The Langley Advance doesn't look much like it did in the 1930s - no community newspaper that's been around that long does.
For one thing, we didn't have websites back then. We didn't have Facebook pages or maintain Twitter feeds.
And we certainly didn't have Layar's "augmented reality" buried in our pages.
We keep changing, growing with our communities, but you will continue to count on us to provide you with your community's news. Community journalism will remain with us as long as we are human beings.
Before predicting the future of community newspapers, you need to look back... certainly back before the Langley Advance came into existence 82 years ago... before lead type and printing presses churned out community announcements, local news reports, and advertisements for local businesses. The story goes back before Gutenburg built the printing press that changed - but did not create - modern communication.
Indeed, the vast majority of common folk would not be literate today if it weren't for Gutenberg - although, nearly all of what was printed on his press for common people - in the context of community news, at least - was political cartoons... because so few people could read in the 1400s. Official, trustworthy news was presented by town criers and local clergy - the community news reporters who became the writers and editors of the newspapers that eventually sprouted up all over, as people started realizing the communications possibilities of Gutenberg's press.
But the roots of modern community journalism go a long way back beyond Gutenberg and town criers - so far back that we really have to guess at what might have been the first "news" stories.
Some archaeologists have come to the conclusion that the drawings on the walls of the Lascoux caves in France - and others - are actually hunting stories - stories in picture form, passed along to inform fellow hunters where and how to stalk and kill the best meat-providing animals. They probably were news stories, with details of heroic or particularly productive hunts, or maybe they were feature stories, outlining the neighbourhood's seasoned hunters' most successful techniques, explaining how you, too, could bring down a mighty musk ox or a five-point buck.
Like today's community journalists, the artists were capturing the events of their day and writing them on the cave walls... just as Egyptian priests chronicled the feats and accomplishments of each Pharaoh's generation and wrote them on the walls of his (or her) crypt... just as monks and scribes of the
Middle Ages reverently penned, with baroquely perfect letters on vellum, their current affairs - which became our history.
Today, reporters have digital cameras and write their stories with electronic tools.
But whether they are written on a cave or pyramid wall or on a dusty scroll or in the newspaper on your doorstep - or on the viewscreen of your iPad or maybe projected on the inside of your skull from an implanted microchip - the stories are all essentially the same, and they always will be.
They are the stories of our existence as a community - whether the community is Langley, or an abbey in northern Germany, or the capital city of ancient Egypt, or a tribe of hunter/gatherers from 25,000 years ago.
Community journalism is much more than the notices of upcoming charity barbecues that you find in our Community Links pages. It's much more than news reports about
car crashes and follies of local politicians. It is more than how well - or how poorly - a local business - or the entire local economy - is doing.
It's not just about the murders committed, or the perpetrators caught, or the police work in between. It's not about the good things people do, and it's certainly not about the bad things they do.
It's about all of those things - and in being all of those things, it is much more than all of them.
Community journalism is the community communicating with itself. And community newspapers have been - and continue to be - at the heart of that communication.
Community newspapers identifies us.
@ Copyright 2013