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OPINION: What’s up at The Journal

George Mathews on As an old newspaper guy I was deeply saddened to see the Guelph Mercury deliver its last print edition on Friday.

George Mathewson

As an old newspaper guy I was deeply saddened to see the Guelph Mercury deliver its last print edition on Friday.

Publisher Donna Luelo told readers the decision was difficult, but the decline of classified and national advertising made it impossible for the daily newspaper’s print version to remain profitable.

Gone are 26 jobs, another local voice, and one of the oldest daily newspapers in the country.

I’m often asked, given the troubling state of the industry, why we started The Sarnia Journal. People are also curious to know how a paper can continue to grow and be delivered right to their door, for free.

The short answer: we’re not a paid circulation daily newspaper like the Guelph Mercury.

Amid all the negative news about shrinkage and layoffs what’s often overlooked is that smaller, locally owned community papers like this one are very different from large, conglomerated media chains.

The Journal began as a free publication – and to answer another frequent question – we intend to keep it that way. The paper itself is distributed to over 30,000 people in Sarnia, Bright’s Grove, Point Edward and Corunna each week, concurrent with a popular online website and Facebook page.

Our revenue comes entirely from advertising, which means that when people read the ads in the paper and support the Sarnia businesses and non-profits that pay for them, we all benefit.

Overlooked in the industry gloom and doom is the fact many free community papers are more than holding their own, and newspaper readership as a whole is stronger than it’s ever been when online readership is included.

In Ontario, 73% of adults read a community newspaper each and every week, according to industry stats, even as the paid circulation numbers of large dailies fall.

This week, the Journal is moving into a larger office with a bigger warehouse undergoing renovations at 322 Christina St.

And next month, on March 6, we will celebrate our second anniversary by blowing out the candles on a big chocolate cake.

In the coming year, our third, the plan is to continue to grow as a publication by bringing you more stories about the people and things that make Sarnia such a great place, as well as other interesting stuff you can’t find elsewhere.

So that’s what’s happening here. We’re not going anywhere. And we hope you enjoy reading The Journal as much as we do producing it.

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