Today is a very sad day. A 50-year-old newspaper has published its last edition, simply not able to carry on with declining sales and revenue in an increasingly digital world.
For some years, newspapers around the world have been closing, downsizing from daily newspapers to weeklies or going on-line only. Countless journalists jobs have been lost and fewer posts are open for those aspiring to be the next Woodward and Bernstein or Harold Evans.
The closure of The Bermuda Sun is a double blow – the loss of jobs and livelihoods and the loss of a local paper.
Having experienced it, I feel for those who have lost their jobs, but can say that there is life after newspapers and I am sure other doors will open. I hope so.
I have never experienced at close hand the loss of a newspaper and I feel a sense of bereavement. (Newspapers are in my blood, cut me and I will bleed ink – my great, great grandfather founded his own newspaper in the UK, which only left the family in the 1940s. It still exists though.)
In losing a local paper, the community suffers, it’s something you only realize when it’s no longer there … but with the closure of the Sun there will be a significant gap. Local papers help to bind a community together.
People often love to hate them, but they do a great job reporting everything from Auntie Ada’s 100th birthday to the latest political scandal.
They act as a platform for opinions that would not otherwise be heard or receive a large audience. They ask questions, they inform and help the debate and champion local causes, raising issues on behalf of those who do not have a voice, but who must be heard.
In a crowded media market, the Sun set out to be a bit different – not to be the voice of record, but to report much more on grassroots issues and to have a wide range of very different opinions in its pages, to be a counterweight.
I only really saw that after I left the RG – until then the Sun was a competitor that had to beaten. Editor Tony McWilliam and his team deserve credit for the direction of the paper. It still kept a cutting edge, however, and its reporting on the so-called Jetgate affair was a good example of that.
So it is a blow: for the community which loses a voice and for journalism in Bermuda with the loss of some good reporters (some of whom I have known for years).
What will happen next?
They have not yet invented the 26 hour clock, so Pat Burchall over at Bernews will be hard pushed to do any more than she already does – which is a phenomenal job, I have to say – although there are signs that even though the body is not yet cold, some columnists are transferring over from the Sun, which is good.
I doubt the radio and TV operators have the resources to expand coverage significantly, so that leaves, at present, the RG.
I saw this on Catch a Fire. In the midst of the news about the closure of the Bda Sun we all overlooked this. It is a big responsibility.