The need to know

It's easy to assume, in a small town, that everyone knows everything that's going on; but that isn't the case.

Just because you post news of an event on Facebook - or other social media sites - doesn't mean everyone will see it.

Just because you post news of an event on Facebook - or other social media sites - doesn't mean everyone will see it.

A number of years ago I wrote a short story called “Back Roads”, and even though Ashcroft is not explicitly named as the setting, there are enough namechecks of local businesses (Quality Glass, Irly Bird, Safety Mart, the Central Café) that residents would immediately recognize where the story takes place.

At one point the narrator muses about life in a small town, noting that they’re the kind of place where if you sneeze at one end of the street, by the time you get to the other end everyone is asking you how your cold is. It’s a familiar scenario for residents of small communities: we tend to assume that everyone knows everything about what’s going on.

Speaking not only as a small town resident, but also as editor of The Journal, I can assure readers that this assumption is often wrong, particularly when it comes to events that local organizations are putting on. The rise and spread of social media seems to have many people convinced that when it comes to promoting an event, you merely have to put a mention up on a Facebook page or two and call it a day. After all, everyone is on Facebook, right?

Wrong. By far the largest demographic in our communities are people 55 and older, and fewer than 50 per cent of people in this age group are on social media (quite a few younger people aren’t there either). And just because you put something on your group’s Facebook page, which has 479 people who “like” it, doesn’t mean all 479 will see it. It might get lost in the clutter, or not turn up at all (your Facebook feed does not automatically show you every post from every person or group you have liked or friended).

The Journal’s Clinton correspondent recently asked, in her column, for people to let her know in advance about events they are holding that they would like to see covered; but on at least two occasions since then, she has only found out about events after they happened. The same thing has happened to me; not frequently, but often enough that it can be frustrating.

Every week I make a point of looking up several Facebook pages run by local organizations, to see what is coming up; but I am only one person, and certainly do not claim to know every group out there that is holding events in our region. Invariably I find events that have come and gone, or that will be over by the time the next paper hits the streets, so these events go unmentioned.

If groups want events covered, then please try to let me know well in advance, so that I can not only be there on the day, I can also (if appropriate) write an article in advance of the event to bring it to the attention of more people. And bear in mind that if I—who am going out of my way to find events—can’t find details until it is too late, people who might have liked to attend or take part probably aren’t stumbling across the information either.

“The Press, Watson, is a most valuable institution, if you only know how to use it,” said Sherlock Holmes in “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons”. Let me know what’s going on; it will be a win-win for all involved. It’s a small town: you know where to find me… .