Nova Scotia

Cape Breton's Victoria Standard newspaper folds after 27 years

After 27 years of telling the stories of Victoria County, The Victoria Standard newspaper has folded. Publisher Andrew Brooks made the announcement in a letter to readers on the front page of Wednesday's paper.

Publisher says several factors contributed to demise of bi-weekly newspaper

The Victoria Standard bi-weekly newspaper published its final edition on Wednesday. (Victoria Standard)

After 27 years of telling the stories of Victoria County, The Victoria Standard newspaper has folded.

Publisher Andrew Brooks made the announcement in a letter to readers on the front page of Wednesday's paper. The paper published every two weeks.

"It was certainly not an easy decision," Brooks told Cape Breton's Information Morning.

"No single ailment caused the death of The Victoria Standard," Brooks wrote in his farewell editorial. "Late last week, I made the choice to take it off life support as conditions were deteriorating and the chances of long-term recovery were slim."

'Not an easy decision'

While those ailments included the key issues plaguing print journalism in general — disappearing advertising dollars and an eroding subscriber base — they weren't the only factors that led to the decision to fold, said Brooks.

He expressed gratitude to local businesses that continued to support the Standard through its run, and to the paper's loyal readership.

But in spite of that support, Brooks — who took over the paper in 2016 from longtime publisher and founder, Jim Morrow — was unprepared for how quickly the industry is changing.

Andrew Brooks, left, and Jim Morrow. (Courtesy of The Victoria Standard)

"I knew I was jumping into an industry that was not on an upswing," he said. "But I think I may have underestimated just how fast things like social media did take hold."

He noted it's cheaper for businesses to advertise on Facebook than in print.

In his editorial, Brooks also said he's encountered barriers in telling the stories of the county.

"Throughout my tenure, I faced challenges with individuals and organizations who only wanted to see their version of events told, or no story told at all," he said.

Maintaining staff was another challenge, as was an increasing personal toll from long work weeks and stress.

'A hard job to switch off'

"When you care about the job that you're doing, when you care about the profession, and you care a lot about the people around you and the people that you're covering, it's a very, very hard job to switch off," he said.

Brooks did not attempt to sell the paper, but believes there's still room for some form of community news platform in Victoria County in the future.

Brooks plans to continue operations of Breton Print, Victoria County's only print shop.

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