Saturday, May 25, 2024
May 25, 2024

Viewpoint: Reader lauds community newspapers

By GAIL NEUMANN

I was recently notified that my subscription to the Driftwood was about to expire, and I started to ponder why I support a local paper in this age of instant internet communications. Well, there are many reasons.

Our history has been recorded in local publications for over a century. Researchers use newspapers to tell stories of our past. Genealogists use these publications to locate ancestors and map their family history. There is permanence and reliability in newspapers that will be lost by the internet. Although the information may never be totally erased, it will not be easy to find, nor come in an organized and reliable format.

Perspectives can differ about local news events. But, I find it easier to trust a trained journalist, overseen by a professional managing editor, to check and re-check facts, than to trust a passionate online blogger. The newspaper and the journalists are facing higher stakes; their professions and business are on the line.

Social media giants have boosted the importance of local newspapers. Now that local news is blocked in many feeds, more people are relying on the local papers for community news. Chances are they are getting a more accurate picture of local events than they previously found on the internet.

Too many small towns across the country have lost their local newspapers. In one such rural community, there is now just a regional weekly paper that covers several small towns within a wide radius. Residents now have to rely on notices at the post office to find out about the passing of neighbours, or fundraisers by local charities.

There is less opportunity for stories and photos of local events because of competition for space. Events that are important locally might not be of interest to the town 20 miles down the road, and might be skipped. Children have fewer opportunities to see their milestones in print and to build a scrapbook of memories. There is, after all, a sense of affirmation from being featured in the local paper that is lost on social media.

Subscribers check the newspaper for local news, coming events, fundraisers, political statements, government announcements, advice from local authorities and more. There is even room for personal opinions in the letters to the editor (and they are all signed!). The newspaper offers a well-rounded picture of community life, including subjects one may otherwise never have studied. There is also the convenience of getting local flyers delivered in the newspaper every week.

Yes, local community internet feeds have a growing presence in our time. They are very useful and important. But they don’t replace the newspaper. Please take my advice and subscribe or regularly purchase the local paper. I’ve renewed my subscription.

Now, please excuse me while I sit down and peruse this week’s news.

The writer is a longtime Salt Spring Island resident and lived on Saturna Island before that.

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