Thursday, October 25, 2012

ATriple-E Winnipeg Free Press

E-journalism, enterprise and engagement will form the core of the Winnipeg Free Press, its new editor said today.

Paul Samyn, who took over the top job in September, told Red River College Creative Communications students that the paper is changing the structure of its newsroom to reflect how its readers live.

One consequence is that, although he knows what he wants the paper to be like in six months, “don’t ask me where the newsroom is going to be in 12 months.”

The three E’s? No, this is not the Triple- E Senate – elected, effective and equal – of 1980s Canadian constitutional debates. (What happened to that, anyway? Our Senate is still none of those things.)

E-journalism is online content, more of it with more diversity in material and style, content that people will pay for.

Enterprise: “stuff that people can’t get anywhere else.” Samyn cited today’s Free Press/ Probe Research poll on attitudes to Manitoba politicians. He also mentioned Gordon Sinclair Jr.’s column and the weekly entertainment and listings planned for the broadsheet replacement for Uptown starting next Thursday.

Engagement? That includes events at the Free Press News Café such as a public invitation to meet and chat with Olympic soccer bronze medalist Desiree Scott.

And those recent layoffs of journalists, many of whom had preceded Samyn’s audience as RRC students: the “layoff situation,” in Samyn’s words?

“It forced us to re-examine everything we would do and dragged us into changes we wouldn’t have made before.”

Now Samyn, along with everyone else in Canadian journalism, is watching The Globe and Mail’s paywall experiment that started this week, hoping for a key to unlock the vault of online revenue, the stuff that business proprietors’ dreams are made of.

All this is consistent with much of the commentary at a recent Canadian Journalism Foundation session that Sylvia Stead, the Globe’s public editor, described as “a thought-provoking and positive night for journalists.”

Today Samyn was optimistic about students’ prospects in journalism. Multimedia skills are key, of course – far from the “keyboarding” that he studied in CreComm before graduating in 1988 and landing a job on the Free Press as a business writer.

So what did the students think today?

They asked good questions politely.

One asked how they are supposed to choose a career path if Samyn can’t see a year ahead. He responded that optimism; multiple-platform skills and persistence are the key to success in journalism.

I certainly hope so. That’s what we teach.


  1. I would hardly consider the Probe poll as propriety material of the WFP

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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