Every time there’s a cutback at a newspaper, my heart bleeds a little.
Every time there’s a cutback at a newspaper that used to be mine, my heart breaks.
My former employer, Kamloops This Week, announced a few days ago it would be killing one of its thrice-weekly editions.
Our little paper will no longer be publishing on Sunday.
I cried. Oh, how I cried, as I remembered the premiere editions we put out — me as sports editor, Dale Steeves on politics, Ed Mehrer on the cops, Elsbeth Duurtsema-Mehrer on entertainment, Jason Payne and Brendan Halper shooting the lights out on anyone in the province.
We couldn’t be stopped. We not only put out great papers, we were great as teams and all those folks I remain proud to call friends and former teammates.
Ed posted this on his Twitter account in reply to my post: ‘Wow that’s sad about KTW going down to two days per week. I remember there was talk when we were there of 5 days a week. Sad.‘
We were that good. We were making that much money.
The current editor of KTW, Chris Foulds, writes a blog and bemoaned the death of the Sunday edition. He been awaiting the announcement for months, knowing it was happening at other papers in the Cariboo Press chain.
He was even on vacation when word came down.
My dearest friend, Dale Bass, had to help the editorial staff handle the shock. She had just had her heart broken.
When the bean counters make their decisions to cut back or close a newspaper, they’re usually not around to see the fallout.
From reporters to editors and from ad designers to sales staff, people care about the papers they produce.
We have bled, we have sweated and we have cried over the newsprint and ink that ends up in a recycling bin, at the bottom of a birdcage or flying aimlessly around the downtown, caught up in a stiff breeze.
We have informed, educated and enlightened the people who vote, the people who shop, the people who care about the communities in which they live.
And we are tossed aside, sometimes with a severance cheque, sometimes with a pat on the back, sometimes with an email saying ‘you’re no longer needed.’
I sat and poured my heart out on Foulds’ blog, recounting my six years under the banner of KTW and letting that editor and his staff know they are not alone in their fight.
On Twitter, I’ll rail against newspaper cutbacks and the snobbery of those who pretend to be journalists. I wish I could do more.
To Foulds I wrote that a financially viable transition to online journalism will save jobs. But if that isn’t undertaken, what of the communities who lose their newspaper.
One need only look at the MP spending scandal in the United Kingdom to see what effect good journalism can have. The Daily Telegraph has proven that compelling stories sells newspapers.
So that is where newspapers must go: strong, investigative journalism. The surface stories found at city council — the ones that will fill a five-inch hole — are necessary evils, but what lies beyond. What if we start scratching the surface?
Will a newspaper here in Canada support the kind of journalism triumped by the Daily Telegraph?
Or, as Bob Grainger told us at the Cariboo Press editorial conference in 1998, are reporters just filling the space around the ads?