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by Bryn Levy

The Sasquatch, an independant Saskatchewan newspaper has become a casualty of difficult economic circumstances for the  media industry.  March/April will be the publications last issue.

The March/April issue of The Sasquatch will be the last one ever printed. 

The independent Saskatchewan newspaper, released every six weeks since its launch in March 2009, has fallen victim to the tough economics of the media business.  The newspaper fell on hard times after Briarpatch magazine, their parent organization, lost federal grant funding, which made it impossible for them to keep losing money on The Sasquatch as they waited for it to find its legs.

Briarpatch itself should hopefully be able to make it through the turmoil.

“The Briarpatch has a long enough history and a large enough support base that it feels solid enough.  We’re going to have to make some smart decisions about finding ways to increase our revenue streams and cutting costs wherever possible and just being really, really smart with our money,” said Shayna Stock, editor-in-chief of The Sasquatch.  She went on to point out that part of this process involved letting The Sasquatch go. 

 The loss of The Sasquatch has obviously impacted Stock, the only permanent staff member.  The death of the publication will also mean that young writers in Saskatchewan may find it more difficult to get their work published.

“It’s really sad because it’s so needed.  In addition to being a really great forum for young voices or alternative voices or people who aren’t going to be writing for the Leader-Post right away, just the need for another voice in the media landscape is so strong right now in Saskatchewan,” said Stock.

INK contributor Barb Woolsey has had freelance work published in the Sasquatch.  Her piece titled Sweeping carbon under the rug ran in the January/February issue.  Woolsey is disheartened to see the Sasquatch close up shop: “It’s pretty heartbreaking just because when you are just starting out and you don’t have a lot of options, its great having a place like the Sasquatch to submit to and have an editor that will really help you out,” she said.

Mitch Diamantopoulous, currently head of the University of Regina’s School of Journalism, wrote for the Briarpatch early in his career.  He was a co-founder of the prairie dog and Planet S, both independent Saskatchewan publications.  He feels the loss of the Sasquatch represents an unsettling trend for society as a whole.

“This may not have been the pinnacle of journalistic achievement, this may  not be the last newspaper standing, but still every job that gets lost, every media outlet that is taken out of circulation undermines slowly, quietly, and perniciously our ability to claim to be a democratic society.  Every issue of Sasquatch that now does not roll off the presses is kind of an undefined number of sources whose viewpoints and experiences will not be validated, an undefined number of writers whose perspectives won’t have a hearing, an undefined number of audience members who might not be able to get the same information somewhere else,” he said.

Diamantopoulous hopes that others try and succeed where the Sasquatch failed.

“Hopefully some good will come from this, in that people will learn the lessons and redouble their efforts to do things differently and make it more viable perhaps.  My worst fear is that people, having encountered a setback, will consider it a defeat and will just surrender, “ he said.

Stock doesn’t completely rule out the possibly of resurrecting the paper in some form.

“Who knows? Down the road, if in a year, we’ve worked out our financial situation and are in a better place I could see us considering  bringing it back in some form, but we’d really need to look closely at the model we were using the first time and where we were lacking.  It wouldn’t be able to come back in the same form I don’t think, it just seems like that wasn’t working,” she said.

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