OPINION: The next 10 years will shape community newspapers

Ponoka News’s editor seeks your thoughts on community newspapers

Blink and you might miss it; community newspapers are fighting for their very lives.

The advent of social media, the Internet, digital access to just about anything has put community newspapers on the endangered list and it’s you, the readers who may have the solution to ensure their survival.

If you’re interested in seeing Ponoka News continue to be in your hands (paper or digital), then tell us what you think.

The way news is delivered is completely different than the 1970s and into the ’90s where newspapers and television news organizations were the “gatekeepers” of information that related to their cities, towns and villages. The information super highway and access to a prolific amount of information has changed dramatically with the advent of the smart phone and high quality images.

People are becoming their own reporters and editors, however, this is not a bad thing.

The relationship between Ponoka News and its readers has become symbiotic with both groups finding ways to interact and work together. Some may lament the “golden age” of newspapers, however, for others (myself included) that relationship has allowed readers and community members to help tell their stories. It is, or can be, a truly collaborative process.

What’s happening now is there are countless ways of disseminating information; it’s a complete and total revolution in the world of news, and some, especially our community newspapers are working to remain viable as well as relevant.

Certainly this has created a need for newspaper organizations to consider how they deliver news to readers and how they remain present in the community. We are taking some of those steps and learning as we go.

There are so many different types of media outlets available to us that for some, the newspaper is not a priority. And yet, folks would like to be recognized in the newspaper. That says to me that community newspapers are still hubs of the towns they represent.

It also points to the legitimacy that newspapers represent (online or in print).

We value the news that our papers tell — community newspapers have been telling the story of their towns for decades and decades. A look at the Ponoka Herald archives and Ponoka News shows just how important our newspaper is in ensuring those stories are immortalized. Indeed, many of our Reflections pages would not be possible without those newspapers.

There may be a need for the business model to change more than it already has (believe me, the disruption of media means the model is changing continuously). Some of that change readers have already seen. Indeed, our little newspaper has taken a further steps under the Black Press banner to be online and in the present with local, provincial, national and international news, while delivering local breaking news as timely as possible.

Oct. 1 to 7 is National Newspaper Week and as you go about your week, consider what a newspaper means to you and your community. If it’s something you see value in, then speak with us, send your letters or just call us and tell us what you think.

The world is changing at a rapid pace and we want to hear from you to find ways to remain in our home. It’s not an easy solution. Sure, adding more staff and more pages to the newspaper is one way to make it happen, but at some point paying for the labour and supplies is going to be a problem.

For over decades Ponoka News has been delivering community news to its readers, what happens in the next 10 years may change how that looks, but the goal will always be to ensure our readers continue to receive that news.

Newspapers matter now, more than ever.


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