FVC Weekend Edition No. 24 — Oh Reporters, Where Art Thou?
Hello Fraser Valley Current subscriber! We thought you’d like a sneak peak at the Saturday weekend newsletter that each and every Insider Member gets. Every week, we recap all our journalism, share some behind-the-scenes insight, and give members a preview of local events and the stories we are working on in the coming weeks. We hope this is particularly useful for all those people who might not have a time to read each daily newsletter, but has a little more time on the weekend.
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Hey Insiders, it’s Tyler 👋
Recently, I got into a discussion about labour shortages—in particular regarding ferry delays caused by a shortage of workers.
At some point in the discussion, one person said that if BC Ferries wanted to solve its problem, it just needed to offer a workplace and benefits that could attract enough employees. It’s a simplistic argument, but not wrong. The labour market is a market and, as such, reacts to price incentives.
At the same time, it seems increasingly apparent that we’ve entered an era of labour scarcity. There are open jobs everywhere you look—and not just at places with unattractive pay or workplace culture.
Demographically, this checks out. If you look at many industries and companies, you can see just how many organizations are dominated by people in their 50s and 60s. If you look at those organizations—many of which are among the biggest in the province—you can see the consequences that will arise as those older workers retire or seek to reduce their hours. As they do so, there just aren’t as many younger people around to take their places.
This isn’t because young people don’t want to work (statistics confirm that). It’s because there just simply aren’t enough of them. At the same time, many sectors—especially health care—have more to do than ever.
I think about this often, partly because even the journalism industry is going through this.
My industry is entering a new and puzzling world. The publications of 2023 don’t look a bit like those from 2006, when I graduated from university. Neither does the workforce, for better or worse.
Journalism has gone through a shattering decade and a half. The number of journalists employed in this province is a fraction of what it once was. And yet, for many newsrooms, it has never have been harder to actually find someone to fill the jobs that do remain. This has something to do with the fact that compensation is not exactly superb. But it’s not just that (because that, unfortunately, isn’t new).
Today, workers who played a key role in the final glory years of newspapers and broadcast media are retiring in large numbers or stepping away into part-time work. Many others are leaving mid-career for job prospects in other sectors. And I’m worried there aren’t enough younger reporters to fill the void.
Normally, people around my age would climb the ranks in their organizations while younger reporters would take on increasing roles of responsibility. But these aren’t normal days. The early and mid-2010s saw huge numbers of younger early- and mid-career journalists around my age leave journalism for understandable reasons. And, again understandably, relatively few young people chose to enter the profession.
All this has been aggravated by the way private and especially public bodies have thrown money at new “communications” positions focused on self-generating publicity and content. Any journalist knows there are more lucrative, less stressful jobs for the taking. (They just don’t come with journalism’s very unique non-monetary benefits—including the ability to challenge politicians and other powers that be.)
The situation I’m describing comes and goes, depending on location and time. The last year has seen many layoffs and right now, especially in our cities and Vancouver, there are lots of qualified and great reporters to be hired. But I don’t expect it to remain that way. Those great workers will get scooped up by non-journalism businesses, and when our industry recovers a bit, it will be hard to get them back.
These are major challenges facing journalism in the coming years. I’m glad people like The Current, and find it unique and worth supporting. It means a ton to us. But I’d also like us to be less unique. I’d like there to be space for great reporting, both in larger publications and in community-scale publications. There is certainly some of that. But it is limited not just by publication- and corporate-level decisions about resources, but also just by the availability of journalists—and the number of journalists out there who can give the talented new generation of writers the advice and help they need to grow their skills.
The future of media in this country is extremely uncertain at the moment. And yet, despite it all, I’m optimistic because of the intelligence and talent of new journalists like Grace G and the others who we have worked with over the last three years. I sympathize deeply with them, too. It can’t be easy to commit yourself to this profession right now while trying to make ends meet. But we desperately need them to stick with this job. Decades from now, journalism will still be crucial to our democracy and we’ll desperately need them leading teams unearthing information in communities across Canada.
Full disclosure: I’m occasionally finding it difficult to come up with topics to write about here. So I need your help! If you have a question (or opinion) about The Current, journalism, or how we all tell stories and learn about the places we call home, shoot me an email and maybe it can serve as a jumping off point for a future newsletter ramble!
The Insider Poll
Last week we asked:
We'll have another provincial election next year. Do you plan on voting for the same party as you did last time?
