Will KTW changes prove to be winning formula?

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
December 1, 2017 - 6:54am Updated: December 1, 2017 - 12:03pm

KAMLOOPS — 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 schedule 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.