Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
May 17, 2024
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Editorial
April 17, 2024

Letters April 17

Local journalism to be proud of 

A decade or so ago I attended a Carleton University Journalism alumni weekend about the state of Journalism in Canada. One panel looked at the declining newspaper industry, the closing of papers and the subsequent loss of journalists. This trend was seen first in large and small cities in Canada including, for example, such papers as the Ottawa Citizen and Pembroke Observer. Since that time the loss of traditional newspapers across Canada has only accelerated.

I noted on that panel that small town independent community newspapers, however, continue to remain strong and provide local news relevant to residents and businesses. I described what was going on in Prince Edward County as an example.

In those days we had three strong newspapers plus a smaller news publication: the Picton Gazette, The Wellington Times, the County Weekly News, and a publication in Milford. There have been changes, of course, but my argument still resonates today. In fact our sources of local news have expanded. 

The County Weekly News, then a privately owned paper, was bought by Postmedia, which shut down the Picton office, fired the staff and continued as basically a weekly advertising publication. However, the Wellington Times and the Picton Gazette, both independent papers, have grown to serve the reading and business public better than ever. 

Both papers examine local issues through thoughtful and focused editorial and news coverage. The new owners of the Gazette, Chris Fanning and Karen Valihora, have injected new life into the paper, and given editor Jason Parks and his staff an expanded ability to ensure the Gazette continues the high standards of journalism we readers have come to expect over the years. Both papers provide advertising space, and a forum for public discussion through their letters to the editors and columns, all of which contributes to the strength of our community.

Independent community newspapers in Canada are out-lasting the mainstream publications. Ottawa, for example, has 14 community newspapers including Carleton University’s School of Journalism publication, Capital Current, described as, “Engaging Ottawa’s communities, telling stories and sparking conversations about issues and ideas that matter to them.” That is exactly what the Gazette and Times do here.

Nor is this all. Since that journalism panel discussion all those years ago, we have gained two more news sources, one in radio and the other on the internet. The County radio station, 99.3 FM and CountyLive are both important sources of news, information and entertainment. There is also the independent monthly magazine, The County, created and operated by County native Steve Campbell. 

County natives have played leading roles in the local media scene. Journalist Sue Capon edited the County Weekly News before creating CountyLive, while County native Jim Johnston played a leading role in the founding of CountyFM. Steve Campbell has insight into County life only a native can possess. Gazette editor Jason Parks is also a County native. All four are PECI graduates, too.

Our County benefits from two independent newspapers, a magazine, a radio station and a website, journalistic structures that ensure citizens and visitors here are fully informed of the events and issues of the day. Thanks to all for making life for us here even more rewarding.

Nigel Sivel, Wellington

Earth Day

Each year since April 22, 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated across the world. This year 193 countries and more than a billion people will participate in celebrating this beautiful planet. The theme this year is “Restore Our Earth.” The focus is conservation, restoration and sustainable practices to protect the planet.

I moved to Cressy at 7 years old to live on Carson’s farm, and then to Salmon Point. East Lake was the front and the Outlet Park the back of our country home. What a perfect place to be a kid! Lakes, forests, farms, and wetlands were mine to discover, without a PayPal machine or locked gates and warning signs, and before the beaches were covered elbow to elbow with tourists: this truly was a place like heaven on Earth. I loved to bike to Keith MacDonald’s farm after school to pick tomatoes, apples or cherries, and to Jack Noble’s farm on East Lake Road to pick strawberries. Not a single fruit tree remains now.  

On April 22, take time to appreciate the natural world and what it has to offer. We cannot survive without it. It takes more than recycling our pop cans to make a difference. With over two million tons of plastic circulating in the oceans, 10 million trees being cut down annually to make toilet paper, and millions of tons of toxic pollutants released into the atmosphere every year, we need real action, dedication and change. On April 20 and 21, I invite anyone who wants to come, to walk my farm to view the White Pines Wind Farm site where one component remains as a reminder of what we briefly had; be encouraged by the Field Of Hope, planted with 3000 trees through the 50 Million Tree Program and Managed Forest Program; and learn about the benefits of joining the Ontario Land Trust, through which this farm is proudly becoming protected. There will be potted trees and plants, recycled items and an opportunity to purchase a rain barrel or composter through the County Sustainability Group. Enjoy a walk, breathe some fresh air and don’t forget your boots, it is muddy! More details in the Around the Island section of this paper.

Jen Ackerman, Athol

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Since 1830
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