The media landscape has undergone significant changes since the Rocky Mountain Outlook launched its first issue on Sept. 20, 2001.
The internet was in its infancy and the ease of communication was growing as technology advanced, meaning the printed word was still king.
Twenty years since the first issue came off the press and the role of technology has expanded in allowing people to receive news, the goal of the paper remains the same: to provide relevant and accurate community coverage that residents of the Bow Valley deserve and expect.
The valley has a little more than 30,000 permanent residents, but sees millions of visitors come each year.
Unlike other small communities, the issues in the valley are a reflection of Canada as a whole.
The region deals with municipal, provincial and federal politics on a greater scale than any other small community in the country. The issues of a highly visited national park and provincial parks are always front and centre, but housing, affordability, food insecurity, development, transportation, climate change and the environment are also front of mind.
The communities are also a show of diversity, with people unable to walk more than a block without hearing a handful of different languages due to the large number of cultures who call the region a temporary or permanent home.
Issues impacting residents continue to get coverage across not only the province, but nationally and internationally.
It is not uncommon to see ongoing valley issues in the pages of The Globe and Mail, the CBC or across the border in the United States in outlets such as The Washington Post.
At the Outlook’s creation, media in the valley were well-represented in the Banff Crag and Canyon and the Canmore Leader. The Calgary Herald also had a bureau and local topics were regularly covered by the CBC, environment and wildlife publications and more.
In recent years, corporate ownership of newspapers have seen staff be cut as decisions are led in attempts to save rather then make money, impacting comprehensive community coverage.
But each week, the pages of the Outlook has the ongoings of local councils, upcoming events, entertainment and arts and sports stories.
That is not to say there have not been times of challenge.
When the Outlook first launched, the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States all but sank the tourism market the valley is so reliant on and crushed advertising revenue.
Other similar downturns impacted the paper such as the 2008 financial crisis and the current COVID-19 pandemic, but the news still gets out.
The growth of the internet has seen media outlets slow to adapt, but since the first pages came off Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press in the 15th century industry change has always been a constant.
Though media outlets have largely tripped over its feet when it comes to navigating the internet, the journalists on the ground have adapted.
As new forms of communication have been developed, journalists have largely seen it as an avenue to get information to the community rather than a deterrent.
In the digital era, a greater emphasis has been placed on the number of clicks and the social media reach. At the end of the day, however, accurate, ethical and relevant stories are what drives readership.
In the first editorial of the paper, then editor and Outlook co-creator Carol Picard wrote “as a free newspaper, we have an opportunity to provide comprehensive regional news and entertainment listings not only to you, the residents of the Bow Valley, but also to the more than four million visitors who visit our part of the world each year.
“We want out guests to pick us up and spend some time in our pages, to get a real taste of what the issues and opinions are of the people who live here.”
The core of the paper still has the same values. Reliable, ethical and accurate coverage.
While the years pass, media in the valley continues to work hard to cover the important issues and bring the best coverage to residents.
It is what readers want and deserve.
To view the first edition of the Rocky Mountain Outlook, visit here.