Column: Citizen getting a new look starting Friday

It's time to hit the refresh button.

It’s time to hit the refresh button.

On Friday, your Cowichan Valley Citizen will have a slightly different look. Nothing dramatic, just a few tweaks that are designed to make the paper a little more reader-friendly and offer some new opportunities for our advertisers to get their message to Cowichan Valley readers.

For starters, we’re going to enhance the arts and entertainment component of the Friday issue by adding a couple more pages that will provide a comprehensive guide to what’s happening in the Valley over the weekend. Our esteemed entertainment editor, Lexi Bainas, will be contributing her regular weekly arts and entertainment column in the Friday edition.

Other regular Friday features will include T.W. Paterson’s Cowichan Chronicles, Sarah Simpson’s popular column, The Bright Side, that has been running for the past few months and editor Andrea Rondeau’s insightful op/ed page column. Robert Barron’s common sense take on local issues will appear as usual on page two. And, puzzle fans, yes, the puzzle page will have a permanent home in the Friday edition.

Opinion columns still have an important place in newspapers. Perhaps more than ever. With a proliferation of news sources — mostly on the digital side, of course — including social media offerings that don’t always get it right, newspaper columnists have an opportunity and a duty to provide well-informed commentary on the news and issues of the day.

It’s something community newspapers have always done well and writing about local happenings, issues and people is a niche that we’re going to devote more space to in the coming months. Hopefully, with some minor design alterations, we’ll reinforce the fact that columnists are expressing their own personal opinions. Their missives aren’t news stories, they won’t always meet the editor’s demand that they be balanced with multiple sources. Their viewpoints are not always shared by other members of the staff or even ownership and that’s the way we like it.

So, when you think a columnist got it wrong — or right — let us know.

The Wednesday paper will also have a different look and tone.

Watch for a stronger focus on sports and business.

Award-winning sports editor Kevin Rothbauer will have additional pages to bring you up to date on all the local sports activities from the previous weekend and the must-read features on Valley athletes.

Wednesday will also be home to versatile Robert Barron’s business notes column, feature stories about local businesses and breaking news on the enterprise front. And, of course there will be our usual comprehensive coverage of local news, arts and entertainment. We’re also going to publish reports from the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Duncan Business Improvement Area.

More and more, the news business is about connecting with the local community through social media or traditional print products.

The Citizen and our sister papers, The Lake Cowichan Gazette and the Chemainus Valley Courier, are upping our game when it comes to supplying content that is timely and informative.

Timely no longer means in time for the edition that comes out in two or three days; it means getting the story online in a matter of minutes. It’s a challenge, sometimes, but it’s the new reality for today’s journalists and media outlets.

In order for us to be successful in this area we need to strengthen our connection to the community. It’s a two-way street.

In the coming weeks we’re going to be telling you more about our plans to invite the community into our business of news gathering and dissemination. We’ve always loved your news tips and photos and we’re anxious to take that to another level, largely through our website that is now attracting more than 150,000 page views a month. We’re also actively using Facebook as a tool to inform the community about breaking news.

The Citizen is the newspaper of record in the Cowichan Valley and we’re determined to be the go-to source for breaking news, in-depth reporting and community dialogue.

We invite your comments at any time. You can reach me at 250-748-2666 or warren.goulding@blackpress.ca or editor Andrea Rondeau at 250-748-2666 or editor@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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