When the first edition of the Kelowna Capital News hit the streets in August of 1930, it might have only been eight pages long but the content within those pages wasn’t much different than what you hold in your hands today.
Stories. Advertisements. Classifieds. People.
The first ever edition of the Cap News was put together and printed on a table in founder Les Kerry’s dining room. It was a free publication focussing on the community. Technology has changed many things, including where and how the Capital News is printed, but the philosophy behind the paper is the same as the one that was born some 84 years ago.
That first edition featured stories affecting the people of Kelowna. Kerry published the paper on a Wednesday so readers could have the chance to see the ads before their weekend shopping.
As you flip through this edition of the Kelowna Capital News, you will see many of the same elements. The stories and the ads and the people may have changed, but the focus on community and local issues is the same.
“We’ve got a long history here in the Central Okanagan and we take a lot of pride in representing the folks that live in the area,” said Capital News publisher Karen Hill. “We have always tried to encompass all of the things that go on in the communities of the Central Okanagan.”
This week the Capital News returns to its roots with a twice weekly distribution schedule and with a revamped focus on community. For years the Capital News was distributed twice a week, free to people’s door-steps. And this week the paper goes back to twice a week, publishing each Wednesday and Friday.
“We’re going back to the grassroots model of community newspapers with content built around today’s fast-paced world,” said Hill. “The Wednesday-Friday model gives readers a chance to plan their week and it gives retailers an opportunity to reach those readers before the weekend. And our website gives our readers a chance to get their news immediately.”
In the past decade, technology has changed the world of reporting as the Internet has allowed stories to be brought to the public in real time. The news cycle is as quick as it has ever been as reporters chase down the latest story, post it online and move on. At the Capital News, reporters first post their stories on kelownacapnews.com, but then dig deeper, talk to people affected by the news and expand their story for the next newspaper.
“Yes, social media and the Internet has sped up the news cycle,” said Alan Bass, a professor of journalism at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, a city which saw its daily paper fold earlier this year. “It never ends. There is a deadline literally every second. Where I get concerned about this is reporters spend so much time filing updates to various forms of media that the very, very important functions of thinking and researching and doing as many interviews as you can on any given story has suffered. Journalists still need to do things like verifying information and getting all relevant points of view into their story.”
In Kelowna, the media market is saturated with two newspapers, a TV station, several radio stations and a host of online-only news services. There isn’t another market in the Interior of B.C. like it. It’s competitive as news organizations race to be the first one to publish a story. But the race to be first and fast doesn’t leave a lot of time to examine the issues and talk to people. Important parts of the story are being lost, said Bass.
“I think that’s the risk,” he said. “I think filing more stories to more formats takes time away (from journalists). What used to make stories unique is not everyone would talk to the same person and that would lead to facts being uncovered that previously wouldn’t be.”
At the Capital News Barry Gerding has been the managing editor since 2000. He says the people who are most affected by a news story are often forgotten as today’s media pack rushes from story to story. He says publishing twice a week gives Capital News reporters a chance to go behind the latest headlines and dig a little deeper.
“As a community newspaper we are always asking ourselves ‘who is affected by this story?'” said Gerding.
“When the media pack moves on to the next story, these people are still dealing with their issues. Their stories are the ones that we want to tell. These issues affect all of us.”
So as you flip through the newest incarnation of the Kelowna Capital News—with a new design that reflects the modern times—it’s important to remember that the Capital News is still doing what it’s been doing for the past eight decades. It represents the communities of the Central Okanagan, supported by local businesses, telling stories about people.