Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

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Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

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When we moved to the Okanagan in 1997, one of my thoughts was that I might catch on as a freelancer with the Daily Courier after I retired from my day job (I'd worked as a reporter and, for a couple of years, an editor between 1970 and 1979). I actually did catch on for a while, with the Courier's Westside Weekly, but coming up on three years ago I was downsized.

When I was mid-career, the policy makers were worried about competition in journalism, and that's still an issue, but I can't help but think, as the Daily Courier and the Capital News battle it out and beat each other to death, that some consolidation in the print media is called for in the Central Okanagan and would be good for the short- and mid-term viability of our local print media. Whether there is a long-term future for print media seems to be an open question, but that will be decided after my time.

I suspect that Black Press and the Capital News would love to acquire the Daily Courier. I sometimes think the Courier has lost its way, so I don't see it attempting to acquire in reverse. I myself would support a consolidation of print media in the Central Okanagan, and based on their respective ongoing evidence, would predict that either would put out a decent product despite what would nominally be a monopoly.

Lots more one could say on this topic. Any takers?
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grammafreddy
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Re: Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

Post by grammafreddy »

Diversity in the print media is desirable. Small towns with only one newspaper only get limited one-sided news and have fewer staff to cover events. They rely on free contributions from the public and organizations for their version of what's happening or has happened. In order to get the paid advertising from all levels of government, they do not rock the boat - especially where covering city council meetings.
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Nebula
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Re: Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

Post by Nebula »

Print media is in trouble. Ad revenues are not what they once were. The web is overtaking print media for ad spend. The money is not there, so cutbacks are the norm. Newsrooms are thinner.
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grammafreddy
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Re: Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

Post by grammafreddy »

Agreed - is there a solution for them? A workaround?
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Nebula
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Re: Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

Post by Nebula »

That's the $64,000 question. Some newspapers are doing okay but a lot are struggling.

I suspect newspaper will be few and far between in a decade. Blogs and news websites will rule.
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grammafreddy
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Re: Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

Post by grammafreddy »

Nebula wrote:That's the $64,000 question. Some newspapers are doing okay but a lot are struggling.

I suspect newspaper will be few and far between in a decade. Blogs and news websites will rule.


Can a news website generate enough revenue to pay staff?
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Captain Awesome
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Re: Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

Post by Captain Awesome »

grammafreddy wrote:Can a news website generate enough revenue to pay staff?


Well, Castanet has a number of people on staff, I doubt they're all volunteers...
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Nebula
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Re: Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

Post by Nebula »

There's the answer. However, not all news sites make it.

Then again, there's the Huffington Post.
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SassySasquatch
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Re: Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

Post by SassySasquatch »

I delivered papers for the Courier so my impartiality lacks to say the least, nevertheless, I also always enjoyed reading the Capital.

I hope they both survive. After they evolve.
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Grand Pooh-bah
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Re: Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

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I think that our two significant newspapers will not survive as they are. Our market is barely big enough for one. At the very least, the Daily Courier will have to cut back to 6 or 5 days a week (drop Monday and maybe Tuesday).

On another point, I see that the Courier's (a certain columnist's) latest project is to promote the B.C. Conservative party and leader. Journalism was always so (biased, that is), but our news media has been getting away from more-obvious bias over the years. Why would the practitioners revert now?
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SassySasquatch
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Re: Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

Post by SassySasquatch »

These newspapers have thrived with a 100,000 fewer population (circa 1980's). Granted we certainly are now thrust into the telecommunications age, they need to evolve into something that you just need that extra information, whatever the heck that is...

But people always want to know.
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Re: Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

Post by Glacier »

occasional thoughts wrote:On another point, I see that the Courier's (a certain columnist's) latest project is to promote the B.C. Conservative party and leader. Journalism was always so (biased, that is), but our news media has been getting away from more-obvious bias over the years. Why would the practitioners revert now?

Since when have we demanded columnists be unbiased, and what is wrong with writing an opinion piece? Isn't that what columnists have always done?
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Grand Pooh-bah
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Re: Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

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We don't. But said columnist also covered the visit of the Conservative leader for the news pages, and I felt it had no credibility, having provided puffery (rather than any critical or even-handed analysis of the B.C. Conservatives) both before and after in his column.
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Re: Will Kelowna's newspapers (both) survive?

Post by Homeownertoo »

Having worked at a number of newspapers for the better part of 30 years, including the Daily Courier in its glory days (as if), I suppose I should have an opinion. And this is it: Most newspapers, and most especially those that are going to paid-viewing online as a way to halt their revenue decline, are still lost in a media world that is leaving newsprint behind. Yeah, there will always be hold-in-your-hand newspapers, but there are fewer today than yesterday, and there will be fewer still tomorrow.

Like virtually all journalists, I have watched with interest and not a little concern the decline of newspapers, which actually began in the pre-Internet era of the '80s with the explosion, following a two-decade hiatus, of magazine publishing. As today, the problem newspapers began to face in those years was that of keeping their advertising audience. But it is a far more serious challenge today, because the nature of media and communication has changed. When newspapers ruled, they did so with an authority that justified what was, essentially, a one-way, top-down flow of information. That remains their MO. Unfortunately for them, the Internet has changed all that. Even more unfortunate, too many still don't really understand that readers accustomed to the Internet are not satisfied with being told the news, or one version of the news.

I didn't realize, myself, the kind of change required until after I retired and, back in Kelowna, encountered Castanet. What I discovered was a media tool that offered everything (or almost) that the mainstream media can't or won't: news; commentary; advertising; a multi-directional flow of information; an ability to hold politicians answerable, at least during election campaigns, and much more.

So why haven't the mainstream media picked up on it? Why do they stick to old formulas that are long past their best-before date? The answer is simple, as I discovered in many discussions with other journalists about Castanet -- journalistic integrity or conceit, take your pick. Castanet lacks the one thing they do best: the journalistic expertise of newspapers. Castanet (and many other online news websites) cannot generate balanced news you can (sort of) trust. All it does is regurgitate news from another source, without any real editing or filtering. And for journalists familiar with the editing process that happens in quality newspapers, it therefore lacks credibility.

Whatever. It ignores the reality that people today expect to be involved in the information business, either in blogs, in commenting on the news, in asking their own questions and raising their own issues, and hearing from a broader range of experts rather than just those chosen by journalists. To exist in this world, newspapers will need to radically change their model, and charging for online content as the NY Times, G&M or National Post expect to do, doesn't quite fill the bill. Castanet is one model, at least for smaller to medium sized communities. There will be others.

As for the Courier and Cap News, I doubt the former will exist in anything resembling its current form, a decade from now. Its circulation remains what it was when I was there 30 years ago, despite selling in a much larger market. Many who work there feel the same. That may leave room for the Cap News, simply because there will always be some demand for a paper-based advertising outlet. Or maybe they will both survive by merging. I have no problem with that or fear for what that means for news gathering and disseminating. As Net news grows, it will become a non-issue.
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