Michaels: Reminded of the heft of newspapers

As Newsie moved on to his next point, I thought about what he’d just said and how it sparked my love of this medium

“Hello, everyone! Do you know what a newspaper is?” I asked in my most singsong voice.

One head shook. A couple more nodded. One boy told me he didn’t like paper.

Mostly they ignored me, instead transfixing their eyes to the place above my head where the Capital News mascot stood waving.

Thank goodness for Newsie.

He was a hit with the collection of three-year-olds assembled in front of me to hear about community helpers—something I volunteered myself to talk about, for my son’s preschool class.

“When there are parades, there’s Newsie,” he said, gamely.

“When there’s something fun in Kelowna, there’s Newsie.”

He wobbled back and forth talking about where Newsie would show up and then he said something that twigged: “I bet some of your moms and dads have been in newspapers, doing things they like doing.”

The kids just giggled. My little human jumped up and down like a jack-hammer, arms flapping; “this is all so silly!” he squealed, clearly blown away by the sight of his dad in a costume and his mom sitting at the head of the class.

But as Newsie moved on to his next point, I thought about what he’d just said and how it sparked my love of this medium long before I ever wrote a story.

I loved seeing people I knew doing interesting, and not so interesting, things in the newspaper.  Their awkward, smiling faces immortalized in a smudgy paper that would be cut apart so the good bits could be stuck into my photo album. I still have clippings of my parents and my sister from decades ago.

Newspaper may be the most derided form of news dissemination in these days of digital, but what it has always done best is represent the community in a way that doesn’t seem fleeting, trite or superficial.

There’s heft within news pages, and it’s different than the laments of paper carriers would indicate.

The real weight within our pages lies in photos of families engaging in their community. The stories about our young residents scholastic achievements or the fleeting moments of youth captured at random, when, for example, the carnival comes to town, or a parade rolls by.

The words are pretty important, as well— the chronicles of our community’s triumphs and our losses.

They represent hours reporters have spent at interminable public meetings, keeping a watchful eye on school boards and city councils, regional districts and non-profit organizations. When we’re doing things right, we ask difficult questions of people who’d rather not speak to us, challenge assumptions and scrutinize the continually-more-savvy PR machines of all the aforementioned organization.

Community newspapers aren’t the sexiest, but they aren’t supposed to be.

While we may not have the car crash that happened 15 minutes ago, within our pages is what’s needed to strengthen our communities.

So here’s where I implore my fellow breeders: Raise a reader. A newspaper reader, in particular. And thank you to Miss Sarah’s class, for this little reminder.