giants and saw the numbers were terrible.

In some cases, less than 150 people had viewed particular ads and videos. By contrast, tens of thousands of Newfoundlanders see the advertisements in our community papers every week.

I am asking that you use your auspices as representatives of your constituents to oppose this change to the Municipalities Act. If it passes into legislation, it will hurt the Newfoundland and Labrador newspaper industry, the province’s pulp and paper industry, and most importantly, your constituents, as it is very likely very few of them will actually ever see the notices placed by Municipalities on websites or social media.

That, of course, would be an erosion of transparency in local government. I have copied my colleagues at The Telegram and The Northeast Avalon Times on this correspondence.

If you have any questions about our industry, please feel free to contact any one of us personally.

Craig Westcott, Editor

The Shoreline Irish Loop Post & The Pearl Community Newspapers

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