Mass Media and Community Development: A Case Study of the Newspaper Natotawin, Beauval Saskatchewan
Hurly, William Paul
In 1975 the Department of Northern Saskatchewan established an experimental. mass media project in Beauval to serve the communities in Administrative Area #3. From 1976 to 1979 the Area #3 Regional Communication Centre published a bi-monthly newspaper, Natotawin. This study was carried out to examine the role of a publicly sponsored community newspaper in a community development process, and to measure Natotawin's performance of its community development functions. These were specified in the Centre's third objective and consisted of: to increase public participation in community and northern development, to create awareness, to improve understanding, to build confidence, and to promote self-expression and action. The study concluded that Natotawin experienced limited success in effectively discharging the potential community development functions which the newspaper was mandated to implement. The leaders felt Natotawin had greater success with certain specific tasks. For instance, they felt that Natotawin had contributed to a sense of pride in the community but that it had not satisfactorily provided coverage of local issues of concern to people in the community. Natotawin was found to have had a significant persuasive effect on the attitudes of the sample with regard to two specific public affairs issues. The newspaper was found to have been a major source of information concerning the hazards of uranium development. The newspaper was reported to have changed the attitudes of three of the leaders in the sample. .rne r anuange showed that Natotawin had difficulty discharging its community development functions due to three main factors. Procedural and professional problems were two sources were two sources of conflict and constraints. Public funding from the Government of Saskatchewan added a third constraint which strongly affected the development of the project's autonomy. Quite clearly the government's obsession with short-term technological experimentation via the Regional Communication Centre, and the conflict between the objectives set by DNS with those identified by Frontier College, placed the newspaper project run by the Centre and the local participants in a vulnerable, powerless situation. The study concluded that these constraints made it impossible for the Regional Communication Centre and Natotawin to satisfy the government's expectations and suitably serve the needs of the people. Among those recommendations made by the study was the suggestion that communicaty newspaper staff should receive training in basic community development practice, and the application of sound grammatical style and pedagogical techniques to their work. The study recommended that mass media programming in the mid-north region be designed and implemented so as to be compatible with the existing interpersonal communication network, to meet the needs of the northern audience, and to be compatible with the northern cultural context.