Edi­tor’s Note

The pop­u­la­tion grows, but not the news cov­er­age

Alberta Venture - - Contents - Michael Gan­ley Edi­tor mgan­ley@al­ber­taven­ture.com @Michael­b­gan­ley

Even in light of the last two tough eco­nomic years, Al­berta is eas­ily the fastest-grow­ing prov­ince in the coun­try. In early Fe­bru­ary, Sta­tis­tics Canada came out with the first tranche of data from the 2016 cen­sus, and it shows that this prov­ince’s pop­u­la­tion grew by 11.6 per cent be­tween 2011 and 2016 and that it’s now home to 4.1 mil­lion peo­ple. Al­berta was fol­lowed in growth rate by Saskatchewan, Man­i­toba and B.C., mean­ing Western Canada is now home to nearly one in three Cana­di­ans, the high­est share ever recorded. The five fastest-grow­ing cities are Cal­gary, Ed­mon­ton, Saska­toon, Regina and Leth­bridge.

This is good news for the West, which sees its in­flu­ence on the na­tional stage grad­u­ally grow­ing (although three in five Cana­di­ans still live in Que­bec and On­tario). It also bodes well for fu­ture eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties.

My wife, our three kids are I are counted among the new eco­nomic mi­grants, hav­ing moved to Al­berta in 2011 so I could take this job. It was a won­der­ful move for my fam­ily, and for me pro­fes­sion­ally. There’s no bet­ter place to be a jour­nal­ist. Al­berta is at the fore­front of so many of the most im­por­tant dis­cus­sions tak­ing place in this coun­try, from the con­struc­tion of pipe­lines to the de­vel­op­ment of hy­dro­car­bon re­sources to Canada’s re­la­tion­ship with the U.S. And then there’s the end­less po­lit­i­cal drama – there have been five pre­miers since I landed here, an NDP gov­ern­ment was elected and the on­go­ing unite-theright move­ment has more twists than a cheap gar­den hose.

Un­for­tu­nately, while the sub­jects are plen­ti­ful, the busi­ness of jour­nal­ism is a tough one. Lay­offs are now the norm in the in­dus­try (ex­cept at the CBC, which has seen re­newed fund­ing un­der the Trudeau gov­ern­ment). The Cal­gary Her­ald and Ed­mon­ton Jour­nal have been par­tic­u­larly hard hit, los­ing many good jour­nal­ists. Peo­ple now go to the In­ter­net for news – and for fake news, and for al­ter­na­tive facts – and no­body wants to pay for it. I’m as guilty as any­one. Now, when I read a story at cal­gary­her­ald.com or the­guardian.com or wash­ing­ton­post.com, the page is in­ter­rupted with a re­quest for a do­na­tion or to buy a sub­scrip­tion. I have yet to do so for any of those three.

I don’t have the an­swers. A re­cent re­port on the state of Canada’s me­dia, omi­nously called The Shat­tered Mir­ror, called, among other things, for a $400mil­lion fund to cre­ate a Jour­nal­ism and Democ­racy Fund, which would in­vest in lo­cal news, in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism and in­dige­nous news op­er­a­tions. Me­dia com­men­ta­tors, for the most part, evis­cer­ated the re­port, won­der­ing how a panel would de­cide who are jour­nal­ists and which out­lets ought to be sup­ported. The goals are laud­able, the so­lu­tions less so.

You may have no­ticed the tough busi­ness cli­mate re­flected in the pages of this mag­a­zine – it’s thin­ner than it used to be, and we op­er­ate with a smaller staff and fewer free­lancers. I can’t say where it will end, for jour­nal­ism writ large or for this pub­li­ca­tion. I re­main a firm be­liever in the value of good jour­nal­ism and the im­por­tance of this pro­fes­sion to the ef­fec­tive func­tion­ing of a democ­racy. All I can say is that we’ll con­tinue to do what we can to tell the sto­ries of this prov­ince and its grow­ing pop­u­la­tion for many years to come.

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