I’m starting a new Edmonton magazine that will focus on local news, issues and discussions about our city. It’s called Edmonton Quotient (or, EQ for short) and I hope you’ll sign up today to be the first to know when it officially launches.
I’m choosing today to announce Edmonton Quotient because it was one year ago – January 19, 2016 – that Edmonton’s local news coverage took a very public and very difficult hit when Postmedia combined the newsrooms of the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun and laid off more than 30 people (newsrooms in Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa were also combined with a second paper also owned by Postmedia). More people left soon after that, not interested in working in a gutted newsroom or simply leaving before the next cuts came (which they did, before the end of 2016 as Postmedia looked to slash 20% of its staffing costs).
These cuts were by no means the largest or deepest to hit Edmonton news, as all outlets have laid people off and reduced staff in the last decade, as digital changes left the old business models flailing. I also doubt we’ve seen the end of such decisions for local affiliates of Postmedia, Bell, Rogers, Shaw and possibly even CBC (though that one remains tied to government decisions until such time it’s out of the advertising world).
The cuts did get a lot of attention though, as newspapers remain the primary driver of enterprise and original journalism in most cities (and the former editor-in-chief grabbed attention too). So it means fewer feature stories in Edmonton, less beat coverage at City Hall or the Alberta Legislature (or in health, education, neighbourhood issues, the court system, etc.) and more duplication of the same stories everyone is covering at the same news conferences and daily events.
I’m not saying that Edmonton Quotient will fill all the gaps left by last year’s cuts at Postmedia, or years of cuts at other outlets (including losing one alt-weekly newspaper, SEE Magazine, and the City-TV newsroom). In fact, I don’t necessarily think the old newsroom models are the best use of resources, especially with thinned-out staff numbers. The inability to truly pivot from some of those models will be a continued problem for those struggling corporations with local banners (on both the journalism and business side).
I want Edmonton Quotient to tell some local stories, dig into some local concerns, offer people actions they can take on issues they feel are important, provide some media literacy and pay journalists a decent fee for their work (no working for “exposure“). No news outlet can cover everything well, and keeping that in mind we’ll pick and choose what we can bring new information and insights to. I hope you’ll be part of the conversation.
Another goal I have for the content is to include new and minority voices in the coverage and conversations. I’m a straight, white male living a fairly privileged middle class life. My view of the world, and those of some of my colleagues in a white (male) media cannot be the centre of EQ’s journalism. Please put me in touch with new journalists and as many women, Indigenous and people of colour writers, journalists and thinkers who could work on stories and be guests on podcasts and at events.
Local business is also part of my vision for Edmonton Quotient. I believe there’s value in being able to let local folks know about your business, and there will be advertising and sponsorship opportunities with EQ.
For the business owner choosing us, ads will be highly visible, limited to a small number of Edmonton businesses and reasonably priced. And we won’t pressure you to spend more money on longer campaigns – if advertising with EQ isn’t meeting your goals we hope you spend your money elsewhere (and if we know where that could be, we’ll point you in that direction). We see this as a relationship between two Edmonton businesses helping each other.
For the audience, the ads will be limited in number, for local businesses only – places you could walk into today – and we hope that curation will make them a valuable and important part of your time spent with Edmonton Quotient. I know I love finding out about great new places to spend my time and money here in Edmonton. This will not become a cluttered website of ad boxes, page takeovers and pop-ups. (And no programmatic ad networks that compromise your Internet privacy and follow you from site to site.) Advertising should be smart, informative and even helpful to its audience.
In short, Edmonton Quotient will be a place to discuss important Edmonton issues, see some interesting local and long-form journalism (which ideally introduces you to new voices and points of view) and hopefully teach us all a new thing or two about this city we call home.
Oh, and no pop-ups. Ever.