Our readers trust our news

Social media based in foreign countries don’t support Canadian communities

The story of Canada is told every day in the pages of newspapers you’ve probably never heard of. But don’t confuse national anonymity with local relevance.

If you want to know about St. Anthony, Newfoundland and Labrador, The Northern Pen is the media of record.

The Inverness Oran captures the magic of local Cape Breton news, arts, culture and sports.

Northern Life is the go-to source for news in Sudbury with both its print and nationally recognized digital format.

The Macleod Gazette in Fort Macleod, Alberta is as solid a newspaper as you will find in any city or town in this country.

The diversity of West Vancouver is celebrated in the pages of The North Shore News.

All are exceptional publications built around a timeless and simple promise: Deliver relevant and trusted news to local residents. The format, content and design may differ for the 1,000 plus community newspapers across this country, but the promise is the same. In an era of “fake news” and a 24-hour media cycle, community newspapers chart their own course rather than follow a media pack or social media stream.

As my late father often said, “The role of a community newspaper is to reflect the community it serves, warts and all.” This is perhaps more relevant today than it was when he started The Eastern Graphic in Montague, PEI, in 1963.

Our readers trust our news. Our advertisers know their ads reach engaged local consumers both in print and online.

During National Newspaper Week, we celebrate the collective strength of our industry and the vital role it continues to play in championing local democracy. We are the watchdog. The prodder. The champion of ideas. We celebrate success and uplift those in need. We build community. Often we are the only source of local news.

We matter.

And yet our industry is under attack. Nine in 10 Canadians read newspaper content every week, but only five in 10 are willing to pay for it. Business and government at all levels use foreign-based social media for messaging despite surveys that show newspaper ads, both digital and print, are most trusted and boast massive reach.

Facebook and Google have a history of supporting hate, homophobia, xenophobia, falling prey to Russian trolls and playing fast and loose with the privacy of millions of users. They gobble an ever-increasing share of the media spending pie (the two account for 70 per cent of online spending) but invest virtually nothing to build Canadian communities. They do not collect HST that funds health care, education and other government services in your community.

So what media truly has your best interest at heart?

Help us send a message to government and business that newspapers matter, now more than ever. Please pledge your support at www.newspapersmatter.ca.

National Newspaper Week column by Paul MacNeill, publisher Island Press Ltd., Prince Edward Island

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