Elizabeth Renzetti bemoans the demise of (local) newspapers in her latest column for the Globe and Mail.
She is right. We need newspapers – local, national, international newspapers. Of course, in this day and age, it doesn’t matter whether they’re actually printed on paper or appear before your eyes on a tablet. But we do need them.
As Renzetti explains, with more and more newspapers dying, especially local ones, there is no one left to watch over local council sessions and keep those politicians honest. There’s no one to watch and report on the “sausage-making of democracy”, as she puts it.
I am therefore in full agreement with the Québec government’s recent budget decision to set aside special subsidies for newspapers. But this is just one drop in the ocean.
More importantly, we need to teach people of all ages to read, and enjoy reading.
My day doesn’t, and can’t, start unless I have started reading the six or seven newspapers from Canada and around the world I read daily on my iPad. I use the PressReader application, which delivers all the newspapers in their “printed format”, page by page, including advertising and flyers, to my tablet.
But what do most people nowadays do? They glance over tweets or headlines on Facebook and think they’re fully informed about what goes on in the world. And these are the same people who hold the fate of our respective countries in their hands when they step into a polling station (more and more often with catastrophic, world-ending results).
Maybe we in Canada need a good and juicy Trump event. Americans have started subscribing to newspapers like never before, and they are reading, reading, reading, reading … . But it would have to be of gigantic proportions to pique the interest of (English) Canadians. Even with the Trudeau Tragedy playing at every single theatre near them, there hasn’t been much of an impetus to get them going.
In Canada’s case, it’s a kind of vicious circle: people don’t read (half the population is functionally illiterate, as confirmed by official statistics) and therefore don’t know about the full extent of the damage done not only by Justin Trudeau, but also by Kathleen Wynne or Christy Clark. And so the tragedy continues on and the country is going down the crapper – and crooked politicians keep getting away with murder. (Again, this refers only to English Canada – by contrast, Québec just jailed the former mayor of Montréal.)