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.
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.
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.
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.