When a newspaper dies, a community is lesser for it, opines Roy Macgregor over at the Globe and Mail, and I would tend to agree, but the timing of the dying is connected to the definition of death. As one who always loved the idea of a weekend morning ensconced on the couch with a pot of coffee and at least one fat weekend edition, it has been wrenching foregoing that often somewhat masochist pleasure, and even the occasion for a few pangs of regret when the daily five-minute scan or our local rag was abandoned for a bouquet of reasons (price hike, less content/more ads, unending editorial spew) and finally had a stake put through its heart when Black Press shut the paper entirely as summer faded into fall this past year. Then yesterday, there was a lot of wiling and gnashing of teeth as the Nanaimo Daily News faded to Black (whew!) after a run of 141 years, amply demonstrating David Black’s utter contempt for anything other than profits and hatred for unions.
Macgregor’s pronouncement has some truth in it, but the reason these papers died was apparent long before management chose to right-size the local paper industry: as I said to the subscription folks locally on a number of occasions that the paper had morphed into utter irrelevance. It died when it ceased to serve the needs of the community, and it’s only now when there is no “paper of record” that people in these parts wander around with blank stares wondering how it is that we don’t have a central organ to connect citizens with each other and with a semblance of knowledge on which to base some form of wisdom and discernement. It reminds me of (wait for it) a line from an old song that Paul Butterfield sang in 1968: “Your mind is leaving’, but your body’s staying’ here.”
By the way, closing small schools is a good way to rip apart rural communities, and, I’ll wager, urban neighbourhoods. This is David Black working from the same plan as our provincial administration in the quest to turn us all into industrial ciphers.