At 72 pages this week, packed with local advertising, news items covering a wide breadth of topics, features, letters, submissions, classified ads, public notices, event listings and almost-perennial golf scores, Coast Reporter is living proof that a strong community can sustain a healthy, fully functioning newspaper in its midst.
Many Canadian communities, however, are not as fortunate as the Sunshine Coast and have seen their local newspapers erode or disappear entirely in the face of historic challenges that are industry-wide. Not the least of these is the migration of significant national and government advertising revenue to global behemoths like Facebook and Google.
In an effort to turn the tide, Canada’s newspapers have pulled together in an unprecedented way this year, jointly marking National Newspaper Week by inviting readers across the country to pledge their support for the industry. All that’s being asked is that readers sign the online pledge as a gesture of solidarity. The aim is to collect as many names as possible and send a message to big business and big government, reminding them that “newspaper journalism is critically important and essential in protecting the vibrant communities in which we live.”
That might sound like hyperbolic language to describe fish wrap, but it does reflect an important truth that is easy for all of us to take for granted. Without sources of objective information on how our elected representatives and public systems perform, the citizen would be hard-pressed to draw intelligent conclusions and to separate rumour, spin and conjecture from reality. Newspapers may not always “keep the politicians honest,” but they do keep them, in all but the worst cases, from being absolutely dishonest.
A Canada whose communities are less grounded in local governance, local culture and regional issues is a weaker Canada, by any measure. We encourage you all to pledge your support at newspapersmatter.ca