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March 25 – J-Source

BY

Government, industry and philanthropic responses to the decline and disappearance of local news in Canada need to be informed by robust empirical data.  Yet, some have pointed to what they say are conflicting narratives about the state of community newspapers in Canada.

The supposedly duelling data consists, on one hand, of information on community newspapers published by News Media Canada, an industry association representing daily and community newspapers. A comparison of NMC’s annual list of community newspapers since 2011 suggests the number of titles hasn’t changed much. On the other hand, data from the Local News Map show that over the same period time there has been a net loss of 270 community newspaper titles. So what is going on?

First and foremost, the data are at odds because they measure different phenomena. The Local News Map tracks the opening and closing of community newspapers. NMC’s annual snapshot of existing community newspapers is just that — a snapshot of existing publications at a point in time.

“At the end of the day we are operating with different data sets, which makes any comparisons problematic,” Kelly Levson, NMC’s director of marketing and research, said in an email.

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