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The Assiniboia Times: More than a century as a trusted news source

How the 112-year-old Assiniboia Times weekly newspaper fares in the future will continue to rely on the continued support of advertisers and community.

ASSINIBOIA — Like hundreds of other newspapers across the province and Canada, the Assiniboia Times has endured change. The changes have included evolving from a clunky and cumbersome printing press to a more streamlined and automated system. The basis of a community paper, however, remains the same, advertising and community support are key to its longevity.

Assiniboia Times has provided a weekly newspaper legacy and includes a rich history in the community.

Assiniboia was founded in 1912 on the railway, and with that came the first community newspaper. Newspapers were vital in delivering local and territorial news to the people.

As the paper became larger, advertising became more important as a source of income. Publishers and editors knew readers wanted news that was factual and current. Wire services gathered and collated news from all over the world.

Things changed quickly for newspapers when typewriters were exchanged for desktop computers, displacing some of the ancient printing crafts.

With the arrival of social media and Google News, it has been increasingly difficult to keep up the pace as more and more of the younger generation gravitate to online news sources. 

“One hundred and twelve plus years, wow that is incredible,” Assiniboia’s Mayor Sharon Schauenberg says,

“From as far back as one can remember, The Assiniboia Times has been a staple, a valuable constant in our community. Through its many editorials, pictures, advertisements and posting of events, residents were and still are kept up on the happenings in their community.”

Schauenberg affirms that the town office "wall" of newspaper clippings allows staff and visitors to reflect on accomplishments throughout the year.  

“Social media does have a place, however The Assiniboia Times is still a go-to for many folks, as they eagerly wait for the next issue to arrive,” adds the Assiniboia mayor.

“Even today, the feeling of newsprint that one can still hold brings comfort and memories of times gone by, while allowing the reader to stay current on today's events.”

The big difference that is still touted as a benefit to print newspapers is what is in print cannot be changed, while it has been proved time and time again, that stories online don’t always come from factual or reliable sources or have not been altered multiple times.

So many factors have taken their toll on community newspapers including recession, explosion of other forms of information competing for reader’s attention as well as the pandemic. The number of people who receive a weekly newspaper is down and the number of newspapers in our province and country has dropped drastically.

Your community newspapers keep pace, performing energetically the job of bringing people what they need and want to know in a clear, responsible and convenient manner.

Museums in many Saskatchewan communities say they have visitors who seek out past issues of community newspapers for family information or other historic details of the town itself or their family’s affiliation with it. Without a newspaper, where would this information come from?

The Times was once owned by Ted Sharp. In 1986, John and Carol LaBuick purchased the Times from Sharp with Mike Bennette as editor. Glen Hall was publisher after LaBuick purchased the Times. LaBuick then sold to Boundary Publishers, who then sold to Prairie Newspaper Group, a division of Glacier Media.

Assiniboia’s paper was once a subscription and newsstand purchase based newspaper but has since moved to free distribution, thanks to continued advertising support. Out-of-town people and former residents can still subscribe to the paper

Sue Wilson, from circulation, says, “Distribution is in a 40-mile area around Assiniboia with papers going to 23 different towns. At one time the Times had 13 staff and is now down to two in-house along with a delivery person and freelance reporter. There have been many reporters over the years, with the most recent being Dan Archer and the late Joyce Simard.”

“We survive by Linda’s professionalism in dealing with the clients and being in an older aged community where people still want to pick up a newspaper to read,” says Wilson.

The Times is shown on the website

Wilson says one of the highlights of their job is learning how well the advertisements worked for a business or event.

While people may not race to the newsstands each week to see the latest news for Assiniboia and area as they did before the arrival of the internet, many residents say they still appreciate a local paper highlighting local news, people, places and spaces.

It’s in your hands. Apathy is a common vibe we get about local newspapers. We have heard “no one reads the paper” or “only seniors read the paper” yet we still enthusiastically attend presentations, events, meetings and activities that help us continue to tell stories and publish pictures people want to see in their local paper. Because that is what this newspaper is about — local stories about local people, places and spaces.

We have heard “our budget doesn’t allow for newspaper advertising." Know the Facebook or Google advertising you undertake sends money directly to an international corporation that does nothing in return for your local community, contribute to the economy and support events and activities by way of sponsorship or donations. Nor do Facebook or Google employees volunteer in your community, or sit on a council or board in your town.

Our stories may not be as eye-catching or attention-grabbing as the latest mash-up of Donald Trump or some new disaster taking place on the planet. However, we do aim to tell the stories that matter to you. Believe it or not, there are still people in 2024 who do not follow social media.

Do you want a future environment where generations of births, marriages, obituaries and advertising appear only online, or in a larger centre’s newspaper because the one in your town no longer exists?

Community newspapers are a place to chronicle local success stories, tell of seasons of local sports teams, provide historic stories from small-town museums, tell you about local government or report on things that matter to all of us. Because of the events that have unfolded the past few years this paper is a chronicle of COVID-19 and will be referred to in years to come for how the pandemic affected our communities and our province.

How will the Assiniboia Times fare in the next decade, or next century? That might be up to you.