The COVID pandemic, for all of its negative aspects when it comes to public life, provided the community with one advantage — easy access to events, whether they be municipal council meetings or political and community events.

The fact these were virtual events meant residents could sit back at home, not get in their cars and travel to the venue. The vehicles were live broadcasts via such tools as YouTube and Microsoft Teams.

The problem was, at least until recently in some cases where Zoom was adopted, there was no back and forth when it came to questions from the populace at council meetings. This has been resolved in Côte St. Luc, where those meetings are now conducted in person, for broadcast on YouTube and live via Zoom, where more of a back and forth is possible.

Still, with all of this access available, not everybody has the inclination to attend an event or council meeting in person or watch it live or after the fact. There is too much competition for one's attention — family matters, entertainment via TV, movies in the theatre or on Netflix, outdoor events in the summer festival season.

This has sometimes been to the detriment of the population. In the case of local councils, residents sometimes only realize after the fact that an important resolution potentially affecting their lives has been passed, and which they could have opposed with a register and a potential referendum in the case of a zoning chang. In the case of important community events, those disinclined to watch an hour-plus YouTube video after the fact just get bits and pieces from other forms of media.

That's where local newspapers come in, and this has even been found to be the case with U.S. politics as well between local and national media. Local papers are closer to the ground, in the case of the U.S. more neutral than national cable news channels catering to the political views of their audience, and, locally, provide more depth and detail than the electronic media, but in a more easily digestible and attention-keeping way than just watching an entire video after the fact.

What we provide is not only a depth of fact from constant coverage of issues, but context as well, especially if the issue involved has been covered by local papers for days, weeks, months or even years.

That is why local papers are the eyes and ears of those interested in local affairs, but cannot attend every meeting or event.

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