You can trust this di­nosaur, re­ally

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - -- Richard Ma­honey

Dur­ing Na­tional News­pa­per Week, that was held from Oc­to­ber 1 to 7, our in­dus­try was obliged to toot its own horns and re­mind ev­ery­one of the im­por­tance of the me­dia, and par­tic­u­larly com­mu­nity news­pa­pers, such as The Glen­garry News.

But first, we must thank the many peo­ple who have made it pos­si­ble for The News to con­tinue to serve our com­mu­nity for the past 126 years. Ob­vi­ously, with­out read­ers and ad­ver­tis­ers The News would have by now joined the long list of publi­ca­tions that have suc­cumbed to the me­dia rev­o­lu­tion. Al­though some have dis­missed con­ven­tional pa­pers as be­ing “di­nosaurs,” many fine pe­ri­od­i­cals across this coun­try con­tinue to re­port the “real news” and stave off ex­tinc­tion.

“The role of news­pa­pers has never been so cru­cial,” said Bob Cox, chair of the board of di­rec­tors of News Me­dia Canada, the na­tional as­so­ci­a­tion that rep­re­sents Cana­dian news­pa­pers. “Ev­ery day, news­pa­pers work to bring Cana­di­ans from coast to coast to coast real, trusted, truth­ful news -- which is as vi­tal to democ­racy as clean air, safe streets, good schools and pub­lic health.”

We are a con­fused lot. A study last year found that 63 per cent of Cana­di­ans were un­able to dis­tin­guish be­tween le­git­i­mate news web­sites and fake news sto­ries, and 65 per cent of Cana­di­ans are wor­ried that false in­for­ma­tion or fake news is be­ing used as a weapon.

Na­tional News­pa­per Week, with the theme “News­pa­pers mat­ter,” was es­pe­cially poignant this year as it ar­rived in the midst of mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil and school board elec­tion cam­paigns in On­tario.

Face­book and Google have not, to the best of our knowl­edge, dis­patched re­porters to cover all-can­di­dates meet­ings or try to ex­plain the plat­forms of those who would rep­re­sent us in lo­cal govern­ment for the next four years.

Nine in ten Cana­di­ans read news­pa­pers each week across Canada, on dif­fer­ent plat­forms at dif­fer­ent times of day. Lo­cal news­pa­pers are a trusted source of in­for­ma­tion in com­mu­ni­ties across Canada and con­tinue to be the pre­ferred source for lo­cal in­for­ma­tion, with a pref­er­ence for the printed prod­uct, ac­cord­ing to a study that was con­ducted on be­half of the news­pa­per in­dus­try with fund­ing from the fed­eral govern­ment.

The main rea­son for read­ing lo­cal pa­pers con­tin­ues to be some­thing that can be hard to find any­where else: Lo­cal in­for­ma­tion, in var­i­ous forms.

An­other im­por­tant find­ing was that print works for ad­ver­tis­ers. Ad­ver­tis­ing is the big­gest source of rev­enues for most publi­ca­tions.

After lo­cal in­for­ma­tion, half of com­mu­nity news­pa­per read­ers read the pa­per for the ads. Print news­pa­per ads are ef­fec­tive at driv­ing aware­ness, store vis­its and pur­chases.

The study notes that on a daily ba­sis Cana­di­ans are sur­rounded by me­dia, bom­barded by thou­sands of brand mes­sages on an in­creas­ing num­ber of tra­di­tional and dig­i­tal plat­forms. Dig­i­tal in­ter­ac­tions in a sin­gle “In­ter­net Minute” are mind bog­gling.

Peo­ple don’t want to see ads in so­cial me­dia, which is used pri­mar­ily to com­mu­ni­cate with friends and share sto­ries, pho­tos and videos. As a re­sult, more than half of Cana­di­ans (53%) re­spond to dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing with ad block­ers, pri­mar­ily on com­put­ers and to a lesser de­gree on tablets and phones.

The key fac­tor is trust. Data on trust in var­i­ous ad for­mats re­in­forces that news­pa­pers top the most trusted list and so­cial me­dia and mo­bile ads are among the least trusted. It is there­fore not sur­pris­ing that ads in news­pa­pers, printed and dig­i­tal, are the most read across mul­ti­ple cat­e­gories, in­clud­ing au­to­mo­tive, fi­nan­cial prod­ucts, real es­tate, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and travel.

Lo­cal news­pa­pers con­tinue to pro­vide a trusted source for lo­cal news and in­for­ma­tion to Cana­di­ans in com­mu­ni­ties across our coun­try. Re­porters, edi­tors and pub­lish­ers tire­lessly pro­duce lo­cal con­tent that is rel­e­vant and crit­i­cal to their com­mu­ni­ties. In many cases com­mu­nity news­pa­pers are the only source of this lo­cal in­for­ma­tion. This is why news­pa­pers mat­ter.

So there you have our pitch. If the trust and news fac­tors don’t im­press you, con­sider the fact that this prod­uct is ver­sa­tile. You can use this pa­per to swat flies, con­trol weeds, clean ud­ders, line cages, cover wind­shields, make hats, start fires, fash­ion crafts. And, if you have no other se­condary uses for this rag, please re­cy­cle this “di­nosaur” after read­ing.

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