Newspapers, libraries keep on truckin’

Many times I have heard the end of newspapers is near. The same has gone for libraries, book publishers and magazine makers.

Unlike the move from horses to mechanized farming or livery hauling to trucks, which lasted about 15 years, the end for these things is still over the horizon.

It was said 20 years ago, and still is, that news and information consumers would become their own editors, choosing to pick through the exploding myriad of information sources available to them on the internet, and legacy publishers would die off without so much as a whimper from their users.

We have seen our markets change, but Western Producer readership has stayed on par with the number of professional farmers in the marketplace (almost everyone in the business reads it).

Demand is related to supply. While there is far more material available to today’s prairie farmer, the quantity of quality material delivered at the right time and in the right format has fallen over the past two decades.

The loss of funding for extension agricultural specialists at post secondary institutions and from governments, the loss of the prairie pools and consolidation of the grain and livestock companies have conspired to reduce the flow of impartial, useful information.

Publications like ours fill some gaps in that regard but in daily newspapers, the public support for journalism has been on the wane for more than a dozen years.

However, a new American president is changing that. His attacks on what he calls mainstream media’s “fake news” have backfired, boosting subscribers to those reputable news sources he vilified.

The New York Times, along with hundreds of other national and local newspapers across the U.S., have seen subscriptions rising as the public looks to trusted sources for real information.

It appears that Saskatchewan’s libraries are not a thing of the prairie past either, as the governing Saskatchewan Party found out in the past few weeks.

Rural and urban protests pushed massive library funding cuts back off that government’s chopping block this week.

When it comes to quality information, delivered in the right time, in the right place, the public can be trusted to choose what it needs.

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