Right in the centre - Newspaper week


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

This is Newspaper Week, but every week is Newspaper Week around here. Each day has a different feel to it, but when we put all the days together, every week is Newspaper Week. 

Monday’s emphasis is on news gathering and checking for ads. Tuesday’s emphasis is ads, as the noon deadline rolls around and we do our ad count. The size of the paper is exactly determined by the amount of ads we have.

Speaking of ads, we get the odd comment or criticism about ads coming in from outside our coverage area. Sorry, but it is ads that pay the bills around here and if an outside advertiser wants to place an ad in this paper, then we will gladly do so. To put it another way, I doubt that the same people who say, “Don’t run an ad from Brandon,” would tell the local restaurant to not serve a meal to someone from Brandon, or Virden, or wherever. I also doubt that the same people who say, “Don’t take an ad from Brandon,” stop going to Brandon for a shopping trip. Nor should they stop, but just don’t tell the paper we shouldn’t accept ads from out of town. No small town can sustain a newspaper solely on local ads. That might have been the way it was in the 1920s or even the 1950s, but it sure isn’t now. If that were the case, then every small town and village that used to have a newspaper would still have one.

Newspapers have to have news to be a newspaper, but to have news, they have to have ads, regardless of where the ads come from or even if a particular ad may not be of interest to every local reader. That’s fine, but without ads, there will be no “newspaper”. In Saskatchewan, over 20 local newspapers have closed in the past three years alone. Only a few have closed in Manitoba. So far!

Back to our “Newspaper Week”. On Tuesday afternoon, the die is cast and we know how many pages we can afford to print. Knowing that we have to average about half ads, it is pretty simple to add up the pages or total inches of ads to come up with the answer.

Wednesday is “paper day”, when all the ads, stories and pictures get placed on the page and the pages sent electronically to the printer. By the way, the newspaper industry has changed so much that instead of every paper having a printing press, there is now only one in south-western Manitoba and it is locally owned and operated by the Struth family in Killarney. A printing press is a very hungry machine that devours a lot of money, so a local paper simply can’t afford to have one. Not even the Brandon Sun or the Portage paper has their own press and they used to operate large presses.

Thursday is distribution day and the papers get their flyers inserted and are bundled up for distribution. Friday is a catch up day and plans are made for news coverage through the weekend . Saturdays and Sundays are more relaxing, buteven Sunday can be a news gathering day, as events need coverage that day too.

So there you have it, every week is Newspaper Week and for the most part, it is an enjoyable time.

The only parts that aren’t so nice is when people come in and complain. Sometimes we make mistakes and so the complaints make sense. Sometimes people just seem to want to complain. It isn’t our fault if stuff comes in late or so badly hand written that it can’t be read. The best way to  get information to us today is to send it by email or type it up and put it on a memory stick.

To those who send items by email, we thank you. To those who write neatly, we thank you. To those who scribble, we will do our best, but…

We promise to do our best in everything we do and we will listen to any suggestions. Surveys show that over 80 per cent of local community residents read their local paper. We want to make sure every week is newspaper week in our communities.

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer president of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.