Obituaries: Richard Kenneth ‘Dick’ Wright – April 1, 2024

Richard Kenneth ‘Dick’ Wright, passed away peacefully at Chapman House on Monday April 1, 2024 at the age of 86.

Predeceased by his first wife Anne and second wife Rosanne. Loving father of Debbie Wright (Armen Higgins) and Cindy Wright and father-in-law to Joe Rocha. Proud grandfather of Alyssa Koch, Rebecca (Corey) Budgell, Ryan, Joshua and Madison Rocha and great grandfather of Myles and Wyatt. Fondly remembered by niece Teri May. Predeceased by his parents Kenneth and Grace Wright.

Cremation has taken place. Interment of ashes at a later date at Dresden Cemetery, Dresden, Ontario.

If desired, memorial donations may be made to the Chapman House, Owen Sound.


For several years, Dick and the Saugeen Times carried on ‘conversations’ … some were even printable!  I often referred to him as our “curmudgeon’.

The following is a ‘diatribe’ of foreseeable views that Dick sent and which, in 2016, spoke of what was to be and what has happened in today’s world of news.

Thank you Dick … only one of the pieces that you sent and that we treasure.


Madam Editor:

Please allow me to respond to the feature article “Is The Press Sinking?”
written by Mike Sterling for Canadian Community News.

It is fair to suggest that guys like me (a long-in-the-tooth former newspaper
editor) and the ingenious Mike, represent the one percent of readership who
actually care about such things. However, allow me to elaborate if for no other
reason than to provide a bit of perspective to the subject introduced by your

The news industry truly has had a rough decade. Print readership is steadily
declining, newspapers are closing, and journalists with decades of experience
are being laid off. In response, major newspapers have made considerable
changes. They’re attempting to combat diminishing reader interest by shortening
stories, adding commentary, and most notably, using social media to their

With the meteoric rise of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, many people have claimed that we are entering a new age in which news
must be delivered in 140 characters or fewer.

This, however, is an unfair assessment. In the new age of technology, newspapers
are not sure of how best to respond to many of the challenges they face today.
But tread water they must. Publishers are experimenting with different methods
of keeping readers interested and the news industry generally is working
tirelessly to keep journalism alive and to avoid the aforementioned “sinking”

Thinking about how people use digital space and the way in which content
functions within that space, has been a challenge for the news industry because
that’s not what they’re grounded in. Because they receive the majority of their
profits from ads and subscriptions, some of the most distinguished newspapers in
the land have found themselves strapped for cash.

In 2013, total revenue within the newspaper industry decreased by 2.6 percent, representing over a billion dollars in lost funds. As a result, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today have all experienced major losses, with each of the papers cutting anywhere from 20 to 100 newsroom jobs within the past five months. Often some of the most experienced reporters are the first to be laid off because they have the highest salaries.

It is just the cold climate journalism has become. It’s the grim reality of the business.

From 2006 to 2012, the number of working journalists in the United States and Canada decreased by 19,000, according to the Pew Research Center. This trend seems to be continuing; USA Today’s parent company, Gannet, laid off more than 200 staffers in August. Gannett has also instituted pay walls — an attempt to
gain revenue by preventing Internet users from accessing content without a paid

Despite these efforts, print revenues have continued to decline.

It is interesting to note that USA Today continues to hire but who they are
hiring tends to be people right out of school who know social media.

Many newspapers have also been revising content in order to target a more
specific — and generally younger — audience. The prevalent assumption has been that the general population wants their news delivered in bite sized packages
and given the larger lack of editorial resources, the Associated Press, Reuters,
and The Wall Street Journal have all explicitly told their reporters to write
shorter stories within the past year and a half. They have been told to make
stories shorter and to pay attention to what is hot on social media.

News organizations have repeatedly dictated that the future of journalism is
bleak. They attribute this to the continual dumbing down stories in order to
interest a population with an ever-shrinking attention span. But, in reality, the demand for in-depth reporting remains the same.

The only change is that innovation is the key for newspapers to remain relevant in today’s technologically savvy world where  different audiences may have different interests.

People are also reading longer stories particularly with the development of the
tablet. While there is a lot of content in mobile and social media that is short
there is also a place there for longer kinds of news reporting. Whether it is
read on the tablet or through a link they share in social media, I am optimistic
enough to think that kind of news can exist and have an audience as well.

On Aug. 5, 2013, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos purchased The Washington Post
(referred to by Mike), an act that shook the newspaper industry. He had no
experience in journalism and many questioned his motives for acquiring one of
the largest newspapers in the country. It was later revealed that Bezos was
approached by the paper’s former chairman, Don Graham.

“Don, through an intermediary, approached me and said, ‘Would you be interested
in buying The Washington Post?’ I was very surprised,” Bezos said in an
interview on 60 Minutes. “My first question was, ‘Why would I even be a logical
buyer? I don’t know anything about the news business.’ Don thought that because
the newspaper business is being so disrupted by the Internet, someone who had a
lot of Internet knowledge and technology knowledge could actually be helpful.”

It was clear that the traditional newspaper business model, which relied heavily
upon advertisements, was no longer going to garner much revenue. Businesses are
unlikely to buy print advertisements because print readership has been declining so rapidly. Thus, a new digital focus seems to be the only option. The Bezos’ purchase is part of a larger trend that may well potentially save the newspaper industry.

The new individuals buying media companies have yet to bring about stability but I think people like Jeff Bezos are trying to bring a business perspective. It is obvious that the new owner is trying to make The Washington Post more digital and hopefully to get more people reading online and reading through different applications.

Perhaps some of the most interesting changes within The Washington Post has been the new focus on its website. The first major move has been to offer free online access to subscribers of some local newspapers such as The Dallas Morning News, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Furthermore, in a testament to its new dedication to digital success, The Washington Post launched a design and development office called WPNYC in order to best address some of the problems the paper had with article “viewability.”

In his dissertation, Mike referred to a strategy that relies on artificial intelligence software that offers potential to better design, publish and distribute stories online. If you can marry that technological vantage point with the journalistic vantage point, that’s where the new kind of
innovation and experimentation may come about and succeed.

Times are changing and newspapers must quickly realize that the methods they
employed in the past may be obsolete today. Innovation in the news industry will
involve changing not only the traditional journalism model, but also incorporating changes into its business, technology, and marketing sectors as well. In the upcoming decade, flexibility and a willingness to experiment with new methods, will likely be the factors that determine whether a newspaper survives or falters.

In his concluding paragraph Mike Sterling asked: 1) “Yes, big search engines
like Google and IBM’s Watson can find the written news and even write articles
without human intervention, but will they be superior to The Washington Post’s
(old style) newsroom?” and .2) “Would the Post have been able to break open

My answer to both questions…”Probably not!”

Would I invest in a TRONC-like artificial news feed?…Probably “yes”…in time
and providing I live that long. One thing for sure: I would not like it, because I’m of the old school and printer’s ink still runs through my veins.  Old preferences, like obsolete news editors, die hard!”