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Welcome to the official blog of the British Columbia and Yukon Community Newspapers Association (BCYCNA).

We look forward to sharing stories from across our network of news providers, as well as articles, links, and announcements from industry friends everywhere. Be sure to check this space often for BCYCNA updates, and to offer your feedback on community newspapers!

AWNA Invites BCYCNA Members to Annual Symposium


The Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association is holding its annual symposium from January 29-30 and would like to invite members of the BCYCNA to attend.

Please see below for information about the event and how to register. 

On behalf of the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association, I would like to invite you and your staff to attend the AWNA’s annual Newspaper Symposium.

The Symposium speakers and courses are all set and we think this is going to be a great weekend!

Visit the Symposium page on our website for the schedule, course descriptions and bios of all our speakers.

We’ve also assembled it together as a downloadable PDF. Registration forms are online too.

We’re bringing back some past favourites, Russell Viers, Chuck Nau and Ed Henninger and some new-to-Symposium speakers, Tim Waltner and Coleen Wilson.

We’ve got sessions about sales, writing editorials, page design, photography, production software and more. The event is jam-packed with learning opportunities.

Friday starts with the Ice-Breaker sessions and are open to everyone. The evening banquet that night, sponsored by ATCO Gas and ATCO Electric will feature the ATCO Photographic Awards presentation and the Fire Prevention Week awards.

We look forward to seeing you Friday & Saturday, January 29 & 30, 2016 at the Delta Hotel Edmonton South, in Edmonton.

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Recognizing Community News Reporting

Recognizing Reporting

On November 4, journalists from across the province – including Erin Haluschak of the Comox Valley Record – were honoured at the annual Jack Webster Awards.

Haluschak was a finalist in the Community Reporting category for “l’tustolagalis – Rising Up, Together”.

This three-part series covers reconciliation, racism, and healing in the lead up to the demolition of St. Michael’s Residential School on February 18, 2015.


At the time the series was written, St. Michael’s was one of five remaining residential schools in British Columbia.

The Anglican Church operated the facility in Alert Bay from 1929 to 1975. It was part of the Canada-wide system that forcibly removed more than 150,000 First Nation, Inuit and Metis children from their families.

Haluschak’s series is told through powerful characters like elder Evelyn Voyageur who attended the school for six years. She later did a PhD to understand and create awareness about the loss of identity caused by colonization, Christianity and oppression.

Readers also hear from Jimmy Quatell, who spent four years at the school and, as a result, has felt like nothing more than a “stupid little Indian” throughout his entire life.

Chief Robert Joseph, who also attended St. Michael’s, called its demolition “historic”.

Haluschak’s series is insightful, eye-opening and gives readers an understanding of the harm caused to Comox Valley residents by the residential school system.

“Opening its bucket like a pair of jaws, the excavator rips into the front entrance of the 86-year-old building, with an equal mix of cheers and sobbing drowning out the sound of falling bricks and wood beams,” Haluschak writes to bring readers into the scene of mixed-emotion during the demolition of St. Michael’s.

The BCYCNA is proud to recognize the work of members who are doing such thoughtful reporting in their communities.

To read Erin Haluschak’s series in the Comox Valley Record, click the following links:

Part One: Residential Reconciliation

Part Two: First Nations people continue to deal with racism daily

Part Three: A time to heal: Former students of St. Michael’s gather prior to school’s demolition

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CPF Aid to Publishers Funding Applications Due November 24


We would like to remind BCYCNA members that the deadline for Canadian Periodical Fund Aid to Publishers is fast-approaching.

Please view the CPF’s reminder below.

Attention: Publishers and Circulation Managers at paid-circulation community newspapers

The Department of Canadian Heritage is currently accepting applications for the 2016-2017 funding year of the Aid to Publishers component of the Canada Periodical Fund.

Applications for 2016-2017 Aid to Publishers funding are due on Tuesday, November 24, 2016. Publishers have less than one week to complete and submit the application, along with supporting documents, to Canadian Heritage. Application packages must be postmarked or courier-dated on or before the deadline date. Applications will not be accepted electronically.

