When the North Frontenac News was established as a not-for-profit enterprise in 1971, its stated purpose was to knit the small isolated communities together north of Verona. There were other information sources about the world ‘out there’ but none that focused on local issues and celebrated the joys and quirks of people in tons such as Parham, Sharbot Lake, Godfrey, Mountain Grove and Cloyne.
Forty seven years later the world has changed. The Frontenac News, now a for-profit, independent community newspaper, is delivered free of charge to all households in South, Central, and North Frontenac, Addington Highlands and Western Lanark.
But our purpose remains. There are many ways, through radio, tv, and print, to find out what’s going on in the larger communities outside of Frontenac County, but no other way to find out what is going on in our own communities.
There are new media sources now, but as powerful as social media is, it does not provide information to everyone in the community. Our local and county councils collect $45 million each year from us as taxpayers, and only the Frontenac News reports on how decisions about how that money will be spent are made. When it comes time for municipal elections, we are the only ones who take the time to hold all candidates meetings, and interview all the candidates to prepare a primer for the benefit of our readers, both online and through the weekly newspaper.
When someone makes a difference in our communities, even when they try to make a difference, we let everyone know about it.
We are committed to delivering all of this information free of charge, and to disseminating it as widely as possible. That is why we use Canada Post to deliver the newspaper each week, because even though it is very expensive, it is the only way we can guarantee delivery to all of the back road locations where people have built their lives. That is also why we do not have a paywall on either of our two websites, Frontenacnews.ca (which we load with the stories from the paper and update throughout the week as well) and Frontenac-live.ca (where comprehensive event listings and a complete business directory are located).
We remain committed to providing information for free thanks to the revenue generated by our advertisers.
Yet, even as the federal government prepares to step in to support the newspaper industry across the country, the rules surrounding who is eligible penalise us for our commitment to all residents in our readership area. Free newspapers have never been eligible for government support.
In other words, if we made our readers pay us for the newspaper, we could apply for funding. Since we give it away, we can’t.
With costs rising, we have decided to introduce an element of reader support to help us grow and thrive. The idea of user supported content has taken hold on the web, and we are jumping in as well.
We are asking for support from our readers, only those who can afford it, to cover our costs and enable us to invest in further upgrades to our reporting and to our web service. It costs us $30 a year for each of the 12,500 households that receive the paper each week.
If a portion of our readers are able to kick back that $30, or pay $50 or $100 to help cover for those who cannot afford to pay anything, it would be a big help to us.
We have enlisted online help for this by registering with Patreon.com, which is a service that was set up for makers of cultural products based on small, monthly payments, or we can accept payment in all the usual ways at our office, including credit card, Interac and email payments, checques and even cash.
For your support, we are offering a thank you in the form of a free 20 word classified ad (value $12 with hst) for any contribution (as long its $12 or more)
Jeff Green, Publisher