Russell Wangersky: How the Internet is like an elephant
Remember that thing you did when you were young? The thing with the statue in the middle of the fountain, the photographs and all that foaming dish washing detergent?
“The old saw says, ‘Let sleeping dogs lie.’ Right. Still, when there is much at stake it is better to get a newspaper to do it.” — Mark Twain
As a newspaper reporter, Mark Twain spoke from experience. He relished his role in the industry, but didn’t mind poking the Fourth Estate with his sharp wit either, when so inclined.
It wasn’t so long ago that hawkers on street corners hollering out headlines to attract readers was what passed for social media.
In a world where change is often the only constant and information travels at light speed, such practices seem like ancient history.
There have never been more sources for information, nor as many ways for that information to be passed along.
Some people wonder where the newspaper fits in, or even if it does.
That’s why this week – National Newspaper Week – it’s a good time to take stock of today and the future.
Don’t let anyone tell you newspapers are going away. They are simply evolving.
Some have fallen; others will. That’s the business, like any other. But those that remain and are able to embrace challenge, learn from experience – failures, as well as successes – will find their place and maintain it.
Technology has changed the media landscape enormously, whether you live in a sparse community of 200, or a metropolis of two million. In Atlantic Canada, there’s obviously much more of the former. In some ways, this region was slower than others to set aside tradition and surrender to the lure of technology. People welcome the newspaper delivered to their door each morning.
There have never been as many ways for newspapers to reach their audience. And compared to other media, the adjustments they’ve made to changing times have been monumental.
Newspapers continue to recruit, train and develop talented news-gatherers and equip them with the tools for the job.
And the fundamental mandate of the newspaper remains the same. Among other things, newspapers should be accessible, published regularly, be as up to date as possible and wide-ranging in the scope of their coverage.
Perhaps most important, they should reflect the communities they cover.
Little has changed in their raison d’être, other than the immediacy with which information can be conveyed in a 24/7 news cycle.
This Saturday will mark International Carrier Appreciation Day. These are people – many of them youngsters — experiencing a first venture into the working world who bring a world of information to your doorstep. Consider taking a moment to thank them for the important role they play in a long-standing tradition.
Let’s all be thankful that we live in times when the news comes to us in ways that, just a few decades ago, would have seemed unimaginable.