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Friday, December 7, 2018

State of the Voice December 2018


Chris Davis, Publisher, Pincher Creek Voice - We established the Pincher Creek Voice more than 8 years ago with a simple mission statement: "All the news fits".  We sought to leverage the power of modern technology, including the internet and social media, in a way that ideally allowed this community to see itself in a clearer way.  We sought to elevate its citizens.  We sought, as much as possible, to observe the story rather than be part of it.


How well we were succeeding at that 5 years ago is for others to judge, and our back-catalogue of stories remains available here to see what this site used to be.

We have been one of the most visited websites in rural southern Alberta for most of our history, and our numbers are surprisingly still quite strong.  More people read the Pincher Creek Voice in a month than live here, even now at a significantly reduced level of reporting.  We get over a million pageviews a year.

For the first five years we followed our self-imposed ideals, and were rewarded with an economic growth that eventually provided regularly for about 1/3 of the output we were providing.  Unfortunately, it did not rise above that or show any promise of doing so, and we were forced to cut back our coverage, gradually over time.   We did all the 80 hour weeks we could. Our current coverage is less than 1/3 of what it was, and the business' income has dwindled somewhat, so at this point in the balance we are right-sized as an enterprise, despite our disappointment at no longer being able to continue as planned.  The money just isn't there to do it.  Our community coverage has not been advertising-based, and that business model is what's dominating a dwindling market.

We're one of the few news-based publications around that experienced significant revenue growth  over the middle years of our existence so far, so there's that.  Sun Media has been swallowed by Postmedia which has been swallowed by debt sharks, and broadcast journalism is in a precipitious decline as well.  Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Kijiji, etc. have cannibalized the market to an almost fatal degree.  Memes are more popular and interactive than actual worked-hard-for content.

A mild and admittedly half-hearted crowd funding attempt a couple of years ago paid for a week and a half of this publication, and I thank those who contributed.  Ultimately I still believe a publication like this should stand on its own merits without resorting to crowd funding or grant monies.  I've been proven wrong about that, but it is what it is.

Complicating things, I had a heart attack this summer, in the middle of a musical gig of the type that  has helped me fund this endeavour, and was off work for the better part of a month, with no budget to replace me.  I'm much better now, thanks to science, medical personnel, doctors, Pincher Creek Ambulance, EMS, the Canadian healthcare system, and Toni.

It was time for hard choices.  We've concentrated this year on paying down the debt this effort has accrued so far, with relative success, and that has allowed us to contemplate its future instead of denying it one.

We also discovered a sweet spot, as a commercial enterprise, between revenue and expenses.  Expenses = content.  Essentially the revenue has to double to really hit that sweet spot consistently.  For that to happen someone else would have to take the reins.  Sales has never been our forté.

As a business we erred in several major ways.

We told too many stories that people didn't want you to hear, and some stories you didn't want to hear.

We didn't replace our reporters often enough for them to escape the inevitable backlash of unpopular reporting, and the burnout of a 24/7 never-ending news cycle.  We've seen almost countless reporters working for rival publications come and go over the years.  Almost every story we publish has its detractors.  As a culture we do shoot the messenger.

We now know that the status quo is not likely to ever be enthusiastic about an endeavor like this.

We put editorial ahead of advertising.

We too often allowed ourselves to be free publicists for unsupportive entitities.

We tried to tell more stories than the budget provided for.

We didn't print it and become eligible for government grants.

Our demographic skewed younger, and older people control the money.



Going forward


  1. The Pincher Creek Voice is for sale. Serious inquiries only please to pinchercreekvoice@gmail.com 
  2. The Pincher Creek Voice is now conceptually a periodical.  We will continue to bring you critical news in a timely fashion, but around-the-clock coverage of everything we can get to is no more.  
  3. We continue to encourage submitted original material, addressed to pinchercreekvoice@gmail.com.  We reserve the right to say "that's an ad" when it's actually an ad.  Rule of thumb remains the same: Before an event it's an ad, after an event it's news.
  4. How advertising works on our site is about to get a much-needed update.  Please email pinchermedia@gmail.com with your advertising inquiries.

2 comments:

  1. Good Morning Chris, I have always loved the Pincher Creek Voice as it is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stuffy media environment. I am sorr to hear about your heart attack, but am extremely happy you have pulled through. I am also extremely blessed that i was able to a part of the early years of the Pincher Creek Voice as one of is columnists. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the first day wrote letters to the editor baxk in 2010 and 2011. It has been a wonderful journey my friend but the journey continues always. Maybe the journey of continual learning may not look the same as yesterday but i believe fully that the continual learning journey is a journey of imprvement and betterment towards a much different but better world. Thank you for you wonderful friendshi blessing and also the wonderful blessing of being a small part of you continual learning journey. Remember to Always Look Up & Keep On Smiling�� Sent with Love from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Merry Christmas and a very Hapy New Year as well. Sincerely from your blessed friend and fellow writerR Rob Bernshaw ��❤️❤️����

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  2. The Pincher Voice has been appreciated at least by me and my family over the years. Even more so now that we are so far away. I wish you the best in whatever endeavor/journey you and Toni decide to set out on. Number one...take care of your health!

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