Submitted by Arnold Malone
Community newspapers are not like the major news outlets. Local papers don’t report on a car crash several provinces away. Community news is about local stuff. They report on Hank and Malinda’s 60th wedding anniversary, the local skier who will complete in the Olympics, and pages of coloured photos of the grade twelve graduates.
Community news is about things that happened or are about to happen just beyond our front porch. Our news has a very different flavour than national and international news. Most of the news from mainstream media is a catalogue of things that went wrong on any given day. Most of the time mainstream news is about matters that might be interesting but usually it is about things we cannot affect. For some the result is worry and anxiety.
A major hotel fire in another province is curious information but it has little impact on what you or your neighbours will do tomorrow. The health of Kim Jung Un is news worthy but, in all probability, we can only absorb the information without an action.
Community news is different. It informs about a new business planning to open and, sadly, lets us know which ones are about to close. It is through this medium that we know how the local sports teams are competing and what group sang Christmas carols at the seniors’ lodge.
It is the community news that informs us that some enterprising persons with a wild imagination think they could build a paved walking/biking trail from Invermere to Fairmont and do this multi-million dollar project with donated money. It is also the local news that informs us that the trail has, in fact, reached Fairmont. It is such news that becomes a part of our conversations with others. There is a burst of pride because we feel as if we are informed partners.
Local news lets us know that our community is in the Guinness Book Of World Records. We have the longest skating trail in the world. We are not just some town; we are our town and we feel great.
We read local news and feel the achievements of young people and recognize family names of persons we know. A word of congratulations will be appropriate.
Local news also keeps us up to date on the need to replace the community hall, or build a park and invites citizens to voice their opinion on a proposal regarding the spending of tax dollars. Community news is about us. It is about local events and local potholes. Our potholes will not have a national interest but when it is our wheel alignment that is in question we have a reason to be informed.
Local news is of little interest to persons living afar. It is designed to serve a specific place. Community newspapers allow us to be informed participants. It allows us to feel a sense of togetherness. It is a window through which we see the character of who we are. It is the glue that makes a community a community.
Recent studies have shown that community newspapers are now read more frequently than ever, even as advertising revenues have been sucked away by electronic advertising and now stamped upon and crushed by COVID-19.
This column is to ask that if you agree with the importance of maintaining a local news outlet that you consider assisting the Columbia Valley Pioneer during this unfortunate time when community papers across Canada have lost 70 per cent of their advertising revenues because of COVID-19.
If it is in your interest to help maintain a local printed news outlet that serves from Spillimacheen to Skookumchuck, you may do so by sending your donation to the Pioneer one of these ways:
- Online: https://support.columbiavalleypioneer.com
- By mail: Box 868, Invermere, B.C. V0A 1K0
- Over the phone: 1-250-341-6299
Arnold Malone served as MP for Alberta’s Battle River and Crowfoot ridings from 1974 through 1993. He retired to Invermere in 2007.