Despite the gloom and doom that our industry is in supposedly in decline, it is an exciting time to be in the newspaper business in Smithers and B.C.
When The Interior News was founded 113 years ago, there was no radio, no television and no internet.
The paper was the source of news—local, regional, national and international—for the Bulkley Valley.
As the media landscape evolved, new technologies became ubiquitous and access to sources of non-local news became abundant.
The focus of The Interior News rightfully narrowed. It did not make sense for us to be in the non-local news business anymore, but who else was going to provide in-depth, professional coverage of the stories that matter right here at home.
With the internet, that is changing again. You might say we are coming full-circle. With the improvements to internet communication infrastructure, the maturing of the web, our vast network of Black Press newspapers and expanding digital division our online version is once again becoming the source for all levels of news.
In the New Year we intend to keep improving that online presence.
Our print edition, of course, will remain local, local, local and, in 2020, we also intend to keep improving our local content.
On the broader journalistic front, it is disconcerting that Canada remains 18th on the Reporters Without Borders (RWB) World Press Freedom Index.
Although 18 out of 180 may seem pretty good, we must remember the vast majority of those countries are not democracies or not fully democratic.
When comparing we must compare ourselves with our peers and the fundamental principles of press freedom, not dictatorships and illiberal democracies. Against other Western democracies—with the notable exception of the United States which has fallen to 48th—Canada is failing.
Prior to the introduction of the draconian Bill C-51 in 2015, which used national security as an excuse to curtail the free flow of information, Canada ranked eighth. That year we plummeted to 22nd. Our ranking rebounded slightly with the 2017 enactment of the Journalist Sources Protection Act, but despite Justin Trudeau’s promises for openness and accountability we still constantly face unreasonable roadblocks to obtaining information that should be public by default and undue pressure to self-censor.
“A VICE News reporter is still fighting a court order compelling him to hand over communications with his source to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, while another journalist for The Independent is facing criminal and civil charges for his coverage of protests against a hydroelectric project in Labrador,” the RWF ranking reports.
This year we will also continue to push back against that deterioration of press freedom to the best of our ability.
In short, we are looking forward to the challenges of better serving you, our readers, in the coming year.
Happy New Year from all of us at The Interior News.