Amid anxieties that online news is pushing newspapers to extinction, dailies and weeklies remain important sources of news for many Canadians.
Oct. 6-12 being National Newspaper Week, the News Media Canada (NMC) organization has launched its Newspapers Matter Now More Than Ever campaign and is asking Canadians to pledge support for the printed medium.
“Help us remind Canadian businesses, advertisers and governments that newspaper journalism is critically important and essential in protecting the vibrant communities in which we live. Together, let’s take a stand showcasing our support to access truthful, local, regional and national news,” NMC said.
“Newspapers stitch our communities together – questioning what needs questioning, narrating Canada’s history, and serving as the voice of our democracy.”
Burns Lake mayor Dolores Funk said local papers give focus to readers in a media landscape with more choices than ever before.
“In an increasingly globalized world, where much of our news is focused on what’s happening elsewhere, the community newspaper provides some much needed local content. LD News is still the most relevant way to gain a picture of what Burns Lake is all about – local events and groups, local job opportunities and local concerns – a critical part of our social fabric.”
Village councillor Charlie Rensby said newspapers play an important role in small communities.
“Community newspapers are able to target the community and what really matters to their day-to-day lives.”
However, the newspaper world isn’t quite what it was 20 or 30 years ago.
Newspapers have traditionally relied on advertising revenue for its funding but “as readership moves online, Canadian companies have shifted their ad dollars to global conglomerates like Facebook and Google – despite the fact that ads in print or online newspapers are the most trusted of all ad formats.”
The loss of advertising income has pushed many newsrooms to reduce their staff, resources and output.
And the proliferation of “fake news” is leaving many readers confused, with 63 per cent unable to tell the difference between bogus and legitimate reporting, according to NMC.
Still, it’s not all doom and gloom.
News readership is high for Canadians, and how news is consumed depends on the demographic.
Among readers aged 54-72, who make up 37 per cent of the population weekly news readership stands at 90 per cent and most receive their news through print, according to a May 13, 2019 report from Media In Canada.
Eighty-eight per cent of millennials (age 19-36), who represent 34 per cent of the population read newspapers weekly, and most get it on their phones.
The digital habits of the younger generation aren’t displacing printed news, because the report added that readers are supplementing their digital consumption with physical newspapers.
A third demographic in the study was business decision makers (37 per cent of the population) of whom 93 per cent read newspapers weekly and on all platforms.
In a regional context, the report also found that Western Canadians tend to be stronger readers of print.