Newspapers matter 

click to enlarge WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM - A MATTER OF FACT Oct. 1 marks the first day of National Newspaper Week and the launch of a new campaign to rally Canadians to support print journalism.
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  • A MATTER OF FACT Oct. 1 marks the first day of National Newspaper Week and the launch of a new campaign to rally Canadians to support print journalism.

There is a lot going on right now. Have you noticed?

Did you read about the most recent all-candidates meeting to help you decide how to vote for a new local government on Oct. 20? Or about the new dorm-style employee housing planned by Whistler Blackcomb, or the plans put forward by private developers for affordable housing? How about the article on the concerns some Alpine Meadows residents have about bike traffic and trails use?

You wouldn't find any of these stories if you were cruising YouTube or the national newspapers. But these are the types of stories that impact you where you live.

Community news, the happenings of local government, our arts, culture and sporting lives—these are the threads that form the tapestry of our home.

Our shared experiences.

As Warren Buffett put it when he invested over US$300 million in newspapers several years ago:

"If you want to know what's going on in your town—whether the news is about the mayor or taxes or high school football—there is no substitute for a local newspaper. Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable ... Papers delivering comprehensive and reliable information to tightly bound communities and having a sensible internet strategy will remain viable for a long time."

This week, newspapers across Canada are recognizing the work that we do in the community, and we are asking that you show your support for the Canadian news media as well.

Newspapers matter in this time of fake news, in a time when leaders can avoid or bend the truth, and reporters who call them out are often attacked as enemies (63 per cent of Canadians can't tell the difference between fake and legitimate news!).

Journalists play a crucial role in a functioning democracy. Locally, we know that's true. Pique has more than once shone a light on information governments, organizations, businesses and others would rather not be known, but that is important to the functioning of our town and surrounding communities.

Accountability is a cornerstone of a high-functioning community and newspapers are a crucial part of achieving this.

Pique still rails against the Resort Municipality of Whistler's (RMOW) imposed rule of only allowing the mayor or acting mayor to comment on stories coming out of the hall. This is not to say that other councillors can't comment—they can.

But staff is not allowed to talk to the media. So our mayor is expected to be an expert on everything from the District Energy System to infrastructure replacements to paving to safe water. If taxpayers' money is paying the salary of our local general managers at municipal hall, and they are guiding projects, why should they not have the opportunity to explain the projects to the community themselves?

After all, the RMOW's own satisfaction survey in 2015 (the last one to ask the question) found that 69 per cent of the local community felt that the best way for local government to share information with the public was through the local newspaper. If you took second homeowners out of the equation, that figure went up to 76 per cent.

According to a survey by Maru/Matchbox's Angus Reid Forum earlier this year, 94 per cent of Canadians believe journalism is important to democracy. Of those, about three-quarters of respondents agreed it is critically important.

Eight in 10 Canadians read a newspaper every week—either in print or online, including 85 per cent of millennials.

And still, newspapers are in a battle for survival as ad revenues are sucked out of local community newspapers to global conglomerates like Facebook and Google—this despite the fact that ads in print or online newspapers are the most trusted of all ad formats. Today, 70 per cent of Canada's online ad revenue goes to Facebook and Google.

Community newspapers are still working on how to produce news effectively at a sustainable level, and having the support of our readers, users and advertisers is crucial.

Please pledge your support at www.newspapersmatter.ca, because newspapers do matter, now more than ever.

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