People genuinely care

Say It Like It Is column by Kathleen Saylors, May 12 Boundary Creek Times.

I was born and raised in a suburb of a big city, and I went to school in an equally large, and somewhat intimidating city. There were many things I loved about it—the space, the freedom, the constant activity—but I never quite got used to feeling very small. There was always an anonymity about it I never quite liked. Professionally, working in journalism in a large city meant that journalists were treated with a degree of suspicion and held at arms length. Moving to a smaller place guided my job search.

I stubbed upon Greenwood, and decided it would likely be a good fit for me. I wondered about how my job would play out in such a small community, but there’s no way to know until you give it a try.

I’m delighted to find that the people of the West Boundary value their newspaper in a way I’ve never found in larger communities. It is a refreshing feeling, and I am amazed at the welcome I’ve gotten here.

The last newspaper I worked at served a community of 30,000 people, and had a staff of 12 editors. For such a large paper, people in the community cared astonishingly little about it. Of course, there was a small group of people who showed engagement with the paper through comments and letters to the editor, but the reaction to the paper was mostly indifferent. Some people were surprised to learn we had a newspaper at all. I’m heartened to see that the trend doesn’t carry in the Boundary.

It’s a cliché to say that newspapers are dying, besides being wholly untrue. But it is refreshing to know and see that newspapers serve a profound purpose in the community, nowhere more so than in the West Boundary. What I’ve seen working here has renewed my faith in the fact that newspapers matter, and I’m thankful for it.

Since coming here, people have laughed and ask how I get by in a town where there’s not much going on. I’ve received more news tips and story ideas than I ever did in a big city, where there was no end of things happening. I’m busier here than I ever was, and that’s because people genuinely care about the paper and the stories in it.

I’m no expert on the matter, but maybe big newspapers continue to suffer because their readers don’t feel connected to them. A national newspaper serves a national audience—meaning that most people can’t connect with the stories.

This community values knowing what is happening around them—whether that’s a city council meeting, a local market, or the latest happenings at the elementary school. The newspaper truly serves the community, and that’s nice to see, because engagement with a newspaper is what makes it thrive.