Ottawa is losing another community newspaper. On Monday, the Ottawa South Community Voice newspaper — an upstart, independent community news outlet that launched last February — announced that it was ceasing publication.
"We gave it a good 14 months," the paper's editor Patrick Uguccioni, told Ottawa Matters. "The paper was well-read, we've got some very good feedback about that. But it was a tough slog to get advertisers on board."
Media is a basic numbers game, at the end off the day. "The publisher just looked at the year-end numbers and decided it was time to pull the plug, so to speak," said Uguccioni. He stressed, however, that the company's other newspaper properties — the Kanata-Stittsville Community Voice and the West Carleton Community Voice — are still doing well and remain viable papers.
Uguccioni said that because of the strength of those papers, there won't be any staff laid off as a result of the closure.
The loss of the paper is another blow to local media, which has been decimated in recent years. In 2017, a multi-paper trade between Torstar and Postmedia led to the closure of many papers in the city, including several Metroland papers and the free Metro Ottawa daily. Last summer, further cuts at Postmedia led to a round of buyouts at the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun, including the departures of long-time City Hall reporter Matthew Pearson and Ottawa Senators writer Wayne Scanlan. (Disclosure: the author of this report was laid off when Metro Ottawa closed, and previously worked for Postmedia.)
"If I had the perfect answer, I'd tell you. We sort of scratched our head [about] why we couldn't get advertisers," said Uguccioni. "It was a well-read paper. I'd put it up against any newspaper in Canada, we probably have ojne of the best community journalists in the country in Erin McCracken."
The Ottawa South Community Voice newspaper had also covered some of the biggest stories in the city's south end, including the ongoing battle over Heron Gate and the tight races in the provincial and municipal elections.
"Very sad to see that," said Coun. Riley Brockington, speaking to 1310s Mark Day on Tuesday. "We've taken a hit there, and we're sad to see that paper go...our large daily papers do a good job with the more global issues in this city, but the local papers really do have a role in this city and other neighbourhoods that I'm in. I pick them up and read what's going on."
"Lots of different things in the community newspapers, you get to cover everything from church bazaars to fundraisers. [Things] that wouldn't get coverage and bigger media, but we get to cover those small events.
"We're all stubborn, and we didn't want to make this decision," said Uguccioni. "We worked really hard o\ver the last 14 months. We tried different things to make it a go, but in the end it is a small business and sometimes you have to make those tough decisions."