Elections, taxes and development — local news matters

By Trevor Greenway - Local Journalism Initiative
Elections, taxes and development — local news matters

You may get your national news from big media companies like the Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen and CBC, but when it comes to local news that matters to you – municipal politics, development, and quirky character-driven pieces – local newspapers are where it’s at.

The big media companies may have the reach to blast a story off to the masses, but many of these reports, which reach international audiences, are broken on the ground by local reporters — sometimes Low-Down reporters.

It’s happened many times before at this newspaper. Take the gripping story of Fatemeh Anvari, for example. When Anvari was removed from her Grade 3 classroom at Chelsea Elementary in December of 2021, her fellow teachers didn’t call the Ottawa Citizen or CBC; they called the Low Down.

We broke what later became an international news story because one of our readers trusted our work so much that they knew we would do the story justice. We worked hard on the story and quickly built a relationship with Ms. Fatemeh. This led to us being the only news organization in the world to get a photo of the teacher.

The story reignited the debate over Bill 21 and led to a significant 12 per cent drop-in support among Quebecers for the controversial French language bill. This happened because a local paper got the scoop and did the story right.

It’s not just the big stories with international reach that make local papers so important. The little stories from town hall, the hockey rink, or the pub give readers the stories they need. Local papers make a difference.

A 2019 University of Notre Dame and University of Illinois study revealed that, following a newspaper closure, municipal borrowing costs increase “by five to 11 basis points, costing the municipality an additional $650,000 per issue.”

The stat isn’t all that surprising if you think about it. Remember back in the late 2000s when then La Pêche mayor Robert Bussière was pushing to build a septic treatment that would dump raw sewage into the Gatineau River? This newspaper exposed Bussière’s plans and rallied residents to unite to save their beloved river. It’s hard to say if the plant would have gone through without the Low Down’s work, but it would have been easier for Bussière to ram it down our throats had we not been there to report on it.

Think about election times. Do you think The Ottawa Citizen or CBC Ottawa will come up and interview local candidates for our municipal elections? It’s even a stretch sometimes to get local coverage from the big guys during provincial elections. This local paper tells you more than just who is running; we tell you what they’re all about.

Newspapers are public record, and we hold those in power accountable for the things they tell us. When a politician makes a promise to add more daycare spots in the region, newspapers are there to follow up.

Wouldn’t you like to know that your taxes are going up 22 per cent before getting the increased bill? That’s what local newspapers are for.

Local news matters.

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