Is there anything more constant than change these days?

If there’s one thing that’s a constant in modern life, it’s change.

Our lives have seen so much of it in the last…oh, pick your time frame…couple of decades. And it seems to have sped up in the last 10 years or so. Certainly when it comes to technology.

I work in a profession that has seen change occur constantly. When I started here at the Campbell River Mirror, putting a paper together was still a significantly manual process, even though computers had been part of the landscape for a couple decades, at least – mostly on the word processing side. We actually had to print out our articles in column format on sheets of paper which we then waxed the back of before cutting out to place on a larger sheet of heavy paper that replicated the size and shape of a full newspaper page. Then we did that however many times as the number of pages the next edition was going to be . Then owner Gerry Soroka would dash the “flats” down to the bus depot downtown and load our next edition on a bus to our press in Ladysmtih. Eventually we hired our own driver to just take it directly (‘cause we came too close to missing the bus too often). How archaic!

Now all of that is done on a desktop computer – including sending it to a printing press (still in Ladysmith, though).

In the last few years our industry has undergone even more change due to technology and our little newspaper has undergone a big change in the last year. That’s because market forces and customer demand required us to dive head first into becoming a digital media product. Up to that point we were a newspaper that had a digital platform. Now we’re a multimedia product for which our digital product is as important as our print product and it has required Campbell River Mirror employees to expand our skill set and take on a broader range of tasks.

This is nothing new to our readers, of course, as many people over the last couple of years have asked me outright what’s going to happen to newspapers, in general, and the Mirror, specifically. Everybody could see the massive shift to online media consumption.

We haven’t left our print product behind, it’s still as important as ever, but we had to find a way to include the market demand for digital news and advertising. We believe we have done that and keeping in mind that change is constant in this business, we will continue to tweak it.

But it’s meant that not only have we, the employees of the Mirror and our parent company, Black Press, had to deal with change but so have our readers. And not just readers of our print product but the website as well.

A frequent sentiment expressed in our online platform and the social media (read: Facebook) channel which we use to connect our readers to our website , is why are there so many stories that are not local stories on the website and promoted through Facebook? What, they ask, have these stories to do with a local newspaper?

Now, that’s just some people, there are many who are happy to read the whole range of stories that we publish on our website, judging by the readership – which we can measure – of those stories.

Part of the answer to the question lies in the fact that – at that moment – you are not consuming a local newspaper. You’re reading a website, a digital medium. The “local newspaper” is delivered to your door Wednesdays and Fridays. Our website, www.campbellrivermirror.com, is a digital platform.

The fact of the matter is that our advertisers are demanding digital products and to stay profitable, we need to provide what our customers want. Now our other “customers” – if that’s how you want to describe readers who receive a free product – are also demanding digital content to read (or view), particularly our younger audience who are used to digital media consumption.

Another fact of life is that we have to produce content and a lot of it to feed that voracious digital beast. And that means providing material from our broader region – central and northern Vancouver Island and, in fact, all of Vancouver Island – and the province and country .

You have to look at our website as an all-encompassing media platform. It’s funny that some people aren’t happy that we carry news from the local to the national and, indeed, international but yet, I’m sure they watch CTV Vancouver Island and CHEK TV as well as the CBC which strives to provide news ranging from the international to the local.

Our website is now a complete news source on the same level as the television news stations and the large daily newspapers. The Vancouver Sun and the Victoria Times-Colonist publish this range of material.

But an important thing to keep in mind is that even with this wider material, you are not getting any fewer local stories – and I mean Campbell River, Quadra Island, heck, Dogwood Street news .

You might even be getting more than we used to produce.

Print can be so limiting and therefore stuff sometimes got left out because there weren’t enough pages to put it on.

If you know me, you know I’m not a bragger, so let me step out of character for a moment and state in all confidence that nobody produces more local content than we do. Nobody.

Could we do more, could we do better? Yes. And we’re striving to do so. We are still adapting to our new medium of communication and it hasn’t always been smooth. But we’re hitting our stride and judging by the growth in our online readership and advertising – that growth is measurable.

Setting that aside for a moment, keep in mind that if you prefer, we still deliver an exclusively-local newsproduct – a newspaper – to your doorstep every Wednesday and Friday.

And many of you do prefer that.

There’s nobody more loyal than those readers who like their news printed in ink and on newsprint. And for you people we are eternally grateful.

But we’ve had to adapt to the demand for digital and we we know what happens to businesses that don’t adapt to the changing marketplace.

So, change is a constant, like I said. And it’s been a whirlwind. But then, in this business, that’s nothing new.

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