In a light, informal setting Thursday at the Glynmill Inn in Corner Brook, more than 100 people took the opportunity to engage in a conversation about The Western Star and what they’re looking for in local media.
The session was part of an ongoing project known as the the Open Up Project. It is a part of Saltwire Network’s mission to gain a better understanding of what their audience expects to see in their daily media.
The Corner Brook edition of the project is the latest in a number of events across Atlantic Canada.
Mark Lever, president and CEO of SaltWire Network, spoke to the crowd about his commitment to local media and the uniqueness of the region.
“I get that Corner Brook is different from Gander, it’s different from St. John’s and it is different from Yarmouth (Nova Scotia),” he said. “We’re excited to have this opportunity and a big part of that is to try and instill a sense of autonomy in the markets that we’re in.
“We think it is an advantage to have people on the ground in 37 communities to tell those stories.”
The Western Star has been part of the Saltwire Network since April. That is when the company purchased the Star, along with Newfoundland and Labrador papers The Telegram, The Compass, The Aurora, The Labradorian, The Gulf News, The Northern Pen, The Nor’Wester, The Packet, The Pilot, The Beacon, The Advertiser and The Southern Gazette.
At the time, it also acquired 26 other Atlantic-Canadian media outlets.
With the acquisition, Saltwire Network became the largest independently owned media company in the country.
Lever said it is important for local media to reflect the communities they serve.
“I feel that we need to have a symbiotic relationship with the communities that we’re in,” he said. “We plan, and we have big plans. This is going to require a lot of time to get us back to where we need to be.”
Over the last number of months, there have been meetings at all levels of Saltwire Network to determine where the company needed to go.
One of those ideas was the Open Up Project.
“The No. 1 thing they said is we have to get closer to the communities that we are serving and we have to listen to what our communities want,” said Lever. “We believe local media is more important now than ever.
“We think that we can be a vital part of the economic development in these communities, but we need to hear from you.”
To have your say, visit www.openupproject.ca to voice your opinion on what you would like to see covered in your community.