To download the Applicant’s Guide and Application Form, visit the Aid to Publishers website at

The Aid to Publishers component provides financial support to eligible Canadian print magazines and non-daily newspapers using a formula that divides the total program budget among all approved periodicals.

For more information, contact:

Canada Periodical Fund – Aid to Publishers
Department of Canadian Heritage
Telephone toll-free: 1-866-811-0055

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Extend Your Reach: Become a Google News Publisher

Extend Your Reach- Become a Google News Publisher

Community newspapers publish important, timely stories. Some are even the main source of information for residents of the cities and towns in which they operate.


While critics are quick to say the newspaper industry is dying, we know it’s alive, thriving and adapting to digital platforms.


Community newspapers, for example, can now reach more readers than ever before by becoming Google News publishers.


Google news aggregates headlines from more than 50,000 sources around the world. It’s an automated and personalized service, so a computer uses algorithms to collect content based on individual readers’ interests.


“Google News aims to organize all the world’s news and make it accessible to its users, while providing the best possible experience for those seeking useful and timely news information,” the search engine says on its site.


Content has to be timely and of high quality to qualify, so BCYCNA members should apply.


For more information on how to become a Google News Publisher, click here.

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Ma Murray Update

Ma Murray Update

The online contest system for the Ma Murray Awards will start accepting entries in the next couple of weeks, giving you almost two months to collect and submit your wonderful work.

While you can’t submit your entries just yet, we thought it would be helpful to send out a reminder, Ma Murray Categories & Descriptions so you can begin collecting your team’s work.

The deadline for entries will be Monday, January 18, 2016, and we will announce finalists in the beginning of March.

Winners and runners-up will then be announced in 45 award categories, and we’ll celebrate with dinner, drinks, entertainment, music, dancing, and one heck of a party on May 7, 2016 at the River Rock Casino Resort in Richmond, BC.

If you’re not sure how the online system works, don’t worry. We’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide when the website is ready.

Stay tuned for more updates by email and in our next newsletter.

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Networking for Our Members

Published on October 27, 2015, by in Uncategorized.


The Association sent representatives to the Union of BC Municipalities in October to network with politicians and other influencers from across the province.

Dee Dhaliwal, publisher of the Vancouver Courier and WestEnder, and George Affleck, the BCYCNA’s General Manager, attended the weeklong convention.

UBCM sets policies that reflect the interests of all BC communities – including the more than 100 towns and cities in which the association’s members publish newspapers.

The organization also strives to represent, serve and advocate for all local governments by developing policies, fostering relations and liaising with other groups.

The BCYCNA was happy to bring forward and discuss issues that affect its members at this year’s convention.

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Critiquing Pages – To the Readers, it’s almost all about the stories

Published on October 27, 2015, by in Uncategorized.


In October, I traveled to Albuquerque, where I gave the Saturday keynote address at the New Mexico Press Association Convention. On Sunday morning, I caught a flight to Orlando, where I spoke at an international conference made up of newspaper and magazine publishers.

My assignment in Florida was a little out of the ordinary. In addition to giving the keynote, I was asked to meet with publishers individually and look over their products, offering criticism and advice. The convention planner expected maybe a dozen publishers to take advantage of the opportunity to meet with me for 30 minutes each over two days. By the time I left Florida, I had met with more than 20 publishers, who represented scores of titles.

While I was packing my computer to head back to the airport, several of the attendees stopped me. Most of them said something like, “I can’t wait for you to see my magazine next year” or “I plan to win all the awards next year after making the changes you suggested.”

It reminded me a little of my visits to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where I’m invited every couple of years to spend two days with the news staff there. I’m always surprised by the things we get into while I’m with the Kentucky New Era, but tend to find our page critiques the most helpful exercise. I can’t take credit for the idea. It originally came from Eli Pace, editor, and we’ve made it a regular part of my visits.

The idea works like this: The various editors meet around a conference table for a few hours, while we look over pages from the previous year. This is done by projecting the pages onto a large screen, where we can critique the pages simultaneously.

