EDITORIAL – Will changes at Kamloops This Week prove to be winning formula?

(Image: CFJC Today)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

A SCANT four days after a massive swap-and-shutdown of daily and community papers by Canadian media giants Torstar and Postmedia, the virus that has the newspaper industry on its knees has struck closer to home, though not with such a virulent strain.

Symptoms of the malady afflicting the industry include dropping revenues and matching cost cutting.

The Torstar-Postmedia deal that was announced Monday involves closing a couple of dozen community and daily newspapers across the country, ranging from the popular 24Hours in Vancouver to the 153-year-old Barrie Examiner in Ontario and other venerable publications.

Close to 300 jobs will be lost.

In Kamloops, the news isn’t nearly so bad — Kamloops This Week announced yesterday it will cut its publishing scheduled from three times a week to two, beginning in the new year.

The paper said no jobs will be lost, and offered the reassurance that the move amounts to an amalgamation of the Tuesday and Thursday editions into a new Wednesday edition.

Nevertheless, the scaling down of the publishing schedule is an admitted measure to save money, and any lessening in access to local news is bad news. We’ve seen enough of that over the years as the Kamloops Daily Sentinel, Kamloops Daily News, and various smaller publications have flourished and then folded.

One might think competitors would harbor some satisfaction in the KTW decision, but that’s not the way it works. Though the media compete with each other hammer and tongs, journalists are like a big family — when one hurts, they all hurt, and so do communities.

I well remember the sincere expressions of sympathy from Kamloops This Week when the Daily News went under close to four years ago.

The good news is that KTW also announced it will ditch its unattractive old website design and launch what it calls “a vibrant new” website. Having written right here only two weeks ago about the paper’s need to do just that, and to increase its social media presence, I’m heartened to hear it.

On the same day KTW announced it will reduce its publishing schedule, long-time reporter Cam Fortems wrote a column announcing he’s leaving the business for a new job. In the column, he espoused the need for newspapers to be subsidized by taxes if they’re to survive.

That’s not going to happen, at least not with the current federal government — Heritage Minister Melanie Joly has said the Liberals won’t “bail out” the industry but will support innovation, experimentation and the transition to digital publishing.

Hopefully, newspapers can find those innovative new ways to win back their audiences, and maybe KTW is on the way to the right formula.

About Mel Rothenburger (9224 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on EDITORIAL – Will changes at Kamloops This Week prove to be winning formula?

  1. I’m not sure how much the changes at KTW will affect anything.Considering the total lac of coverage by them of many major conferences and meetings in town and at TRU.
    Who doesn’t cover David Suzuki or Maude Barlow ??? Maybe the blame for said lac can be laid at the feet of a concentrated industry own and run by wealthy conservative corporations.
    We !The people need independent reliable sources of real ,transparent unredacted news.I haven’t seen a lot of that kind of coverage for some time now.”Fake news” has been with us for years but at least there were other sources of objective /honest news that we could rely on.I believe that those days are almost gone.
    Thanks Mel for your valued editorial /up front style.

  2. Bailing out the industry would be a really bad idea. If you’ve read Rafe Mair’s take on the big newspaper industry, you’ll know he was also against bailouts… because that puts them in the pocket of government. A position that makes objective journalism difficult at best and not much different to being in the pocket of large industry (Big Oil for example). He explained it as only Rafe could, in this piece:

    In spite of being an old curmudgeon, he seemed to manage the transition to digital just fine. Most of us have done it. The fact that I’m commenting here and have never actually ‘written’ a letter to the editor of any print newspaper says something too.

    One could make the argument that the digital domain opens the door for Fake News, and they’d largely be right. But I have to question whether Fake News doesn’t already exist in the printed media (of course, it does!)… so what’s the difference?

    The difference is, we have more choices in the digital world. Which is why this site is so important Mel! I might not always agree with your editorial opinions, but I ALWAYS value the existence of this site! Being in the news business as long as you have, you recognize the true value of maintaining this digital presence. It isn’t just the face-value of the content, but the fact that it is (we believe) free of influence. I just wish Joe Public recognized the deeper value too.

  3. Lawrence Beaton // December 1, 2017 at 7:00 AM // Reply

    Great little paper for three days. Glad to hear that jobs will be safe, but we heard that said that NL radio before as well. In order to keep the paper,going, how much of it is made up of advertising. Is KTW going to produce a bigger paper on the two days, it publishes, roughly speaking 31 pages at the present time. And yes, I realize that the paper is surviving because of the advertising that it contains, and yes I know that we can find out the news on the internet or TV. Bottom line is, the KTW is a fantastic little community newspaper, with wonderful writers, and a fabulous little paper to read after we plough through the advertisements. It would be a shame for a city of around ninety thousand to have no paper. If I am not mistaken, our kissing cousin Prince George with a smaller population of around seventy thousand, still has a major paper in the form of the Prince George Citizen, and I would imagine that the city still has a community newspaper, what are the differences in the demographics, why is PG successful in running two newspapers and we are not? They have internet and they have CKPG

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