Ladysmith community leaders weigh in on value of local newspapers

Ladysmith community leaders weigh in on value of local newspapers

In a climate of fake news, clickbait and never-ending listicles, community newspapers offer a trusted avenue for engaged citizens to stay informed on decisions impacting their community, as well as stay up-to-date on volunteer contributions, arts and culture and sports coverage.

Oct. 1-7 marks National Newspaper Week across Canada and in celebration the Chronicle asked local leaders to describe the value they see in community news.

Doug Routley – Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA

“The value of local journalism to a community is quite simply immeasurable. This is particularly true for smaller communities such as ours, where large scale newspaper and television news outlets rarely offer coverage of local issues and stories.

Local newspapers offer an effective way to connect all members of our community by keeping them informed on local issues and ensuring they don’t miss out on any local events or engagement opportunities.

As an elected MLA representing numerous small communities on the island, I simply cannot emphasis enough how vital these local news sources are to our communities and I would like to thank everyone involved in our local news outlets for their hard work and dedication.”

Tammy Leslie – President, Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce

“I have had a subscription to the local newspaper, The Chronicle, for the past 17 years as I live in an area that does not get automatic delivery. The weekly paper helps me keep up to date on any significant newsworthy items that have happened in the community each week. I get information on births, deaths, weddings and anniversaries. I am also apprised of community events and any other happenings that may affect me or my area. There have even been times when myself or one of my family has been in the paper, for example, when my daughter was crowned vice-ambassador for the Ladysmith Ambassador program several years ago. I look forward to picking up the mail every Wednesday and read the paper cover to cover each week.”

Christy Villiers – Executive Director, Ladysmith Resources Centre Association

“Many people get most of their news from social media and Facebook. The accuracy of that news is questionable and much of it is at a national or global level. Local newspapers help us to hear about what’s happening in our local community.

Local newspapers are an important tool in community development and relationship building as it features local organizations, local businesses and allow us the opportunity to get to know our neighbours (this opportunity is becoming more and more scarce!).

Local newspapers are also an important tool for civic engagement. More Ladysmith residents know about Trump and appointments to the Supreme Court of Justice in the US than they know who’s running in the local government elections.

This is surprising since local government has much more of an impact on our day to day than which Supreme Court Judge get’s appointed.

As a non profit organization, the local newspaper is imperative to communicating our needs, successes and challenges and I view the Chronicle as a key partner to the LRCA and a component to our communication plan.”

John de Leeuw – CEO, Ladysmith & District Credit Union

“I was just looking at the story published two years ago about Marc Mero that did a presentation at the high school. The article impressed me at the time, and in the spirit of what you are asking, really showcases the need for a local newspaper to communicate important events in our town.”

Kathy Holmes – Ladysmith & District Arts Council

“A community newspaper is glue. It is like a community CBC which informs local news and events. There is nothing so exciting as seeing a young swimmer in the paper, or local sports or art in the paper none of which would be covered if it were not for our local news. It touches our lives directly reminding us of who we are as a community. Community Newspapers celebrate the “us” in each community. I like the professionalism of a trained editor and the integrity that it brings and how an editor and publisher are respected in communities. Local politics are covered in in local newspapers and that’s exciting. Right now I am looking forward to read more about what our local election, who the candidates are, their opinion etc.

Personally I love getting home to find my local paper on my door step, getting a coffee and reading it cover to cover. I even read the local papers when visiting friends and being informed about their communities.

Local papers also carry advertising and I am an ad junkie.”

Ed Nicholson, President, Ladysmith & District Historical Society

People care about the local news – some only care about local news – so it’s crucial that there be a community-driven voice that informs us about what’s happening in our neighbourhood, through reliable, objective information that we can all use to make decisions day-to-day. I was recently on the other side of the country for a few weeks and read in the Chronicle that there was a gas leak on 4th Ave. near where I live. It made me think how much more relaxed I am when I’m away knowing that if anything noteworthy happens in our community, that could potentially affect us, we will know in a timely way. We need community newspapers, because no one else is reporting on what’s happening down the street or in our harbour and I think most of us want to know.

Mark Drysdale – General Manager, Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce

“Our relationship and partnership with the Ladysmith Chronicle is very important to the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce. The local paper acts as our primary vehicle for letting the public know about Chamber activities and does so at little to no cost which of course is very important to non-profit organizations like ours with limited budgets. The Ladysmith Chamber has also been consistently viewed by our local paper as a credible source for information on the needs and interests of local business and the economy and this has been very important for the work that we do. And of course the paper is the primary source for keeping track of what’s going on in town on a regular basis and is key to our organization acquiring accurate and timely local information for decision-making and action.

On a personal note the local paper, through its coverage of local events – particularly school, sports and special events — is a big part of what enables Ladysmith to maintain it’s small-town, home-grown character and the sense of community that is so important to virtually all of us who live here.”

Shirley Blackstaff – Ladysmith Maritime Society, Ladysmith & District Historical Society volunteer

“Local journalism when done well is a powerful tool which will bring communities together. It provides a voice and a platform for people and issues so they can be shared. What goes on in our local communities has the largest impact on our lives and the lives of our family members and friends.

When local journalists capture what people are really passionate about, celebrate the good endeavours and highlight the problems in an understandable, short read then it is a newspaper that you really must purchase.

Our local newspaper brings innumerable benefits to the people who live and work in our communities. The paper showcases local businesses through advertising and editorial features. Our community newspaper provides local jobs.

I think the newspaper has a much broader reach than social media due to its factual reporting. When a society, club, or organization has an up-coming event, our local newspaper is usually the first place we look to see what is occurring or being done. Often our local newspaper provides discounted advertising rates and event coverage which saves non-profit organizations and service groups with much needed savings. All this and the community spirit local journalism helps to foster are very important to us as citizens.

We are grateful to our local journalists who let us know what is happening where we live. We appreciate the reporters, photographers, editors, graphic designers, bookkeepers, sales people and distributors who work as a team to produce our local newspaper and bring many benefits to the people of our communities. Thanks for doing a great job.”