In February 2015, I started the Nipawin News Group on Facebook. It’s purpose was to have one central point locals could find just local news for Nipawin and the surrounding communities. That group has grown to over 3,200 members and become a vital part of keeping Nipawin and other northeast community residents informed.
But sourcing that news was not easy. In August of 2017, I launched the Nipawin News web site, to report local news that was not digitally available for readers looking to get their news online.
The response to my efforts to bring the news was overwhelming, and I have the Storm FM to thank for working alongside me in that first year. Since 2017, Nipawin News has been host to over 700 articles and press releases and seen over 350,000 visitors viewing over a half million pages.
The creation of Nipawin News seemed to spur a revival in the local media. This proved to be of great benefit for readers. With four different outlets vying for your attention, the amount of local news coverage expanded.
Throughout 2018, I focused on all the local news I could cover, but as I went into 2019, it was getting to be a case of duplication with other outlets and I narrowed what I published down to the issues getting less coverage, partly due to my own health issues.
In 2019, the government media “bailout” was rolled out and, while some of my competitors qualified for the subsidy, Nipawin News as a sole proprietorship and myself as the only one running it, did not qualify. The second grant, the Local Journalist Initiative, designed to help more of the smaller local areas considered news deserts, inherited the same criteria as the $600M and I didn’t qualify for that either.
Coming into 2020 I struggled with the options before me. Between my health and the need to pay my bills, I cut back even further on the time spent on reporting the news. When COVID-19 hit, we fell between the cracks of all the benefits. No CERB, not even the provincial relief. But hey, at least Premiere Moe says they weren’t going to cut off my power.
So, aside from a handful of ads sold in the beginning, which don’t even cover the hosting costs for my website, I have been writing and publishing the news for three years legally as a business but in reality as a volunteer. In that time I have been graced with the praise and appreciation of so many readers, both in the area and from people who have moved away and count on Nipawin News and the Facebook group to keep up with what’s happening back home. I’ve put up with the nasty side, like being called a nazi for trying to keep the group civil, but in today’s world it’s just par for the course.
But today it’s time to make a decision. I can continue on publishing on a part time basis, but in order to do that I need support, either from my readers or from local businesses buying advertising. With enough support, I could even go back to publishing full time, just as I was doing in 2018. I have also had a lot of requests to expand the area I cover, reaching out further into the Northeast. One option to be able to achieve that is to shut down the business and form a non-profit, allowing me to tap into potential resources not available to me as a for profit business.
The last thing I want to do is fold Nipawin News altogether. I’ve devoted too much of my time to just quit. Also, shutting down Nipawin News also means I will no longer administer the Nipawin News Group for sharing local news.
If, over the past five years, you have appreciated any of the work I have done to bring you news, whether through all my published articles or even just rounding up news from other sources to share with the group, I am asking you consider showing your appreciation and consider supporting Nipawin News. I’ve had a PayPal contribution option on my website for several months, but I’ve never pushed it. But I’m here now and I’m asking for your support. How much support I get now, will play a huge part in my decision about the future of Nipawin News.
Thank you for all your encouragement over the years and I look forward to carrying on serving the northeast for many more years to come. If you have questions or suggestions, please feel free to message me on Facebook or call me at 306-769-7350
Joanne Francis – Editor, Nipawin News
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