By the time you read this, the 21-year-old Merritt News will be closed for good, five of its employees will be out of work, and, most importantly, the people of Merritt will be without another source of local news and a medium through which to voice their concerns.
And, in our opinion and that of many others, Merritt will be without its news leader.
With the revamping of our website late in 2009, we have worked to deliver fresh, in-depth news almost 365 days a year—something which nobody else in town had done up to that point. Even today, our daily news presence is unmatched.
We may not have had the historic appeal that kept some of Merritt’s older readers loyal to our competition, but to the editorial staff at the Merritt News, we took our journalism very seriously and worked hard to deliver to the people of Merritt news that mattered. This, we thought, would be enough to win over anyone interested in staying in touch with the goings on in their community and with the interesting individuals who comprise the community…interesting Nicola Valley residents like the late Bob Murray or outdoorsmen Othmar Vohringer and Fred Watts, who were regular contributors to the News. Sadly, we will not be able to continue the remainder of Bob’s popular A Country Boy columns. Bob, who has pretty much been with the Merritt News since day one, had written so much for his readers over the years that we probably could have kept his columns going for another year or two at least. May his memory live on.
We took pride in our coverage, whether it was covering MountainFest and the Cents or thought-provoking and sometimes heart-wrenching feature stories on locals. And we didn’t shy away from the more controversial topics we felt the citizens had a right to know about. I’m sure some public officials are breathing a sigh of relief now that the Merritt News will no longer be demanding answers from them.
I appreciated Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas’ comments on Twitter July 26 following the announcement of our closure.
“This is a growing concern,” Albas said of newspaper closures. “Traditional media employs pros that present balanced local content, often lacking online.”
We weren’t always particularly easy on Mr. Albas, and I think he understood why (other officials didn’t), but we also made sure to give him fair representation in the Merritt News—like we’ve tried to do with everyone else at the heart of the stories we wrote on.
“Real loss for Merritt and region,” Albas continued in another tweet.
I urge our soon-to-be former readers—even our non-readers who might happen on this editorial—to demand journalistic integrity from their media, to demand answers, and ask for reasons on all matters. Merrittonians should make sure to always keep media figures in line, so that the media will, in turn, keep our elected officials in line—that would be my farewell to you.