The in­for­ma­tion ref­or­ma­tion

The Goderich Signal-Star - - Opinion -

“The press is not only free: it is pow­er­ful. That power is ours. It is the proud­est that man can en­joy. It was not granted by monar­chs, it was not gained for us by aris­toc­ra­cies; but it sprang from the peo­ple, and, with an im­mor­tal in­stinct, it has al­ways worked for the peo­ple.” Ben­jamin Dis­raeli

Re­cently I was traips­ing around Europe, re-vis­it­ing my old stomp­ing grounds from when I had lived in Eng­land and Ger­many, while ty­ing in long-awaited re­unions with good friends.

Dur­ing this trip I took the time to see some new cities that I never had the chance to see while liv­ing over seas.

One such place was the mag­nif­i­cent and his­tor­i­cally-rich city of Vi­enna, Aus­tria. It of course of­fered the stereo­typ­i­cal tourist ex­pe­ri­ence of gi­ant pret­zels, de­li­cious beers and an­cient his­tory of ro­man walls to ogle at.

In my wan­der­ings across Vi­enna on a rainy af­ter­noon, I hap­pened upon a square that had a statue that lo­cals passed by without a sec­ond glance.

As it con­tin­ued to rain down on this mon­u­ment for­got­ten in the his­toric city of mu­sic and cul­ture, I took a closer look - it was a bronze statue to com­mem­o­rate print­ing press in­ven­tor Jo­hannes Guten­berg. How in­cred­i­ble that dur­ing my va­ca­tion from my job as an editor at a news­pa­per, I hap­pened upon this re­minder of how far we have come with the op­por­tu­nity to ex­press our selves and share thoughts via the writ­ten word. It is in­cred­i­ble how we can use words to ed­u­cate the mass pop­u­la­tion, and how we should never for­get the power of free press.

The stage of world pol­i­tics is grow­ing in­creas­ingly uncer­tain with trade ten­sions be­tween Canada and the US, and an un­sta­ble fu­ture of free­dom of press in our neigh­bour­ing coun­try, I re­flect on what the in­ven­tion of the print­ing press means.

The in­ven­tion of the print­ing press made in­for­ma­tion avail­able to a much greater amount of the pop­u­la­tion. It fa­cil­i­tated the preser­va­tion of in­for­ma­tion and knowl­edge to ad­vance science, tech­nol­ogy and schol­ars, and stim­u­lated lit­er­acy of the peo­ple.

With this progress and push for lit­er­acy and the im­pact of spread­ing knowl­edge, the peo­ple were well in­formed and it ini­ti­ated an in­for­ma­tion rev­o­lu­tion, much like how the In­ter­net changed the way and speed in which we re­ceive in­for­ma­tion.

Stand­ing there in the light rain un­der the skies of a Vi­en­nese af­ter­noon, star­ing at this mon­u­ment cel­e­brat­ing a man who im­pacted the world in one of the most pos­i­tive ways, I re­al­ized that mo­ment was quite serendip­i­tous.

A writer, a jour­nal­ist, an editor, stand­ing at the feet of a mon­u­ment for the man who changed the course of how we re­ceive in­for­ma­tion and cre­ated an op­por­tu­nity for the free­dom of press to pub­lish. We must never for­get the im­por­tance of the power of words, es­pe­cially dur­ing this time when there are cuts to lo­cal news­pa­pers and our neigh­bour­ing jour­nal­ists have been threat­ened by their leader.

I am grate­ful to have the op­por­tu­nity to im­pact the com­mu­nity through the news­pa­per, whether it is a press re­lease, an opin­ion piece, or giv­ing a voice to the com­mu­nity through Let­ters to the Editor.

Per­haps en­coun­ter­ing that statue meant more to me due to the line of work I’m in­volved in, but it should mean some­thing to every­one Guten­berg’s in­ven­tion brought forth a force of knowl­edge and education, made by the peo­ple for the peo­ple. In a time of cuts and uncer­tain fu­ture for the press, may we be grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue the tra­di­tion that be­gan in the 15th cen­tury. It is our right to con­tinue to in­form, ed­u­cate and use words from an un­bi­ased fo­rum to im­pact our com­mu­ni­ties, our coun­tries and our world.

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