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Posted: August 7, 2022

The purveyors of print don’t care about us

A guest column by Sandra Warner (pictured)

Op-Ed Commentary

I like to tell my husband Gerry he is lucky to have such a low-maintenance wife; it doesn’t take much to make me happy and I take pleasure in the small stuff.

One of my great pleasures was to visit my local coffee shop and read one of the big-city or national print-on-paper newspapers. Or maybe I’d pick up a copy at my local bookstore, drugstore or grocery store and read it at home.

On Saturdays, my husband and I had developed a tradition over the years; we would treat ourselves to a full breakfast (bacon, eggs, toast, mushrooms, tomatoes, coffee!) and pick up copies of the Saturday Globe and Mail and the Saturday National Post. I would start the day reading the Globe, and my husband would peruse the Post.

After a while, we’d swap newspapers and continue our reading. This could keep us occupied for the better part of the day. Often, there would be enough material in the two Saturday editions to keep us going for a couple more days. Small pleasures.

Now those small pleasures have been rudely yanked out from under us with the cancellation of print newspaper distribution in the Columbia Valley of B.C., including Cranbrook. Even though Cranbrook is the largest city (+20,000) in the East Kootenay, we no longer have access to a daily, national print newspaper.

This decision doesn’t just impact my family, of course. For many seniors, that trip to the coffee shop to read the daily paper and, not so incidentally, make social connections with fellow residents, was an important, even vital, part of their day.

The newspapers informed and entertained, and the casual visits with other people were quite possibly essential to their mental health and well-being. During the pandemic, we lost those connections as coffee shops and other businesses shuttered; we were all relieved when the communal papers reappeared after Covid restrictions loosened.

Now we’re losing them again. But does it have to be? Herewith, a modest proposal: Though by big-city standards, Cranbrook is a small city, we have an airport, with regular flights from Calgary and Vancouver via three airlines (Air Canada, Pacific Coastal, WestJet). Surely a bundle of newspapers could be slipped onto those daily flights.

My husband, a retired, award-winning journalist himself (Kamloops, Edmonton, Cranbrook) would be thrilled to accept a small job picking up those papers at the airport and distributing them in Cranbrook and, perhaps, nearby Kimberley.

We realize cost considerations (especially with the current gas prices!) make it difficult to truck the papers up and down the valley to the smaller communities, but it should be feasible to bring them, by air, into the Cranbrook airport with distribution from that point.

Finally, I respectfully ask that you do not direct me to your digital subscriptions. I am fully aware that I can access all these papers online. But the people who visit those coffee shops in Cranbrook don’t want to read the stories on their smartphones, and they don’t want to lug a laptop to the coffee shop to read the papers online. They want the tactile touch of the newspaper they’ve purchased or the communal copy that the coffee shop owners have provided.

What I’m asking for is restoration of the print-on-paper publications to Cranbrook at the very least. Perhaps one day I will have to accept that print is dead. But not yet. Hopefully, not ever.

Sandra Warner,  journalist (retired)


Permit me (Gerry) to add these comments to she, who must be obeyed. Both Pages Books and Huckleberry Books contacted the Globe about the cancellation and started a petition to reverse the cancellation, but not enough people signed the petition to please the Globe. Similar efforts were made with the Post and the Calgary and Vancouver dailies. Nada! Surely, it’s a sad day when these big-time newspapers callously write off parts of rural Canada in this manner? No wonder support for the convoy still exists and the flames of western separatism still burn.

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