Newspapers like the one that you now hold in your hands (or are reading online) are increasingly resembling a species under threat. But some citizens of the Gatineau Hills have come together to help protect local news operations such as the Low Down.
Of the nearly 450 news operations that have closed across Canada between 2008 and 2021, 345 of them have been community newspapers.
Founded just under a year ago, Friends of the Low Down (FoLD) is a not-for-profit initiative that aims to promote local community-based news through various fundraising events and donations. Its board consists of half a dozen members, who work together to emphasize the importance of local journalism in the Hills.
FoLD not only raises funds for the Low Down newspaper itself, but it also encourages the community to engage with local journalism through other local fundraisers such as a current one called Mini-University. The goal of the FoLD Mini-University fundraiser is to send high school students in the region to participate in university-level journalism, English literature or political science courses for one week.
In an earlier fundraising effort this year, FoLD members helped sell the Low Down Worst Joke of the Week joke book, which to date has raised nearly $4,300 for the St. Michael’s high school art department.
The new not-for-profit was created with the financial support of the Community Media Strategic Support Fund.
“[FoLD] was incorporated because a group of us really felt it was important not just to support the Low Down, which we love and [which] is going through the same sea change that every other small, local paper is going through in the world,” said board member Kathy Sandford, “[but] we wanted to have a way to educate the public about what reporting is, what journalism is, what a newspaper does.”
The Low Down remains the only newspaper dedicated to focusing exclusively on community news of the Gatineau Hills region — initiatives such as FoLD help keep the Low Down in operation at the low price it has remained at throughout the years.
Want to become a Friend of the Low Down? Locals can help by joining the group to help with future activities and by donating directly to the Low Down or one of their active fundraisers — just go to our website www.lowdownonline.com/donate.