For a while now Citizen employees have been fielding questions from readers, advertisers and residents about the future of The Citizen. That picked up after last week's Nanaimo Daily News and the Guelph Mercury closures, as well as Postmedia's announcement it will be laying off 90 journalists in newsrooms across Canada.
We took significant steps Friday to secure our future by returning to a five-days-a-week publication schedule and other internal changes designed to keep your newspaper successful and profitable.
Except we're not just a newspaper. Both readers and advertisers increasingly rely on our website, our email newsletter and our digital edition for news and market reach. Although we won't print Monday, all of the top local stories and photos from the weekend in news and sports will be online as soon as possible and will anchor our Tuesday print edition.
Like all media companies, we're always shifting how we deliver news and how it's presented. Not all web stories will make it to print but you can be sure the best ones will. We're posting more photo galleries, audio stories and web extras and in the same breath refocusing on the print product that is our bread and butter.
This kind of evolution is not new for us. Producing the paper was once a labour-intensive process that included hot lead typesetting. Today, computers and other machines have taken over much of that process, meaning The Citizen doesn't employ as many people as it used to - particularly on the newspaper production side of our business.
This isn't easy, of course. Adapting to technological improvements and market changes means good people lose their jobs and that was the reality Friday.
The good news, however, is Prince George's daily newspaper forges on, continuing to fulfill its commitment to the community, its readers and advertisers.What we haven't done enough - because we report news, not make news - is tell people about the valuable service we provide to the community.
The Citizen helps hundreds of local businesses grow and succeed by connecting them with their customers through advertising. The Citizen entertains thousands of readers with its comics, its crosswords and its light-hearted stories. The Citizen encourages thousands of residents to become good citizens, to care about community affairs by telling them what is going on in their city, both good and bad.
The effect Citizen reporting has on local lives is beyond measure.
When she was still with the Central Interior Logging Association, the late Mary-Anne Arcand would tell anyone who would listen, with tears in her eyes, that reporter Gordon Hoekstra and The Citizen had saved the lives of forestry workers with the reporting that went on to win the Michener Award, Canada's highest honour for public service journalism.
The Citizen's greatest success is partnering with businesses and groups to support important community events and initiatives, from the petition that led to the creation of UNBC to the health rally that prompted the founding of the Northern Medical Program. The Citizen has spent millions of dollars in cash and in-kind support over the years to back everything from the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation to the 2015 Canada Winter Games. Last year alone, that community support was worth about $250,000.
That's not boasting. That's fact.
We've been instrumental in the development of Prince George and we continue to play a significant role in the city, helping local business prosper, bringing the important news of the day to readers, linking residents to each other through our support of community events. This year, we are celebrating our centennial with the Alphabet Project, a partnership with the Community Arts Council and Town Proud, a shop local campaign, as well as the completion of The Citizen's portion of the digital archive of local newspapers compiled by the Prince George Public Library.
Friday's moves were about positioning ourselves for our second century to chronicle Prince George's second century.
Technology is always changing but The Citizen's voice remains the same. At its core, a newspaper should be the soul and conscience of the community. It should be the eyes too: a gaze that looks both outward and inward, reflecting the identity unique to Prince George and sharing a vision of what it can become.
So if you see a glimmer of your own reflection on our pages, support us. Pick up a paper, subscribe if you can, click a link to our website, like us on Facebook. We'll continue to be here, we'll continue to evolve and we'll continue to be worthy of this community.
Thanks to our committed and talented staff and thanks to the continued support of readers and advertisers, we're excited about the challenge of matching and exceeding the past accomplishments of The Citizen.