The Kamloops Daily News is closing.
After more than 80 years of publishing in Kamloops, the newspaper will cease operations within the next 60 days.
On Monday, Jan. 6, Glacier Media, parent company of the Daily News, served notice under Section 54 of the BC Labour Code to Unifor, representing unionized staff at the newspaper.
In an interview with KTW, Daily News publisher Tim Shoults reiterated the point made in the original press release announcing the closure — it is economic.
“This was certainly not our first option by any stretch of the imagination,” Shoults said, noting efforts to save the paper from closure simply could not be realized.
When asked if there were options other than closure and whether there were any parties interested in buying the newspaper, Shoults said he could not speak on that issue as Glacier Media and the union are still in negotiations on how and when the Daily News will be shuttered.
Shoults said 43 full-time and 12 part-time employees will lose their jobs, in addition to a number of drivers and carriers.
He said employees will receive counselling as needed and have been told they will be considered for jobs that open in other Glacier-owned newspapers.
Charles Hays, a journalism professor at Thompson Rivers University, said the closure is symptomatic of changes in the industry.
“And the Daily has done a lot of things, so we hear, to try and keep up, but they haven’t managed to find that magic formula.”
Hays said the Daily‘s circulation dropping to about 12,500 was a harbinger of the future.
“With one paper in eight or one paper in nine people going out in the broader Kamloops region, to have fewer than 13,000 copies going out to 100,000 people, you can’t survive on that.”
Hays noted the Daily News‘ online presence had improved through the years.
But, he said, to have a chance at success, a newspaper “has to have a strong multimedia presence. They need to keep it up every day. They need to know the news cycle is shrunk. They need to put up video and audio and links. It takes a lot more work.”
Those skills are the ones his faculty is teaching its students, Hays said, noting when he graduated, “I could write a story — on a manual typewriter — and knew my way around a dark room a bit.”
Today’s students are learning to write and do layout, but are also learning about audio, video, photography and social media.
With graduates now working for the Kamloops Daily News, Alan Bass, a journalism instructor at Thompson Rivers University, said he is sad to see them lose their jobs.
However, he added, a newspaper closure is not unusual anymore.
“It’s a brutal economic environment for newspapers now and it’s hard to compete in Kamloops.”
While some may question why universities continue to educate students to enter journalism, Bass said there is still a need for them.
“The world of news is morphing, evolving, changing into something else,” he said. “And our graduates can go into new fields — communications, public relations, social media, many options. As a journalism professor, I have my eye on preparing students for these new opportunities.”
Kamloops This Week publisher Kelly Hall was surprised to learn of the closure.
“It was very surprising to hear of the impending closure of a great competitor in the Kamloops Daily News. Media in general are challenged on a daily basis. You have to look closely at your business model and you have to move quickly when you are faced with challenges,” Hall said.
“The Daily News has been a strong community partner and will be missed. I feel for the employees and their families as they go through this sad time.
“Over the years, we have been very competitive in all aspects of gathering news and providing a viable option for readers and advertisers. You will continue to see Kamloops This Week grow along with our community.”
Kamloops Chamber of Commerce president Bob Dieno said the paper’s closure is “a pretty big thing,” but acknowledged local businesses have other and better advertising options.
“Twenty years ago, there were two options — radio and newspaper,” he said. “But, I get three or four emails regularly from different publications — magazines, radio, online — options that are targeted to different markets.”
In his own business, Nu-Tech Fire and Safety, Dieno rarely advertises in the newspaper.
“And Kamloops Daily News had no web presence, so we haven’t been able to use that as an advertising tool.”
Dieno pointed to the economic downturn of 2008 as a watershed moment for local advertising decisions, with businesses cutting back on spending.
“That mindset hasn’t changed, either, and I don’t they it ever will,” he said. “But, Kamloops isn’t supporting this paper and it’s a sad day.”
Dieno said he reads newspapers every day at work and also listens to the radio for local news.
For national and international news, he refers to the Internet, having a Canadian aggregate news site as his home page.
“My 16-year-old daughter never reads a newspaper,” Dieno said. “The only time she has is once when she knew there was a picture of her in it and once when she had to cut some things out for school.”
Kamloops Coun, Pat Wallace has been a Kamloops Daily News reader since the paper was a twice-a-week publication on the North Shore.
“I know newspapers across Canada are suffering,” Wallace said.
“People are using their computers far more, even to read the paper. I buy my paper and I’ve never gone online. I buy it because, to my mind, it’s to support the community you live in.
“But, not everyone feels that way and I’m sorry for the people that are losing their jobs. That’s got to be a real kick — especially in a smaller-sized town.”
Wallace said she liked the Daily News‘ the mix of hard news with smaller pieces that might focus on non-profit groups or family stories.
“I hate to see a paper fold. I hate the negative message it sends and I hate the thought of people losing their jobs,” Wallace said.
“I can honestly say I’m going to miss this paper.”
Here is the text of the original press release issued by Glacier Media:
The Kamloops Daily News is going to be ceasing publication after more than 80 years.
Today Glacier Media, the parent company of the Daily News, provided notice under Section 54 of the BC Labour Code to Unifor, representing unionized staff at the Daily News, that it intends to close the newspaper within the next 60 days.
The reason for the closure is economic — revenues have declined and the Daily News has been unable to reduce expenses sufficiently to continue as a viable operation.
Pursuant to the Labour Code, Glacier will be meeting with the union to discuss the implications of the closure.
“Personally I am very saddened to make this announcement,” said Daily News publisher Tim Shoults.
“We have struggled for the last several years, worked tirelessly and taken many difficult steps along the way which were designed to ensure our future. Unfortunately the realities of our industry, our local advertising market and our labour situation were too great for us to overcome.
“We recognize that this decision severely affects our staff and their families and our hearts go out to them as they deal with the shock and loss this decision creates. We are offering our staff counseling on site at the Daily News if they wish to take advantage of it.
“We have accomplished some great things along the way and have made our community a better place to live in countless ways.
“Over the years we have supported hundreds of community groups with millions of dollars in free advertising and helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for worthy causes through our Raise a Reader and Christmas Cheer campaigns.
“Most importantly, we have made our community more informed and more enlightened through award-winning coverage for decades.'”