SHOULTS: Hey, boss, can we talk?

"I want to speak to your boss."

Those words strike fear into the heart, especially if you're in customer service. Most of the time, the person saying them has a complaint of some kind.

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But if you were to say those words to me, I might just offer you a mirror.

I'm pleased and proud to be part of an independent-minded community newspaper company, Aberdeen Publishing, owned by Robert W. Doull, the publisher of Kamloops This Week.

He's a man who truly has ink in his veins in a career that spans decades.

But I believe that regardless of who signs the cheques, a true community newspaper belongs to its readers -- to you. We are your stewards, caretakers of a trust to keep you informed and connected to your community.

Even though this paper costs you nothing to read online or to have delivered to your doorstep, it's because of you that we earn our living.

Your attention to these words creates an audience -- an audience that we can sell advertising to reach online, in the paper or in the flyers that these pages surround.

When we make a mistake, whether it's a paper that doesn't get to the doorstep, a misspelled name or an error in fact, we hear about it -- usually instantly and often repeatedly. To be fair, we also hear compliments for stories that we've written that touched people's hearts or that led to positive outcomes.

That's good -- we need that immediate feedback and we seek to learn and grow from it, especially the constructive criticism. But we think we also need to go beyond the day-to-day responses.

Why? Because media has changed immeasurably in just a few short years. Today, thanks to the rise of the smartphone and social media, nearly everyone has the ability to share their thoughts and ideas with a worldwide audience instantly and from anywhere.

That means the role of community media -- including KTW -- has to change in order for us to remain relevant to you, and to the advertisers that pay for us to bring this service to you. We've been working hard on those changes, but now we need our boss's input.

That's why we are now inviting expressions of interest from you, our readers and advertisers, to join our new Community Advisory Board.

We're looking for individuals of many different ages, interests, occupations and walks of life to meet with representatives of KTW (including me) and offer feedback and suggestions on how we can improve, whether in our editorial content, our advertising, our online presence, our delivery system or our interaction with the community.

This group will get an in-depth education on KTW and how it works, making it an ideal opportunity for anyone who's ever wanted to know more about how a newspaper actually works and why it makes the decisions it does.

Like all good newspaper ideas, this isn't new. When I was editor of the Squamish Chief nearly 20 years ago, my then-publisher, Penny Sakamoto, created a group like this to get input from our community. It was a great idea, but it never really got beyond its second meeting, mainly because trying to get a good-sized group of community-minded citizens together regularly was next to impossible.

We hope to avoid that problem this time by meeting in person for our first meeting and then exploring ways of regularly interacting with each other online (perhaps in a closed Facebook group) in between future in-person meetings.

Where will this group take us?

Will it succeed? We have no idea. That's a little frightening -- but it's also exciting.

If you would like to participate or would like to suggest the name of someone to participate, please email me at tshoults@kamloopsthisweek.com or call 778-471-7534.

I'm looking forward to speaking to my bosses about this.

tshoults@aberdeenpublishing.com

Tim Shoults is the Operations Manager for Aberdeen Publishing and is in charge of day-to-day operations at KTW.

© Kamloops This Week

 


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