Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City Beautiful signals new era

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At the heart of the Free Press are stories about our city.

Always has been. Always will be.

But the stories about Winnipeg in the special City Beautiful series we kick off today are being told in a way never before seen in our 142-year history.

Sure, there will be words on the page, beautifully crafted by award-winning writer Randy Turner as he tells the story of Winnipeg during the past century through the architectural ambition that built the city's skyline. Yes, there will be pictures to document the vision behind the views that took their cues from Versailles.

But there were words and pictures in the Free Press 100 years ago as we documented the construction of the Manitoba Legislative Building.

For this project, we wanted to aspire to the ambition that led to the brick and steel that sought to lift Winnipeg from a "lusty, gutsy, bawdy frontier boomtown" into a city that caught the eye of the world.

And so, what debuts on our website,, today at noon is a groundbreaking effort to tell the story about our past, present and future in a way Free Press editors could have only dreamed of a century ago.

Your read will also become a view as the evocative narrative is enhanced by a wide range of multimedia components. Seamlessly integrated into the feature for our readers are archival photographs, video, interviews, graphics and animation. And what we believe is a first in the history of the Golden Boy, we employed a drone to capture a close-up of his face from his lofty perch atop the legislature's dome before pulling back for a panorama of this city built upon the prairie.

Trust me when I say that if you like what you read in print, then you will fall in love with all that the online version offers.

In doing so, we hope to deliver a fundamentally different reader experience, an experience that enriches, entertains and engages you in a way that allows you to not only see your city in a new light, but also the Free Press.

At the 2013 White House Correspondents Dinner, comedian Conan O'Brien delivered this zinger at the assembled newspaper reporters:

"Some people say print media is dying, but I don't believe it and neither does my blacksmith."

It was a great one-liner, in large part because if newspapers continue to operate the same way they did when blacksmiths plied their trade in this city, the future for print is uncertain.

But the architecture of the Free Press, much like that of our city, has changed and evolved. To deliver this project -- four months in the making -- the team, under the direction of associate editor enterprise Scott Gibbons, had to fundamentally rethink what a newsroom can be, what it can do and even how it works. We had to not only write headlines, but also computer code. We had to not only worry how the series and its three chapters would look in back-to-back-to-back editions of our Saturday newspaper, but also how it would present on desktops, tablets and smartphones.

In many respects, undertaking the City Beautiful project and discovering an urban renaissance also marked a renaissance for our newsroom and the Free Press.

I also hope the story-telling at its heart will represent a new future for the Free Press and our ability to deliver for our readers.


Paul Samyn is the Free Press editor. @paulsamyn

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 5, 2014 A2


Updated on Friday, September 5, 2014 at 8:26 AM CDT: Replaces photo, adds video

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