Friday, October 2, 2009

TV is dead. Long live the news company?

The death of a small-market Manitoba TV station is an opportunity for a newspaper -- and a test of how serious it really is about transforming itself into a virtual medium.

CKX in Brandon (pop. 40,000) is not worth even $1, a couple of media companies have decided. So it's off the air.

Remember when TV was going to put newspapers out of business? Didn't quite work out that way.

Now the Brandon Sun, the established local daily newspaper, is free to hire a bunch of the dumped journalists and other employees and set up a killer local-news website that would make Western Manitobans forget CKX. All it takes is money, a bit of brains and a lot of will.

The Brandon Sun is owned by the Winnipeg Free Press. Disclosure: I used to make my living at the Free Press, and I still write occasional book reviews for it.

On Oct. 1 Margo Goodhand, editor of the Free Press, told first year students in the Creative Communications program at Red River College, "We aren't a newspaper. We are a news company." I am going to count her welcome statement as an entry in my campaign to rename newspapers, getting rid of the p-word.

Will this news company, whose sales of its dead-tree edition are plummeting, embrace the future and set up a great local news site for Brandon?

Because somebody will.