by Vince Dimanno
Have you visited the Abbotsford News web site recently? Give it a click: https://www.abbynews.com/
When the page loads, you’ll be presented with the option of donating to the newspaper. In fact, it is a Black Press, network wide web site addition, asking Canadians to donate to support local journalism.
This is a strange twist of events from the Abbotsford News. It has claimed to be the most profitable community newspaper in the entire Black Press organization.
Let’s really take a look at that.
I’ve lived in Abbotsford for more than 25 years. At one time, we had 3 community newspapers. You may recall the Abbotsford News published 4 days a week, and the Abbotsford Times and Abbotsford POST competed on some days, and filled in the gaps on others. You may also recall that some of you got to know me quite well as a weekly column contributor to the Abbotsford POST.
Then a strange series of events happened. The Abbotsford Times purchased the Abbotsford POST and the POST was discontinued. Then the Abbotsford News purchased the Abbotsford Times, and the Times was discontinued.
So, we went from 3 community newspapers, each with a different point of view on local events, down to one. However, the changes weren’t over yet.
The Abbotsford News then went from 4 publishing days per week to 2.
You may think that I’m about to be hypocritical and say that the “writing is on the wall” for community newspapers. That would be disingenuous as this column appears in a community news and opinion magazine that also produces print editions.
What I am here to say is that any business that requires public donations or support, most definitely needs to re-evaluate their business plan.
The Abbotsford News is now publishing 1 day per week, and attributing it to COVID. I’m with them. We have decided not to print at all. However, we have done so for safety reasons. We don’t want anyone delivering our magazine if there is even a remote chance they could get sick, or get a reader sick. We deliver, on average, 20,000 copies of our news magazine each time we print. That’s 20,000 opportunities to be responsible for getting someone sick. We won’t do it. We have switched much of content production over to online, and are re-tooling to get all our multimedia production as high a quality as we can, while creating it remotely. None of our people work in the same room, and are committed that no Canada Post, or delivery person will be put at risk to deliver our news magazine in person. Its online only and if we can’t financially survive this challenge, then we won’t. Simple…as its not about us. It’s about you. Your safety trumps our business, and safety is a choice many Canadians are making and suffering financially because of it. We are all in this together.
If you read the Abby News announcement of their change in publishing schedule, they don’t mention public safety even once.
Read the only online comment, and it is a request from a reader to stop printing altogether because they don’t want a paper delivered to their door at this time.
So, what conclusions do you draw from all this reduction in print editions, and an ask for donations? Here at Abbotsford Today, we aren’t going to ask you for donations. We aren’t a breaking news source, but we are an integral part of helping you understand the issues in our City and the people behind them. We are just as important, but if we can’t thrive on revenue or our own dime, we don’t want your money. If you want to help us, support our advertisers and they will support us. In fact, support all our local businesses and they will in turn advertise. Whether that is with us, or another publication, help them and we won’t need donations.