Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Chatham Voice - community first

The recently launched Chatham Voice, owned and managed by former Sun Media news vets Bruce Corcoran and Jim Blake, gives us goosebumps.
The thought of small, community-minded newspapers sprouting from the indifference of conglomerates like Sun Media warms the heart.

It takes us back to our roots when we worked for independent and chain-owned community newspapers that swore by the code - community news, sports, social events and entertainment first.

(Much like the Brampton Times city editor who refused to use my photos of the Beatles snapped at Maple Leaf Gardens because there were no local people in the pictures.)

Chatham Voice's Corcoran, Blake and Fatima Pisquem all worked at Sun Media's Chatham Daily News before parting company. A fourth, Tricia Weese, will join the Chatham Voice next month.

When Tricia joins the weekly paper, there will be eight men and women devoting their time and energy to making the Chatham Voice a community newspaper of old.

The free print edition, in full colour, and the online edition, have been welcomed by the community.   

"Feedback from the community has been extremely positive," Corcoran tells TSF. "We currently put out a once-weekly publication, delivered to homes and businesses in Chatham, with a weekly circulation of more than 20,000.

"Printed in full colour - every page. Looks great. Everything, with the exception of printing, is done locally. The content is local, the ownership is local, and the readers appreciate that."

We wish the Chatham Voice only success, with the support of readers and advertisers. Nothing is more contagious than the will to succeed in a new venture.

This blogger's first reporting job was at the Chatham Daily News in 1963 and it was pure joy from the first assignment - take the Speed Graphic, pocket full of bulbs and pocket full of film slides out for a spin.

The focus of the Daily News, a Thomson newspaper at the time, was Chatham and a few nearby communities. The op-ed pages had some outside content, but largely it was local front to back.

We didn't mind working 14-hour days because we wanted to succeed and, as long as we paid the rent and had enough to eat, money was not an object. The money comes later.

The recent launch of the Chatham Voice reminded us what the Toronto Sun must have felt like on Day One and the potential it presented to the 62 former employees of the defunct Toronto Telegram.

Perhaps the hundreds of men and women axed by Quebecor in recent years might consider branching into independent weekly or daily newspapers in their communities.

Can you vision a movement of new, community-driven Voice newspapers to replace the apathy of Sun Media in supporting community newspapers?

We are sure the community newspaper vets at Chatham Voice have some pointers.

Contacts: or or 519-397-2020.

If the owner/managers of other independent community newspapers launched across Canada since this blog began in 2006 want to provide updates on their experiences, please do.


  1. I'm glad Toronto Sun Family got this story. I know both Blake and Corcoran and they'll succeed where Sun Media has failed in providing Chatham-Kent with news that's relevant to their community. I hope advertisers will support them and make this is viable business.

  2. Sun Media gift-wrapped the local talent to start this competitor. Brilliant HR move.

  3. I'm a former SunMedia employee (didn't work there long) who started an online-only news site 2 years ago,

    It's going very well for us.

    The Chatham Voice seems like a very well thought out effort as well, best of luck!

  4. Way to go Jim and Bruce! For those (in Toronto) that think newspaper is dead, never met a community newspaper person. All they know is community, all they care about is community. All in the community will benefit from their efforts.