Turning inner space into outer space

August 5, 2015

Kamloops has a chance to show the way in a post-print world

Despite being blessed with many wonderful attributes, Kamloops maintains the dubious distinction of being the largest city in Canada without a daily newspaper. It’s been that way for about a year and a half now.

The bright side, if you can call it that, is that this city of about 80,000 souls has become a laboratory for the post-print future.

When The Daily News existed, Kamloops residents could read eight newspapers a week if you included the twice-a-week Kamloops This Week. When the daily folded, KTW upped its game to three a week, but that still left us five issues short.

That’s not just a gap in news coverage, but also a gap in revenue. Between subscribers and advertisers, a bunch of money was left on the table. Certainly, the remaining media did their best to gobble it up, but others also moved in sensing they could get a piece of the pie.

InfoTel, a company formerly known for phone books, changed the name of its website to InfoNews. It has similar sites in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton. Kelowna-based Castanet expanded its Kamloops coverage — joining spots on its website for Okanagan cities. KamloopsBCNow — a site patterned after KelownaNow — opened shop.

All are notable for being based outside of Kamloops, and for lacking depth in their news coverage. If they are examples of the future of journalism, I can only hope that competition and improved cash flows eventually encourage them to invest in better quality.

And now we have NewsKamloops — a stand-alone news site created from scratch by people who live in the community. Every aspect of the site has Kamloops written all over it. The best part, though, is that the owners are making a serious effort at providing good journalism.

I hope the people of Kamloops give this site a chance and don’t let it slip away. We need journalism that not only informs us about the community, but makes us feel a part of it. Good journalism takes the extra step of explaining how things work so we can form opinions and build consensus.

At the same time, I hope success for NewsKamloops doesn’t come at the expense of the other media in Kamloops. As far as I’m concerned, a variety of voices makes us stronger.

NewsKamloops will no doubt go through some growing pains, and they had better be serious about listening to suggestions from readers. Right off the bat, I have a few suggestions for improving the design.

Also, I wish they would stop referring to it as a newspaper site. Why weigh yourself down with a tired old metaphor? The future is coming whether we like it or not — so we might as well embrace it. In Kamloops, we have an opportunity to show how that’s done.