Favourite Local Independent Publication

Winnipeg Free Press

1. Winnipeg Free Press
2. Red Rising Magazine
3. Stylus Magazine

 

It was in 1872 – two years after Manitoba joined confederation and two years before Winnipeg was incorporated – that the first copies of the Manitoba Free Press rolled off the presses on to the Main Street of an emerging prairie hub.

Winnipeg’s population was only 1,467, and its growth was by no means assured. But the Free Press would go on to chart the city’s boom years, the internationally reported general strike of 1919, two world wars and nearly a century and a half of prairie culture and politics.

John W. Dafoe, the paper’s editor for over 40 years, had a reputation as a bit of a curmudgeon, but, by the Second World War, it was clear his trademark pessimism about global affairs was on point.

Cora Hind, who held the agriculture beat at the turn of the century, was one of the top female journalists of her time.

In 1931, the paper took on the name of its home city, and it remains the Winnipeg Free Press or Freep, colloquially, today.

Recently, the paper has been forced to navigate the decline of print media and the rise of free online news. In the last couple years, it’s rolled out an upgraded web presence and introduced a paywall online.

Bartley Kives, who started as a junior music writer decades ago and eventually became the city’s top political reporter, left the paper this year for CBC Manitoba, and reporter Mary Agnes Welch moved to a marketing firm.

Despite all this, Uniter readers still chose the Freep as their favourite local publication.

And more impressive still, in an age when traditional media is dominated by mega-corps, the Winnipeg Free Press remains relatively independent along with its sister periodical the Brandon Sun. In fact it’s the largest independent newspaper in Canada.

Published in Volume 71, Number 13 of The Uniter (December 1, 2016)

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