I read the news today….

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Welcome to the first issue of the North Dundas Times. You probably found this newspaper in your mailbox, or perhaps you picked it up in a store, and you’re wondering where it came from. We are a new, free weekly newspaper delivered to your door by Canada Post, and covering all that is of interest to the people of North Dundas.

You’ll notice that our motto on the front page is “The Voice of North Dundas”. This isn’t a claim on our part to speak for the community; it’s a way of saying that this is your newspaper, one you help to create week by week. We hope that the Times will be a platform for people to talk to each other, let each other know what’s happening in the area, discuss and debate matters of importance, as well as the trivial, and keep each other up to date with local politics, sports, arts and culture.

To that end, these pages are open to the community. Write letters to the Editor. Send in articles on what your service club, church, or voluntary organisation is doing week by week, month by month. The pages are open to all, unless the content is hateful or contravenes good taste, community norms, or the law.

We want to promote local business, and vital groups such as Lions Clubs, the House of Lazarus, the Winchester hospital, theatre and social groups, and everyone who adds to the quality of life in North Dundas.

You may think that the middle of a pandemic is an odd time to start a newspaper; but, in many ways, it is absolutely the right time. Never has it been more important for a community to stay in touch with itself. Municipal government needs to keep the community informed about what’s happening. Health units have important information they need to share to help keep us all safe and well. Businesses certainly need all the support they can get, and need to let people know if they’re still open, and how to access their services.
These are strange days indeed. I don’t know if any of us have ever lived through such historic events as we are now. Perhaps not since the Second World War has the country had to face such challenges, such dangers and threats. Without local news, supporting local business, the way is open for rumour and gossip to spread misinformation and misleading speculation. We’ve seen how the lockdown restrictions we’ve experienced since March have allowed conspiracy theories to explode on social media platforms, creating confusion, and even hatred, in the void created by a lack of credible communication and information.

The North Dundas Times intends to be part of this community for the future, providing you, the residents, with a place to share what this community represents and believes to be valuable and worth sharing. People want to know what’s happening in and to their community. They want a newspaper that will tell them the facts, straight and plain. There is room in the Times for reporting, for opinion, for analysis, for information, for news and for fun. You don’t have to agree with everything you read in these pages: it has to reflect so many aspects of North Dundas life that it will be impossible to keep everyone happy all the time. But that is the great potential of a local and independent voice: you can join in. If you don’t like something: write about it. If you love something, if you want to publicise something, write about it. You will be published because you are part of this community and deserve to be heard. We have no party political bias. We want to see all shades of opinion free to speak through these pages, and leave it to the people of this community to make up their own minds.

Because, if there’s one thing I’ve learned as an editor and journalist, it is that people don’t always agree. And that’s fine, so long as we can debate issues and put our point of view in a positive and constructive way. In any democracy, the one vital, essential thing is that we, the people, make informed decisions on the things that concern us. And to make informed decisions, we need to be informed. We have to have the opportunity of hearing all sides before coming to a conclusion. That is the role of the media, most especially of the print media. It’s important that we have various ideas and philosophies available to us in writing, so that we can read and re-read, think about what we’ve read, and then, perhaps, write something in response.

I am an historian by profession, and I believe quite strongly that we need to know where we as a community came from, what we’ve faced in the past, and so learn from that shared story. We hope to share the story of North Dundas, past and present, with you as we move to the future together.

So, here we are, at this fascinating moment in history. What does the result of the US elections mean for us and the world? How will we in Canada, in Ontario, in North Dundas, emerge from covid-19, and when will that happen? Around the country, and around the world, things are changing in ways we haven’t seen in decades. The community is growing and developing a different identity, without losing the traditional way of seeing the world and ourselves, our friends and our neighbours.

So, again, welcome to the North Dundas Times. To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. We believe this is the time for the Times. It will be available throughout the municipality by mail, as well as in restaurants and stores. This should be a fascinating journey into the future that we make together.

If there’s one line that seems to sum up the way things are in the world today, it is something said by two of our great philosophers: “I read the news today…oh boy!”

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