Turns out one of the most famous quotes attributed to Mark Twain — “Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated” — was itself a slight exaggeration. According to quotationspage.com, Twain wrote the line in the New York Journal on June 2, 1897, after the illness of his cousin James Ross Clemens sparked rumours of Twain (Samuel Clemens) himself being ill, perhaps fatally so. What he really wrote was, “The report of my illness grew out of his illness; the report of my death was an exaggeration.”
This writer’s interest in using the Twain quote was piqued by a remark made at last week’s Squamish Chamber of Commerce luncheon by someone whose business interests prompted her to address her audience with the opening comment, “Newspapers are dead.”
With the utmost respect, we beg to differ.
True enough, newspapers’ influence has waned with the advent of the Internet and social media. Circulation figures for daily newspapers have plummeted, with recent cuts having occurred at the Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal, which will soon see their Sunday publications cease.
It’s not quite the same story at smaller, community newspapers, however. According to the latest data from ComBase, North America’s largest media research firm, 89 per cent of adults are either print or online newspaper readers. Seventy-four per cent of adults had read any of the last four editions of their local community paper (by comparison, 63 per cent had read any of the last five issues of their daily newspaper).
Among adults with at least a university education, 74 per cent read community papers compared to 69 per cent for daily newspapers. And among adults with household incomes of more than $75,000, 79 per cent read the community paper compared to 70 per cent who read the daily paper.
Most community papers are no longer just newspapers but multi-platform news organizations. While by and large the print edition still pays the bills, we consider having a strong presence on both the Internet and social media is key to our long-term success. We recognize that we’re not the only ones out there, though, and consider it vitally important that we remain timely, relevant and in touch with the community.
It’s a brave, new world in the news business, and while The Chief may have recently won a pile of awards from our peers in the industry, it’s no exaggeration to say we’re not resting in any laurels.
— David Burke