Skip to main content

Tag: Amanda Zimmer

Two women, Brenda Shenton in light orange sweater and Shannon Peace in dark rust shirt, with award certificates earned by Shootin' the Breeze.

Celebrate National Newspaper Week with us

While times are tough in most industries right now, our team tries to keep our chins up as we face new, and unique, challenges in the newspaper business.

Celebrating what Shootin’ the Breeze does well is something I enjoy. It’s not meant in a vain way but as a matter of shining a bright spotlight on the people who work very hard to ensure there is a newspaper in your hands every Wednesday morning.

A few weeks back, Brenda Shenton and I spent a weekend in Edmonton at the annual general meeting and convention of the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association. We’d talked about going together for a number of years, and now that she’s retired she finally had time to join me!

If you ask, Brenda will tell you that she came away with much deeper insight into what happens beyond our local media outlet. She knows that, despite the potholes and bumps on the newspaper highway, I come back from this annual event rejuvenated and motivated.

The turnout was grim and, as convention chairwoman, it’s something I’ve been trying to address over the past two years. Many say they simply can’t afford the cost of the trip or the cost of being away from their office for even two days.

On the bright side, those in attendance, both in person and virtually, are committed to keeping Alberta’s newspapers strong.

 

Ad for Dragons Heart Quilt Shop in Pincher Creek

 

Hardships were acknowledged and solutions were sought. There’s no better place to do this than among a group of your peers.

Once ideas get flowing, things quickly get productive. I’m sure each publisher in attendance went home with something new to implement.

Sometimes conversation leads to more questions than answers. This is just as important.

Brenda made a point of speaking with all of the younger members in attendance. She heard positive hopes for the future and concerns that their older co-workers or employers often aren’t open to trying new ideas.

An age-old story that is not limited to the press.

 

AWNA 2023 board of directors; Jeff Burgar, Amanda Zimmer, Lisa Sygutek, Shannon Peace and Evan Jamison.
2023 board of directors of the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association are Jeff Burgar of the HIgh Prairie South Peace News, left, Amanda Zimmer of the Claresholm Local Press, Lisa Sygutek of the Pass Herald, Shannon Peace of Shootin’ the Breeze and Evan Jamison of the St. Albert Gazette. Missing are Craig Barnard of Post Media and Daria Zmiyiwsky of Black Press. | Photo by Pearl Lorentzen of the Slave Lake Lakeside Leader

 

 

The AGM always ends with the swearing in of the AWNA board of directors. A number of us are in our fourth year serving together, giving the board stability and strength.

This year, Lisa Sygutek of the Pass Herald has moved to the role of board president and I will work alongside her as vice-president.

Amanda Zimmer of the Claresholm Local Press is back on the board, giving southwestern Alberta the benefit of three female independent newspaper owners having a voice.

I mention female because back when my parents and Lisa’s parents were involved, these positions were generally held by men.

Joining us are Daria Zmiyiwsky of Black Press, Craig Barnard of Postmedia, Evan Jamison of the St. Albert Gazette and Jeff Burgar of the High Prairie South Peace News.

Lisa has been heavily involved in the government affairs of the association, something she excels in. Lisa is feisty and blunt, and fights for what she believes in.

We all believe in the value of community newspapers and look forward to a strong year supporting Alberta’s community news sources.

 

Ace of spades card on ad for Chase the Ace at the Pincher Creek Legion

 

Along with a new title, I returned home with a number of awards for our publication.

The BNC Awards of Excellence and Photographic Awards are open to all Alberta newspapers, from the smallest to the largest.

Best Ad Campaign Award – third place: Jaiden Panchyshyn for Blackburn Jewellers 2022 Shop Local for Christmas campaign.

Best Agricultural Section – third place: Shootin’ the Breeze.

Sue Gawlak Best Local Editorial – honourable mention to Shannon Peace for My Little Corner.

Sports Writing Award – honourable mention to Mia Parker for Local Women Excel in 1,000-Mile Survival Race on the Yukon River.

Wildlife Photo – honourable mention to Jenaya Launstein.

The BNC General Excellence Awards are classed according to circulation. Shootin’ the Breeze is in a group of 13 newspapers and the awards reflect the work of our entire team.

Best Editorial Page – second place

Best Overall Score – third place

Best Front Page – third place

I tip my hat to my co-workers at the Breeze and to my fellow board members of the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association. Work well done is worthy of celebration as we move forward.

 

Ad for Vape in Pincher Creek

 

Ad for Shadowbar Shepherds Training in Pincher Creek
Have you heard, written in white chalk on a blackboard

Google and Meta plan to ban Canadian news

Have you heard the news?

Google and Meta, the biggest players in the world of social media, intend to start blocking Canadian news stories in response to the passage of Bill C-18.

“Real journalism, created by real journalists, continues to be demanded by Canadians and is vital to our democracy, but it costs real money,” Paul Deegan, president and CEO of News Media Canada, said after the Bill passed June 22.

