Community journalism lives on

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By Roderick Benns

Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Advocate. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, he has written several books including Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World.

Jason Bain, last editor of The Lindsay Post, and Baia Segura, posing as a Post paper-girl. Photo: Sienna Frost.

When I was a kid I delivered the Peterborough Examiner to my east ward neighbourhood in Lindsay. As I placed that newspaper in mailboxes, The Lindsay Daily Post was often there, too. It was common to subscribe to more than one newspaper in the early 1980s. Sometimes I’d cross paths with the Post paper boy and sometimes his sisters would help, too. We had critical jobs; we were information carriers at a time when the news moved far more slowly (and thoughtfully.) We were the final part of a news cycle that everyone counted on – and everyone trusted.

As I discovered when we first moved to Lindsay when I was a young child, the Post, it seemed, had been around forever. Our old basement had stacks of them that someone had been saving. I still remember one paper from 1935 had scandalously low prices, like 31 cents for a dozen eggs. (Not the ridiculously high $1.25 we had to pay in the early 1980s.)

The idea of news and telling community stories stayed with me. I enrolled in a journalism program and quickly realized my calling would inevitably be tied to writing, whether it was news, features, books, or otherwise.

I sold my first published story to The Lindsay Daily Post to a young editor named Mike Puffer. I told him I just wanted the byline. He said he’d at least give me something for my time. I soon pocketed a $25 cheque; my writing career had just been officially monetized.

I would go on to write full time for The Guelph Mercury for a while. (It closed in 2016.) Later, I worked full time in Lindsay for the Post’s overtly Conservative rival (at least at the time) in the mid-1990s, Lindsay This Week, before leaving the area for 20 years to explore other opportunities. Although I had moved away, the Post seemed a reliable and balanced way to catch up on local issues when I’d visit family back home.

I was shocked when the Post closed in 2013, although was certainly familiar with the seismic shift news was undergoing, ravaged by online choices. Then social media algorithms offered more news than ever, but seldom a differing viewpoint.

The Post’s demise – more than any other single thing – got me thinking about how to serve my old hometown, journalistically. About four years later, the Advocate took root. And it did so for many reasons. First, there’s our dedicated and loyal readership. There are our committed advertisers who understand that being associated with a product that is much loved pays dividends for them, too. Then there’s our team of writers, editors, and creatives who find joy in playing a pivotal role in telling our community’s stories.

As we reflect on the demise of the Post 10 years later, we give thanks that we may carry on with community journalism through the Advocate for the well-being of our community.

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