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A moment of stillness while re-inventing the business?

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Leslie Campbell

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April 9, 2020

BORIS IS OUT OF INTENSIVE CARE, though still in hospital. I am not a fan of his, but am relieved. Somehow a world leader dying of the virus would have been truly demoralizing.

The Mew gulls have shown up—hundreds of them—and are making their delightful squeals while doing aerobatics en masse above the tidal flats. When I google them, I stumble onto the Audubon Society’s interactive map which shows their range now and under various global warming scenarios. Even at 1.5 degree warming, they will lose 40 percent of their range including along Vancouver Island.

 

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Mew gulls gather in Hyacinthe Bay, an annual occurrence

 

In other depressing news, today the Victoria International Jazzfest announced its cancellation due to the COVID-19 crisis. Set to run June 19-28, it would have been number 37. The Jazz Society is working on a plan to present a special series of concerts beginning in late summer/early fall. By then we’ll really need some live music.

In an earlier era I volunteered for Jazzfest. Darryl Mar, who still heads it up, became a friend. I served beer at Market Square performances circa 1986/7. I adored those concerts—their exuberant, communal feeling, with elegant jazzy notes floating up to an open sky encircled by the old brick buildings. I’ve emailed Darryl my sympathies. I hope we all buy tickets to whatever they come up with.

A lot of my FOCUS time these days is spent reviewing submissions from writers. Right now we have a backlog of about six stories to post. We hesitate to post more than one each day as we do want to stretch out what funds we have left.

We are going to run some ads on the site starting in May, but probably just for free to help out our small business/arts organization clients. We will also have that donate button. But who knows whether reader donations will materialize. We have always had some donations (beyond subscriptions) to the FOCUS print magazine. But those readers loved the print version; a digital magazine is a different thing.

Reading the Columbia Journalism Review, which arrives in my inbox every morning, writer Alexandria Neason notes, “The weaknesses [in the media] that COVID-19 is exacerbating have long existed; if we’re smart, we’ll channel the ingenuity currently on display in our communities long after the virus is kept at bay.” She thinks it’s time for journalists to reconsider what news is essential. “More information as a default setting doesn’t fly. The 24-hour news cycle—the compulsion to produce, to fill time and space, to never stop talking—is as much a characteristic of our industry’s technology-induced neurosis as it is a product of our hyper-capitalist system. This moment of self-isolation, of stillness, is an opportunity for us to take stock of our habits and behaviors.”

Ah, yes. A moment of stillness. It sounds great, and I am finding them thanks to this heavenly natural place, but it is challenging when one has to also re-invent one’s business model. Big newsrooms and small publications like FOCUS are all facing plummeting ad revenues. It will be fascinating—hopefully inspiring—to see how the media landscape is transformed a year from now.

I welcome your response, either as a comment below or privately through the Contact Us button at the bottom of this page.

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