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Smaller sometimes better in the newspaper world

In my career in newspapers, I worked for six different papers.

OK, some of my bosses may have problems with me using the word “worked,” but it’s too late to do anything about it now.

One of those papers (the Prince George Free Press) ceased publication while I was there, and one (Grande Prairie This Week) folded within a few months of dropping me as a cost-cutting measure.

As far as I know, the other four papers I worked for are still going strong. They were all community papers, although one, Kamloops This Week, has become the newspaper voice of the city after the Kamloops Daily News folded some years ago.

With the demise of the Prince George Citizen as a daily newspaper last week, I started thinking about the state of newspapers in today’s world.

It seems to me that while a lot of people say, “I don’t need a newspaper, I’ve got the Internet,” they’re missing a lot if they only rely on the Internet for their news.

Yes, if you want to know what’s happening Moscow or Washington or Vancouver, the Internet may be your best bet (as long as you find a source you feel you can trust).

But if you want to know what’s going on around the town you live in, your community paper is still probably your best bet. The thing is, though, in my opinion, there is a limit on the size of community a paper can serve.

If you’re in Vanderhoof or Burns Lake (both papers I worked at, by the way), your community paper is really the fullest source of news in the community. The smaller community papers focus on their community, and that’s all they worry about.

If you want news about provincial, national or world issues, your best bet is a different form of news, but the big-city media don’t usually worry about covering news from smaller communities – unless it’s bad news.

There have been a lot of good things happen in Vanderhoof over the past few years, but ask people there how often the big-city media have shown up since Cody Legebokoff was sentenced, and the answer will probably be, “they haven’t.”

Community papers will cover the bad news in the community. They have to as part of their mandate to cover the news.

But they usually focus on the good news in the community, and that’s something we all need to hear.

It’s also why I think stories about the demise of the newspaper are focusing too much on the big-city picture, and not enjoying the small things in life.

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