October 06, 2016 - 8:30 AM
KAMLOOPS - As Kamloops residents watched another source of news close down last week, it may be a sign the city's media industry is settling down.
Since 2012 the Kamloops media has shown wild instability, but Canadian Association of Journalism board member and Kamloops This Week reporter Dale Bass says the recent closure of News Kamloops and inactivity with KamloopsBCNow could be a sign the market is evening out.
“It’s not as vibrant an industry as it used to be,” she says. “Any media outlet that goes online realizes in a couple years if it’s going to work.”
Since 2012 there's been a reshuffling of media in the city. CBC Radio opened up an office in the autumn of 2012, while the city's main newspaper, the Kamloops Daily News, shut down in January 2014. Then three news websites with paid journalists covering daily news started.
Now one of those site, NewsKamloops, has closed and a second, KamloopsBCNow, doesn’t have a Kamloops based journalist.
The city still has five major media outlets, each with multiple journalists covering news on a daily basis: CFJC on TV, CHNL talk radio, the CBC Kamloops morning show, the city’s only major newspaper Kamloops This Week and ourselves at iNFOnews. Smaller niches are covered by community papers or websites, like The Omega at Thompson Rivers University, Armchair Mayor or the Downtown Echo.
Bass isn’t surprised by this reconsolidation as web enterprises face difficulties keeping their doors open.
“Print, for example, has high costs. Websites don’t have as high a cost,” she says. “I think economically it drove a lot of people online, but it’s hard to monetize a website.”
That’s where Mel Rothenburger went. The former editor of the Kamloops Daily News started up his Armchair Mayor website in 2008 as a place for his opinion pieces. In the summer of 2015, just over a year after the Daily News closed, he joined Claude Richmond, a former Radio NL station manager, in launching NewsKamloops, which closed down Friday as they realized it was unsustainable.
“I think, quite honestly, printed newspapers are probably in the last phase of their era,” he says. “The future of news is electronic, it is the internet, but it’s still a challenging proposition to operate within that market.”
While news reading habits change, some trends aren’t ideal, Rothenburger says.
“Many, many people are getting their news through Facebook and Twitter,” he says. “If I had my way I’d like to see the continuance of daily newspapers and strong newsrooms in radio and TV and see them supplemented by the internet. Unfortunately people only have so much time in the day.”
In such a crowded media market in Kamloops, one or more was bound to get elbowed out, Bass says. The key for online media enterprises is to find a business plan that can last and a market that has room.
“In recent times there’s too many of them popping up,” she says.
However the loss of a news outlet, any news outlet, is rarely a good thing because it means the loss of another voice in the community.
“When you take away that voice, that’s one fewer interpretation of what’s happening,” she says.
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