By Emily Stonehouse

We’ve vanished. For our loyal followers on social media, some may have noticed that our online presence has dwindled since last week. While the Minden Times and the Haliburton Echo are print newspapers, with two millennial editors at the helm, we’ve dedicated time and energy into building our online presence for our readers. 

Now this doesn’t mean we post all of our articles online. We do believe in the beauty of unfolding a fresh paper each week. There’s something about the ink on your thumbs and the smell of fresh coffee that boasts a sense of comfort. We strive to provide that each and every week. 

We believe in print, but like so many others over the past decade, we’ve learned to wade into the waters of the online world. We primarily use our channels to direct readers to our papers; remind folks what’s featured, and keep the buzz of the business ablaze. 

We also use social media as a way to connect; to feel like we are part of the community, and showcase both the shimmers and the shadows of Minden Hills. 

Until last week. I logged on to Instagram to share a photo that was featured in the Times, only to be greeted by a message that said in bold black letters “People in Canada can’t see your content. This account is a news publication. Content from news publications can’t be viewed in Canada in response to Canadian government legislation.” 

I’ve lost the year’s worth of photos I’ve shared; the collective community archive that highlights baseball games, Canada Day, snow storms, and water levels. The pictures that tell the stories from our corner of the world. They’re gone. Every single one. 

I understand that if you search “Minden Times” on our online channels, some folks can still see the images. This seems like a transition time. But I, as the curator and editor of the page, can no longer post, and the images and stories will no longer organically appear during the average scroll. 

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of why this happened. But I will say that the censorship is a direct response from Bill C-18, which the Canadian government passed late last week. The bill was formed in an attempt to reignite the smoldering embers of the journalism industry; forcing online corporations to pay for the content these news agencies produce. 

Google and Meta (the conglomerate behind Facebook and Instagram) have responded to this regulation by shutting down access to online news agencies, as they’re not in support of paying for the content. If you would like more information, I would recommend reading articles on the bill that are available online (which requires a little more digging than it used to, but is more complex than what I can fit into a 700-word editorial). 

Between the Canadian government and these online platforms, the small-town newspapers are stuck like a child between two bickering parents on the brink of divorce. We rely heavily on using social media to connect with our community, and by blocking our posts, our voices have been silenced. 

Suddenly, the “fake news” that runs rampant on the internet charges to the forefront of scrolling eyes. We need to be cognizant of the content that saturates our minds, and adding real news to the chopping block will cast a dark shadow over the veritability of truth.  

So, we’ve vanished. You won’t see us online for the next little bit. Maybe ever. I am really not sure how it will turn out. But please don’t give up on us. We’re still here. We will be posting articles on our website when we can, and we also offer paper and online subscriptions which are readily available. Or, go oldschool and pick up a copy from anywhere local. We do guarantee that it pairs well with coffee. 

We know we will lose some of our audience, but as the quiet kid at the mercy of two bickering parents on the brink of divorce, we hope the dust settles soon.