With a combined 21 awards at the Ontario Community Newspaper Association gala April 23 – safe to say that readers and advertisers in the Haliburton Highlands are well served by local print media.

The Highlander, Haliburton County Echo, and Minden Times were selected first, second or third more than any other papers in the province.

Not bad.

The Highlands is an interesting pocket when it comes to local news, and print in particular. While larger centres, such as Lindsay to the south, bid farewell to its voice of record, The Lindsay Post, in 2013, and other larger cities such as Guelph saw the venerable Mercury close its doors in 2016, four newspapers continue to provide excellent, award-winning journalism and design in the County. The other is County Life.

How is this possible?

First of all, local businesses support small-town newspapers here. They tell us advertising works. That’s because people show an interest in local news and take the time to read the printed and online editions.

It allows The Highlander to circulate nearly 9,000 papers.

It means that local journalists can cover the pandemic with a County-centric eye. Readers know exactly what the local number of cases are, how many close contacts there have been, and how many cases have been resolved. They know immediately when there is a declared outbreak. They also know exactly what they need to know to get a vaccination here. Businesses are informed instantaneously about the latest restrictions.

With Zoom and the public broadcast of many meetings, such as councils, residents have better access than ever. But we know that not many are going to watch. We do. All of them. And you only have to pick up the three papers to know exactly what you missed. We’ve done the job of separating the wheat from the chaff so you know what is important.

More importantly, council staff and politicians are aware that we are watching. We are there to ensure they are transparent and accountable to you, the taxpayer.

We also bring you stories from the education sector, updating you on what is happening in our schools. And, we share the good news, the happy stuff, the light stuff because we know sometimes readers need a break from the heavy, particularly now.

Our columns are all local, offering a breadth of opinion for you to agree with, or disagree with.

All of the papers are a mirror to our community. The Highlander in particular is not afraid to go to the difficult spots, shedding light on problems that we as a community need to address. Other times we champion our towns and residents.

We implore our advertisers and readers to continue to support us. Never take us for granted. It is when that happens that we have seen numerous small-town papers close. Sadly, many communities have lost their voice.

So, allow us all to brag a bit, like we did this past Friday, with online news of our wins.

It’s not so much that we want pats on the back. We just want you to realize that we do good and are worthy of your continued support.

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