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Village Media acquires and Northern Ontario Business –



It was many years ago that a mutual friend, Donna Hilsinger, introduced me to Michael Atkins, the president of Laurentian Media Group. Laurentian Media Group publishes Northern Life,, Northern Ontario Business and a whole range of other publications that have served not only the community of Sudbury but all of Northern Ontario, for many years. 

In those days as a young entrepreneur (a title I can unfortunately no longer claim), I was immediately drawn to Michael. He was smart, confident, wise and a driven entrepreneur. He could detect both opportunity and nonsense all at the same time. He was passionate about Sudbury and all of Northern Ontario and over the years I would come to learn that he contributed in countless ways to the economy, culture and overall well-being of our entire region. 

Just over six years ago, when I took over SooToday and we created Village Media, Michael was one of the first people I called. Our plan then was to create a media network that spanned Northern Ontario, including Sudbury. It was inevitable that we may eventually become competitors and I wanted him to know in advance. Michael responded immediately, sending his publisher and other senior staff up to visit and we quickly came to the realization that it made more sense to collaborate than to compete. 

Michael and his company became the first partner in Village Media’s network, which now includes over 30 sites across Canada. He also instantly became a believer in our business, a contributor to our platform (the technology that runs the site you are reading this on) and a valued coach and mentor on our incredible journey over the past six years.

Today, we begin a new part of that journey as we announce the acquisition of and Northern Ontario Business

It didn’t start this way of course!

We negotiated a purchase agreement and were thrilled to do so. That was before travel was limited, the province declared a state of emergency and our teams across the country began working from their homes. It gives you pause. My guess is there are very few people buying a new business today before knowing the full ramifications of the challenges in front of them. 

But, we did. And here is why we are doing it. 

  1. is a fantastic news website — arguably one of the best in the nation. It has won three provincial awards and one national award as the best news website in Canada. The site has also won 12 awards for news reporting, editorial writing and video storytelling over the last four years.

  2. I know the team that built this business and they are passionate and professional.  They’ll fit right in with a team that, in these moments, I couldn’t be prouder of.

  3. The highest and best use of our incredible community news sites is during emergencies when our readers and our advertisers need to act on critical information. Last year, during forest fire season our sites helped our communities know which roads were open, which way the winds were blowing, what people needed help, and what people were in a position to help. Just last week, did a live broadcast of the press conference from Laurentian University about closing down classes and then raced across town to broadcast the Public Health Sudbury and Districts’ press conference with chief medical health director Penny Sutcliffe who reported on Sudbury’s first positive COVID-19 case. No one else made that effort or had that impact. Our COVID-19 reporting is second to none. If not us, then who will do this work that we require to build our communities and keep them safe?

  4. I was born and raised in Northern Ontario. I’m passionate about life and commerce in the North, and embrace the uniqueness and significance of our “Villages”.

  5. In today’s stunning volatility our advertisers need to reach their customers immediately, not in a day or two or three. If you have a perishable product that needs to be sold, our audience is available, live, for you to reach. If you have a product for a wider market, we give you instantaneous access to the largest digital market in Northern Ontario. The reach of our sites was unthinkable only a year ago. is a huge part of that story.

  6. We are more effective than our media competitors. We live here. We are owned here. And more importantly, we plan to stay here.

  7. Finally, in these days of heightened stress and unique problems we are a trusted source of real news: Not fake news. We have more than 25 reporters across the North (many of them award-winning) who know what is going on and who are dedicated to making sure we are all dealing with facts and not speculation.

There is nothing easy about our immediate future. We are in uncharted territory. is going to continue to play a leading role in helping us get through these times. 

We are thrilled to have Mark Gentili and his editorial team remain with us. We are delighted that Melanie Junge and her digital sales team remain intact. 

Abbas Homayed, Vice President and General Manager for Laurentian Publishing Limited, joins Village Media as Vice President of Business Development with a special focus on the Sudbury market. 

I can’t share the reasons for acquiring without acknowledging the people who made this spectacular community news product possible, so a special thank you to the thousands of employees who have been a part of the Northern Life/ story for the last 47 years. It is an extraordinary story of Northern Ontario entrepreneurship, hard work and enthusiasm. We stand on your shoulders. We promise not to let you down. 

As for Michael?

Michael is my friend, mentor and No. 1 critic all at the same time. He will continue to sit on the board of Village Media, where he will ensure that our company operates with the same kind of integrity and dedication to the practice of journalism that he has always demonstrated.

He is a man of character and has provided invaluable advice and guidance to me and our entire company along the way.  We couldn’t be happier that he will continue to do so.