We discuss the quality of headlines, the placement of stories, the general layout of the pages and more. Once, I noted that newspaper flag on the front page looked a little dirty. Eli gave me the go-ahead to “play with the flag” that afternoon and I sent a clean copy to him before heading back to the hotel.

Not knowing he was actually going to use the cleaner design, I was surprised the next morning when he told me several readers had called in to comment on the improved front page design.

All I did was clean up the drop shadow behind the words “Kentucky New Era.” I didn’t change the shape or size of anything. I simply inserted a thin white line between the characters in the flag and the drop shadow behind them. Little things make a big difference.

While preparing for the Florida group, I gathered a group of 23 folks in my hometown of Knoxville to look over some of the various newspapers and magazines I thought would be represented in Orlando. This focus group was made up of ordinary readers. None of them were professional writers, editors or designers.

I divided the focus group into smaller groups of three to four members each and asked them to critique a dozen elements of the publications. These included stories, design, readability and other elements.

Most surprising to me was the lack of concern over paper quality. Most readers didn’t seem to care whether they were reading something printed on coated stock, newsprint or something else.

What they cared about most were the stories. Were the topics of local interest? Were the writers local or did they get the material from a news service? How was the quality of the writing?

When I met individually with publishers, I shared the input of the focus groups, then went through their publications page by page, sharing my own thoughts. Afterwards, more than a few of the participants told me it was the most valuable program they’d every attended at a convention.

Why was it so valuable? Most of us, I think, get so used to seeing our newspapers that we forget how the reader sees them. By looking at their products through new eyes, I was able to share ideas that will be valuable as they continually work to improve their publications.

Here’s a thought: How about gathering a focus group to look at your newspapers every six months? By offering to pay for lunch, I had 23 willing participants, giving us enough folks to break into groups and critique two dozen titles in four hours.

In my customer service survey last month, I learned that the chief concern of subscribers is the number of local stories and the quality of writing. For nonsubscribers, quality of writing was number one and local story content was number two.

Consider creating your own focus group. I can’t wait to hear from the publishers I met in Florida to learn about the improvements to their products in the coming months.

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Media Guide Reminder

Published on October 27, 2015, by in Uncategorized.


Media Guide

The federal election has passed and we hope your newsrooms were able to take advantage of the BCYCNA’s Media Guide – especially the section on election advertising.

This helpful resource covers topics like copyright, court reporting, defamation, libel, and advertising regulations.

The BCYCNA sent out login information for the guide in July, but has since received questions from members about how to access the document.

Publishers and editors, if you received login information, please share it with your newsrooms or email for your username and password.

If you have already received your password, please follow the below steps to access the guide:  

1. Click the link:

2. Click  in the top right corner.


3. Click “login” where it says




4. Enter your username/email and password as provided by the BCYCNA.


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Ma Murray 2016 Update


Your BCYCNA office is kicking the quest for Ma Murray Awards sponsors into full gear with new advertising materials.

Please help us spread the word about sponsorship by directing people to our brand new landing page and sponsorship package.

Both provide information about the awards and benefits of participating in the event.

We appreciate your help in making next year’s gala a success and can’t wait to recognize your awesome work.

Speaking of which, it is almost time to start submitting that work! The online contest system will open for entries on Friday, November 20, and this year, you will have a full two months to collect and submit your work. The deadline for entries will be Monday, January 18, 2016.

Watch your inbox for email updates from the BCYCNA office.


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Dead at Deadline! Emergencies are just part of the game in our business

Published on August 25, 2015, by in Uncategorized.

By Kevin Slimp

The News Guru


In retrospect, I love the email subject line: “Dead at deadline.”

The email came to me at 6:15 last night, just as I was getting ready to take my two teenagers out for dinner. It was from Joe, a publisher at a small weekly who, like many newspaper publishers, has become my good friend over the past 20 years.

