A former councillor in Prince George has purchased the city’s only newspaper after watching multiple outlets in other British Columbia Interior communities shut down last year.
Cameron Stolz is the new owner of the 108-year-old Prince George Citizen after buying the paper from Glacier Media.
Stolz, a businessman who owns a toy and comics store, said he entered talks to buy the weekly newspaper last November after outlets in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek closed, followed soon after by the newspaper in Kamloops.
He said he was worried that the Citizen, which lost about $56,000 last year, would be the next to go.
“I do believe firmly that there is a need for local news for communities, I believe that there’s a need for people to be aware of what’s going on in their community and be able to find a trusted source of information on their stories,” Stolz said.
“I also believe that local communities need to have their elected officials being watched, you know? (With reporters) paying attention to what they’re doing, and then reporting what they’re doing to the community to inform people.”
The number of local newspapers in Canada has been in steady decline for years, with a steep drop in 2023 after the end of pandemic-related government supports.
A study out of Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Journalism found that between Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2023, 36 local news outlets closed in Canada. Twenty-nine were community newspapers and seven were privately owned radio stations.
Stolz said he didn’t expect the Citizen to become incredibly profitable but believed he could turn things around to the point where he would hire more reporters in 18 months.
“I never envisioned the Citizen being something that’s going to be buying me a new vehicle. That’s not the case,” he said.
“If we go from a $56,000 loss to a $56,000 profit that means I can spend that money on additional wages for additional reporting.”
He says his plan focuses on being “pro-Prince George,” “pro-solution” and “pro-business” while remaining connected to the community.