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Windspeaker to publish online exclusively.

EDMONTON

Readers of Windspeaker are now holding the last printed issue of the magazine. As of March 1, Windspeaker will be available on-line only.

It is one more change in a long line of changes for the publication, which had its beginnings in March 1983 when the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society launched the AMMSA Newspaper to cover news in northern Alberta.

At that time, the newspaper distributed 5,000 copies every two weeks. Three years later, AMMSA Newspaper was renamed Windspeaker and news coverage grew from northern Alberta to western Canada and finally, in 1993 on its tenth anniversary, Windspeaker became Canada's first national Aboriginal publication. Readership has been in excess of 150,000.

Embracing digital media and going on-line is the next step in the publication's evolution.

"The speed and relevancy of Windspeaker's coverage will be greater than ever. On-line distribution allows us to not only cover issues of the day, but also enables us to continue with analysis of the issues impacting Indigenous people and communities throughout Canada," said Paul Macedo, AMMSA director of publishing operations.

But the change won't come without challenges, he admits. Loyal traditional Windspeaker readers will have to be converted to on-line readers and at the same time Windspeaker will have to build a new readership of the already tech-sawy, social media-focused younger generations.

Windspeaker's sister publication, Alberta Sweetgrass, which carries news relevant to the Indigenous population in Alberta, began paving the way in October 2015. At that time, Sweetgrass stopped being distributed as an independent publication and was incorporated into Windspeaker, and also began a more pronounced on-line presence.

The on-line presence does away with the significant costs of printing and mailing.

"This is a way for us to continue with the reporting and covering of critical issues," said Macedo. "It also enables us to schedule content on a daily basis rather than quarantining it for publication every four weeks."

For Alberta readers, there are more changes on the horizon as AMMSA works to coordinate its radio station, CFWE-FM out of Edmonton, with its on-line Sweetgrass coverage. AMMSA launched CFWE in 1986.

"Much of the Alberta Sweetgrass coverage impacts CFWE radio listeners so there will be a direct tie-in. Windspeaker news impacting Alberta listeners will also be utilized to help build the radio news package on CFWE.

Incorporating Windspeaker and Sweetgrass will be a significant improvement to the number of voices and views that make up CFWE news," said Macedo.

While AMMSA is in the process of hiring a news director for radio and publishing to coordinate the coverage among all of its platforms, the move of Windspeaker to on-line, says Macedo, has not impacted office staff or freelance writers.

By Shari Narine

Windspeaker Contributor

COPYRIGHT 2016 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
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Author:Narine, Shari
Publication:Windspeaker
Date:Mar 1, 2016
Words:451
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