I’m not sure if St. John’s has ever looked as beautiful as it did the first time I saw from the ocean sailing in through the narrows. At the time of evening when the setting sun casts a glow across the entire city, the view is enough to take anyone’s breath away. Every time I get the opportunity to catch a glimpse, I always think of what it must have looked like in 1497 when John Cabot sailed his ship The Matthew through the narrows of St. John’s harbour.
Like the ‘Ode to Newfoundland’ says, I imagine sun shining on pine-clad hills. I imagine the looks on the faces of the men aboard the ship when they dipped baskets into the sea and pull them up full of fish. Newfoundland was the land of plenty – until it wasn’t. After its discovery, Europeans flocked to the shores of the Avalon Peninsula to start a new life on new land. But, slowly resources began to disappear leaving many Newfoundlanders facing hardship.
The Oldest City in North America is a lot different now than it was then, but St. John’s has still managed to keep a tight hold on her roots. The predominantly English and Irish cultures have remained in-tact and are still visible when you stroll down the old streets in the City of Legends.
The past decade has brought a new vitality to St. John’s. A Large portion of the younger generations that went away for post-secondary studies, have come home to start businesses and projects in the city. St. John’s also attracts many young people from across the country, and the world, to come study in the province. Memorial University of Newfoundland is the largest (and cheapest) university in Atlantic Canada and offers degrees in more than 100 programs.
St. John’s is gradually becoming more and more diverse, and although a large sense of community exists amongst Newfoundlanders, people coming into the city (youth in particular) may not feel as connected to one another. In a city rich in arts, culture, and entertainment, the media needs to look at these areas in-depth. As a Newfoundlander I feel within my rights to say that we’re nosey. A nicer way to put it is we’re curious – we want to know what’s going on, when it’s going on, so any publication would have to contain a section for local news.
I’ve come up with: The Narrows Weekly. It’s a weekly publication in print, but primarily based online. It will focus on local news, upcoming projects and events in the arts, culture, and entertainment world, and will double as a way for people within this community to network with one another.
The Narrows Weekly is a website that brings St. John’s its news from the city, the pub, the coffee shop, the theatre, and the studio. It would have a mix of general news from the city and the province as a whole, along with the space to focus on the ever growing arts community in St. John’s.
The Narrows Weekly would function like any other news outlet – the office would be a news room located in the heart of downtown St. John’s. The narrows would employ one online editor responsible for all online content, an editor in chief, and around 3-4 staff reporters with at least some knowledge of arts reporting. They also must be well versed in all mediums, not just print. These reporters would turn stories everyday for the website, and the best stories throughout the week would then be put into the print version of The Narrows published every Sunday. Each week the reporters would also work on creating videos and audio pieces for the website – content such as interviews with prominent people in the city and the arts community, as well as profiling various artists and musicians.
Viewers of the website would have access to all news, arts, and entertainment stories, as well as all multimedia content. They would be able to comment on any content however all comments would be moderated by the online editor. Should they wish, readers/viewers would be able to contribute opinions and suggestions via the website. These would be moderated by the online editor as well.
The website would also act as a place for people within the arts community to network with one another. Members of the site would have access to online forums and would be able to post what they’re working on. Members would also be able to build up an online profile and portfolio on the site and use it to make contacts with other people in the arts community.
The Narrows Weekly would charge $1.00 for its print version, but the online content would be free. Online pay walls have not yet become reliable enough to make much money, so it would be hard to justify charging for online content. To become a member of the site, there would be an annual membership fee of $10.00 which would give you access to the networking tools on the site and would allow one to build a portfolio of work which would then be made available to all other members.
The Narrow’s revenue would come from advertising dollars. The Narrows would be host to ads from small, local businesses in the downtown core, as well as other larger businesses in the city. The Narrows would also have a number of tourism ads as Newfoundland relies heavily on the tourism industry. Every summer tourists come to the island from all over to see the landscape, meet the people, and check out some of the many festivals, concerts, and events.
In the summer season, the island is host to dozens of festivals, most notably the folk festival in Bannerman Park, the famous George Street Festival and the Salmon Festival, a three-day long concert event. Because tourism is such a huge industry on the Rock, the range of ads can expand greatly – ads for tourist attractions like whale watching, dinner theatres, and historical tours, as well as businesses like hotels, B&B’s, and restaurants.
Competition and Success
The Narrows Weekly would have one main competitor – The Scope. It’s a monthly St. John’s arts and entertainment magazine which can be picked up for free at many different locations in St. John’s and the greater St. John’s area including Mount Pearl, Paradise, Conception Bay South, and Torbay.
The appeal of The Scope is the cost – nothing. If The Narrows Weekly were going to compete, the quality of content would have to be quite high. Because it’s a weekly publication with fresh online content every day, The Narrows would be able to cover a wider range of stories. The Narrows also wouldn’t exclusively be tied to arts and entertainment, opening more doors to a wider readership. The Scope is also lacking any multimedia content on their site which would give The Narrows Weekly an advantage when it comes to consumer appeal.
Another advantage The Narrows would have over The Scope would be the ability for members to network and create portfolios on the site. The ten-dollar annual membership fee would not only help generate revenue, but the fee is low enough to be a viable option for up-and-comers in the arts community to get their name out there and meet people who could help them in the industry.
The Success of The Narrows Weekly would hinge entirely on the interest of the audience. Even though The Scope would have very similar content, the fact The Narrows also covers news and current events within the city and the province should allow for a greater following. The print edition isn’t free but with the cost of only one dollar (taxes included) it is more reasonable and more affordable than any other newspaper being sold in the city. The online success of The Narrows would be gauged not only in how many hits the site gets but the number of members and the interaction between them.
If The Narrows Weekly sold print editions every week, was able to generate revenue from advertising and membership fees and established a flow of communication amongst the public and between its members, the potential for overall success would be quite high.