Is there a more personal experience than reading your community newspaper?
The act of sitting quietly to take in news about your surroundings at your own pace, stopping only to laugh, gripe or share with someone nearby who cares just as much because it hits close to home for them, too.
It creates a sense of shared ownership of a newspaper and helps bind residents into a community.
And when that suddenly disappears, we all feel somehow less connected — adrift.
The closure of the 80-year-old Kamloops Daily News sent shock waves throughout the city and beyond as decades-long subscribers, former newspaper carriers and celebrated journalists who cut their teeth in the local newsroom alike reeled at the news.
Marv and Bep Crawford are two of the most enduring readers The Daily News has had the honour of serving as diligent subscribers for 60 years, ever since they were married in 1953.
The demise of the paper sent Bep, a usually unflappable Dutch woman, into a frenzy.
“I really don’t know what I’m going to do when there’s no paper,” she said. “We’ll be absolutely lost. Without it you’re going to be cut off from everything.”
Recently Marv and his neighbour shared the task of taking the 24 papers dropped off in their building’s lobby to each subscriber’s door.
He said every one of the readers was devastating by the story on Tuesday announcing the paper’s closure.
“It’s a disaster,” he said. “Terrible, terrible, terrible. I feel awful about it.”
Much changed for the Crawfords during Marv’s 40-year career on the railway and Bep’s care of their children while working for 25 years as a Kamloops United Church wedding and funeral hostess and as the longest serving volunteer with the Royal Inland Hospital Ladies Auxiliary.
Their mainstay was always The Daily News. The paper’s closure gives the couple an increasing sense of disconnection from the world — a feeling of being left behind.
“It seems all of a sudden all these things are happening and it’s affecting older people,” said Bep.
“Younger people they don’t care, they get all their news and everything off the Internet.
But this is our only outlet to know what’s going on.”
She said what she’ll miss most are the stories about young people accomplishing great things.
“I’m 86 years old and you don’t know too many young people anymore,” she said. “If we didn’t have the paper, you wouldn’t hear about things like that. You feel like . . . you’re living on a deserted island.”
Marv jokes that he likes to turn immediately to the obituaries every morning to “make sure my name isn’t in there.”
Without the paper, he’s not sure how he’ll find out when people he’s known pass on. Marv simply doesn’t understand the increasingly widespread talk about the demise of print journalism.
“That’s B.S.,” he said. “A lot of people would rather sit down comfortable with a cup of coffee and read the paper. They don’t want to listen to it on the radio or on the television.”
The Crawfords haven’t merely read the paper for all those decades. They’ve been featured within its pages.
Marv appeared in a story in March 2012 when a blind friend and walking partner fell on cracked asphalt along Seymour Street and broke his hip.
“Catherine Litt, she did a real good job,” he said, referring to The Daily News reporter who covered the incident. “She got a hold of a head honcho from the City and by God I’ll tell ya, they fixed that road immediately.”
He fears that public institutions will become more lax without the pressure of that accountability. Bep has shown up on the letters page — most notably while decrying the arrival of U.S.-based Value Village for taking much needed funds away from the Hospital Auxiliary thrift store.
And people took notice.
“Everybody saw it,” she said. The last letter she will write for The Daily News was sent Tuesday.
“Surely somebody will do something about this!” she writes.
Hundreds of people through the decades have felt strongly connected to The Daily News as the place where they earned their first dollar as a newspaper carrier, helping to sharpen their business skills. “I recall one neighbour whose favourite line for evading payment being, ‘Do you have change for a $50?’ ” writes Tom McNulty Jr.
“It took a while to build up a cash reserve as a carrier in those days but, after a couple months of frustrating call backs to get my money . . . I made sure that I did indeed have change for a $50.”
The Daily News shutdown announcement also reached well beyond our borders, prompting laments from high profile Canadians, some who cut their teeth at The Daily News.
“I’m indebted to Susan Duncan, the former city editor, for the fistful of clippings I took back east with me that January,” wrote Charlie Gillis, national correspondent at Maclean’s magazine. “They got me into job interviews from London, Ont., to Saint John, N.B., launching a career that would carry me to five continents and exceed my wildest expectations.”
The news sent syndicated political columnist Warren Kinsella, who occasionally appeared in these pages, into a tizzy.
“Even if you don’t live in Kamloops, this sort of thing affects all of us,” he writes. “In an era where fewer and fewer citizens are voting, the media . . . are the only institutions left who can truly hold the powerful to account, on a daily basis. Now, yet another media voice is gone.”
Keith Baldrey, Global TV political journalist, tweeted his disappointment.
“Of all the (mostly negative) changes in Cdn. media recently, the closure of the Kamloops D. News has to rank as one of the most significant,” he wrote.
Mel Rothenburger, who served as the Daily News editor for 40 years before retiring in 2012, understands what the paper has meant to the community and the impact of its loss.
“I think The Daily News was successful for so long because we were always sensitive to what our readers wanted,” he said. “They didn’t want tabloid journalism. They wanted sensitive coverage of a broad spectrum of issues and events in Kamloops.”
“We didn’t please everyone but we sure tried. ”
Loss of the daily coverage, said Rothenburger, will result in a “big hole.”
“My fear is that people will simply become less informed about our community,” he said.
“When that happens, accountability suffers and so does our quality of life.”