Who needs local news?
View from the Strip
By Casey Lessard
You may have seen – or not seen but noticed – that A-Channel London no longer has a morning show. The people who lost their jobs there are among many cut from the television station, including some who will be let go in August. Also gone are two bureau stations in Wingham and Windsor. It’s a tough time for television journalists in southwestern Ontario, that’s for sure.
I used to be one of those people, working at CKCO in Kitchener until 2005. And I went to school, worked with, or worked beside several of the people who lost their jobs this week at A-Channel. Angela and Gloria played their music on the morning show a couple of years ago, and my dad was interviewed several times by Wingham’s Scott Miller when the sewer debate was happening in Crediton. I saw many of these journalists after Bill and Helene Regier were murdered, and again at the Imeson trial. I’m sure you’d recognize some of their faces.
Television is facing tough times as advertising dollars dry up in the current economic climate. But let’s be honest; does local television serve a purpose? If the advertising dollars aren’t there, isn’t it just a big waste of money on a very large make-work project? Who needs local TV when we have the internet?
You can do pretty much everything you need on the net, including watching your favourite shows, talking to friends, making friends, making enemies, whatever.
More importantly, you can even read the news on-line. Who needs TV news? Heck, you don’t even need to buy a newspaper – you can get that on-line, too. And it’s free!
In fact, that’s true for journalists, too. We don’t need to be in Wingham, Dashwood, or even Varna to know what’s happening there. It’s all on the internet, and a TV assignment editor can simply send someone from London to do the story when it’s needed. Even better, forget London and centralize in Toronto. It’s not that far to drive.
Besides, do you really care what happens in your own community, on your street, to your neighbours? That information is overrated, and someone has to be blogging about it on the internet, right? Maybe even someone who actually lives in this area.
Personally, I don’t own a TV, but you probably do. Let’s look at the bigger picture. The loss of local programming at A-Channel is not just about the fact of the loss. It raises a larger question: do we really need local news?
A few hundred people in this community (meaning you, the Grand Bend Strip subscriber) think it’s important to read the local news in this newspaper, and the other paper has a few readers, too. But how long will that last before the internet takes over and you’re the last to know when someone from your community is named a Canadian champion, or that your child did something great? When local news outlets leave, start the clock.
The most important part of this equation is the one the TV networks and the internet news providers can’t provide. Every news story starts as a local news story. Then it goes regional, then provincial, national and international. If there’s no local news provider, there’s no news. That’s the truth.
You know the value of local news – you even pay me to do it. Thank you. Now spread the word. Maybe we can keep some of those people at A-Channel producing news that matters to you.
If you think local TV news is important write your support for A-Channel news to the CRTC, CTV Globemedia, and your MP.