Over recent months I’ve been looking into the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit and media coverage of it. The effort has been significantly complicated by the fact that one of the newspapers that covered the track’s first year of operations no longer exists.
The Duncan Free Press operated for barely a year, from April 2016 through May 2017. It was a monthly launched by Warren Goulding along with the South Cowichan Echo to better cover the Cowichan Valley and compete with the Cowichan Valley Citizen, which had been the only local paper since Black Press shut down the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial in 2015.
Both the Duncan Free Press and the South Cowichan Echo shut down when Goulding sold the Chemainus Valley Courier to Black Press in May 2017. As part of the deal, Black Press hired Goulding as the publisher for the Courier and the Citizen.
In the age of Google and Facebook, we tend to worry more about information never going away than disappearing forever. And yet, as far as my search would yield, no public archive of the Duncan Free Press exists online or in print, just one year after the paper closed its doors.
Here’s where I looked:
- The internet does not appear to have copies of articles published in the Duncan Free Press. I checked internet archive sites in addition to the regular Googling. There is still a Facebook page, where old social media posts are available, but newspaper content is not.
- I called the Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives in Duncan, the Kaatza Station Museum & Archives in Lake Cowichan, and the Chemainus Valley Museum in Chemainus. Each told me that they don’t have an archive of the Duncan Free Press.
- I called the Vancouver Island Regional Library and was told that they didn’t have what I was looking for, but I should try Vancouver Island University.
- The man who answered the phone at Vancouver Island University Library told me they had no record of the Duncan Free Press, and I should try VIRL.
In the end, I found the specific editions I was looking for through private individuals who happened to still have copies lying around. And yet I’m still troubled that a newspaper published just over a year ago could be so difficult to track down.
Is there somewhere I forgot to check that might have publicly accessible copies?
In an era of local newspaper closures, is anyone paying attention to how those records will be preserved and made available?
I’d love to do a more thorough investigation on how newspaper sales, mergers, and closures have affected the accessibility of newspaper archives on Vancouver Island. And in the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts; send me an email or find me on Facebook. If you know someone who might appreciate this newsletter, please share it and ask them to subscribe. [end]