Allan Takes Aim Blog

The importance of community newspapers

Posted on: 14 March 2012


First published as hard copy in The Chronicle, Tuesday 12 March, 2012

This weekend I had four topics in mind from which to choose this weeks’ column: weather, religion, sport and politics. But as I couldn’t say anything other than it had been raining for weeks I gave weather the flick and moved on to religion for a moment or two before moving on again to sport and the question of what could be done do to ensure that sooner, rather than later, Canberra gets a team in Australian soccer’s (football) A League. However, as that’s more a 7000 word that a 700 word argument, it also got the flick, which left me with politics.

Politics, of course, is not only one of four staple items on the menu of Australian broadsheets such as the Canberra Times, Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, it is also on the menus of English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh broadsheets. And from perusal of the web, politics is also on the menu of broadsheets in every country of the world even those under the yoke of dictators or terrorists.

In a sense it is also a staple on the menu of great community newspapers like The Chronicle, although the focus of The Chronicle is more community news. Nevertheless comment in broadsheets on politics, economics, the arts, education, science, and myriad other issues that also affect community life, are often reflected in community nrewspapers.

However, the most important reports in community newspapers are about local news and events because they help keep the community informed about policies that could affect them, for example: a proposal to develop new infrastructure, be it a new school or any other community facility or even a change to existing services.

In The Chronicle’s case, apart from the news reports by the Chronicle’s journalists and contributions by columnists, The Chronicle also gives Canberra’s Community Councils space to report on issues they think important enough for the community to be made aware of and whether the Council supports or rejects them. In a sense The Chronicle is the community’s communications hub albeit at a level below, although no less important, than that of The Times.

After reading The Chronicle’s and Community Councils’ reports and columnists opinions, the community at large is in a better position to give informed comment about whether or not they like what a Government is proposing. If they don’t like it, they can use the time honoured method of making their approval or disapproval known by laying out their reasons in a letter to the editor.

Indeed these letters make the politicians aware of what a community thinks about their proposals without having to wait until the next election to make it obvious. In fact, weekly community newspapers can play a strong role in articulating a community’s wish, or wishes to politicians. Whether or not the politician’s pay heed, of course, is debatable.

Equally important Community newspapers like The Chronicle do not take political sides through letters to the editor often do. Indeed it has been known for a letter to the editor to cause a change in Government policy something not something as rare as people think. At the same time letters to the editor often become the source of comment on talk back radio so exposing a particular issue to possibly even a wider range of the community.

In The Chronicle’s case giving space to local Senators and Members of Federal Parliament helps them keep the community informed about their activities. (My congratulations to Senator Lundy for her promotion to Ministerial rank). With The Chronicle now online this will also assist people from across the country and the world to keep in touch with what is happening in Canberra and commenting on it.

So pay a visit to The Chronicle website (www.chronicleonline.com.au). Perhaps you’ll get a surprise when photographs stir happy memories of childhood friends or of places long forgotten. At the same time you will also find mention of those special members of the community who bring recognition of the National Capital to the wider world.

So keep in touch by signing up and every Wednesday take time to read The Chronicle. If you haven’t already signed up, do it now. Enjoy it. It’s FREE).
dca@netspeed.com.au

For Canberra’s best community news read The Chronicle online every Wednesday or a hard copy on Tuesday

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143 Responses to "The importance of community newspapers"

Not having received the paper version of The Chronicle since well before Christmas, I have now signed up for it online. However, this means that the television programme is no longer convenient and I can’t do the puzzles. Of course, I could print out the pages concerned, but by doing that every week it is no longer going to be “free”. So, I won’t. However, online is better than no paper at all. How do pensioners without computers manage?

Dear Lady Marylin,

Your points are well made. Perhaps the editor of The Chronicle will take them on board and give you an answer? Your comments certainly invite answers of agreement or disagreement from readers who in turn may be tempted to send a letter to the editor.

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