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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK – Failure to engage.

René J. Roy is an award-winning photojournalist, author and editor-in-chief of the Wreckhouse Weekly news. His next book, sharing new stories and photos from Hurricane Fiona, is due out in September, on the storm’s one year anniversary.

In a first world society that values open communication and democratic participation, it is disheartening to witness a growing trend of local residents and the NL government both failing to respond adequately or in a timely fashion to inquiries from our newspaper. As a platform that serves as a vital link between the community and government, our newspaper strives to facilitate dialogue, address concerns, and uphold the principles of transparency and accountability. However, the lack of response from both hampers our ability to fulfill our role effectively and undermines the foundations of an engaged and informed society. The essence of a thriving democracy lies in the active involvement of citizens in shaping their community’s future and holding their elected representatives accountable. Newspapers provide a platform for residents to voice their concerns, share insights, and seek answers from their government. Through inquiries and information requests, newspapers play a vital role in fostering an informed citizenry and ensuring the government remains transparent and responsive. When local residents fail to respond to our inquiries, it reflects a lack of civic responsibility and engagement within our community. Open dialogue and active participation are essential for a vibrant and inclusive democracy. Residents must recognize the significance of their voices and contributions, as neglecting to respond not only diminishes the power of the press, but also undermines the collective power of the community to effect any real and positive change. Furthermore, when the government fails to respond to newspaper inquiries, it erodes the trust that citizens place in their elected officials. Transparency and accountability are the cornerstones of effective governance, and a responsive government is crucial in upholding these principles. A government that dismisses or ignores inquiries and avoids providing necessary information demonstrates a concerning disregard for the democratic values upon which it should stand. To address this issue, a collaborative effort is required. First and foremost, residents must recognize the importance of their engagement with the media and actively respond to inquiries and requests for information. By doing so, they contribute to a more informed and participatory society. You simply can’t get the grease if nobody knows about the squeaky wheel, and voters are stronger at effecting change if they work together, instead of shouting online into the maelstrom of social media, where facts are too often easily ignored or outright manipulated to shape a particular narrative or simply to incite a response. It’s called rage baiting, and it needs to stop. It might draw attention, but that doesn’t make it effective or respectable. No doubt Meta enjoys it, but do you find it works? Our experience suggests otherwise. All levels of government should clear channels of communication and responsiveness to newspaper inquiries. Implementing transparent and efficient processes will foster trust, enhance accountability, and demonstrate a genuine commitment to serving the needs of the populace. A thriving democracy relies on the synergy between engaged citizens and a responsive government. It is my firm belief that the growing lack of response from both local residents and political leaders hinders our collective progress and weakens the foundations of democracy. Only together can we foster a strong culture of engagement, democratic values, and ensure that the voices of the voters are heard, respected, and integrated into the decision-making process. It is only through active participation that we can forge a future that truly reflects the needs and aspirations of our province and society.

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