The first edition of what became the Abbotsford News left the press more than 100 years ago.
Over the next century, it chronicled the changes in its city, its institutions and – most importantly – its people.
New forms of communication – radio, television, the Internet – have all sprung up and left their mark too.
But in 2018, a century after that first edition, The News (and, yes, its busy online arm) remains dedicated to the task of collecting the stories of the city and communicating them to its residents.
A city’s newspaper provides a vital way to communicate their concerns, successes, and opportunities. That holds true if you’re a local non-profit, a business trying to reach clients, a police officer attempting to catch a crook, or a hockey team with hundreds of fans.
“Our local newspaper is an important part of our communications strategy,” said Allan Asaph, the executive director of the Abbotsofrd chamber of Commerce. “It has a broad, diverse audience and enables us to establish a strong personal connection with our local community.”
And while Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms have provided new opportunities for communication, they also each possess limitations, Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr says.
“Although there are many benefits to social media, often it only provides quick snippets of information and not a full and balanced story. Also, it does not reach all demographics in the community.”
Jack Goeson, the owner of the Abbotsford Pilots agrees.
“It’s very important for us to get the proper coverage for our fans, but getting in the newspaper is like building the foundation for a house – it has to be there. It helps build a community because kids novice and pee wee age see and read these stories and they will eventually progress and play at our level one day. Having the newspaper there to report on us builds that community and helps create memories for everyone.”
A city may be a geographic place, but a community is a collection of people, sharing a common goal of improvement. Residents will often differ on how to improve their community, but the sharing of a common set of facts is vital.
“Even in this day of warp-speed communication, nothing really takes the place of a community newspaper,” Abbotsford-Mission MLA Simon Gibson said. “The News is vital to the continued social vibrancy of Abbotsford.”
A community’s present and future is also rooted in its past. For Kris Foulds, the curator of historical collections at The Reach Gallery Museum, The News has provided a vital way for residents to see how Abbotsford has changed over the years.
As the longest extant community newspaper, the Abbotsford News’ (formerly Abbotsford, Matsqui & Sumas News) journalists and photographers have chronicled Abbotsford history for almost 100 years: documented the changes, challenges and triumphs of Abbotsford, captured both factual accounts by recording events as they happened, and feeling through editorials and reader feedback.”
And while much has changed, Abbotsford’s newspaper continues to focus on bringing its residents the information they need.
The internet has brought stunning change to the entire media landscape. But although the internet has infinite space, it continues to be newspapers – and their online arms – that employ the bulk of the news reporters in Canada, British Columbia and Abbotsford.
If there is a single reporter present at a sporting event, a council meeting, or crime scene, the odds are that she or he has been sent by a newspaper dedicated to getting to the truth of what is happening.
* Oct. 1 – 7 is National Newspaper Week and a new campaign has been launched to rally Canadians’ support for newspaper journalism – and the in-depth, credible, independent reporting that newspapers provide. The campaign, dubbed #NowMoreThanEver, is inviting Canadians to show their support for the news media industry at the newly launched newspapersmatter.ca.