Opinion
3 min

We’re still your local community paper

Losing the print edition is undeniably sad, but our stories will continue to thrive online

A collage of recent Xtra Vancouver covers. Credit: Xtra

I won’t lie: I’m going to miss our print edition.

I’m going to miss our sturdy purple newspaper boxes marking our community’s presence throughout the West End and across Vancouver. I’m going to miss seeing our community’s faces in the windows of those boxes, announcing our presence and celebrating our culture to all who walk by.

I’m going to miss my colleagues, people I’ve worked with for years to tell our stories. People from whom I’ve learned so much, whose insight I’ve come to rely on, trust and cherish.

I’m going to miss the feel of newsprint between my fingers.

I’m going to grieve. And I know I’m not alone.

For the last 14 years, my life has revolved around the schedule of conceptualizing, creating and sending an issue to press every two weeks. Putting an issue to bed and picking it up, printed, the next morning never lost its thrill.

For others, the thrill has been discovering reflections of themselves in our pages. How many times have I heard from community members that our paper was a critical component in their coming-out process? It’s been an honour.

I can’t replace the tangible feel of gritty, inked paper smearing our fingers, but I can, and will, continue to tell our community’s stories online. We’re not done sharing your stories; far from it.

Though the realities of mounting print costs have made publishing a print edition impractical, we’re making the heart-wrenching decision to shift our storytelling entirely online now while we still can — while we still have the means to tell our stories.

Shifting entirely online is only an extension of the direction we’ve already been taking. Even as we published slimmer and slimmer issues in print, we never stopped reporting online. If anything, our coverage of local stories has only increased since we launched dailyxtra.com in July 2013.

In the last year and a half, we’ve published a fresh local story nearly daily online, be it a breaking Vancouver news story, an arts piece, a feature, one of our regular columns, a photo gallery, a video or an editorial.

We’re already telling your stories online, and many of our readers — nearly double the readership of all three of our print editions combined — have already made the shift with us.

We’re still the same Xtra that followed Little Sister’s when it had the courage to stand up to censorship and take Canada Customs to court. We’re still the same Xtra that challenged the Surrey school board for repeatedly trying to ban gay-friendly books and has pushed every school board across the province to evolve ever since. We’re still the same Xtra that followed Aaron Webster’s accused killers through every step of the court process and challenged the prosecutor who never said “gaybashing” — and ultimately convinced the attorney general to change BC’s prosecution policy on anti-gay crimes.

We’re still the same Xtra committed to reporting our community’s news, nurturing our growth, exploring our culture, celebrating our sexuality and setting our love free. We’re still your local community paper.

We’re also, in the space afforded to us online, reaching out to other communities like ours across Canada and around the world. What’s it really like to be gay in Russia right now? We had a correspondent in Russia for eight months last year, long after the cameras left Sochi. We got to ask LGBT people on the ground about their lives, their fears and their joys. That, too, has been an honour. And we’re just warming up.

Imagine the stories we can tell online, from Pride in Iqaluit to WorldPride in Toronto, from homophobia in South Korea to change in Colombia.

This is not a farewell editorial. It’s an invitation.

Here’s to many more years of telling our stories through whatever means necessary. Right now we’re moving our storytelling completely online to an already-evolving Daily Xtra. I sincerely hope you’ll continue to join us there.