Before I tell you more about the email, let’s step back in time to yesterday afternoon when I mentioned to some folks in my office that I needed to come up with a topic for today’s column. A couple of ideas were tossed around when, finally, I said, “Don’t worry. Something will come up. It always does.”

I just didn’t know that “something” would be my friend, Joe. I threw the Xbox remote to my daughter and said, “Take Zach on in a game of Tetris while I make a phone call.”

After a few rings, Joe was on the other end of the line. It’s funny how, after being in this business for so long, things like this don’t seem nearly as frantic as they once did. We’ve all faced crises at deadlines, and we’ve all lived to tell the tale. But this was a tough one.

Seems there was a big storm yesterday that knocked out the power at Joe’s paper for a while. When the lights came back on, Joe and his staff opened InDesign to finish laying out the pages. That’s when the problem arose.

As Joe went to open the InDesign file he had been working on before the storm, the words “Cannot place this file. No filter found for requested operation” popped up on the screen. It might as well have said, “Danger, Will Robinson,” because, just as in the old TV series “Lost in Space,” Joe had a major problem on his hands.

He was, as he so eloquently penned, “Dead at deadline.”

After a couple of decades as a consultant, I’ve learned a few important skills that help at times like these. The most important task at deadline is to get the paper out. Figuring out the exact cause of the problem can come later.

Once, while training the staff at The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, a pressman ran into the room shouting, “We need you now!”

It seems the plates were on the press, it was a few minutes past deadline, and there was one page that wouldn’t go through the RIP (the processor that sends the files to the platemaker). We could have spent precious time trying to determine the cause of the problem. But no one was very interested in the cause. They just needed a plate. I made some adjustments to the PDF, sent it to the RIP, and we figured out the cause of the problem later.

Back to Joe’s problem. We could figure out the cause of the issue later. Right now, we just needed to get those ads on his pages so the PDFs could go to the printer.

The first course of action is to get the easy stuff out of the way. After learning he had already tried restarting the computer, I suggested he go ahead and try creating PDFs from the pages, even though it was doubtful they could be used.

He did. And they couldn’t be used. All of the ads were pixilated throughout the pages.

Next, since it seemed like an InDesign filter problem, I walked Joe through creating a “package” of the InDesign file, which he then sent to another computer. It was doubtful that two computers would have the same filter missing in InDesign.

You guessed it. When he opened the InDesign file on the other computer, Joe saw the same dire warning on the screen, “Cannot place this file. No filter found for requested operation.”

What were the chances that two different computers would lose the same filter during a thunderstorm?

This had all taken place within about 15 minutes. My next idea was to walk Joe through the art of creating a Photoshop “action” that would take each of his ads and convert them to another format, perhaps TIFF or JPG.

That’s when things got really interesting. Photoshop could not open the files. You guessed it. A different warning appeared, letting Joe know that the files were corrupt.

I know what you’re thinking. What about the backup files? None. What about Time Machine (a built-in function on all Macs since 2008 that periodically “remembers” everything done on a computer and saves it for future use)? Joe’s staff was working on Windows-based computers, so there was no Time Machine.

It wasn’t the time for a lecture on backing up. It was deadline. And by now, 30 minutes had passed.

I asked Joe if he had the original InDesign files in which the ads were created. He did. I thought for a moment about replacing the original links with the InDesign files (you can place an InDesign file on another InDesign document), but there was too great a risk of font and link issues within those files.

Finally, I told Joe he had two choices. The first was to go with the pixilated PDF he was able to create. The second option, I explained, was to open each InDesign ad file, export them as PDF files, then hope for the best. Joe decided on the second option.

At 9:29, I received this message from Joe: “It will truly be a good night, thanks to you. Paper transferred to printer with no errors. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You. Sorry I interrupted your dinner with the kids. Will look forward to winter convention and dinner.”

Yes, the kids and I did have dinner. I did most of my work with Joe while we drove to and from Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant. On the way to the restaurant, I apologized to my kids for being on the phone during the drive.

My daughter, who doesn’t miss much, remarked, “I noticed you were taking the long way to Abuelo’s.”

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