Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 7/4/2017 (869 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The headline on our front page pointed to the growing strength of Manitoba’s credit unions.
But the back-story was really all about trust. At a time when Canada’s big banks were under fire for actions that undermined the trust essential to financial services, Manitobans were increasingly entrusting their money to credit unions.
There’s a lesson in that story from last month about trust that extends well beyond the world of tellers to those we bank on to tell us the news.
You want confidence in the institution managing your bottom line – and the one delivering your headlines. But how easy is it to have confidence in an institution headquartered somewhere else? How do you develop the connections and sense of community so important in building a trustworthy relationship?
Clearly, the answer for more and more Manitobans is to bypass the big banks headquartered on Bay Street in favour of credit unions on the main streets of their communities.
While the Winnipeg Free Press isn’t a bank, we offer readers a return in exchange for the investment of their dime and their time. And much like the banks, we too are an institution in this province with a 140-year tradition of service.
I get that tradition doesn’t matter much amid the digital revolution that offers more and also less. We have so many more sources of information, but less civic-minded journalism. We have more diversity, more perspectives, more access, but less fairness, less balance, less accountability.
We are left with a media landscape that is meaner and leaner, filled with clickbait that undermines credibility. It has become dominated by distant social media giants that give as much weight to facts as alternative facts. Long-trusted sources of information are under threat while global players — unwilling or unable to stop the fake news in their newsfeeds that now compete with genuine journalism — are able to profit.
We don’t want to lose customers anymore than the banks do. So here’s how the Free Press is building on our reputation for trust:
• The introduction of our ad-free news app News Break means we aren’t working to gain anyone’s attention but yours. In other words, your experience is what matters – not the expectations of advertisers who want to target you with specific messages based on your personal information.
• Since readers are paying the bulk of the freight, our online delivery doesn’t rely on clickbait headlines to lure traffic to any of our digital platforms.
• We still adhere to old-school standards such as accountability and transparency. When we make errors, we correct the record. And any change to an online story, whether because of a spelling error or an update, is clearly recorded for all to see.
• Since we live in the city and province we cover, we have similar interests at heart. We care deeply about how national or international stories – like the federal budget or the refugee crisis – affects Manitobans, because we live here, too. Everyone behind the Free Press’ journalism – from the publisher to the editor to the reporters – drive over the same potholes, attend the same arts events, swim at the same beaches, encounter the same cellular holes – as our readers. We know what’s of interest not because someone assigns it to us, but because we live it.
• Since we live where you live, we are always within reach. I once had a senior member of the arts community raising concerns about our coverage, even though it exceeded what competing media in our city provided. During our phone conversation, I asked if she was also going to call the other local media outlets to complain about their even thinner coverage. "What good would it do me to call someone who runs things from Toronto?" she replied. "You’re my city’s newspaper so you are the one I am going to complain to."
• Our independence means we are the ones making the decisions, not someone in some faraway head office. We don’t cram our local coverage into a hole in a national or chain product; if we think an important story needs to be told about a planned Inuit Art Centre for the Winnipeg Art Gallery or a musical by kids with special needs at Grant Park High School, we have the freedom to give it all the time and space it deserves.
• As part of our ongoing effort to be more transparent with our audiences, we will look to deepen connections to our newsroom through videos that will give you the story behind the story.
As part of this Insider Edition, you can see and hear more from National Newspaper Award nominees Randy Turner and Melissa Martin about how they practice their craft to deliver journalism that rewards the trust you put in the Free Press:
Curling fans from coast to coast know how well Manitobans did at the Scotties and the Brier. But how many of those curling fans realize there was only one newspaper in the country that cared enough about the roaring game to send reporters to cover both events?
If you talk to Free Press writers Melissa Martin or Jason Bell, they’ll tell you the media zone was a pretty lonely place in both St. Catharines and St. John’s as only the wire services and local media were there to provide coverage beyond the host broadcaster. In fact, even the Globe and Mail had to rely on Canadian Press for Team Gushue’s big win on the front of its sports section.
Of course, ensuring a full week’s coverage of both these national curling championships isn’t easy or cheap. Travel and hotel for both ran about $7,000. When you add in one week salary for both Melissa and Jason, the budget line jumps past $10,000.
But when you have two gifted writers capable of delivering curling coverage that is second to none in the land, then finding the capacity to ensure they bring home stories about Manitobans shining on the national stage is a no-brainer.
Our readers – especially those hardcore curling fans – got something they couldn’t get anywhere else in the land.
We hope the investments we continue to make in coverage that distinguishes us from the competition will give readers reasons to hurry hard to the Free Press to read more from a newspaper that is not only capable of great coverage, but still has the capacity to draw to the button.
We’ve been encouraged by the feedback we have had in the month since launching News Break, our new app.
If you haven’t had a chance yet to try this new online experience, remember you can download it for free from Apple’s App Store as a Free Press Insider.
And if you are reading this message, you are already a Free Press Insider.
To help guide you through the different approach to the digital delivery of what our newsroom produces, we’ve added a short video here on News Break.
And to all those Android users who are wondering why this app is currently limited to those on Apple devices, we have heard you: We will be including you in the next upgrade.
Our first Insiders Edition asked our readers for direction on what stories our newsroom should pursue.
We want to thank everyone for their input and to announce that the feedback has led to a new feature we are calling The UnGoogleable Winnipeg.
In short, so many of you wanted us to find answers to your questions about our city. And since those answers can’t be found on Google, we will be your search engine in this new feature that will begin May. 1.
You can send you specific questions to email@example.com
There’s still time to get the best of food and song Sunday mornings as a Free Press Insider.
The April 9 menu for the Sunday Brunch Collective series features headliner Slow Leaves , along with opener Erika Fowler of the folk fest’s Stingray Young Performers Program:
And if you’re looking for Mother’s Day plans, we have you covered. On Sunday, May 14, we are presenting a special Mother’s Day edition of Sunday Brunch Collective, with a performance by acclaimed singer-songwriter Sierra Noble:
Both events will take place at Kitchen Sync, 370 Donald St. They include a four-course, fixed-menu brunch by Chef Ben Kramer (with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options).
Tickets are $49 each, on sale Wednesday starting at noon. Visit winnipegfreepress.com/sbc to purchase.
Paul Samyn has been part of the Free Press newsroom for more than a quarter century, working his way up after starting as a rookie reporter in 1988.