Digital age has had big impact on Vanguard
We’ve devoted much of this week’s edition of the Vanguard to “then and now,” looking at how things are different today compared to the past.
And we didn’t have to look far to see evidence of change, given the transformation that’s taken place right here in the Vanguard office, including the emergence of computers and, of course, the Internet.
Tina Comeau, the Tri-County Vanguard’s lead editor, says it’s hard to think back to the time when our community newspapers were exclusively a printed product that came out once a week.
While the Vanguard (which became the Tri-County Vanguard following the merger of newspapers in Shelburne, Yarmouth and Digby counties in 2016) continues to publish its print edition once a week, Comeau notes there is also a daily presence online for posting stories, reporting breaking news, providing story updates and other bringing readers other new that happens in between the printed editions. Recalling the pre-website days, she said it could at times be frustrating having to wait a whole week before being able to share more news with readers.
“Our websites in Shelburne, Digby and Yarmouth counties also allow us to present the news and coverage of our communities in a multimedia fashion with slideshows, videos, social media embeds and links to previous or related stories – and also other websites,” Comeau says.
With stories posted and shared on Facebook, readers have a chance to share comments and engage in dialogue about the issues of the day in a more immediate way than they could in the pre-Internet age.
“Before social media and the website, if readers wanted to engage in a discussion, they’d send a letter to the editor and then the following week someone might send a letter in response,” Comeau says. “So instead of a conversation that takes seconds or minutes online, it took two or more weeks. Twitter is another way we have of sharing the news. Being online and using social media is also a great way that people from away can stay connected to the newspaper. And it also helps us to be connected with our readers.”
If she had to list the three biggest changes that have happened since she joined the Vanguard in May 1990, Comeau – who was hired by Fred A. Hatfield, the longest serving editor of the Yarmouth Vanguard and who would have seen even more changes in the newspaper industry – says they would be the move to digital photography, the paper’s online presence and the fact that virtually everything is done by computer now, from writing stories to compiling the pages.
And people’s reading habits have changed too. Not everyone gets their news from a print edition. Many are searching for it on their Smartphones.
Grace Fenton, who works in customer sales, is the longestserving member of the Vanguard’s present-day workforce.
She had just completed a secretarial course in Halifax when she joined the paper in the summer of 1974. In her 44 years at the Vanguard she has done various jobs and held different responsibilities.
“I came in as a typist,” she said, recalling her first Vanguard job. “I was working up in the composing room, where we put together the ads, so I would type most of the copy for the ads.”
Over the years, Fenton was part of the layout team and later became leader of the production department before eventually settling into her current role.
Reflecting on her time at the paper, she says she has been struck by the technological changes. While technology was great in terms of making things faster and more efficient, she says, it also could replace people.
“It’s kind of sad in a way,” she said.
Receptionist Judy Belliveau, another longtime familiar face at 2 Second St., came to the Vanguard 37-and-a-half years ago and, like Fenton, she speaks of how things changed with technological advancements.
“I started in the circulation department,” she recalled. “We had to save the info on floppy disks, which were huge. Then I went to the accounting department. We had big machines where we would type the invoices and print them out. Three copies would come out.”
Says Belliveau: “What a difference from those machines to the computers we have now.”