Thursday, November 8, 2012

Winnipeg Metro: Small, with big plans

Two weeks ago Paul Samyn, editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, told Creative Communications students, “Don’t ask me where the newsroom is going to be in 12 months.”

His caution is probably commendable, given that the business in which he has been newly promoted is going through dramatic changes.

Contrast it, though, with the confident one-word assertion today to those same students by Elisha Dacey, editor of Winnipeg Metro.

When I asked what her paper will be like in a year, she said, “Bigger.”

Dacey hopes to increase her full-time reporting staff by 50 per cent next year.

OK, that means growing to three reporters from two.

But it’s still growth, a feature unfortunately absent from many news media business plans these days.

Dacey and Alison Zulyniak, the paper’s advertising sales manager, gave an upbeat presentation about Winnipeg’s year-and-a-half-old newspaper.

Metro Canada, of which Winnipeg Metro is a part, is 90 per cent owned by Torstar Corp., the parent company of the Toronto Star. Stockholm-based Metro International, which originated the international chain, owns 10 per cent.

Key to the success of the Metro papers, in addition to free distribution of the print edition, is small, low-cost staff, lots of short stories, and bright pictures and ads, all designed to appeal to free-spending but time-short 18- to 34-year-olds.

Oh, and the editor writes a ton of stories and takes pictures. “This is the best job I’ve literally ever had,” Dacey said.

Next year we’ll invite her and her colleague Zulyniak back to tell us how much bigger Winnipeg Metro has become.