OPINION: Community news is an essential service

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By Nick Seebruch
OPINION: Community news is an essential service

The City of Cornwall, United Counties of SD&G and the province of Ontario have officially entered Stage 2 of the provincial re-opening plan.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Cornwall Seaway News did its part to keep our community safe and informed every week in our paper, and every day on our website and social media.

Now that our health systems and our economy begin to recover, Cornwall Seaway News continues to be there for our readers and local businesses in a way that only a community newspaper can.

As businesses and services re-open, we will be there to make sure that the community continues to remain safe by questioning our elected representatives and health officials.

For businesses, we will continue to offer the best platform for them to reach their clients and customers and help them accelerate their recovery.

There are many ways for businesses to promote themselves, with almost every business having their own social media accounts and strategies.

However, few local businesses can boast having over 13,000 followers on Facebook, with weekly clicks to the Cornwall Seaway News website in the hundreds of thousands. Let’s not forget as well, that every single week, our print edition is delivered to more than 35,000 homes in Cornwall and SD&G.

A few weeks ago, readers would have seen my column in our print edition describing my experience in getting a COVID-19 test. One small detail I left out of that column was that I was asked if I was an essential worker. I didn’t know how to answer that right away. I told the nurse on the phone that I am a journalist and her response was, “well I think journalists are even more essential right now.”

I’m not trying to pat myself or Seaway News on the back, but simply trying to explain our role in the community and the role that we will play in our recovery from COVID-19.

I am an Editor. I don’t sell ads to businesses. I work for Cornwall Seaway News because I believe we offer an essential service for the entire community, businesses included.

I have received dozens of press releases and have seen hundreds of promotional social media posts from non-profits, for-profits, politicians and everything in between.

What I endeavour to offer as a journalist is an impartial filter for all of that noise.

Politicians send out tweets and press releases about all of the good things that they do. It is my job to show the whole picture, or as much of it as is possible.

Why is this an important service? The University of Notre Dame conducted a study a few years ago on the state of community news in the United States.

The United States has seen their local news industries decimated, with some small towns having no local newspaper at all.

The University of Notre Dame found that in those municipalities, taxes went up and more taxpayer money was wasted because there were no journalists there to hold the local government accountable.

This is just one way that community newspapers serve their readers and the businesses that advertise between their pages.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cornwall Seaway News put questions to the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) about the information that they were sharing, the testing they were conducting, and their approach to re-opening.

Our questions and the questions of other journalists lead to the EOHU sharing specific information about how many cases were in each municipality, answers about why the Cornwall COVID-19 testing centre was the last to open in the region, and the reasoning behind why certain businesses remained closed.

Cornwall Seaway News will continue to provide our readers with the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe, while holding elected officials to account. Seaway News will also provide local businesses with a strong and far reaching platform for them to reach their clients, both online and in print.

We will be a part of the COVID-19 recovery, and by having a quality local news service our community already is at an advantage.

As always, we like to hear your feedback. For editorial submission or to send a Letter to the Editor please email me at nseebruch@seawaynews.com

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