Same party: 71%
Different party: 29%
One of you wrote: “It's a difficult decision. Politics in the governance of so many diverse issues is complex. Sound bites and misleading half-truths, often full-on misinformation, complicate matters for the average busy citizenry. It would be really helpful if investigative reporters provided regular fact-checking for what are usually criticisms or attacks on an opposing party.”
Fall is nice until it isn't. When does Good Autumn end and Bad Autumn begin?
(We've got a story coming on this.)
Your Current round-up
1. Tattoos and arcades
2. Bad grass, good grass
3. University of trails
4. Butterfly bans
5. Residential school findings
Journalism can’t survive in the 21st Century without the financial support of those who consume it. If you can help, you can become a member here.
Here’s what’s happening this weekend
We polled you last week about our new topic-based formatting. Three-quarters of you liked this version, so we’re going to stick with it for now. Remember, you can also find the whole members-only events wrap-up story in every Thursday Current newsletter.
🎉 Festivities 🎉
Saturday, Sept. 23: The Agassiz Fall Fair and Corn Festival takes place Friday and Saturday with amusement rides, food trucks, entertainment, agriculture exhibitions, and a corn-husking competition. A full schedule is online.
Saturday, Sept. 23: Gladwin Heights United Church in Abbotsford hosts its annual fall fair with free admission Saturday from 9am to 1pm at 3474 Gladwin Rd. Features baking, books, pies, a barbecue, and coffee cafe. Details online.
Sunday, Sept. 24: The Fraser Valley Wedding Festival will set up in Abbotsford at the Clarion Hotel on Sunday, Sept. 24. Details online.
🌱 Nature & farming 🌱
Saturday, Sept. 23: Learn how to ethically forage in your background Saturday, Sept. 23 in a workshop held in conjunction with the Taste of Abby Fall Food Festival. Tickets online.
Saturday, Sept. 23: The Bog Cranberry Farm is holding its harvest kickoff party featuring food trucks, local brews, and a cranberry plunge. Tickets online.
Sunday, Sept. 24: The Hope Mountain Centre is running a guided paddle of the Fraser River from Hope to Agassiz on Sunday, Sept. 24 for World Rivers Day. Details online.
Sunday, Sept. 24: Join Langley Environmental Partners Society at Williams Park from 11am to 2pm on Sept. 24 to celebrate World Rivers Day and learn how to help protect and conserve Langley’s watersheds. Details online.
Sunday, Sept. 24: Celebrate BC Rivers Day Sunday, Sept. 24, by helping to pick up litter along the Chilliwack River with the Fraser Valley Conservancy and Chilliwack Vedder River Cleanup Society. Details online.
🏅 Sports 🏅
Saturday, Sept. 23: Vancouver FC will play the HFX Wanderers FC at Willoughby Community Park in Langley on Saturday, Sept. 23. More info online.
🔎 History and culture 🔎
Saturday, Sept. 23: The Fraser Valley Walk for Veterans will take place at Mill Lake in Abbotsford on Saturday, Sept. 23. The walk invites Canadians to learn about the lives of veterans after service and raise money through donations and sponsorships. Learn more or register here.
Saturday, Sept. 23: The Mission Community Archives are holding a free class on creativity and memory on Saturday, Sept. 23. Meet artists who use archival material in their work and make a memory collage of your own. Reserve a spot online.
Sunday, Sept. 24: Learn about the painted pillars at the Mission library from local First Nations representatives and family members of some of those portrayed. Sunday, Sept. 24 from 1:30 to 4:30pm. Details online.
🎨 Arts and crafts 🎭
Saturday, Sept. 23: The Mission Arts Council is hosting an Arts Alive event featuring different local artists, music, vendors, and food trucks at four different locations in the city on Saturday, Sept. 23. Find more online.
Saturday, Sept. 23: Meet local authors at the Mission library's book fair Saturday, Sept. 23, from noon to 4pm. Details online.
🙌 Fundraising 🙌
Saturday, Sept. 23: The Chilliwack Academy of Music is holding a prohibition-themed fundraiser at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre on Saturday, Sept. 23. Dress in themed costumes for prizes and try a variety of artisanal alcohol. Tickets online.
Members only have access to our weekly events story. Check out everything that’s coming up this weekend and early next week here:
And here’s what we’ve got our eyes on
👀 How are local municipalities responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action?
👀 Avoiding pickleball pratfalls
👀 How to care for an injured bird
Catch up on this week’s newsletters
Did you miss a newsletter this week? Here you go!
That’s it! What did you think of today’s Insiders-only weekend edition?
What did you think of today's Insider Weekend Edition?