Celebrating OCN’s fifth anniversary as Ontario’s first daily digital construction newspaper

first issue May 1 2019
The May 1, 2019 cover of the first daily issue of Ontario Construction News

By Mark Buckshon

Today mark’s the fifth anniversary of Ontario Construction News’ launch as the province’s first digital daily construction newspaper.

Since the first issue, we’ve published news stories for the province’s construction industry every business day – capturing both routine and historic events after the then-new Ontario Construction Act’s provisions came into force.

The updated prompt payment legislation also allowed the mandatory Certificate of Substantial Performance (CSP) and other legal notices/certificates to be published in a digital newspaper – and since then, we’ve published more than 7,200 notices.

From the start, we believed that a true digital newspaper should have the characteristics of an actual printed newspaper – with a defined issue date/schedule, and a fixed and permanent publication format with discrete newspaper-style pages. Our publishing model has since been emulated by one of our competitors, after it ceased conventional printing of its publication.

We also think that a real newspaper should contain original content built on first-hand reporting, investigation and research. I think we’ve succeeded at this, covering significant business issues, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the industry, and labour disputes and strikes.

We’ve designed the newspaper to be freely available with unlimited access to key information —  namely the CSP and other legal notices – and a free daily e-letter that summarizes the latest news content. As well, everyone can read a few stories each week without any cost or subscription requirement.

As we developed the publication, we built in a modestly priced all-inclusive subscription service ($3.95 per month or $24.95 per year, plus HST), that allows you to see everything in the publication without limit. Advertisers receive free subscriptions. Dozens of readers have signed on for the paid subscription option and I expect the numbers will increase in the months ahead. We’ll use this subscription revenue to further enhance the publication’s quality.

On the notice publication/advertising side, survey data indicates unanimous satisfaction with our services, with dozens of advertisers appreciating the speed and convenience (at reasonable cost) in publishing their mandatory notices.

Now that we’ve completed our first five years of publication, what lies ahead?

In the near-term – this summer – I’ll transfer the business ownership to the company’s key employees. While I will continue to be engaged with the organization, contributing consulting and editorial services, it’s time to pass the reins to the next generation.

I think the new employee-owners will continue to enhance the newspaper’s quality and responsiveness as they adapt the business for the future.

Thanks for your support.

Mark Buckshon is (currently) president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies, which publishes Ontario Construction News.  He can be reached by email at buckshon@ontarioconstructionnews.com.


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