The Struggle of Community Newspapers in Canada ─ A Closer Look at the Industry’s Decline

The Canadian media landscape is experiencing a notable decline in community newspapers, a trend that echoes the broader challenges faced by the print journalism industry worldwide. This decline not only threatens the traditional model of local news but also raises concerns about the impact on community engagement and informed citizenship.

In the past, community newspapers were considered essential to local news dissemination, thriving on the support of local businesses and dedicated readership. These newspapers served as a crucial platform for local issues, events, and voices, fostering a sense of community and civic participation.

However, the advent of digital media has significantly disrupted this model. Advertising revenues, once the lifeblood of print newspapers, have shifted towards online platforms, leaving many local publications struggling to sustain their operations. The transition to digital has not been smooth for all, with some newspapers failing to adapt to the changing preferences of their audience and the new economic realities of media consumption.

Community newspapers in Canada found success through an investment in quality journalism and a deep connection with the local community. Yet, this model seems increasingly rare in today’s media environment, where cost-cutting and consolidation are more common. But some media critics like Mark Bourrie, author of Kill the Messengers and publisher of the blog Fair Press, believe these models are still possible.


“The recipe for a successful small-town paper is simple,” writes Mark Bourrie. “I am calling it the Amish method. Pretend it’s 1975. Have reporters on the scenes of stories. Cover local sports and entertainment. Sell inexpensive classifieds. Run coming events columns. And don’t give it away. If you have a web page, just post a few teasers and community events, and a list of retailers selling the paper.”

Experts in the field, including former journalism instructors and media analysts, have criticized the industry’s shift towards digital, arguing that it undermines the value of journalism. They contend that giving away content for free online devalues the product and jeopardizes the financial viability of newspapers. Instead, they advocate for a focus on quality journalism and community engagement, suggesting that newspapers should return to their roots, prioritizing local coverage and maintaining a strong presence within their communities.

Despite the challenges, some community newspapers in Canada continue to resist the downward trend. Publications like The Low Down and The Picton Gazette have managed to maintain relevance and viability by sticking to a local-focused model, emphasizing community news, and fostering strong relationships with local advertisers.

“I believe a back-to-basics low-overhead, high-quality newspaper can succeed just about everywhere,” continues Bourrie. “First, the owner has to have the capital to hit the ground running with a credible product.


The news can’t just be advertorial. It must be run by people who see journalism as a vocation, not a job. Staff must be willing to get away from screens and see people face-to-face. They must report with skill and courage, and with an open mind. That’s how you get the best stories.”

The future of community newspapers in Canada remains uncertain, with the industry at a crossroads. While some advocate for a digital transformation, others believe in the enduring value of print and its unique ability to connect with local audiences.

As the debate continues, the survival of these newspapers may hinge on their ability to innovate while staying true to the principles of quality journalism and community service that once made them indispensable to the towns and cities they serve.

Kantar Anita
Kantar Anita

I am Anita Kantar, a seasoned content editor at As the content editor, I ensure that each piece of content aligns seamlessly with the company's overarching goals. Outside of my dynamic role at work, I am finding joy and fulfillment in a variety of activities that enrich my life and broaden my horizons. I enjoy immersing myself in literature and spending quality time with my loved ones. Also, with a passion for lifestyle, travel, and culinary arts, I bring you a unique blend of creativity and expertise to my work.