- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Dr. Ian Arra, Medical Officer of Health for the Grey Bruce Health Unit, has stated that the Owen Sound Hub is funded by local lawyer/city councillor John Tamming.

We want to correct that falsehood.

All the advertisers and sponsors of OwenSoundHub.org are clearly visible on our pages. Some of them are paid ads, some are exchanged for goods or services and some are pro bono. Neither Mr.Tamming nor Tamming Law have ever been among any of those.

Mr. Tamming recently took out a large display ad in the Owen Sound Sun Times. In absolutely no way would that ad revenue or its source have had any effect on the quality or nature of reporting or editorial decisions at that newspaper. Mr. Tamming requested a similar ad in the Owen Sound Hub. We turned down the ad – and money we could have used to pay our staff – to avoid any whiff of editorial influence.

Let's go a step further.

This office has, as have all media outlets large and small, spent a large amount of time and budget on publishing public health reports and updates over the past 14 months. That is as it should be in a situation with such enormous impact on the communities we serve.

We consider the letter to the Board of Health, and subsequent letters to the editor, researched articles and opinion pieces, to be part of that same public discourse. It is time-consuming, and has reduced the resources we have for many other subjects of public interest; but we decided it was a commitment we made to those who first expressed concern and subsequently were vilified.

What should community journalism look like?

We like variety in our news sources, just like in our books, food and music. Those sources may serve different purposes or have particular specialities – politics, sports, finance - or community information. Some media have the resources, air-time or column-inches to cover a lot of ground; others have a more narrow focus.

Owen Sound has had lots of news sources for community information – the Comet, the Herald, the Tribune and even a television studio. Facebook, Google and the rest of the internet have swallowed most of the revenue that drove those businesses – classified ads, display ads, obituaries, real estate and car ads. The owners of our current local news sources look for “efficiencies” and new investors in an attempt to find a sustainable model. Their professional and skilled journalists continue to do the important work we all value.

The Sun Times was created by an amalgamation in 1918 of The Sun (founded 1883) and The Times (founded 1853). The newspaper is currently owned by Postmedia, which is 66% owned by a New Jersey-based hedge fund/media conglomerate, Chatham Asset Management. Since that ownership change of Canada's largest newspaper chain in 2015, "1,600 employees have been laid off and more than 30 papers shut down".

Dock Radio was sold to Bell Media, which has terminated over 200 staff at radio and television stations across Canada since February 2021, “impacting many programming, newsroom, on-air and sales positions.”

Bayshore Broadcasting, founded by Sun Times owner Howard Fleming in 1940 was 100% owned by Doug Caldwell from 1985 until 2018 when the corporation attracted new investors.

We'd like Owen Sound Hub to be a community-owned digital newspaper. The original founders in 2014 aspired to this, and I completely concur. The business model – for-profit, co-operative or non-profit  – would be decided and managed by a local board, who would also hire the editor and set editorial policy.

Is it possible to meet the needs of a community, offer alternative perspectives and amplify new voices, maintain integrity, pay fairly and be sustainable with local support?

We will never know if we never try.




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