Shutdown of Ogdensburg, Canton newspapers a loss for the communities
Friday, June 28, 2019 - 4:39 pm

BY BILL SHUMWAY
North Country This Week

These are sad days for Ogdensburg and Canton with the recent announcement that the Ogdensburg Journal and the St. Lawrence Plaindealer are shutting down.

The closures are a loss for residents, readers, local businesses and area organizations who in previous years depended on the papers to provide them with local news and information.

Even though North Country This Week was a competitor with both papers, we believe having multiple news sources brings about better news coverage. The shrinking number of news outlets nationwide is not good for communities or democracy.

But as the owners of the Journal and Plaindealer acknowledged in last week’s edition, the papers were “not supported by enough readers or advertisers to be profitable.”

But news coverage of Ogdensburg Canton will not be disappearing.

As regular readers of North Country This Week and NorthCountryNow.com have noticed, our Ogdensburg and Canton coverage has increased substantially in recent years.

News Editor Jimmy Lawton, who began his career in 2008 working at the Journal, and correspondent Tom Luckie III regularly cover Ogdensburg city council and school board meetings. Adam Atkinson, with nearly two decades of community journalism experience under his belt, reports on Canton village and town government.

When it comes to publicizing area events, concerts, fundraisers, workshops and classes, NCTW and NCNow are second-to-none. You can help keep our “What’s Going On” and “Calendar” sections as comprehensive as possible by sending press releases to [email protected] at least two weeks in advance.

Here are other ways you can help ensure Ogdensburg- and Canton-area news and opinions are read by thousands of local residents in NCTW and on NCNow:

• We welcome letters to the editor. Keep them to 400 words or less, sign them, indicate the town where you live and send them to [email protected]

• Email engagement, wedding, anniversary and birth announcements to [email protected]. Send news of job promotions and other honors to the same address.

• If there is a death in your family, ask the funeral home to submit the obituary to [email protected] so community members can remember the connections they may have had with the deceased. Discuss the options with the funeral home director for a low-cost online and printed obit in NTCW for your records.

• If you see news happening – such as fires, accidents and community events – email photos, details and your name right away to [email protected].

• Email news tips about possible stories to Lawton at [email protected] or Atkinson at [email protected].

There is one more important way you can help ensure our paper and website continue to serve St. Lawrence County – encourage local professionals, businesses and organizations to advertise in North Country This Week and on North Country Now. The disappointing closures of the Journal and Plaindealer highlight the fact newspapers and news websites are businesses that receive no government financial support.

To discuss advertising options in Ogdensburg, contact city native Sean McNamara at [email protected] or call 315-265-1000, ext. 63. In Canton, contact Julie Spadacinni at [email protected] or 315-265-1000, ext. 22.

Paid newspapers are struggling to remain financially viable nationwide. We believe people are still willing to read newspapers if they are free; they just don’t want to pay for them.

Pairing a free weekly paper packed with news and read in 60-80% of households such as NCTW with a constantly updated website like NCNow may be the formula that allows local journalism to survive.

With continued local community submissions and advertising support, we are optimistic that we will be able to continue to provide Ogdensburg and Canton with the news and information it deserves for years to come.

Bill Shumway is editor and publisher of North Country This Week and NorthCountryNow.com. Next time in this space, we’ll offer tips on how to best submit publicity information.