We have a fresh new look along with supportive new ownership for this newspaper. This brings some assurance that the Amherst News will remain a viable voice of the community for the foreseeable future. But not without efforts on our part to secure this outcome.
It’s no secret that the print newspaper business worldwide is having a rough time financially, mainly because of a major decline in advertising revenues that are migrating to electronic media platforms.
People are also getting more of their news online, and local newspapers such as the Amherst News face a growing challenge to serve up local content that is relevant and engaging enough to be worth the price.
The paper’s new owner Saltwire Network, has also acquired 26 other newspapers in the Atlantic Canada region for a total investment of around $30 million. While it has signalled strong support for our local product, it is not a charitable organisation, and it has long-run expectations of profitability that must be met.
I’m not sure of the newspaper’s financial situation, but it’s clear that producing a steady flow of quality content should be our top priority to maintain readership and profitability, and secure its future.
The paper does a fine job reporting community news and events, local sports, and cultural activities, but I feel it is really missing the boat when it comes to local politics. News sources of all stripes see political activities as one of their top sources of compelling news, along with sports and the local crime scene.
Our political leaders, have great influence on the quality of life we enjoy. And to be elected to anything by popular vote nowadays is no mean feat; and I’m sure our recently elected six town councillors are each well-informed and worth listening to.
Given their role as advocates for the citizens that elected them, it makes sense that they be given the opportunity to periodically comment in this journal, each in turn, on what they are hearing from their constituents and how it shapes their priorities.
Councillor Don Fletcher of the county sets a good example with his regular reports of his council meetings which make good reading.
Hopefully, an arrangement like this would produce the kind of content that would attract and retain a larger readership, and stimulate dialogue between citizens and our leaders on issues of importance to the community.
I’m sure many of you may have other ideas to increase readership that you want to offer up to our editor.
We have a clear vote of confidence from our new owners so let’s not disappoint them.
Alan Walter is a retired professional engineer living in Oxford. He was born in Wales and worked in Halifax. He spends much of his time in Oxford, where he operates a small farm. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org