Community papers record history

I watched the movie “The Post” on Saturday night with my wife. It is the remarkable story of Catherine Graham, who was the owner of the family owned “Washington Post” that she inherited from her father. Her husband Phil had been the publisher, but his sudden death left her in charge.
It was coming to the realization that she had a responsibility to the public that the newspaper had to print the “Pentagon Papers” even though it could have jeopardized the share offering and life of the newspaper, leaving employees on the street. Ben Bradley, her editor, kept pushing to publish the papers. She agreed and she and the paper were charged by the Attorney General of the United States. Eventually fighting the US government in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, her decision was vindicated by a 6-3 decision in which the court recognized the need for an independent press.
With the publishing of the Pentagon Papers and the later full investigation of the Watergate break-ins, the Post established itself as a nationally respected newspaper and not only a local newspaper.
In 2017 the Washington Post under the masthead put the following slogan: “Democracy dies in Darkness”.
Across the United States, 42% of daily and weekly publications have ceased to publish in the last two decades. In 2017, in one quick decision, 36 papers were closed in a single day across southern Ontario. This week, The Lake of the Woods Enterprise published in Kenora will cease to publish. Instead, it will assume the name of the Kenora Miner and News and the Daily Kenora Miner and News, which published three days a week, will cease publication. This past year, Dryden, Red Lake and Ignace ceased publishing.
Phil Graham had once said that “newspapers were the first rough draft of history.” All of those papers which closed were the recorders of the histories in their communities. Across Canada, small community newspapers are continuing to disappear. Often newspapers shrink their reporting staffs and sales staff to single persons and choose to eventually close a title.
A recent PEW study discovered that when a community newspaper ceased publishing in a community, the cost of borrowing money for projects rose for those communities. Councils were not held to the same level of responsibility. In communities without papers, coverage of issues is diminishing in key local issues such as taxes, zoning, education and community planning.
At the Times, our three reporters and an editor work extremely long hours to cover much of the news. It would be wonderful to have a staff of three times the size to cover every event, tea, accident, court cases and every council meeting in every community across the district, but that is impossible.
The newspaper is a community paper requiring the assistance of every citizen to tell the stories of the lives of people, the communities and their issues. It helps record the first rough draft of history of our district. It helps when people of the district contribute photographs, articles and story ideas.

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