National Newspapers Week is running from October 1-5 and this is an opportune time to remind readers of the vital role of community newspapers.

A recent survey of Canadians 18 and older conducted by Totem Research, on behalf of News Media Canada, found that for local news and information, the preferred the source for Canadians is their community newspaper, and the main reason for reading community newspapers is for local information.

According to the survey, the motivation for the majority of those who read community newspapers is for local news and other local content, like classifieds, while advertising is why half of community newspaper readers are engaged. The numbers show that print newspaper advertisements increase awareness, store visits and purchases, while digital ads provide further research for consumers.

The survey found that nine in 10 Canadians read a newspaper on a variety of platforms each week, meaning that while the industry has undergone changes, it remains relevant.

In the case of The Reporter, our importance to the counties of Inverness, Richmond, Guysborough, and Antigonish goes beyond survey results, circulation numbers, ad totals, subscriptions sold, and papers sold on newsstands.

Those statistics are important in telling us our current financial state, and how we are engaging with our readership, but there are more intangible ways to tell how important we are to the Strait area.

Like other newspapers across Canada, our front page is blank to illustrate an important point.

Imagine this region without a paper based in the service and commercial centre of Port Hawkesbury, without a staff living in communities around the Strait area, with the untold stories of local people, places, events, and groups, and without a platform for businesses to advertise their services.

Local newspapers remind readers that their stories, their businesses, their organizations, their jobs, and their opinions matter and deserve to be told and without a trusted source of local news, sports, entertainment, classifieds, opinion, and advertisement, the community suffers.

We are the glue that binds our readership, and no other region deserves a newspaper of its own more than the Strait area.

The sense of unity that has always existed in the four counties around the Strait of Canso – going well beyond the days it encompassed the federal riding of Cape Breton Highlands-Canso – was born of shared religious, cultural and political struggles. The Mi’kmaq who settled this land, and the Acadians, French, Irish, Scottish, and African American Loyalists who came here after were far removed from the seats of power.

Gradually, their descendents realized that by voting together, by preserving their faith, and maintaining cultural traditions, they could generate power of their own, right here in the counties of Inverness, Richmond, Guysborough, and Antigonish.

This region built an internationally recognized educational institution in the form of StFX and started the Antigonish Movement, this region sent Premiers, Prime Ministers and cabinet ministers to Ottawa and Halifax, and it made the world sing with music once thought extinct.

By the time The Reporter was established in the early 1980s, this region was flexing its might as the pulp mill, the Gulf Oil refinery and the heavy water plant were employing thousands of people in Point Tupper, and there were large fish plants employing thousands more in Canso, Petit de Grat and Mulgrave.

This region’s diminishing fortunes since that time made The Reporter all the more necessary to tell the stories of the plant closures, the job losses, outmigration, and the fight to preserve communities.

Now in the midst of an economic turn-around, The Reporter is integral in helping promote the many new businesses opening around the region, the people returning or moving here, efforts to recruit workers and immigrants, and the changing face of communities.

Imagine if this history had gone untold.

That is why our front page is blank.