728 x 90

News can’t be told in five sentences or less


Newspapers play a present, strong and vital role in rural communities and urban centres. Not only do newspapers provide a credible and reliable source of information, but they also document and preserve
local culture and its people. Many lifelong readers grew up having the newspaper come regularly to their home and believing in its relevance in today’s world, still continue to subscribe. 
“In our home, getting the newspaper was something we greatly looked forward to,” explained Baba’s Corner Store owner Arlene Rehaluk.
“Our family waited for it because all of our connections to each other and the community were based on
what we read in the paper. We learned about what people were doing; events going on in the area; available employment; businesses and their services and products; as well as babies who were born and people passing away. It has always been pivotal in keeping our household and community going. Everyone waited for the paper to come out, that was a given.” “When I was with the genealogical society, the newspaper is where we got our information.
It documented all the history and facts we needed about our area. This is still the best and most credible source to research our history and roots to this day.” 
Over the years, Rehaluk’s involvement and reliance on newspapers in the area changed.
She received the opportunity to experience firsthand the sense of pride and accomplishment of what goes into a weekly publication.
“The first thing that comes to mind was when I was the local 4-H news reporter for our area,” said Rehaluk. “Whatever happened in our community related to 4-H, I was responsible to document it, write it up and submit it for publication. 
There were so many things to focus on in that write-up, from good grammar and to get the details accurate because it was our representation in the paper. It showcased that there were valid events, stories and accomplishments happening from people living in the area who are contributing to their community. I felt a great sense of duty and accountability when I wrote those reports. I wanted peoples’ efforts to be showcased and given the recognition they deserved.” 
Through the sharing of stories or events in a community, it also draws people into the area or those looking to reconnect with family and people from the region. There are so many interesting and fascinating stories about people from the area and in a lot of instances; those individuals go on to do
remarkable things on a much higher level. These stories document their growth as individuals or political figures and tie them to their roots. “I like to read stories about our local celebrities and people who have
gone on to make a big difference,” noted Rehaluk.
“People who have encouraged our youth and took a risk in the chance to achieve something great have the best accounts to tell. Reading stories about people who represent our culture, way of life and values
seem to make the best stories. There are countless wonderful stories about how local people made a difference in a bigger way and some of these people get nominated and recognized at a provincial or federal level.
Those are the kinds of articles I love to read in the local newspaper.” Letters to the Editor often give people a chance to express a concern or share a different outlook on an issue. 
Readers must keep in mind, that although a newspaper may print a Letter to the Editor, it doesn’t mean it reflects the views of the publisher; it merely provides an opportunity for someone to state their outlook on a subject or local matter. There is a different sense of ownership and accountability when one submits a Letter to the Editor, as opposed to making a social media post.
“I don’t remember not ever reading a Dauphin Herald, Star and Times, Ethelbert Echo, Roblin Review or
Russell Banner, because there was always something in there about someone I knew or an issue I was interested in,” stated Rehaluk.
“Even the Letters to the Editor, if I didn’t agree with the opinion stated, it gave people a platform for their viewpoint to be shared. This all stimulates people to be opened to a larger world, a broader thought process and open to the idea of different views.”
Local newspapers give that same opportunity to businesses to get their product and service out to the community. “It is difficult to have and maintain a business if you don’t have a local place to advertise,”
added Rehaluk. “It’s local people that keep businesses running and every small business has to reach their neighbours and region for support. As a business, I do much better sales-wise and am more successfully represented, when I advertise in the local newspaper. Even conglomerates or big department
stores still rely on a newspaper’s local circulation to get their advertising out.” There’s a misconception
that social media is the only way to get the message out because it’s instantaneous and spreads like wildfire.
The challenging part with so many people on social media is that they too are posting numerous things online, so it is very easy for things to get lost in a flood of useless information. Social media is an easy way to spread fake news and misconceptions about issues because people don’t take the time to get 
properly informed on the matter as they would if they read an article on it.
“We have to be very careful about what we are rolling over for when it comes to a new way of doing things,” explained Rehaluk. “With posting online using social media, one can fade into insignificance with the amount of false news and the flood of posts that have no merit or credibility. Reading locally reported news is the only way to truly keep one’s finger on the pulse of the region. No one knows better than
someone local, on how significant an issue is to the community.” A misconception when it comes to reporting news or telling stories that the main goal is to be the first one to break the story. When it comes to the merit of journalism, it solely doesn’t rely on being the first one to air the story. Being first
doesn’t mean it was done best. There are so many more crucial factors to consider such as getting all the facts and details in between correct, watching it evolve and making sure the setting of the tone reflects
the incident overall, not just the immediate fanfare shock of it. Whenever something is published, there is an emphasis on doing the featured article justice, rather than seeking attention or credit for it. 
Some media outlets live by the mantra that ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ and focus on this style of reporting. 
While that may work in bigger cities like Winnipeg or Toronto, it doesn’t sit well in rural communities. Choosing to mainly concentrate on horrific circumstances such as house fires, car accidents, or personal tragedies that involve local people who are one’s neighbour, hockey coach, or former parent committee
chairperson, doesn’t make a hero out of anyone involved. 
One must keep in mind they may sit across from these people at church, see them in the dentist's office or at the grocery store. There has to be a level of sensitivity and empathy when reporting on a shocking
death or incident, for it could happen to someone that one knows. Putting oneself in that person’s shoes will make one think twice about just how much needs to be shared with the public. The relevance of a 
community newspaper is a reflection of the importance of peoples’ lives in that area. “Newspapers are still very much the heart of a rural community and in order to keep moving forward, we have to know where we came from,” concluded Rehaluk. 
“News or stories can’t be told in just five sentences or less.”