That afternoon, Lisa Sygutek of the Crowsnest Pass Herald, Amanda Zimmer of the Claresholm Local Press, myself and other board members of the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association, heard directly from Paul.

Board president Evan Jamison of the St. Albert Gazette and AWNA executive director Dennis Merrill have made several trips east to share information on behalf of Alberta newspapers at hearings regarding this bill. They have kept members apprised of progress with Bill C-18 and roadblocks along the way.

Collectively, I think we felt cautious optimism after the discussion with Paul, with an emphasis on the word cautious.

Lisa also felt positive about a class-action lawsuit she and the Pass Herald have launched against Google and Facebook on behalf of Canadian newspapers. This is a tale for another day.

Social media outlets earn big dollars from Canadian journalism. Every share of a news article equals a cha-ching on their cash register.

We benefit as well. Social media can drive traffic to the Shootin’ the Breeze website as it is a quick way to advise our followers of new content and breaking news.

For every fraction of a penny we earn as people scroll past a Google ad on the Breeze website, Google earns many, many, many times more. The same thing happens on Facebook. 

Meta and Google earn dollars to the pennies left to businesses that do the work. This applies to shared content of all kinds, from recipes to travel blogs, and is not limited to newspapers.

 

Ad requesting memorabilia from CNP music festival

 

When negotiations over C-18 began, it was said that Canadian media would stand unified in this bid for just compensation for the money social media outlets earn from their work.

However, some larger players quickly struck independent deals with Meta and Google. Only they and the flies on the wall know the details of the deals and the value of the compensation.

A big problem right now is that most of us lack a clear understanding of what losing and winning look like.

No one seems to know just how the news blocking will work.

When you consider the significant information Google and Meta hold about us all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine who’s in and who’s out.

It took only one day for Meta to spring into action against Bill C-18.

“We are confirming that news availability will be ended on Facebook and Instagram for all users in Canada prior to the Online News Act (Bill C-18) taking effect,” Meta announced June 22.

The press release says, “As drafted, the legislation states that news outlets are in scope if they primarily report on, investigate or explain current issues or events of public interest.”

This encompasses virtually all Canadian media and, while they will continue to have access to their Facebook and Instagram accounts and pages, and to post to them, “some content will not be viewable in Canada.”

On June 29, Google announced its own plans to block and remove news in Canada on its search engine, aggregator and Discover app.

 

 

While the Pincher Creek Echo no longer exists in a traditional print or digital format, Postmedia, its parent company, made a deal with Google last summer and is reportedly paid for news content.

In the same announcement last week, Google said it would end deals currently in place with Canadian publishers.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world where there will be winners and losers. It looks like the big social media dogs have decided they will simply take the ball and run with it rather than enter into negotiations with us little guys.

This may seem like a lot of talk about money. While it was nice to imagine generating more revenue (if only for a moment), the reality is that small independent publishers, like many of us in southwestern Alberta, are not in a good place to be staring revenue reduction in the face.

Yes, the dollars matter, but it’s about more than that to me and to every community newspaper publisher I know.

There is a difference between news and journalism, and what Google and Meta are doing stands to give fake news an opportunity to thrive.

I’ve hated the term since former U.S. president Donald Trump made it popular and overused it, but it is real.

Canadian publishers are held to ethical standards and accountable for their news presentation.

Have you heard, is not how any news article should begin unless it is clearly marked as editorial content. Word on the street is not always true and little accountability exists when it’s not, whether intentionally or simply in error.

 

 

As a publisher, my integrity is on the line every time I write an article or print one by my staff. That even goes to letters to the editor — when we know something is incorrect, hateful or offside, it either doesn’t run or is discussed with the author and corrected.

We are human and when we make mistakes our team owns them, corrects them and offers a sincere apology.

We are journalists and integrity is at the heart of what we do.

As someone dedicated to community service, I do my utmost to make sure people know of emergency-room closures, wild weather alerts and evacuation notices. My team members do the same.

In preparation for a news-blocking scenario, we are working on some “Plan Bs” in the background. We will do everything within our power to ensure you receive important and factual information in a timely manner. More than that, we will continue sharing community stories and keeping you connected with your neighbours.

Social media has changed greatly over the past 15 years. Facebook was once a place for connecting with family and friends. Now it’s hard to find those types of posts when you log on.

Anonymity has also created a breeding ground for misinformation and hatred and I shudder what they will look like down the road.

Our followers will find the Breeze website a pleasant, interactive space as we shift our focus from sharing content on social media to turning shootinthebreeze.ca into a community hub for southwestern Alberta.

Google and Meta have been testing news blocking over the winter and spring, and I’m sure we will see significant changes in the near future. 

Meta’s press statement closes with, “While these product tests are temporary, we intend to end the availability of news content in Canada permanently following the passage of Bill C-18.”