Friday, March 06, 2009

Sadly, I've had to give up some of my regular Friday columns, due to cutbacks to the freelance budget at the Times Colonist. I won't be writing for the first Friday of the month anymore.

It's bothering me more than I would have expected, but so it goes. Change always ends up being a positive thing, in my experience, but that's not to say it ever starts out pleasantly.

I've never seen the media industry in such a state. Where's it all going? Nowhere good for the immediate future, and for the industry as it currently exists. But something new will rise from the ashes, and perhaps it's time.

My wish would be for a return to smaller, locally owned media. I never got to experience that during my career, because the Thompson corporation owned all the small papers I was working at in my early years, and since then it's been Southam, Hollinger and Canwest in rapid succession. But I've always thought that would be the model with the most potential for understanding the kind of news that a particular community needs to know.

If there does end up being a fire sale of Canadian media properties, what's stopping a few locals from coming together to start their own media outlet? The business is still profitable for the most part. I can see from the chaos in the industry that things are really going to have to change, but the business of media is far from a lost cause.

People are always going to need information. Communities are always going to need a way for their citizens to talk to each other about issues of shared concern. The Internet is a marvelous place, but it can't meet all our needs. I've always thought the best thing about a good newspaper is that it tells you about things you didn't know you wanted to know about, something that a self-directed Internet news search simply isn't as likely to do.

I've met a lot of young people who don't read any news media. That scares me. But at the same time, I'm as tired of "the news" as anybody else.

Mostly that's because it's the wrong news for me. If it were up to me, I wouldn't choose to be kept up to date on every death, fire, car crash, grotesque act, and tragic turn of event in Canada. I get that I need to know about foreign wars and politics, but surely there's a better way of doing it.

But in between the irrelevant stories, I still find great, compelling, important information in our media. I still love newspapers. So I'm sure hoping that what comes out of all of this crashing about in the industry at the end of the day is more of what's great about it and much, much less of what's not.

Anyway. Hang in for the transformation.


Bernard said...

The transformation is happening and your voice is a strong one that should be part of it.

I have not idea how it will pay.

My personal example was my coverage of the local elections in Victoria - I just set out to get the information for myself and made it available for everyone.

My ex wife Catherine is big into how to make this new media work.



ps You and Paul should come over for dinner, you can see that boy you met in early 2003 that lost some many kids from his kindergarten class that the downsized from two classes to one class. He is a very interesting 11 year old now.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jody,

I've followed your career since you began at the TC and been in the audience when you spoke to CFUW Saanich Peninsula this year and provided a jump start to their attempt to prepare and submit a first resolution. I'm also a CFUW member in Victoria where you spoke also, that time about PEERS.
The Victoria Club is celebrating its Centennial Year and on Sunday, International Women's Day, we are hosting upwards of 850 women at the Farquhar Auditorium at UVic. We've contacted as many women's organizations as we could find and response was amazing. With this many women together at a free event I thought you would want to know about it. Come if you can, celebration begins at 2:30. See

Myrtle Siebert, Centennial Chair