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Saving a local newspaper

Strathclair & District Review continues to operate 
with a combination of paid workers and volunteers

Over the course of 40-plus years, hundreds of volunteers have played a role in having a newspaper published in Strathclair, Manitoba. Knowing that people are interested in what is happening around them, they sought out local news and information. Blended with advertising, it held value for a considerable amount of time. At least to the winter of 2015, when current costs were exceeding the income, and it was felt that changes were desperately needed or the Strathclair & District Review which published continuously since January 1978, may fold.

A meeting last fall provided an opportunity to discuss the future viability of the newspaper, and proposed options, with the goal of ensuring the continuation of the paper. It was learned that 12 years ago there were over 600 subscriptions but by last fall that number had fallen to approximately 270. Now under new management, basically becoming a program of the Strathclair Community Centre Inc. (registered as a non-profit organization) the current number of subscriptions is about 318 (128 mailed, 118 e-version and 72 picked up in Strathclair and Newdale).

“Previously the Strathclair & District Review had operated independently for quite a number of years with a combination of paid workers and volunteers. Faced with some financial challenges and perhaps simply tired of the weekly demands of ‘putting out the paper,’ they decided to end publishing in December 2015,” said general manager David Gamey. “A community meeting was held by a working group looking for alternatives in how to keep the paper going. Those in attendance voiced strong support for continued operation of a local paper. The Community Centre Board was approached and agreed to take the ‘paper under its wings.’”

While volunteers continue to play a critical role in the printing, distribution and news gathering, layout and printing continues to be done by paid workers. Gamey is contracted for general management and accounts while Heather Hogg and Shelley Glenn are contracted for layout, printing and distribution. Rotating on a weekly basis, three volunteers come in to fold and address the paper through a label system. The Working Group of Volunteers provides guidance and recommendations in regards to the paper to the Community Centre Board.

“An 11×17-inch layout was chosen as being the most cost efficient with respect to paper while still providing for a high-quality print,” said Gamey, who added the previous layout was on 8-1/2×14-inch paper. “Subscriber feedback has particularly identified that the new print method provides a much easier-to-read paper. The capacity to print colour and in particular to print decent-quality photographs and graphics has also been greatly appreciated.”

People can send in news, notices and advertising to [email protected].

“Continuation of the paper in its new design has been welcomed with open arms,” Gamey said. The e-version has copies going to subscribers across Canada, into the United States and beyond.

Local newspapers play an important role in communities, creating awareness by being a main source of communication and providing a powerful tool to express ideas and information.

Known as the eyes and ears of the world, a newspaper — as the people of Strathclair have come to know — can still change the thoughts and minds of society.

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