The district woman asking my partner about the media was concerned.
“What’s wrong with the media?’’ she asked. “They don’t cover things like they used to. Are they too cheap to hire someone to go out and get the news?”
She was unaware of the Moose Jaw Express and its online sister publication MooseJawToday.com that provides regularly updated local news along with national, world, sports, and business news and obituaries.
Her husband had been reading another online news service and is unhappy with the coverage.
What’s happened with the media is a question this Scribbler hears a fair number of times, particularly from older readers.
The complaints are usually about broadcast media and regional newspapers, with a comment, “We're lucky to have the Express’’ tossed in.
Television news complaints focus on the repetitive nature of newscasts. The difference between TV’s late news, tomorrow’s noon news and the early evening news might amount to two or three items of breaking news. That’s it.
The same applies to radio. Tired of the local radio’s repetitive all day broadcasts, Yours Truly tuned to a Regina station, only to hear mostly repetitive news.
One factor in the local radio news was the loss of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald. The station used to have new news items minutes after the Times-Herald hit news stands.
The Regina radio station has a daily newspaper to steal news from but the Leader-Post local news is a skeleton of glory days when that newspaper's editorial content rivalled The Calgary Herald.
Post Media, the news media chain, once controlled by Conrad Black, produces a national news section that is published in its papers, Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, Regina Leader-Post, Hamilton Spectator and others.
This canned product is fed to subscribers along with reduced local reporting.
Newspapers, radio and television used to be like owning a licence to print money. In daily newspapers, profit margins of 45 per cent were common but not anymore.
About 20 years ago with Internet advertising, the advertising dollar and circulation for newspapers started to fall off.
When demand for a product declines the owner has two options: improve the quality of the product, or cut costs.
In an attempt to save the juicy profit margins owners cut costs, resulting in the loss of droves of readers and advertisers. Many weekly community newspapers switched to free newspapers, surviving with lower profit margins.
In Canada, newspaper circulation revenues between 2015-2010 fell from $630 million to $522 million, according to Statista.
Between 2018 and 2020, newspaper revenues fell almost 22 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.
Where did all the lost advertising dollars go? An estimated 68 per cent of advertising in Canada is online with Google and Facebook taking a large share.
Newspaper online revenue in Canada is still a tiny portion of the total.
Loss of print media’s local coverage became a side effect of the Internet’s addictive draw.
Ron Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.