Haydn Watters · CBC News ·

Mohsin Abbas was lazing about over the holidays last month, watching TV, when he learned about tiny Tilbury, Ont., losing its local newspaper and the huge hole it’s left in the community.

The journalist heard about the closure while listening to a CBC Radio special on what happens when the local news stops. Postmedia shut down the Tilbury Times and a handful of other community newspapers in Ontario and Manitoba in 2020, citing falling ad revenues.

But the demise of the Times gave Abbas an idea.

Abbas drove to the southwestern Ontario town of 4,800 that’s between London and Windsor. He knew he needed to revive the Times, which halted circulation after 136 years. Now, less than a month later, he’s the publisher.

“I know the importance of local journalism,” he said. “It’s our social responsibility.”

It’s nothing new for Abbas. He’s started up his own independent publications before, and worked in newsrooms big and small — in Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Currently, he’s a freelance contributor for BBC News reporting in Urdu and Punjabi, and runs another small news outlet called the Milton Reporter.

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