Edmonton

'Another one bites the dust': Fort McMurray newspaper closes

Another Fort McMurray newspaper succumbs to hard times. The Fort McMurray Connect weekly newspaper stops publishing at the end of the year.

The Fort McMurray Connect publishes its last issue Dec. 22

The Fort McMurray Connect published once a week online and a print edition. (David Thurton/ CBC News)

A weekly newspaper in Fort McMurray will print its last edition at the end of the year.

The Fort McMurray Connect, which publishes in print and online, will cease to operate after Dec. 22. 

Publisher Tim O'Rourke said it's no longer making money. 

"It's been a tough 2016. It's a tough market place," he said. 

"And of course we had the May wildfire. It has been hard to get advertisers to commit."

The announcement that the Fort McMurray Connect is shutting down comes on the heels of the news the town's daily newspaper, Fort McMurray Today, will only be printing thrice weekly and will focus on posting stories online.

The Fort McMurray Connect employed three people.

It was distributed through Canada Post and was available free of charge at 75 newspaper boxes around the city.

A message posted by Star News INC about the closure of the Fort McMurray Connect. (Star News INC.)

In recent years, the Fort McMurray Connect was sustained by real-estate ads. When the economy began to tank, those began to dwindle.

MacEwan University professor Brian Gorman said the paper's closure is a loss for Fort McMurray.

"Another one bites the dust," Gorman said.

"If you take away these community papers, you take away a real big portion of people's abilities to communicate with each other."

He said local newspapers typically cover light stories in smaller markets that journalists in larger markets tend to "look down on," he said. 

Part of the problem is that many local papers aren't innovating fast enough, Gorman said, adding while many do share stories online, few are using online video and podcasting.

Follow David Thurton, CBC's Fort McMurray correspondent, on FacebookTwitter and via email.

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