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Irving Refinery Blues
Please forgive me-- this may end up seeming like a rant in places, for I simply must get some things off my chest. I hope my prediction that it will make sense by the end is true.
I am a strong proponent of the idea that hitchhiking is simply one of the greatest forms of grassroots journalism. When you enter a new place, the odds are quite high that you are traveling with a local. If this is the case, then you will become immediately armed with “insider” information to which there is little match. The sorts of things I am often lucky to learn, in any case, would certainly not be told in any tourist information booth.
I woke up today in Riviere Du Loup, in Eastern Québec. I made a cold instant coffee and ate some granola bars before wandering across the highway to seek rides further East. I managed three rides fairly easily, each of them pleasant and warm, no hassles and even interesting tangents of separate activity here and there. But what I need to rant about was the ranting of my last ride of the day, a man named Doug who picked me up when I was but one ride from here-- Saint John, New Brunswick.
A press release issued by the Carleton Free Press, less than a year after the small paper began circulation in northern New Brunswick:
Carleton Free Press suspends publication
Citing the downturn in the economy and inability to compete with a chain that has cut its advertising and subscription prices to the bone for the next year, the Carleton FreePress today announced it is suspending publication.
Today’s paper will be the last.
“We have tried everything,” said publisher Ken Langdon. “Our staff has been heroic, right down to the last person. We’ve got a good paper. We’ve earned a place in the fabric of Carleton County, but in the end we simply cannot compete with Irvings’ financial power.
“Brunswick News can afford to drop a few million dollars here to get the Bugle-Observer’s monopoly back and the Irving chain’s manager is willing to do what it takes here to discourage any others who might take heart from our success to compete in other New Brunswick markets,”
Langdon said three factors converged in the last few weeks to create insurmountable problems for the paper. One was the market crash and the fallout on the local economy. The other was the cost of adding a second paper on Fridays, which the FreePress felt it had to do to compete. The third was a Bugle-Observer announcement that it was cutting its ad prices in half for the next year and it’s per issue price from $1.25 to 25 cents. (This week it offered a year-long special buy at 29 per cent of its regular ad rate.)
“The last few weeks have been harrowing,” said Langdon. “We have wracked our brains to find a way to save the paper but we can’t alter the numbers.
“Big bucks have prevailed.”
Is New Brunswick finally getting tired of having one company own all of its newspapers?
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.