Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/4/2021 (400 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Riding Mountain MLA Greg Nesbitt is the former publisher of the Crossroads This Week and South Mountain Press community newspapers in western Manitoba and a past-president of the Manitoba Community Newspapers Association.
He rose in the Manitoba Legislature last week to make this member’s statement on the occasion of Manitoba Community Newspaper Day, which was April 17:
Madam Speaker, today I rise to recognize all community newspaper publishers in the province as we mark Community Newspaper Day in Manitoba on April 17.
This special day came about as the result of the unanimous all-party passage of a private member’s resolution moved by MLA Mavis Taillieu in 2005.
Now, as many in this house know, Mavis was the publisher of the Headingley Headliner prior to being elected as a member of this Legislature. She knew full well the contribution that community newspapers make in the everyday life of Manitobans.
As a community newspaper publisher myself for 40 years, I recognized early on in my career that even though I owned the newspapers, they really belonged to the communities they served.
Community newspapers carry news that matters. Unlike their big city cousins, they are not filled with news from across Canada or around the world, but instead offer news and features with a local perspective, as well as advertising from area businesses, municipalities and government.
Community newspapers tend to publish informative and uplifting stories and don’t intentionally go looking for negativity. Perhaps that’s why, Madam Speaker, they are such a valued source for news and advertising and have consistently high readership.
Throughout history, newspapers have been relied upon to provide trusted and important information in times of crisis. During this pandemic the need for vital information to be communicated uniformly and without prejudice is greater now than it has ever been. Community newspapers are on the front lines, keeping citizens of their communities updated on the latest developments directly affecting their lives.
But there are storm clouds, Madam Speaker. The steady erosion of advertising dollars that pay the bills is a major concern to publishers. Online giants like Google and Facebook - who incidentally do not support anything local - use content generated by hardworking journalists without any compensation to the news outlets. Then, to top it off, they use this content to attract online advertisers.
Madam Speaker, community newspapers have been asking the federal government to stand up to these web giants and pass legislation to insure they reimburse newspapers for the content they use.
In closing, I want to tip my hat to the employees of the 37 community newspapers across Manitoba as they continue to play a vital role in documenting the history of our communities.
Riding Mountain MLA
Greg Nesbitt is the Progressive Conservative MLA for Riding Mountain, a former publisher of community newspapers and a past-president of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association.