There has been a certain amount of discussion lately with regards to potentially starting a local online paper put together by people that are in Cambridge much along the lines of what the Cambridge Reporter was like.
If you are new to the area, or just aren’t aware, the Cambridge Reporter was a daily newspaper in the city of Cambridge, Ontario that ran for 157. It’s original name was the Galt Reporter as it was based in the city of Galt until an amalgamation back in 1973. That was when it changed it’s name to the Cambridge Reporter. Name aside, it was set up much like your regular big city paper. It had reporters covering beats, there were editors and paginators, there was advertising sales and an entire team of people making things work. I may know a little bit more than the average bear, as I worked as a part time editor, sports reporter, photographer and reporter for the paper back in 1998.
I look back at my days at the paper fondly because it was my first job after college. I took Print Journalism at Conestoga and through that I was able to gain employment and am proud to say that I actually brought in some readers. I started out covering local businesses that won the Best of 97 awards. My business profiles brought in advertising dollars – and I provided so much content they did not just one – but three different sections. After that – they kept me on as a sports reporter part time until I was able to do my co-op. During co-op I started doing all sorts of stories, helped layout some pages, worked with the regular photographer that was getting close to retirement. Later I became the weekend reporter and filled the paper with content every Monday and Tuesday.
It was a great experience but it really wasn’t me. It wasn’t the way I wanted to write. I could do it – but it didn’t feel comfortable to me. I’m a bit of an introverted extrovert so it was hard for me to get out there and do all they wanted me to do. I just didn’t have the balls for it. I excelled at covering good news stories and just wasn’t cut out for the hard news – the deaths and tragedies of the day.
I moved on in another direction, but find it so intriguing that people are thinking of bring a semblance of it back and that I might be able to be part of it. Sure TorStar stills owns the Reporter – so the name can’t be used, but the idea of current content available online is very interesting.
Some of the crew currently talking about it have a bit of a slant on the news, and I hope that if this does start to fly, that we’d be able to actually have a non-political view. Sure we can have a political section and then they can all write and rant all they want. But I’ve always been non-judgmental when it came to such things. (And probably why I won’t talk about Wal-Mart with certain people.)
It seems the main thing missing from the news coverage in Cambridge is that the Times is mostly advertising with a few stories thrown in for good measure. As a free paper, I get it. I completely understand that they wouldn’t have much content and that the advertisers would be king. Someone has to pay for the printing and staff. But with the Record mentioning Cambridge rarely on the local pages – we are missing out on local news. Sure we have Snap – but that’s monthly. The people of Cambridge are missing out on so much going on and it would be a great opportunity for people to get out there and cover what’s happening and for all of us to find information online every day.
Now comes the tough part – who’s willing to work for nothing and who’s willing to put it together every day? Are we to expect people to work for free all the time? Are we looking at making money from this venture? Or is this something people really want and need and would be willing to get involved?
It’ll be interesting to see if this project will fly. For our sakes, I hope it does.