By Robert Jump
Morinville – A fire chief, music teacher and newspaper reporter might seem like an unusual threesome to launch a new publication, but that’s precisely the combination putting their heads together to come up with the concept behind Morinville’s Monday Morning News: a print news-magazine set to hit the streets later this month.
The new publication takes the popular counter-top news format often found in restaurants and coffee shops and revamps it by removing the puzzles, colouring contests, old jokes and pumpkin pie recipes, and replaces it with short and informative articles relevant to the community in which it is published. In addition, readers can find points of view on what’s going on in Morinville and what people are talking about.
The initiative is being brought out by the Art of Conversation, the same group who pooled their resources to put on the public all-candidates forum held at Smith Music during the municipal election.
“It is simply a team of people who have very different skill sets and diverse backgrounds that have chosen to respond to a question on the street commonly asked: Why doesn’t somebody do something about that?” said Ron Cust, an active volunteer in Morinville and one of the members of the Art of Conversation group. “The team’s main goal is to create a buzz on the street so everyone has a voice in talking positively about the great community Morinville is and respecting the historical and cultural traditions that have brought us to this point.”
“Morinville’s upcoming 100th anniversary is a great opportunity to look at what the volunteer and business community can do to make Morinville once again the hub of business and innovation,” Cust said. “The goal is making the town a point of conversation and a model of true community communication for the entire province.”
The idea to launch a publication came about through a conversation between Cust and Smith Music owner Paul Smith, Cust said, regarding how beneficial it would be to Morinville to take the MorinvilleNews.com concept and deliver it to an offline readership. Although Cust and Smith had tried to convince MorinvilleNews.com editor Stephen Dafoe of the soundness of the idea, Dafoe resisted, at least initially.
“When I launched MorinvilleNews.com I took seriously my mandate to deliver Morinville and area residents the news while it is still news,” Dafoe said. “Having worked for two weekly and one bi-weekly paper in Alberta, I knew that much of the news we delivered was common knowledge and past its expiration date by the time it was in the reader’s hands.”
However, working with Cust and Smith in planning and running the all-candidates forum last month, Dafoe began to warm to the idea.
“As we talked about it, I began to see their point more and more,” Dafoe said. “The online daily has gained great momentum in less than five months and has quickly become a go-to source for area news, but there was still the ability to reach out and provide information to those gathering at our local coffee shops and restaurants – all the places where people talk about what’s going on.”
“Although meeting that need was excellent, there still seemed to be a yearning for a community document that listed those events coming up next week, a picture or a discussion from your neighbour down the street,” Cust said of the Monday Morning News concept. “Take the energy and passion that was created by the various forums held for the election and create an interest among everyone to share their views in a safe way and help mould the community into the kind of community you want to raise your kids in. The kind of place where everyone knows your name and they are glad you came to share your thoughts.”
The community owned and operated publication seeks to be just that kind of community forum. Dafoe will shoulder the editorial and design duties for the news-magazine while Smith takes the lead in ad sales. The publication seeks to be a truly community initiative by offering local businesses an economical way to advertise.
Not only will the publication offer Morinville businesses affordable ad rates – Morinville businesses will be the exclusive advertisers.
“We heard so much about shopping locally during the election,” Dafoe said. “So many people in this community do not know what businesses are available in this community.
There are multiple reasons for that, but taking advertisers from Edmonton in a publication that touts itself as a pro-Morinville initiative seemed like the wrong direction to go. We certainly understand the need for the big guys to do that. But every now and then you just have to walk a different path than the big guys.”
Morinville’s Monday Morning News will also contain strictly Morinville news and will be printed in Morinville by Hunters Print and Copy, who are launching their own shop local coupon book initiative. The Art of conversation’s weekly news-magazine will be available wherever Morinville works, plays or shops.