toilet paper

by james hörner

ever read your local newspaper and wonder exactly what is on those ultra-thin pieces of paper crammed with tons of advertising and text?

what we are dealing with here is a bloated, archaic form of information transmission

recently i did an article tally of the kamloops daily news over four days in november (nov 9, 10, 12, 13) in order to see how many of the articles were written by staff and reflected local news.

four day total:

author specific breakdown of those numbers:

82 pieces			117 pieces

marnie taylor - 5		cp     - 81
michele young - 5		ap     - 22
susan duncan  - 2		southam- 11
sandy wiseman - 8		reuters-  3
chad douglas  - 6
allen cameron - 4
tracy elsaesser-5
robert koopman -6
cam fortems   - 6
misc.         - 22
specials (several)

considering that quite a number of the pieces were in sports (sorry, i tossed the papers before i remembered to check the numbers on this), there is not a lot of local "news" coverage happening. also, one needs to take into account that 60% of a newspaper consists of advertising. thus, when you pay for a paper, you aren't paying for much more than advertising as well as national/international news that you could get for free online or from your evening tv news.

the problem here isn't so much lousy writing but a staff shortage that many papers across canada are facing. with cutbacks in staffage, what can we really expect to get in our local paper besides reprinted, generic news releases. we need to demand that local news is put back into our newspapers.

this month saw the addition of another national paper, too! conrad black has recently started the national post, which is supposed to either give us more choice or simply be another means to strip our pockets for a few paltry titbits of information, loads of advertising, and some right-wing pabulum. this sorry attempt to create a big-boys paper like the ones in britain is shallow. we are canadians, and, quite obviously, our needs are different.

theoretically a national paper will provide more, such as stock reports, arts and entertainment reviews, style tips, and other goodies. the newspaper is also the primary means by which people place classifieds (although we all know that by the time employment ads run the job has been taken by someone pounding the pavement instead of reading the paper).

ultimately, what we are dealing with here is a bloated, archaic form of information transmission. if you live in kamloops, and actually want more local content, read kamloops this week which you actually get for free. if you are anywhere else in canada look into your options. there's more to news than the daily newspaper.

go forth and check out the paper in your village/town/city/metropolis. let us know what you find.

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