Valley Gazette publisher targets The Current

Opinion

Last Wednesday’s edition of the Valley Gazette carried an opinion piece (although it is not described as such) by its publisher, Michel Lavigne. It contained a rant against community online “blogs” in general, but left little doubt that its main purpose was to attack The Current. It is worth noting that recently local social media trolls have invited people to disbelieve some of our articles because, they say, The Current is a “blog.” Lavigne appears to have jumped on that bandwagon. This is silly because surely the test of whether an article should be disbelieved is not how or where it is published, but what it says and what it relies on to corroborate what it says.

The Current is not a newspaper — seriously?

Lavigne says,

After talking with numerous publishers, it would seem that a huge number of small communities such as the Madawaska Valley have a number of small groups that start up blogs and call themselves newspapers.

The suggestion that The Current is not entitled to call itself a “newspaper” is misguided and insulting. I would hope that most, if not all, the regular readers of both the online and print versions of The Current (now averaging more than four thousand a month) will have no difficulty rejecting this out of hand. This applies especially to the many who have, over the past year, made a point of complimenting us for bringing what they describe as a “proper newspaper” to the community. Some take pains to explain that this is because we practise investigative journalism.

Also for Lavigne’s information it is the case that MadValley Media, the publisher of The Current, is provincially registered as a business carrying out “online news service.” Also the name “The Madawaska Valley Current” has been registered in Ontario to “publish community newspaper.”

Other Ottawa Valley publishers who use their websites to carry news include the Whitewater News, the Pembroke Observer & News, Inside Ottawa Valley and the Eganville Leader. Like The Current, and indeed the Valley Gazette itself, they are staffed by small teams. Did Lavigne intend his comments to refer to these newspapers as well?

“Opinions are masked as facts”

The most serious of Lavigne’s comments, which follow his specific reference to “blogs” in “Madawaska Valley,” is that The Current misleads people by publishing opinions “masked as facts.” He says, “To the unaided eye (whatever that means) those opinions could be misinterpreted as truth.”

I must confess to failing to comprehend just exactly what he means by those words. However, one thing is clear: that it is intended as a slur and implies that The Current has published articles which are untruthful.

Blogs

The Current has no objection to being described as a “blog” as that puts it in good company with other newspapers who have 24/7 online versions. Wikipedia describes how in recent years “multi-author blogs” (MABs) have emerged. It uses as examples “MABs from newspapers, other media outlets, universities, think tanks, advocacy groups and similar institutions, now accounting for an increasing quantity of blog traffic.” The Current uses the same “blog creation platform” (WordPress) as many of the large circulation newspapers.

The Current has written to Lavigne asking him to explain and clarify his arguably libelous comments impugning The Current’s ethics. He has been requested to identify the articles published by The Current that he alludes to, including the facts he relies on imputing untruthfulness. Also to explain his allegation that these articles constitute pursuing “personal agendas.” This should not present a difficulty for him because every one of the articles The Current has published since it began remains on our website for him to read.

6 Comments

  1. Maggie MacLeod

    I only had to read two articles put out by The Current to realize it’s agenda. As for publishing opinions, maybe all media just publish their own opinions in public interest pieces. I feel you are just the pot calling the kettle black.

  2. Gerry Beanish

    To be known as a newspaper, a business must have reached the standard of publishing legal notices. The Current can not be perceived as a newspaper of public record.
    It does have many entertaining articles, but there is much animosity on the political slant. One of the editors was released from a position by council in 2016, later to be replaced by a more qualified individual. Perhaps there is an axe to grind?

    • The Current

      Mr. Beanish, thank you for your comment. We refer you to our reply to your earlier comment about our article entitled “Council’s asset management investigated by The Current” and your misstatement regarding the author of that article and our journalistic ethics.
      As for your reasons for questioning the status of The Current as a newspaper, Wikipedia describes a newspaper as “a periodical publication containing written information about current events.” It goes on to say, “Newspapers have traditionally been published in print (usually on cheap, low grade paper called newsprint). However, today most newspapers are also published on websites as online newspapers and some have even abandoned their print version entirely.”
      What is your authority for saying that there is a requirement concerning “the standard of publishing legal notices?” For your information, however, we have (so far unsuccessfully) approached the Township to carry such notices, asking them to take into account that we distribute the print version of The Current for free and that by so advertising this will enable their notices to reach the many residents who read it.

  3. Nat Hall

    Ask old Mikey if he ever does articles of interest when a long time local business celebrates many many years in business , think his reply was , They do not advertise with Me , or some such response. The business in question never had to advertise always repeat customers return to purchase there groceries and even newspapers in the area . Guess The Valley Gazette is getting squeezed now with the radio station here grabbing those tighter and tighter advertising dollars . The radio station can run commercials all day long all week long where as the paper comes out once a week . The Gazette also tried to sell online subscriptions wonder how many bit at that , basically the newspaper online even looked the same I think . I remember his editors notes when the ” other paper ” sold and closed up you would have thought he was Simba in the Lion King lol was hilarious .

  4. Barry Conway

    Mr. Lavigne is certainly entitled to his opinions and if he chooses to publish those opinions at his own expense, he most certainly can do so as well, so long as he abides by the publishing laws of the land and understands that there may be an unintended cost to his opinions. Put another way, his many seemingly self-serving, unfounded opinions cost him customers like me.
    I do want a newspaper for our community but simply because ink gets printed on newsprint does not make something a newspaper. The Eganville Leader most certainly is a newspaper, and a venerable one at that. But it exists to serve Eganville, though it does a remarkable job of covering much of the Bonnechere and Madawaska River Valleys.
    What the Valley Gazette is about, well, as a retired professor of Journalism, I honestly can’t say as it doesn’t seem to pursue the usual professional procedures and standards of real journalistic concern.
    In fact, not only is The Current a breath of fresh journalistic air, at times it seems to be the only venue for real journalism that originates from within our community. So for whatever it’s worth, no matter if The Current’s called a blog, a website, a community dispatch, I know it’s journalism in the truest sense of the word. Mr. Lavigne would do well to study it’s methods and manner before his many opinions end up where they belong — lining bird cages or wrapping potato peelings!

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