a peek inside the fishbowl

28 Nov, 2017

Close to home

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I’m trying very hard not to let the news about the most recent shakeup in the media industry get me down, but it is disheartening, to say the least. Did you know this was one of the largest mass closures of newspapers in Canada’s history? As for myself, I continue to chug along at the Kitchissippi Times. As some of you know, I’m the managing editor and associate publisher. Fortunately, KT is independently owned and supported by MANY amazing local businesses. I’m not directly impacted by Postmedia and Torstar’s swaperoo (TBD by the Competition Bureau, by the way) but I am heartbroken for all of those talented people who are losing their jobs and for the communities who will lose their newspapers.

I’m saddened by some of the negative comments I’ve seen floating around online. People who debate the value of community newspapers really aren’t looking at the whole picture. To those individuals I want to say, well, maybe community news isn’t important to YOU, but it’s important to me, and to a lot of people like me. Someone needs to tell the stories that get missed by the big guys; to shine a light on the people, grassroots initiatives, and events that are important to the residents but would not normally get much notice. Someone needs to ask questions, dig around, and hold people accountable. Someone needs to give the people a voice, too. One of my favourite things about KT is when I receive thoughtful letters and submissions. This stuff is important.

Readers – and I am referring to people who read online and offline – are consuming more content than ever. The desire to know what is happening in one’s own backyard hasn’t changed, and it never will. What has changed is the revenue media owners earn from those newspapers. The media landscape is in transition and there is no easy fix.

How can you support local media? Well, for a freebie like the Kitchissippi Times, you can browse the website, click on ads, or share a story online on your social media channel of choice. Send a letter to the editor. Talk about us. Like us on Facebook! If an ad catches your attention and leads you to a store sale or opening, tell them you’re there because you saw their ad in the local paper. Trust me, all of these small things actually make a big difference.

My husband also works in the media industry. To have two incomes/two people working in an industry that seems to have no end of cutbacks and restructuring is stressful if I let myself think about it too much, so I don’t think about it. What will Ottawa’s media landscape look like in five years, or ten? Will I even be part of it? What am I, who am I, if I’m not writing? I am broken up about all of this and I’m not even in the line of fire, a.k.a. laid off from a job I love.

So, for the moment, I’m doing the only thing that I can do, and that’s put my head down and get work done.

Today is Giving Tuesday, a day for giving and volunteering which takes place after Black Friday. It’s a day for organizations and individuals to take some action and rally around their favourite causes. For Giving Tuesday, I wanted to let you know about a charitable initiative that’s happening close to home. A group of local shop owners has issued a call to action they’re calling Pay It Forward to help women in need, right here in Ottawa. (You can read more about that here.) For shoppers, it involves picking up a tote bag, filling it with a few items, and dropping it off at a participating shop. It’s a great way to get people shopping locally and discover a few new shops, and also, get some much-needed items to women who could use them.

I filled up a bag and dropped it off at Flock Boutique the other day. They gave me a t-shirt I added to the bag as well:

Pay it forward, this holiday season

I should mention, I consulted Cornerstone’s helpful “what’s needed” list before I went shopping and this is what I ended up buying for my donation (in case you’re looking for some ideas!):

  • nail polish
  • hairbrush
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • new facecloths
  • shampoo and conditioner
  • soap
  • hand lotion
  • deodorant
  • chocolate
  • lip balms
  • sketchbook

It’s not much, but I think if a few Fishbowl readers do it too, I know we can make a difference. Sometimes small things add up to big things; something I try to remember as I move through the routines of my busy days.

4 Responses to "Close to home"

1 | Bob LeDrew

November 29th, 2017 at 9:26 am


It was interesting to hear Paul Godfrey on Ottawa Morning on Tuesday, then two local community newspaper owners on Wednesday. The local folks have had great fall seasons, both papers profitable. According to Godfrey, it’s all doomed.

Honestly: it’s the chains that are the problem. They don’t care about the content, and will toss any crap into a paper just to fill space around the ads. Then reader engagement disappears, and advertisers wise up, and then… poof.

2 | Lynn

November 29th, 2017 at 11:12 am


I’m so sad about this news. Kanata, in particular, is left without any kind of local news source – I can’t even find good local coverage online. I read the Kanata paper cover to cover every week and it was my primary source of what’s happening around here. UGH.

3 | sherrilynne@sherrilynnestarkie.com

November 29th, 2017 at 1:32 pm


Great story Andrea. I’m adding a link to it on my blog.

4 | andrea tomkins

November 30th, 2017 at 2:31 pm


Thanks guys. These are interesting times, that’s for sure. I do wish I had a crystal ball. It’s easy to see how some of these issues came to be… much harder to predict how they will be resolved.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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