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“No One Saw It Coming.” Man Steps In To Revive Small Town’s 136-Yr-Old Paper.

With the continuous rise of digital news, the novelty of traditional newspapers is fading, even in places where their main source of local news comes from the paper.

Even the small town of Tilbury, Ontario, couldn’t escape this trend despite the fact that their paper, The Times, has been around for 136 years. Despite its popularity with locals, Postmedia shut it down, along with several other papers, due to falling ad revenues.

As upsetting as this was to the local residents, this kind of thing happens all the time, so they simply accepted the decision and found new ways to connect. The Facebook groups they made to share local happenings weren’t the same, but that was the best they could do.

Or so they thought.

Miles away, a journalist named Mohsin Abbas heard what had happened to the town of Tilbury. He had never lived there himself, but with a passion for local news and Canada as a whole, he found himself looking for a way to save the newspaper for just 4,800 people.

“I know the importance of local journalism,” Mohsin said. “It’s our social responsibility.”

Mohsin’s passion for journalism began back when he lived in Pakistan, where choosing to be a journalist meant putting his life in danger. It got so dangerous, in fact, that in the early 2000s, he became a refugee to Canada.

Since arriving in his new home, he has worked with several different news outlets and has even started his own independent publications. Currently, he’s a freelance contributor for BBC News reporting in Urdu and Punjabi, and he runs a small news outlet called the Milton Reporter.

“Just imagine a guy in a prison, sitting in this third world country and waiting to be killed in a police encounter. And then he leaves that place, enters Canada, and he’s still alive and happy with a beautiful family 20 years later,” he said. “It’s priceless.”

And so, with a passion for journalism and a heart full of gratitude for Canada, Mohsin revived the small town’s newspaper and became the publisher… less than a month after it shut down.

With this revival came a few changes. First, a new name: The Tilbury Times. Second, they will now have a website to accompany the physical papers, which will go out once a month rather than once a week. The website is already up and running, and print editions will start going out in March.

Successfully reviving a newspaper is essentially unheard of nowadays, but Mohsin is doing everything he can to make The Tilbury Times an exception. That includes reaching out to locals to get feedback and find contributors, including a former editor who plans to write occasionally.

“He’s very sincere. I think he definitely has a passion for the industry,” Gerry Harvieux said. “If he can get through the initial startup phase, I think it will be really good for our community.”

Even Tilbury natives, like Gabby Glasier, are happy to do what they can. Gabby is currently a coordinating editor at the Gazette, a student newspaper at Western University in London, but she was more than happy to accept Mohsin’s offer to become a part-time freelancer.

“No one saw it coming. No one expected it,” Gabby said. “But it’s here anyways and it’s going to be something good.”

Mohsin doesn’t live in Tilbury, but he’s making sure the locals know this revival isn’t about the money. Even though he lives two and a half hours away, he plans to visit every week. He also plans to rent a house that reporters will be able to use.

Most convincing of all, though, is the fact that he’s using his own money to finance the paper and plans to find advertisers in order to keep the website totally free.

“What I’m doing is nothing,” Mohsin said. “I thank Canada for saving me.”

Keep up the great work, Mohsin! Share this story with a friend to make them smile today.

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