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Time to fade away

Apr 25, 2024 | Featured, The View From Here - Walter Kish

Back in the year 2000 when I wrote my first weekly column for a newly redesigned and revamped New Pathway (Noviy Shliakh) newspaper, I would not have guessed that I would be doing so for the next twenty-four years. And yet, that is what has come to pass, and this column will sadly mark the last of my weekly ramblings.

I have reached that stage in life where my priorities need to change, with less of my time and effort going into serving the Ukrainian community, which I have been doing now for over fifty years, and more towards personal pursuits and enjoying what remains of my time here on this earth. In particular, I am looking forward to dedicating more of my time towards being a “dido” (grandfather) to my three grandchildren, as well as doing more writing in the form of my memoirs as well as perhaps trying my hand at writing a novel or two. From time to time, I may even be moved to write an article for this paper, when the muse so strikes me.

The world has changed a lot over the decades that I have been involved with this paper, with popular media, and journalism in particular, being transformed beyond anything I could have imagined. The Internet has taken over the information domain, and print media has suffered a sharp decline, with many newspapers going under, and those remaining struggling to remain financially viable in a digital age.

Ukrainian newspapers too have been hard hit, with only a few still publishing within the U.S. and Canada, and that only because of significant subsidies from Ukrainian organizations and financial institutions. Fifty years ago, there were dozens of Ukrainian newspapers, magazines and other publications coming out on a regular basis; currently the number still publishing can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Most people now turn invariably to the Internet or social media for their daily or weekly news fix, and sadly, most of them have gotten used to and expect their content to be “free”. The old paradigm or paying for news you can hold in your hand, no longer seems to be viable. Trying to monetize digital content in order to adequately compensate professional journalists for their labours has proven to be a challenge that few publications have been able to overcome. As a result, the quality and integrity of the “news” that one finds on the internet has suffered greatly. Lies, propaganda and disinformation are rampant, as unscrupulous governments, radicals, fanatics and special interest groups have capitalized on the easy access to digital mass media to push their warped ideologies on credulous readers.

Where all this will lead to is problematic and unpredictable, and though I am generally optimistic, I can’t help but be worried about current trends which seem to be leading towards a general “dumbing down” of the average citizen and increasing control over information and news by self-serving corporations, governments and special interest groups. This trend is ominous, as a citizenry that does not have access to a free and vibrant press in whatever form, is easy prey for both ruthless political tyrants as well as unscrupulous corporations.

As a life-long student of history, I still believe that in the long run, society will continue to evolve towards a more democratic, open, egalitarian and just future, however, I am also convinced that we are into some turbulent times before some sense of order and credibility is restored to the news media.

Rest assured that I will continue to actively monitor and comment from time to time on what is going on in this crazy world of ours, but it will be on the schedule of someone who is retired and hopefully spending more time on quiet contemplation.

In parting, I would like to express my gratitude to all the folks within the Ukrainian organizational community that I have had the pleasure to have worked with over the decades, as well as to all my colleagues within the association of Ukrainian Journalists of North America with whom I have shared so many memorable times and conversations. I will miss the camaraderie and intellectual stimulation.

In 1951, General Douglas MacArthur, in his farewell speech before the U.S. Congress, stated “Old soldiers never die, they simply fade away!” I will borrow his words and state that old writers never die, they too simple fade away, and it has come time for me too to fade away!

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