Read Michael’s announcement on

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Unsatisfactory end to a great story



There is nothing quite as disappointing as an unsatisfactory end to a great story. This can be seen in pop culture, such as Star Wars and Game of Thrones, but it is also relevant biblically. Of the many verses and stories within the The Holy Bible, there are a few that have endings that, given the opportunity, people would change. One of these stories is Revelation 21: 5.

The story has a strong and engaging beginning, but it falters near the end. The second verse in this story even says, “ I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” It is expected that this story would have more anticipation; there should have been more exploration and excitement in the Holy City. The story essentially says that those who are corrupt, make mortal sins, or don’t believe in God will not be accepted into heaven. The important verses in this story, however, are “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” These help verses help progress God’s purpose and his creation of Earth, but it is irrelevant to the story of heaven. These verses also leave the idea of what God was creating unresolved. What exactly is ‘everything’ the man on the throne was referring to? And was that same man God? It can be presumed that he is, yet there is no solid proof.

This story could be improved by discussing what all it takes to enter heaven. It could also be improved by providing more details. Those with no background information on God’s creations will be confused by this story. How many of each animal does he create? On which day does he create them? There should be more detail, and also more enthusiasm. The creation of the world is no small feat. It should be treated with exuberance.

This story is captivating, yes, but it lacks a solid, concrete ending. It should be a bit longer. These verses don’t help the audience determine the purpose of the man on the throne, nor why he is ‘making everything new.’ It’s an interesting story, but it just needs more depth. A few added details could make this the most engaging story told in the bible. Less isn’t always more, especially in the case of Revelation 21.

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The World Needs More Kindness



The state of the world is in shambles. People are constantly having disagreements, and hurting each other in the process. No one can seem to agree on anything. Because of this, pain thrives within the world. Though good things happen every day, so do bad things. Usually, the bad things account for more than the good. So how did the world come to be like this?

Life used to be much simpler. People were kind to one another because they didn’t have any reason not to be. The world today is bitter. People fight and bicker every single day. The world has become a place of suffering by refusing acceptance. Hundreds of years ago life was easier because everyone had the same opinions. Those who did disagree seldom spoke up because of their class ranking. Freedom of speech was not yet prevalent, so people helped their tongues and only talked to those they respected. There was no reason to fight because everyone was living the same life. Thankfully, the times changed and more people are allowed rights. What didn’t translate into modern society today, however, was how kindness is regarded– that I learned from the Bible.

In Proverbs 21:21, the Bible literally says, “Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.”The world is broken because few people are following the path of kindness. Differences aside, empathy and respect should be valued above all else. The different opinions between people are irrelevant; what matters is the attitude they exhibit toward one another. Finding kindness is no easy feat. Instead of looking for it, the world needs to practice kindness. By doing so, they will live honorable and happy lives.

Catastrophes have occurred all over the world– especially this year. The fires in Australia were traumatic, the death of acclaimed basketball star Kobe Bryant and his daughter was tragic, and the spread of the Coronavirus has put the whole world in a slump. The way through these times is to treat one another with a smile and friendly words. Disagreements do not have to translate to times of tragedy. The verse Luke 6:35 says, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great.” No matter the situation in the world, loving everyone is inherent to achieving the same cohesion within the country from many years ago. Opinions don’t have to be the same, but attitude and behavior do. With a little kindness, the world could go a long way.


Published By Harry Miller

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Brazilian president blames health minister, mayors, media for COVID-19 crisis – CTV News



With Brazil emerging as one of the world’s most infected countries, President Jair Bolsonaro is deflecting all responsibility for the coronavirus crisis, casting blame on mayors, governors, an outgoing health minister and the media.

By contrast, he portrays himself as a clear-eyed crusader willing to defend an unpopular idea — that shutting down the economy to control COVID-19 will ultimately cause more suffering than allowing the disease to run its course. The refusal of governors to fall into line with his decree allowing gyms to open, he said, verged on authoritarianism.

Asked about Brazil’s death toll surpassing China’s, he feigned impotence: “I don’t work miracles. What do you want me to do?” Confronted with a travel ban imposed on Brazil by the U.S. because of widespread COVID-19, one of his advisers called it press hysteria.

Since the outbreak started, the Brazilian leader has avoided acknowledging the potential effects of his actions, particularly in undermining local leaders’ stay-at-home recommendations. A rare exception came in mid-April, as Bolsonaro appointed a new health minister tasked with sparing the economy from the coronavirus.

“Reopening commerce is a risk I run because, if it (the virus) gets worse, then it lands in my lap,” he said.

Less than two weeks later, as Brazil’s death toll blew past 5,000, he told reporters, “You’re not going to put on my lap this count that isn’t mine.”

