I can’t remember when I first got the idea into my head that I was going to change the world, but I’ve always believed that by doing good things, and working hard, anything is possible. I’ve never been one to accept things as they are and I often dream of a world free of war, greed and hatred; a world where the air quality doesn’t need to be monitored, where forests are treasured, not destroyed; a world where compassion and intellectual pursuit flourish.
In my younger years I thought I could find answers in the philosophers and studied Socrates and Descartes, Nietzsche and Kant. But I learned that they too were searching for answers and hadn’t found any solutions. The world was far more complex than I’d ever imagined. I read about different societies – their histories, cultures and beliefs – and learned that in democracy, more than any other system of government, debate and discussion must prevail, otherwise corruption can and will spread like a disease. I saw how conviction could take the place of wisdom, how poverty pushed young adults directly into the hands of powerful tyrants. I cried when hatred destroyed innocent lives, when the communists destroyed the temples in Tibet. But I learned to find comfort in human emotion – in the love and compassion – that thrives despite the turmoil in our world.
I noticed that women were influencing decisions both in the home and in society more than ever before. I also noticed that men and women collected information differently; that women often wanted more context and narrative with their information than the dry facts that men seem to prefer. I began to realise that most of the news I read simply delivered facts without giving the narrative or context that I needed and used to make my judgements. I’d often read about events in the news and wonder what part of the story was missing – and what the real story was.
I decided to create a newspaper that was different, one that focused on the stories around the facts and delivered information in a narrative format that would allow readers to see clearly the position of the writer and make their own judgements about what they read. I wanted to carry columns that would make the reader think, and also make them feel. I believed that by producing a newspaper that caused debate and stimulated discussion, I could, in some small way, help reinforce democracy in this country.
Without doing any research, or creating a business plan, I set about publishing an independent newspaper in Toronto – one of the most competitive and saturated newspaper markets in the country. Despite that, I succeeded, and The Women’s Post is now going into our third year. We owe much of our success to the writers and advertisers who also share in the vision of this paper; they are all people who want to make a difference.
There were days when I felt like giving up, days when I wasn’t sure how we were going to make payroll, or if we’d even be in business the next week. I leaned on my husband a lot back then and he was always encouraging, but what carried me through the tough times were the letters and e-mail I received from readers. Like the woman who wrote me last week and told me about all the sadness she had in her life, but a column that she had read had given her hope and she knew that no matter what life threw at her, she still had more ahead to look forward to. It’s letters like hers that make me realise that The Women’s Post is making a difference.
Like a small child, this newspaper has gone from crawling to walking – and we are now ready to run. We are printing 50,000 copies in Toronto, with another 10,000 in Vancouver, and aiming to put another 25,000 into Calgary. We have acquired some of the best writers in the country and it is time for us to expand further, to reach out to more people, to create more debate and discussion.
But this will require key people to help us get to the next stage. We are forming an advisory board and are looking for people who share our vision of a world where compassion, debate, discussion and intellectual growth can flourish. If you would like to become involved with The Women’s Post please give me a call or send me an email.
Sarah Thomson’s e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org