It was sad news this week when the less than one year young Guelph Review revealed on its website that its taking its leave, and will no longer be covering the Royal City as this Friday's issue. The bold experiment in adding a third regular newspaper to the city's rotation was intriguing and full of possibility, but the paper seemed sadly unable to capitalize on its assumption that there was room in this market for three papers, especially when Guelph already has a daily and a twice-weekly newspaper in circulation.
Then again, maybe some people thought that you can dress up the old Smart Shopper with articles, photos and suduku, but at the end of the day, it's a still a thing that shows up on your doorstep Friday afternoon that doesn't get read. Maybe we'll never know where it all went wrong.
What we do know is that Sun Media, owners of the Guelph Review, recently slashed 500 jobs from its rolls. It seems clear now that among them were the small staff of the Review, as well as its sister paper, the Kitchener-Waterloo Review. Digital continues to eat up a lot of the market share, and even if a paper comes to your door for free, it's hard to get advertisers to see the value in spending money on an ad that has an equally good chance of never being seen as being seen.
I do salute Sun Media for giving it the old college try though. Certainly they didn't skimp on the expenses running much of the paper in colour whenever possible. The amount of local content was growing all the time too as the paper developed a staff that was out in the community and covering as much as they can. And I have to say that there was a voice to the Review too. Of course, that voice was not terribly controversial and strayed to the inoffensive middle of the road where no one, left or right, could possibly find fault. That is unless they hate puppies, children or cultural events.
The final edition of the Guelph Review comes out tomorrow.
In other local media news, it seems that Allan Boynton has pulled the plug on his Guelph Standard blog endeavour. The site's URL leads to a dead end Blogger page now, but this time last year, Boynton was leading an (almost) one-man war of accountability against Mayor Karen Farbridge and some of her closest allies on city council. Of course, I think many might characterize his pursuits as more of a "witch hunt," like Boynton's ultimatum to Mayor Karen Farbridge demanding an interview and this pursuit of Councillor Maggie Laidlaw's expenses following a trip to Italy. But I don't think you can deny that Boynton brought a lot of passion to his blog, and indeed he played to an audience that felt that city hall wasn't being covered in as complete as it could have (should have?) been.
But despite what you may have thought of either the Guelph Review or the Guelph Standard, it's always sad to see the media landscape in the City of Guelph shrink, especially when you consider all that there is to cover, from arts & culture events to neighbourhood groups, to politics, to issues, to sports. Hopefully, other bold media pioneers - in both old and new formats - will soon pick up the baton to help us cover all that the Royal City has to offer.