North of 60 newspapers going strong, despite dire news down south

Stop the presses. Recent reports of the shaky state of the newspaper business may apply to the Globe and the Washington Post but newspapers in Canada’s north are thriving.

On a recent trip to the Yukon I was heartened to hear and read evidence of community papers doing nicely. When you think about it, it makes sense.

My experience living and travelling in the north is that in many ways it is truly another world, operating with another mindset. While citizens north of 60 may want to know about what’s happening on Bay Street or Robson Street, the need is not pressing.

Instead they want local news.

In Canada’s north connectivity – required to take advantage of digital delivery – is far from a given.

Community papers, such as the Whitehorse Daily Star (tag line “Illegitimus non Carborundum”) and the Fort Nelson News (established 1959)  that I read while there are deeply connected to the communities they serve – replete with slow-pitch tourney results, obituaries and local council coverage. And ads.

star.jpg

photo by Cap’n Canuck on flickr

Advertisers love local papers as they offer a reliable way to speak directly to their customers. Grocery store flyers proliferate and government job postings and tenders get the airing they require.

A recent story in Up Here Business quantified it:

“Nationally, community newspaper advertising revenue is increasing, from $1.17 billion in 2010 to $1.21 billion in 2011, according to a recent survey by Newspapers Canada, an advocacy group representing Canadian newspaper publishers.”

Shipping papers around the north can be expensive and can quickly eat up revenues made in other areas – another reason a paper created and printed locally is resilient.

I wrapped up my trip with the feeling it’s not one or the other – no need to pick print or pick digital. While the paper version of the Whitehorse Star is going strong, they also have an innovative online subscription model.

As in so  many other ways, in the world of newspapers the people in Canada’s north are doing it their way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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