It was a sad day for journalism in Vancouver yesterday and a particularly somber day for me.
24 hours Vancouver announced its ceasing publication. Its last paper was Monday, Nov. 26, 4,668 days since its first publication March 7, 2005.
The closure was yet another symptom of the disease that is proving fatal for journalism in this country.
As the founding editor-in-chief, I breathed life into the paper and it repaid me with some of the most gratifying moments of my career.
We had an amazing pool of journalists who were free – at least for the first few years – of corporate meddling.
We knew our audience and we connected with them from the outset with a lively mix of content ranging from celebrity gossip that proved popular with both men and women to hard-hitting journalism that peeled back the veneer on B.C. politics.
As a result, the paper shot to the top of free daily newspaper battles, eclipsing both Metro and Dose. As it grew, it challenged the big dailies for readership.
I felt blessed to have held that position and honoured to have shaped the daily news agenda, especially among working-class folks who didn’t have a voice in the media landscape.
They gravitated to 24 hours for news that was relevant to them and their struggles as well as offering an oasis to escape the daily grind.
Newspapers have lost their way over the last decade. As purse strings tightened, they cut back on covering the things that matter most to people – their community.
The first blow for 24 hours Vancouver came after the 2008 economic meltdown. I remember it vividly as I came off a 10-day silent meditation retreat to a phone call from my publisher informing me that head office was planning massive layoffs.
It was gut-wrenching to sever ties with people who had dedicated their time, energy and passion to make the paper what it had become. It was a family.
I let go nine staffers and 27 columnists and freelancers over two days.
The paper was a shadow of its former self.
I hung in for another 18 months but admit I lost heart.
So yesterday’s news came as no surprise. It was the final nail in the coffin. It’s unfortunate because 24 hours started as the people’s paper.
And it’s the people who will lose with its closure.