Thunder Bay

End of the printing line for 98-year-old Rainy River Record newspaper

The Rainy River Record, a 98-year-old community newspaper in northwestern Ontario, will publish its final edition on September 27.

'It's tough' says publisher Jim Cumming of decision to shut down community paper

The Rainy River Record newspaper, which is nearly 100 years old, will cease publication after the distribution of its September 27 edition. (Jim Cumming)

The Rainy River Record, a 98-year-old community newspaper in northwestern Ontario, will publish its final edition on September 27.

"It's tough," says owner Jim Cumming, who also publishes the nearby Fort Frances Times.

When he and his siblings bought the paper in 1985, they made a promise "to keep the two papers independent of each other."

But now the Record is shutting down, and the Times will carry news from Rainy River and the surrounding district, and all subscriptions will be switched over. 

"That's one of those things that sort of eats at you. You make this promise to the community and 30 years later you can no longer keep it because the paper is no longer viable."

The award-winning paper made a successful transition to the digital world, being one of the first in Canada to adopt desktop publishing, said Cumming.

Jim Cumming and his siblings bought the Rainy River Record in 1985. He says 'it's tough" having to shut it down. (Jim Cumming )

Instead, it's a recent change, in the way governments announce everything from flu clinics to fire bans, which cut into the paper's profits.

"The decision of the federal and provincial governments to advertise, not in local newspapers anymore but to spend advertising dollars on social media with Google and Yahoo, and other things like that, has had an impact on papers from one side of Canada to the other."

Cummings wonders what is being lost as more and more small papers, whose role "has always been to record the history of the community" and to act like an archive, stop gathering and reporting the news of everyday life. 

"The births, the deaths, the school graduations, the men and women going off to serve in the armed forces and returning home and I'm not sure that tweets and Facebook will be recorded a year from now, or a decade from now."

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