The Free Press thanked readers at a sold-out event for subscribers held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery Tuesday night.
Besides the free beer and appetizers, about 200 readers came to hear from a panel of Free Press political experts, who discussed the federal election campaign and the importance of trust among voters and media sources.
Editor Paul Samyn moderated a discussion between columnists Niigaan Sinclair, Dan Lett and Tom Brodbeck, and Probe Research principal Mary Agnes Welch. (Some of the conversation will be available via the paper’s Not for Attribution podcast, which you can hear below.)
The panel discussed how Manitoba’s 14 seats will factor into the election outcome, whether climate change will be voters’ number one issue and what they thought of Monday night’s federal leaders’ debate. ("It wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t memorable. There’s no memes," Welch joked.)
The event, which was held during National Newspaper Week, showcased how the paper values political coverage. Samyn said the Free Press is one of only a handful of English-Canadian newspapers (along with the Telegraph-Journal from Saint John and the Chronicle-Herald in Halifax) to have a dedicated correspondent on Parliament Hill.
The Free Press also maintains bureaus at the Manitoba legislature and Winnipeg city hall.
"We all know that facts matter or they should matter. But sorting of fact from fabrication is increasingly difficult in the media landscape that pushes… clickbait and where going viral is frequently more important than what is based on reality," Samyn said in his introduction.
"Now I think everyone in this room recognizes the danger of a post-truth world and I applaud everyone here for realizing that a newspaper like the Free Press is the antidote to the post-truth world," he added later.
Readers milling in the lobby beforehand discussed their top election issues and why they turn to the Free Press for political coverage.
Virginia Hnytka said she reads the paper to go beyond the daily sound bites she hears on television or radio newscasts.
"I always find that there is always more detail in the paper," she said. "If I really want to know what was happening, I come to the Free Press to give me the whole story."
Dan Bulloch said he valued the papers’ political columnists and wished more people would pay for their news.
"When I look at all the crap news you get off the internet, you still need good journalism," he said. "And that’s the bottom line."
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Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 11:40 PM CDT: Adds photos
October 9, 2019 at 3:47 PM: Adds video
4:20 PM: Adds podcast.