It's National Newspapers Week in Canada.
This is an opportunity to reflect on what the local newspaper means to your community and your region.
Of course, as was noted last week, the Estevan Mercury is celebrating 120 years of serving the Energy City. When we printed our first edition in 1903, Saskatchewan was still a member of the Northwest Territory, and Estevan had yet to be proclaimed as a town, let alone a city.
We're very proud to be Estevan's No. 1 source for news, we're proud to be Estevan's oldest business and we're proud to be a fixture in the community.
While we are the best weekly paper in the province, our story isn't unique. There are a lot of weekly newspapers in Saskatchewan that have been around for well over a century. There are a lot of newspapers that are the oldest businesses in their respective communities. And there are a lot of communities in which the paper is the primary source of credible information. (Note: Facebook doesn't count).
This year's theme is Honouring Champions of the Truth. We'll admit the National Newspapers Week theme can often be a little hyperbolic. There are lots of champions of truth in society. Journalists are among them, but we're not the only ones.
Part of our job is to bring you the news. It might require a little digging at times. People might not be happy with us at the end of the day. It could be the demise of a friendship or a strong working relationship.
You might not like the story. That doesn't mean it's false. You might not agree with the message. That doesn't make it untrue. You might want articles to cater to your worldview and reinforce your opinions. If that's the case, seek out those stooge outlets.
Some people forget that covering an event does not equate an endorsement.
Your community newspaper is still your best option for local news. Here in Estevan, we've committed ourselves to covering every facet of life in the community: politics, law enforcement, fires, courts, education, health care, sports, culture, agriculture, business, energy and more. We are honoured when people trust us with their stories.
We're not dependent on the same 10 or 15 sources to bring the news to you each week. We still work weekends. We don't turn to irrelevant government press releases to fill our pages. And we're not leaning on news from outside of the southeast.
Our job is to report on what's happening in the region. People pick up our paper to read about what is happening in the southeast, not to find out about the manufacturing numbers from the provincial government. Our advertisers want to have local news on the page where they advertise. In many cases, we're the only ones talking about certain issues or covering events.
And it's our job to bring breaking news to you as well through our provincial news hub at sasktoday.ca. The Mercury's portion of the website is updated several times per day, again with local content.
There's always a lot of pressure on your local paper, because so many people continue to read it. Our efforts are out there every week for the public to evaluate. If we make a mistake, regardless of the size, people will see it, and there's no taking it back. Errors can be costly.
We often think of sports, music, art and the theatre as performance-based industries, but a newspaper also fits that criteria, with everything from the stories to the photos to the ads to the overall appearance of the page.
We have an important job. We think we're doing it well. And it's our intention to keep doing it for a really long time.