There are many things a good newspaper needs to be.
A light that exposes injustice. A magnifying glass that brings into focus what otherwise might be missed. A signpost to help you navigate the way to events that matter to you.
A foundation that supports and strengthens the community through the power of its words and pictures.
But these and other fundamental qualities of a newspaper we strive to deliver each and every day aren’t enough if the Free Press isn’t also a bridge.
For far too long, our newsroom has been like so many others in this country, offering journalism built on connections already established and well-served.
Those connections were largely a reflection of both readership and the makeup of the newsroom. However, those connections need to be broadened if the Free Press is truly going to serve its increasingly diverse community.
A commitment to broaden reach and to expand coverage to underserved communities is the foundation upon which the Free Press is building a new initiative that will be the first of its kind among major Canadian newspapers.
The Reader Bridge is designed to be a new piece of newsroom infrastructure, a span to invite and increase two-way traffic involving our journalists and readers from diverse backgrounds who might never have had any contact with the Free Press or any other mainstream media.
The project, funded by Google’s Global News Initiative, will have the Free Press newsroom reach out to those who represent the changing face of our city and province, so our journalism will be infused with the equity and inclusion critical to strengthening communities today.
By reaching out and delivering stories and perspectives the Free Press missed in the past, we hope to draw in new readers who will be critical to sustaining our future.
I’ll be the first to admit the Reader Bridge is an adaptation long overdue. As I made clear in an acknowledgment published amidst the racial reckoning in the weeks after the 2020 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked global reflection: the Free Press needs to do more, and needs to be better.
The commitment that began with an apology for the times when our coverage has fallen short, had been blind to those marginalized by the colour of their skin — and the cases when we have been part of the problem, not the solution — has already led to change within the Free Press newsroom.
My hope is the Reader Bridge will cement a path where our newsroom intersects with those we need to better serve.
From that intersection of race, ethnicity and diversity, our journalistic mission will be strengthened. It will be enriched with deeper and richer stories, adding the texture and tone critical to understanding, to growth, and to our ability to provide the light, the magnifying glass, the signposts, and the foundation upon which a newspaper’s varied and diverse readership can rely.
We’ve arrived at the Bridge. Here’s to crossing it together.
Paul Samyn is the Free Press editor.
Paul Samyn Editor
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.