Monday, August 23, 2010

Extra! A newspaper is born!

Check out the homage to Rolling Stone in the logo of this baby newspaper. Photo by John Pura, Red River College

Big-city newspapers may be dying, but some small-town papers are booming.

Selkirk, Manitoba (population 10,000) has sprouted two papers to compete with the weekly Selkirk Journal. All are free distribution, which means that advertising pays the freight.

The recently arrived Selkirk Enterprise contains mostly press releases and "submitted" (free) articles.

Much more interesting is the Selkirk Record, a real weekly paper packed with real community news. Sample headline from Volume 1 Edition 1: "Knife fight behind the Merch".

Publisher Lana Meier and editor Donna Maxwell are refugees from the Journal, which is owned by Sun Media, a Quebecor company. Meier, Maxwell and their band of sisters and brothers plan to start papers in Stonewall (pop. 4,500) and other Manitoba towns.

Good for them.

In addition to new sources of news and advertising in these communities, these new businesses provide jobs and freelancing opportunities for journalists and students.

Most of the news in the Selkirk Record and the Selkirk Journal is written and edited by graduates of the Red River College Creative Communications program. Community papers such as the Journal and its fellow Sun papers have also been reliable sources of work internships.

Perhaps the most interesting area of future competition in Selkirk and Stonewall is online. The new Record has no website yet, preferring to concentrate first on building up its print product -- at least until high-speed Internet service is available in the area.

The Selkirk Journal, though, has begun posting stories to its website several times a day.

Ain't competition great?

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