I’m not going to mince words this week, friends.
You’re pretty damn lucky to have a weekly community newspaper in this area, bringing you all the need-to-know news and current events from Outlook and the surrounding Lake Diefenbaker region in both the print edition of The Outlook and our official website.
These days, publications such as the one whose content you’re reading are facing incredible pressure, and sadly, we’re seeing far too many of them having to succumb to that pressure.
You see, there is another strong community paper in the area, but as of the middle of next month, that will no longer be the case.
The Davidson Leader has been the "neighboring newspaper" to The Outlook for generations, located about an hour southeast of our coverage area. It reported on all the happenings in the town of Davidson, as well as the surrounding communities of Bladworth and Craik, and it shared “jurisdiction” with us in communities such as Kenaston and those along Line 19 such as Strongfield, Loreburn and Elbow.
In last week’s edition, publisher Tara de Ryk announced that the final issue of The Davidson Leader would be published on December 16 and that the longstanding newspaper would cease operations, closing the doors on 115 years of history.
Tara’s reasoning? Well, exactly how much time do you have?
For starters, declining revenues and increased production costs are the big two that she provided in the full-page closure announcement that appeared in The Leader. As a result of that potent one-two punch, it’s made the newspaper financially unsustainable, and there just aren’t enough resources to keep the doors open and the lights on.
The truth of it all is that advertising dollars these days are going more and more towards digital media instead of community newspapers, and people would rather read news for free online than buy a subscription or even pay the buck-and-change for a single copy.
Poor Tara even admits in her announcement to simply not having the energy or the ambition anymore due to the whole strenuous situation involving the closure, and you certainly can’t blame her.
It’s a heartbreaking thing to see, but it’s also a frustrating one because this shouldn’t be happening in 2019; not at a time when people need true, REAL journalism to give them the straight facts and news that is void of any bias or twisted narrative.
We live in a society in which any Joe Schmoe with internet access can scribble up an “article”, post it to social media, and as long as it contains just the right amount of millennial angst or key buzz words that are all the rage right now, soon enough it’s considered “news” and people take it as pure gospel. The end result sees real journalists with real credentials lose much-needed relevancy because – oh, here comes that awesome phrase! – if you write something that happens to hit a nerve, suddenly you’re “FAKE NEWS!”
Folks, let me remind you that uttering those two words are basically akin to walking up to any journalist, editor or publisher and screaming another word that starts with ‘F’ and ends in ‘You’.
There certainly wasn’t anything “fake” about the year we’ve had at The Outlook, particularly when trying to do our jobs and get the important, factual news out to the people to whom it mattered the most. You might remember a little something about that back in April; we trended on Twitter about it and our office was flooded with attention and support around the province and beyond.
But there are the other big issues facing us weekly community newspapers, like this shift towards going digital with advertising.
See, this is what really gets me. Everyone loves to scream “Buy Local! Shop Local!”, but apparently that logic doesn’t apply to newspapers. Advertisers in any given community seem to forget that newspapers are a brick and mortar business too, and that they need the same level of support as any local grocery store, restaurant or other small business.
Instead, they’d rather advertise for free on Facebook and save the money. Hey, I get it, free is free. But let me ask you something: do you think Mark Zuckerberg is going to come cover your special business event and give it added exposure among thousands of potential customers and clients? Call me crazy, but I think he’s a much busier guy.
At a time in our human existence where unbiased and researched news has perhaps never been more important, it saddens me that a publication with such authenticity will be closing shop. The Davidson Leader not only predates the town of Davidson itself, but it predates the province of Saskatchewan! That’s as rich and deep a history if I’ve ever seen it.
There’s much more I could say, but the truth is simple enough. You certainly don’t get rich in the news biz these days, but we who are still here do this because we love it and we believe that you need it.
I wish all my best to Tara and everyone at The Davidson Leader. It's been a fantastic publication for generations and it always held a knowing finger on the pulse of the community.
Don’t be sad it’s gone, be happy that it happened.
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.