ODD THOUGHTS: Community media matters, including here in Langley

Retired Langley Advance editor Bob Groeneveld encourages people to keep reading their newspapers.

By Bob Groeneveld/Special to the Langley Advance

You probably didn’t notice, but last week was National Newspaper Week.

It’s not a big deal like Easter or Labour Day, or even Family Day.

You don’t get time off work for it, not even if you work at a newspaper.

It’s a whole week every year, but it’s not even as big as five minutes on Christmas morning.

Like mothers who only get Mothers Day and cancer that only gets a month, newspapers are shortchanged. They ought to get the whole year. Who remembers Mom only one day a year, and who forgets cancer just because it isn’t April?

The trouble is, as I pointed out at the outset, you probably didn’t notice National Newspaper Week… because many take their prime community news source for granted 52 weeks of the year.

That’s why so many newspapers are struggling today.

It used to be that nobody would read a lousy newspaper, but now a lot of people don’t even read the exceptional ones.

At least, they think they aren’t reading their newspapers.

They think they’re watching the news on TV or online, from news aggregators, or bloggers, or via social media.

We’ve been here before, when everyone thought radio was the cat’s meow, and then again when flashy television seemed to pre-empt print.

But now as then, the origins of most news stories still can be traced back to a newspaper.

In fact, most of the real news today is still uncovered, researched, and published by print journalists.

Check your favourite newsfeed. Where are those stories originating? How often do you hear or read (when they bother with credits), “…as reported in the Washington Post,” or “… story broken by the New York Times”?

That’s not just the stories internationally, nationally, or regionally. Municipal elections are underway in B.C., and in every community throughout the province, the most trustworthy – and often only – place to find a full and rational explanation of your options on Oct. 20 is in a community newspaper.

Langley has been blessed with one or more locally informing newspapers ever since the community recognized in the early 1930s that it could not grow and prosper without keeping itself informed.

Business may be tough throughout the industry lately, but newspapers are still the heart of community cohesiveness and progress.

It’s something to think about until the next National Newspapers Week…

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