New Brunswick

Woodstock's newest newspaper hits the stands

Residents of Woodstock and the surrounding area have another source of local news with this month's launch of the River Valley Sun.

River Valley Sun will be published once a month

Three people make up the editorial team at the River Valley Sun: former Woodstock Bugle-Observer newspaper editor Jim Dumville, Theresa Blackburn and her husband, Stephen. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Residents of Woodstock and 53 other communities in the area have another source of local news with this month's launch of the River Valley Sun. 

The new publication is the brainchild of a local couple and the former editor of the other local paper, the Bugle-Observer.

Theresa Blackburn, her husband Stephen Chisholm, and former Woodstock Bugle-Observer editor Jim Dumville make up the entire editorial team. 

They have their story meetings around the breakfast table and the layout for the print and online editions is done in the basement. 

'Ultra-local'

The overhead is low, their focus is clear, and they think they've found their niche. They are funding themselves by selling local advertising and sponsored content.

"Ultra-local," Blackburn said. "Produced by people who actually live here, and who are connected to here on a really deep level. The management is right here. The upper management? That's us."

The River Valley Sun is a new free newspaper in Woodstock. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

The paper, which had a first run of 5,000 copies, is free and is published once a month. 

"Neither of us is planning to get rich or retire and move to the Bahamas on what we make out of this paper," said Dumville. "It's just survival and offering something to the community."

The first edition of the newspaper is filled with articles from volunteer reporters and columnists from Beechwood to Nackawic.

Other paper

The River Valley Sun is only the third independent English newspaper in the province. All the other newspapers are owned by J.D. Irving Ltd.

The last independent newspaper to be published in Woodstock was the Carleton Free Press. It went head to head with the Bugle-Observer, fighting to stay in business.

The paper was started by the former publisher of the Bugle-Observer, Ken Langdon, who began publishing in 2007 despite a court injunction from Brunswick News. 

Langdon filed a complaint with the federal competition bureau, alleging anti-competitive business practices by Irving-owned Brunswick News. 

The Free Press went out of business in a year after an economic downturn and advertisement pricing competition from the Bugle-Observer.

Fearful at time

Stephen Chisholm delivers the River Valley Sun to the Ayr Motor Centre in Woodstock. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

It was at that time that Blackburn first thought of doing a community newspaper.

"What happened to [the Free Press] made me fearful," she said. "And there was no way I was starting that. And I don't think I had the understanding and knowledge of the community related to print."

Instead of a newspaper, she and her husband started a magazine called Ageless New Brunswick that has been going for seven years. Now, combined with Dumville's newspaper background, they're taking the newspaper plunge. 

"Really the future of what we become, if we stay the same … the community out there will decide that," Dumville said.

The editorial team is going to work at it slowly and hopes to be publishing twice a month by January 2020. 

With files from Catherine Harrop

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