March, 2020: Many sleepless nights! I wasn’t certain my idea would work, but at that point, it was more than an idea – I was about to launch a local news website. And people would have to pay to access it. Something different….
Years later, there are still sleepless nights – my subscribers know this, because they’re first to read what happened in council chambers the night before. They’re up on what the town is planning, what developments are coming, and what is being said by the people you elected. Subscribers are also in on the challenges, projects, events and ideas coming from our local community groups. The Phoenix is small, but its subscribers are people who care about our town – and they take the time to really know what’s going on. This is how local news survives. I’ve been a journalist for more than 20 years now, working weeklies in Alberta and at the Calgary Sun.
Why did I start The Phoenix?
Shortly after moving here eight years ago, I knew the lake, the weather and everything would be great – but it was the people (so friendly!) and attending local events that made me want to be part of Peachland. A short stint at the (now former) local newspaper cemented my love for this town – I met so many dedicated, interesting, generous, community-driven, positive people that when the job suddenly ended, I was determined to keep that energy going – by doing journalism my way, from the point of view of a local. I’m not the one with all the story ideas – many times, my subscribers let me know what’s up! It’s like a small-town newspaper, but with a better business model – one that serves the community, not some head office.
When I launched, I was too small to attract advertisers, and I’m not interested in the federal government funding situations many media are involved with. Three and a half years later, The Phoenix has a few hundred paid subscribers, some regular advertisers – and a consistent message from my customers: Keep going. Yes, I’m working in a niche – not everyone cares about local news. But if you really want to know what’s going on in town, you want to support local – and you don’t mind the odd garden blog – The Phoenix is for you!
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