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STEVE BARTLETT: Papers were Dad’s window on the world; how can we be yours?

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A stack of newspapers. - Postmedia News Service

Dad and I had a running war over the paper.

I always raced to read it before he got home from work.

When Dad arrived to discover someone had seen it before him, he’d ask with mild frustration, “Who messed up the newspaper?”

He wanted printed pristine, with no wrinkles or tears.

The culprit was usually me. I’d snicker. He’d grumble a bit and proceed.

Dad loved newspapers.

Throughout his career operating service stations, an auto salvage yard and a used car lot, the paper was his window on the world.

He’d “tut-tut” after reading political news that didn’t agree with his views, shake his head at local council news, and often call out to mom while reading the obituaries.

“Daphne,” he’d say, “did you know (insert name) died?”

Dad’s name appeared in those obituaries March 12, 2013.

If still alive, he’d be turning 81 on Sept. 1.

He followed my journalism career closely, and next to the odd troll, was my harshest critic.

“Steve,” he’d say. “That column was tooo personal.”

Or, “Steve, that’s a pretty powerful person you’re writing about. I don’t expect they’re going to let it go.”

He passed away before I was tapped on the shoulder and asked to manage a daily paper’s newsroom.

Dad would have been proud, but reluctant.

“Are you sure you can do this?” he would have wondered, repeating the same question he posed when I competed in bodybuilding, left home for university, ran 16 K road races and took fiddle lessons.

He dearly wanted his kids to succeed, but always seemed weary if we were stepping outside his personal comfort zone.

I’m grateful to inherit — or be assimilated by — my father’s love of newspapers. Sadly, I didn’t realize that gratitude until after he’d passed.

If he were around today, if our family tradition of a birthday party over the Labour Day weekend was continuing, I’d thank my father for all the love and the lessons, for sharing so much, including that passion for the paper.

If he were around today, if our family tradition of a birthday party over the Labour Day weekend was continuing, I’d thank my father for all the love and the lessons, for sharing so much, including that passion for the paper.

Since I can’t thank him face to face, in his honour, I’d like to thank you, Dear Reader, for reading our journalism and supporting it.

You make it possible for us to tell stories that matter, to be a difference in our communities, to try and make this a better place.

I also want to note your interests are front and centre in our work.

We are asking ourselves lots of questions before pursuing a story.

Who will read it?

What does a reader really need to know here?

How can we tell this story to make it really useful for people?

Are we answering all the questions someone might have?

Such queries are part of what we do. And we’re asking more and more of them to better serve our readers and communities.

That said, I have some questions for you, too. My email is below if you’d like to answer them or send along other feedback.

In this day and age, when there is so much information available, what content do you need from us?

What do we offer that you don’t need or like?

And what can we do to make our content mean as much to you as it did to Dad?

Steve Bartlett is SaltWire Network’s senior managing editor. Reach him at steve.bartlett@thetelegram.com.


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