Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ski resort gets a daily with a dual personality

The weekly paper in Whistler, B.C., on Thursday launched a free daily that has two names and two different front pages -- one for Whistler and a second for the neighboring town of Squamish. Whistler Today and Squamish Today will be published Monday-Friday and distributed in racks and hotels, cafes and restaurants. The papers will have local news as well as coverage from Reuters and the New York Times News Service. Whistler will host several events during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

Whistler and Aspen are worth comparing. Each has a permanent population of less than 10,000 yet attract more than 2 million visitors during the winter. Each has a thriving summer season as well. In Aspen, the local weekly didn't respond when a free daily started publishing in 1979. Only after that free daily had a foothold in the community did the weekly respond in 1989 by launching its own daily, which has been very successful. Yet Aspen still has two dailies. In Whistler, the weekly didn't wait for a free daily to come to town -- it opened its own free daily.

British Columbia has other free dailies. Vancouver had three for a while, but with the demise of Dose in May, it is left with Metro and 24 Hours. Also the ski resort of Smithers saw the launch of The Northern Daily on June 5.