MANITOULIN—This week marks the volume change for this paper, spotted just below The Expositor’s front page signature flag, making it volume 136, number 1 and meaning that this newspaper has completed 136 full years of keeping the people of Manitoulin Island informed, maintaining the historical record of the events and goings on in the communities and being an all around cornerstone for connecting the people and places of the largest freshwater island in the world, and the people who love it. The Manitoulin Expositor is also the oldest continuously published newspaper in Northern Ontario.
It is fitting, then, that as the paper launches into its 137th year of publishing—years that have seen many changes in this industry (the original Washington Flatbed press that first printed The Expositor in 1879 can still be found cemented into the grounds of the Assiginack Museum), especially in the past decade or so—this newspaper introduces its latest employee, John Scannell, new media specialist.
Mr. Scannell’s role will focus largely on the digital world, including The Expositor’s flagship www.manitoulin.ca, the Island’s tourism website thisismanitoulin.com, manitoulinmall.com, the Manitoulin Job Board and other digital projects that are either in the works or proposed to be soon. Mr. Scannell will also focus on the paper’s popular social media following on Facebook (6,993 followers as of Monday) and Twitter (1,640 followers).
“We’re enhancing our online presence with this new position,” said production manager Dave Patterson, “and looking at ways to become even more connected with the community while fulfilling their needs.”
Mr. Scannell’s role will be mainly one of research and development and “looking for more ways to bring Manitoulin communities and communities of interest closer together,” Mr. Patterson said. Mr. Scannell is joining the staff as an intern, thanks to support from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, which also recognized this as a unique opportunity for an old paper to develop state-of-the-art digital products that will serve to enhance the unique place that is Manitoulin Island.
“We’re trying to diversify the way we bring our products to the market, be it the paper, electronic version or mobile, and making it even easier for our readers and followers to communicate with us, with each other and with the community as a whole. If there’s a Manitoulin network, then we are the hub.”
Mr. Scannell most recently graduated with a law degree from the University of Cincinnati Law School and before that took his undergraduate degree in economics at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Hailing originally from Cortland, Ohio, Mr. Scannell and his family have been coming to Manitoulin for his entire life with his mother Mary deciding to make Manitoulin her permanent residence. Mr. Scannell, well on his way to full Canadian citizenship, also feels the pull of Manitoulin and also wishes to call Manitoulin home permanently and, in fact, was looking at cottage plans when this reporter caught up with him on a beautiful Victoria Day Monday.
“Manitoulin is its own community,” said Expositor publisher Rick McCutcheon. “This whole new position we’re creating is for the benefit of the community by making it easier for people to sell their motorcycle (on www.manitoulinmall.com), help people find accommodations when making a planned adventure to Manitoulin (through the This is Manitoulin website www.thisismanitoulin.com) or by giving people something to do through the many events that are promoted in the pages of The Expositor.”
The publisher added that the newspaper industry has adapted and changed to reflect the digital age, and, in fact, this newspaper is headed for the Ontario Community Newspapers Association annual conference this week where it will see whether its nominations for best editorial and best website cinches the paper and its staff first, second or third place honours. This year’s event is being held simultaneously with the national Newspapers Canada annual convention so Expositor staff attending the event (including Mr. Scannell) will be able to participate in an enormous number of information sessions on current and emerging industry trends.
“We are a community-based venture, family-owned and now boasting second generation management. Our daughter, Alicia McCutcheon, has held the editor’s position for the past four years and Julia and I have published the paper for 45 years, since 1970,” Mr. McCutcheon continued. In fact, Alicia McCutcheon is attending the Ontario Community Newspapers Association annual business meeting where she has agreed to stand for election to its board.
The Expositor’s circulation remains strong and has not slipped. “Our readers are loyal, and we thank them for that. Now we have online readers, who are also loyal, and we thank them for that too,” Mr. McCutcheon added.
“In a scattered age, we see ourselves as the cornerstone of the Island and so, we humbly note, does the community,” Mr. McCutcheon concluded. “Within our pages and on our sites you find interesting people doing interesting things, event advertising, product and service advertising and information about the goings on in all our communities—where else can you find all that and more in one neat package, delivered right to your mailbox (or inbox)?”