The Facebook post today states that after 141 years of publishing, my local paper, The Nanaimo Daily News, will cease operation on Jan. 29.
I’m not completely surprised, I mean this is not the first paper to close shop in this new virtual media world. Many much more prestigious publications have stopped their presses in the last decade. But this announcement hits home.
It started back in the nineties when smaller independent media publication began to be swallowed up by big conglomerates vying for larger shares of the news market. It happened here in my city too. What was once a two independent newspaper town will now become a city of almost 100 thousand left with nothing but a 2 times a week smaller paper stuffed with sales flyers.
I’ll admit, I gave up my decades old subscription last year. I just couldn’t justify the cost versus the scraps of local news I was receiving. Well, what really happened is I forgot to pay my quarterly bill and after a couple of days I realized I was no longer getting my regular morning delivery. If they had phoned to remind me I probably would have paid up. They didn’t and so I didn’t either. Perhaps the writing was on the wall by then over at the Daily News and the staff no longer cared.
The demise of the local newspaper has bigger ramification for my area though. Local media is the glue that cements the building blocks of a community together. Where else can you find out what’s going on in your town? It was all there in black a white in neat 2 inch columns. News, sports, births, deaths, even the churches upcoming strawberry tea. If it happened in the town, you could find out about in the newspaper.
Who doesn’t remember the excitement of having their picture published in their local paper. I still have a few carefully cut out examples tucked away somewhere myself.
How will we know when the local scout pack has their jamboree this spring? How will we be able to find out that a local high school won the provincial championships and where will we hear about the local guild’s quilt show? These utterly local, grassroots community events are in danger. With out an inexpensive community wide media outlet to get this information, where else can we go to get informed.
Has modern society evolved beyond small town reporting? Have we become a world where only mass market, big box news will be available and is that all we care about now? Or is it all we have time for in our fast paced lives anymore.
The irony of all this is I found out about the eminent closer of The Nanaimo Daily Newspaper on the Global News website, a national news outlet. So I guess, at the very least, modern media has enough respect for it’s origins that it was worth announcing the passing of one of it’s ancestors.
Rest in peace Nanaimo Daily News. I will mourn the loss of your enormous community contribution. For 141 years your paper reported on this growing coastal resource town as it developed into British Columbia’s 4th largest city. You were our archivist and history keeper and you will be missed.
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