Dave Obee: The Times Colonist is here for years to come

VKA-obee-520501.jpgLet there be no doubt: The Times Colonist is here for the long term. Despite what you might read elsewhere, we have no intention of shutting down this year, next year or in any year after that.

We will remain at 2621 Douglas St. for many years to come. We have sold the building, but have signed a long-term deal to be the anchor tenant here as it is refreshed and renewed. This is our home, and will continue to be our home.

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We sold because we do not need all of this space. For years, we have had tenants on two of our three floors. When the building was opened almost half a century ago, we published two newspapers using technology that had been unchanged for decades.

Many things are different now. We have changed with the times, and we have embraced new technology that is far more efficient — and easier on the environment, to boot.

But rest assured, the Times Colonist is here to stay.

So, please, if you read on Facebook that we are closing, do not fall for it. It’s not true.

Rumours about us were spread through several Facebook pages on Wednesday. The person behind the rumours did not bother to talk with me, or with anyone else who might have the straight goods.

Beyond that, he blocked me from commenting to prevent me from challenging what he said.

A legitimate news source strives for accuracy. We don’t always succeed, but we do all we can to correct mistakes when they are brought to our attention. That’s why we post fixes on our website as soon as we can, and that is why we publish corrections in a prominent spot on Page A2.

Some online sources, such as Mike Kozakowski’s Citified.ca, have a high regard for accuracy and accountability. They deserve their success.

But too many have no regard for the truth. They grab stories from established media outlets, then sprinkle in a generous helping of stuff that is highly opinionated or created with evil intent, and pretend it is trustworthy.

Those sites damage the public dialogue that is essential in a democracy. It’s hard to debate when we don’t know what is true. But when someone knowingly spreads falsehoods, it is next to impossible to get them to stop.

The claim that the Times Colonist is closing within 12 months has no basis in fact. The way that it is being presented as a cold, hard fact is discouraging. But welcome to the new age, when anyone with a Facebook account can say anything they want, and find an eager audience.

So, while the glory days of newspapers rolling in money are long gone, with careful, committed management we will have a healthy future.

Some tough decisions always have to be made, but that can be said about any business.

We will continue to invest in local newsgathering, and we will continue to have the largest newsroom on Vancouver Island. We are committed to being part of life in Greater Victoria for many more years.

Besides, we are looking ahead to exciting times as our building is transformed around us. It’s almost half a century old, and it is due to be refreshed. The new owners, Merchant House Capital, have grand plans to add a residential tower to our site, and remake the existing building with a central atrium.

There will be some construction noise, and we will have to shuffle this way or that as the work is being done — but we are looking forward to those days.

The reinvigorated building will be known as the Victoria Press Building. And the Times Colonist will still be here.

We’ve been in business since 1858, and I predict we will be in business long after I am gone.

Dave Obee is editor-in-chief of the Times Colonist.


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