Northern Journal owner says local news coverage at risk as revenues decline
Fort Smith-based newspaper's last print issue rolls out today
After 40 years of publishing, today the Northern Journal (previously known as The Slave River Journal) is distributing its last print edition, making it one of the first Northern casualties of declining ad revenues affecting the news industry.
"It costs us roughly $12,000 a week to put out the newspaper and we're getting $1,000 or $2,000 worth of advertising and that's all," said publisher Don Jaque.
He said the Fort Smith-based paper lost money on more than 20 of the 50 editions it printed last year.
The Northern Journal relied heavily on ad revenue from the territorial government but Jaque said that has declined "from a regular flow to basically a trickle."
The paper will continue to publish stories online, but even the future of that is unclear.
'It's going to be lost'
Jaque said the decline of local news coverage is a loss for everyone. He said having trained reporters covering regions makes government and corporations more accountable to people.
"It's really an important thing and if it's going to be lost, I think we'll all be lesser for that."
Northern News Services Ltd. publishes five newspapers in the Northwest Territories, including the Yellowknifer, N.W.T. News/North, and two in Nunavut.
In an email, general manager Michael Scott said the paper is also facing declining revenues from the N.W.T. government, and is having to make cuts.
Simon Whitehouse was a reporter with the Yellowknifer and News/North until he was let go at the end of January. He said managers told him it was because of declining revenues.
"Things were just tough," said Whitehouse. "From what I understood, they just weren't making the revenue (they once were)."
An experienced journalist, Whitehouse is starting a new job in communications next week. He said he's still on good terms with his former bosses at NNSL and that losing his newspaper job was not a big personal blow.
"I'm more sad for the newspaper and disappointed for the industry."