Editorial

Gertrude J. Robinson (McGill University)

The Canadian Journal of Communication has changed its production home and, with this change, has upgraded its format and cover. This issue comes to you from Wilfrid Laurier University Press which is also responsible for subscriptions and circulation. Their address is: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5, tel. (519) 884-1970, ext. 2124. A sub-committee of the Board headed by Jean McNulty conducted an in-depth study of our options (including desktop publishing) and then met with the three Canadian publishers of learned journals. Wilfrid Laurier University Press, directed by Sandra Woolfrey, was chosen on the basis of its excellent copy management practices as well as its cost effectiveness for the services rendered. Only one change will have to be introduced to reduce manuscript editing costs: from now on authors will have to submit their papers in either Word Perfect format or in a version of Microsoft Word. I hope Volume 16, No. 1 convinces you of the advantages of this decision. The Board and Editor thank Dr. McNulty for her care and energy in bringing this move to a successful conclusion.

In preparing this volume on "Canadian Newspapers and International Reporting" I came across an interesting article by James Rosen (ASNE Bulletin [December 1989]). The author argues that the press's preoccupation with more effective delivery services to individuals in their private locations may in fact undermine the very purpose for which newspapers exist: their ability to create a public forum for debating public issues. Among them are issues of international coverage. Today's consumer-oriented "news packaging" practices destroy one of the newspaper's primary social purposes to reduce and transform unconnected information "bits" into socially relevant "connected" accounts. To relearn this task newspapers in the nineties will have to institute a "connections beat" staffed by journalists with wide general backgrounds who are able to spot the link between the disappearance of tropical rain forests (environmental issues) and the cocaine racket in North America (drugs/crime).

Newspapers' future health additionally depends on a "competent" readership. Yet literacy is declining in the nineties because school systems and libraries, adult reading programs and independent book stores have long been underfunded. Because newspaper readership is also in part an index of a person's involvement in community life, newspapers pull people out of their private into the public world. This civic participation is grist for the newspaper's mill because it generates an "interested" readership. Newspapers thus have a financial stake as well as a professional interest in the educational and cultural institutions within their cities.

Newspapers' survival will, moreover, depend on their recognition that they require more than "consumers" who buy their product. For a paper to communicate with its readers there must be a common set of concerns and a common world of experiences; otherwise, as Robert Park noted in the twenties, no common "definition of the situation" on public issues such as crime, abortion, or a healthy environment, can be collectively generated. Rosen suggests that it is perhaps time that academics and journalists quit focusing on "what is the matter with the news" and start worrying about "what makes news matter." If people lose the perception of living in a common world with others, then the newspaper as a guide to that world may have no future that is worth discussing.

The articles in this volume address both technological and distribution issues as well as the changing communicational environment in which Canadian newspapers find themselves today. Walter Soderlund, Robert Krause, and Richard Price acknowledge the importance of international coverage in today's interconnected world. Their article reports on the results of the Canadian Daily Newspaper Editor's evaluation of this task as carried out by their papers. Barry Adam and J. A. Berger also focus on international coverage: specifically South America and NATO affairs, two crucial domains in which audience understandings are relevant to national politics. David Pritchard evaluates the Quebec Press Council and its methods of handling complaints. He points out that the Council has set important precedents and is now considered a model for U.S. reformers. The article by Rowland Lorimer illuminates a related issue. It evaluates the chances of a competing medium, Canadian books, to survive in the Free Trade environment. The volume also contains an extensive collection of research reports which will help media scholars keep a finger on the pulse of what is happening across the country.



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We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their financial support through theAid to Scholarly Journals Program.

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