Guest Blogger CLOSING NEWSPAPERS and JOURNALISM

If it wasn’t hard enough getting into the field of journalism, it just got harder with the closure of 24 papers in Eastern Ontario, nine of which are in the Ottawa area. When I first started getting interested in the field of journalism two years ago, I knew it was going to be tough, I knew I was going to have to work hard and I knew there would be many struggles along the way — yet I was never worried about how I would be able to make a living in the future.

I was very fortunate to make a series of contacts last year that got me where I am today, yet I knew it’s not where I’d want to stay forever. I always thought of it as a ladder you had to climb. You would start your career in community news, then work your way up to a free daily paper like Metro, and then get your way to Mainstream Media such as the Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen/Sun, etc.

Now a big chunk of that ladder is gone and a gaping hole is in your way of reaching your full potential. There are a lot of really good writers out there, yet that no longer gets you your dream job. Community news was not just a way to inform residents of what was going on in their community, yet to give young aspiring journalists a chance to practice in the field and give them the skills needed to write an article you felt proud to produce while following the rules of journalism.

When I published my first print article for the Barrhaven Independent a year ago, I knew nothing about how to write an article, yet thanks to community news, I had the chance to learn from those who are in the field. I still don’t know everything, yet with every article I write, I learn something new.

I’ve often been asked why I cover community news. For me it’s more than just a learning experience. It’s a great way to meet people in your community and it informs residents about what is going on. It also brings out the good in people. When a person’s house burns down, the community rallies together. When a fundraiser is going on, people come in droves to give what they can. I’m hoping this will not be the end to community news. Like Alex Munter did in 1982, I hope others will come forward and start new community papers. I hope more youth will come forward and start gaining an interest in news.

I was 14 turning 15 when I started my own online news network on YouTube. That was two years ago. Since then, I have received more than 72,000 views, more than 50,000 of that in this year alone. If I can do it, anyone can.

Charlie Senack is a young freelance journalist in Ottawa. His interest in journalism came at a young age after visiting the former CTV News studios in 2009. Since then, he has continued to grow his passion for storytelling. In December, he held a successful premiere of Messages from Heaven. You can follow him on twitter @Charlie_Senack or watch him on YouTube at TWIN News.

3 Comments

  1. I truly wish you luck in your endeavors. However, I must admit to being a strong pessimist when it comes to the future of print news.
    When the story about the newspaper closures hit, the compelling reason for the closures was to consolidate the print advertising flyers into fewer papers. The new owners of the small papers simply did not want the competition for flyers to be spread out. There is money to be made by including the flyers in newspapers, but spreading that money over many papers means none make enough many to carry on.
    The fact that we are losing the local slant on news was not even taken in consideration, it seems. While I mourn the loss of local papers, I find it hard to fault the reasoning of the owners. I continue to subscribe and pay for a daily “paper” newspaper. Not one of my friends or neighbours does. I am the dinosaur, according to my friends. I don’t own a smart device and I enjoy sitting down with a real newspaper and a cup of tea. I’m old school. However, there are clearly not enough of us still around. And, with any number of free news sources available on the net – many of which I read – it’s no wonder that more and more people are not willing to pay for paper.
    We used to be able to read the free Kanata Courier. It provided a good take on local issues. However, to stay free, it needed to be stuffed with advertising flyers – frequently comprising more actual pages than the paper itself. I cannot see anything being able to replace it given today’s electronic environment. Where would the revenue come from? Why would an advertiser choose to put their dollars into printing flyers to be inserted into a local paper going out to a small subscriber base when they can reach a much bigger market in either the city-wide paper or online?
    Alex Munter’s world in 1982 was a much different one than today’s. I don’t believe that his experience can be duplicated.
    However, I would be very pleased if you prove me wrong.

  2. We take the Globe and Mail to read about events in the world. We take the Citizen for soft or general news along with the Sun. However what we enjoyed reading was our local news. I love reading about what is happening in my community and your guest writer is correct in saying it brings people together. I hope the Citizen will have a few weekly pages for our communities so that we know what is happening in our smaller world and so that we can continue caring and sharing with our neighbours.

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