I grew up in Coquitlam — chasing a basketball around Blue Mountain Park — and then destiny brought me back. Well, destiny and a layoff notice.
In the decade or so between Vancouver’s Winter Olympics and the COVID-19 outbreak, I worked as a reporter at community newspapers in Maple Ridge, Burnaby, Vancouver, Richmond, and North Vancouver (wonderful people, terrible traffic).
I covered everything from North Vancouver’s last video store to the ramifications of renoviction, documenting the lives of ordinary people making their way through life in the Lower Mainland. It wasn’t the stuff of national headlines but I hope my stories helped readers stay informed and in touch with each other.
Sadly, a lot of local newsrooms have lost staff in recent years. I’ve seen experienced reporters lose their jobs and talented young people leave the industry due to lack of opportunity. Two of the newspapers where I worked and learned so much (the Maple Ridge Times and the Vancouver Courier) don’t exist anymore.
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No one covers the Tri-Cities like we do. But we need your help to keep our community journalism sustainable.
But around the time I was lamenting the collapse of community journalism (and stuffing a layoff notice into my own pocket), I saw a job posting offering a new way to keep the people in my old backyard informed and connected.
For the last year, as editor of the Tri-Cities Dispatch, I’ve been sending out daily newsletters (around 250 so far) and telling stories about our fascinating community and the places we call home.
We’ve covered conflict on Port Moody council and chronicled pollution in Stoney Creek. We rode along with outreach workers and toured the People’s Pantry. We’ve dug into the history of the region, kept an eye on school board meetings, and eaten an astonishing amount of baked goods.
Our goal has been to be informative and enjoyable — in that order. And if our 10,000 newsletter subscribers from Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore and Belcarra are any indication, it looks like our original reporting is filling a real need in the Tri-Cities community.
I’ve seen some fine reporting elsewhere in the Tri-Cities, but not enough of it. We need more voices, new perspectives, and better conversations.
It might sound like a small thing, but I don’t think it is. I believe the character of a community is defined by the quality of our conversations.
At the Dispatch, we are committed to facilitating these conversations.
But we can’t do it alone.
Reporting requires resources. We’re not here to make a profit, but we do need your help to keep our community journalism sustainable. That’s why we’re asking our readers to chip in a monthly contribution.
Your monthly contribution will let us write more, dig deeper, and keep having those conversations. We’re particularly interested in digging into local stories that might otherwise go unreported or, at least, not get the attention they deserve.