Tabloid news and changing times

Tabloid news and changing times

The Slave River Journal is suffering a turnover of staff and unfortunately that means a few more errors than usual have been cropping up. We apologize for that. If seeing words misspelled or incorrect grammar or style causes you angst, and some people it seems simply loathe any of that, we understand. We don’t like it either.

Normally each story in the Slave River Journal goes through seven or more levels of editing and proofing. Unfortunately, when tried and true staff leave, part of our systems may go with them, and it just takes us a bit of time to get things back on track.

We do strive for excellence. We want to deliver the best possible product we can. We will try to get back on track as soon as possible, so please bear with us.

We now have two new reporters. You will see their styles and perspectives will change the personality of the Slave River Journal. Kyle Gennings, comes from the Timmins area, blackfly country in northern Ontario, and has been part of our SRJ team now for almost two months. Young, keen, capable and more than a little adventuresome – he must be, to come to live in a small isolated town in the northern Canadian bush – one of his first duties was to fly to Fort Chipewyan and stay there a few days to report on the Treaty 8 Chiefs meetings along with Treaty Day celebrations. In a way, sending off a new reporter fresh from journalism school into an unknown situation like that may seem like throwing someone into a coliseum full of hungry lions just for entertainment.

Kyle was understandably unsure of what to expect. I assured him that the people of Fort Chipewyan are friendly, wonderful people and that the Slave River Journal is respected there. So “Be strong, have faith and have fun,” I suggested in a momentary flash of wisdom.

On his return, Kyle observed that having never been in a situation where he was “the only white guy around” and at a meeting where “the white man” was being described in a less than favourable light, it was a bit disconcerting.

I pointed out that he was very likely not type-cast negatively as a white man, but rather regarded curiously as a tall, young, skinny white guy with a camera who wears his pants really low that nobody in town knows – as would be the case in any small town.  I suggested that if one is honest and respectful and prove to be trustworthy, that person will be respected and received well. And that, especially with a reporter, is really what getting along in any small community is all about. There goes that wisdom thing again. Thirty five years running a newspaper – I must have learned a thing or two.

Last week Kyle wrote a column about his Fort Chipewyan experience, particularly the heartfelt moment when the gathered chiefs all committed substantive funding to cancer research thanks to the inspiration of the Cut Rock Walk. After writing for a while he said, “this is weird, saying what you think and not being objective.” Many people assume reporters reflect a bias in how they present a story.

That is not what we do, or at least strive not to do. Rupert Murdock has no tabloid influence here. Running a newspaper in small towns with a diversity of views, some of them quite polarized, in a way that appeals to a range of expectations can be a challenge.

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