In an ever-developing digital age, media outlets across the world are forced to adapt to a changing landscape. In Lethbridge, the Lethbridge Herald is evolving for sustainability and to meet readers’ needs.
Each night at the Herald, close to 17,000 copies of the newspaper are printed, but the more-than-a-century-old outlet no longer defines itself as a newspaper.
“It’s about the content of the paper,” Lethbridge Herald publisher Brian Hancock said. “We’ve said we’re not a newspaper company anymore; we’re a media outlet that has news and information.”
While its core product is of course the paper, the Herald is adapting to meet the newer challenges of relaying urgent news, while still providing the print edition.
“The immediacy of social media is there and that’s the first step,” Lethbridge Herald city editor Nick Kuhl said. “But the followup to that is to round out the full story and that’s where our print product still comes in.”
Photographer Ian Martens has worked at the Herald for close to 20 years. When he first started, he used film for photos and often rushed back to the newsroom to digitize the material.
In recent years, he’s been able to do most of his work from a computer on location.
“Whether it’s sending a photo from a spot news event, or being at Hurricanes games and sending pictures of the game from the area, that’s something that’s new in the past few years to incorporate into our workflow,” Martens said. “Before, if there was a situation where we needed something early, it meant leaving the event or sport early.”
As technology advances and social media platforms constantly shift, setting a course for the future can be challenging.
“Years ago you could sit down and do a long-term game plan and say, ‘There’s the next five, 10, 20 years,” Hancock said. “Today, long-term game planning is what’s going to be six months from now. Things are changing so quickly and you just have to be ready to adapt.”
When it comes to the fundamental aspect of readership, a recent Vividata survey suggests little change over the past five years.
“Sixty-nine per cent of adults five years ago were reading the paper on a weekly basis and it’s 67.7 per cent right now,” Hancock said. “Two out of every three adults in Lethbridge read the Lethbridge Herald weekly.”
As the Herald tries to expand with the use of social media and an online edition, the distribution of news has changed, but the core values haven’t.
“I think the content and the stories we’re producing and the local angles to things – that’s what people are going to be looking for still as they consume news,” Kuhl said.