Almost a month on, the death toll in the country of 211 million has more than quadrupled, to 22,666, and continues to accelerate.

The Brazilian Supreme Court determined that states and cities have jurisdiction to impose isolation measures. So Bolsonaro on May 7 walked purposefully across the capital’s Three Powers Plaza to the top court, a tight cluster of ministers and business leaders in tow, and demanded local restrictions be tempered.

“Some states went too far in their restrictive measures, and the consequences are knocking on our door,” he said, adding that tens of millions of Brazilians have lost their income. He has repeatedly singled out some local leaders by name.

When governors defied Bolsonaro’s subsequent decree that gyms, barbershops and beauty salons be allowed to operate as essential services, he accused them of undermining the rule of law and suggested the move would invite “undesirable authoritarianism to emerge in Brazil.”

On Saturday night, Bolsonaro ventured into the capital of Brasilia to lead by example, this time eating a hot dog bought from a street vendor. Video he posted to Facebook showed supporters snapping selfies and calling him by his nickname – “Myth!” – while those in self-quarantine in overlooking apartments banged pots and pans in protest.

A May 17-18 poll by XP/Ipespe found 58% of those surveyed rated Bolsonaro’s pandemic response as bad or terrible, and only 21% as good or excellent. Governors fared more than twice as well in both counts. The poll had a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.

Latin America’s largest nation has confirmed 363,000 COVID-19 cases, more than any nation except the U.S., and experts say that figure is a significant undercount due to insufficient testing. The strain on Brazil’s underfunded hospitals has pushed them to the brink of collapse in multiple states and prevents some patients from getting treatment.

Havoc and heartache are unfolding beneath a void of leadership, according to Miguel Lago, executive director of Brazil’s Institute for Health Policy Studies, which advises public health officials. Two health ministers have left office during the pandemic, making Brazil the world’s only nation that can claim such distinction, he said.

Brazil is “completely incapable of dealing with and responding to this crisis as this crisis should be responded to – with complete leadership, clear messages, political stability and unity,” Lago said. “That’s not the case here. Basically, what we’re seeing is a complete lack of seriousness and competence.”

The far-right leader fired his first health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, for supporting governors’ restrictions. In his departing address, Mandetta referred to Bolsonaro in what he later confirmed to magazine Epoca was an allusion to the Albert Camus book “The Plague.” The novel about a diseased city includes a passage that says those who did not believe in the plague were first to die because they took no precautions.

Bolsonaro’s second minister, Nelson Teich, resigned about a month later after openly disagreeing with Bolsonaro over chloroquine, the predecessor of the anti-malarial often touted by U.S. President Donald Trump as viable treatment. Bolsonaro in his 17-month tenure has often expressed open admiration for Trump and the U.S.

Trump would have to fire his government’s top expert on the virus and the expert’s successor, attend anti-pandemic rallies and expand chloroquine treatment “to approach the level of crisis incompetence” shown by Bolsonaro, Ian Bremmer, the president of political consultancy Eurasia Group, said on Twitter this month.

Weeks after praising chloroquine and directing the Army to ramp up production, Bolsonaro admitted last week that there is no scientific evidence of its effectiveness, but said the nation is “at war,” and it is better to fight and lose than not fight at all. The country still has only an interim health minister: a general with no health experience whatsoever before April.

In the capital on Sunday, pro-Bolsonaro supporters staged a small demonstration in front of the presidential palace, as they have for several weeks. Bolsonaro joined and once again lifted children in his arms.

He shared a video from a helicopter flyover of the demonstration that revealed a sparsely occupied plaza. There were perhaps 1,000 people in attendance, in a city of 3 million. One banner read “Lockdowns kill more than the Chinese virus!!!”

That same day, Trump prohibited entry to the U.S. of foreigners coming from Brazil. Trump had already banned certain travellers from China, Europe, the United Kingdom and Ireland and, to a lesser extent, Iran. He has not moved to ban travel from Russia, which has the world’s third-highest number of infections.

Bolsonaro’s special adviser on international affairs, Filipe Martins, tweeted that the ban was the natural result of Brazil’s large population. “There isn’t anything specifically against Brazil. Ignore the hysteria from the press,” he said. Bolsonaro shared Martins’ comment on social media but has not commented himself.

Upon leaving the presidential residence Monday morning, Bolsonaro declined to answer reporters’ questions. One supporter grabbed his attention, and she begged him to launch a “massive propaganda” campaign to improve his negative image abroad.

“The global press is leftist,” Bolsonaro explained coolly, then outstretched his arm fully to point at journalists.

After Bolsonaro got into his car, his supporters turned toward reporters, blasting them as “trash” and “communists,” making obscene gestures and threats.

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