As of today, June 1, 2015, Northwest Coast Energy News will limit coverage to only certain stories and issues in the Kitimat region.
I had already put the site on a limited hiatus as of January 1, as I worked on a somewhat related long term writing project. During that time, which was fairly slow on energy news, I only covered what I believed to be the most essential stories.
I have reluctantly decided to limit coverage for the foreseesable future.
The writing project is taking longer than I expected but this only one factor. But it may be that the writing project may make some money. Northwest Coast Energy News has generated only a minimal income and that minimal income means that regular coverage on the site is now economically unsustainable.
As the date for the Kitimat session of the Rio Tinto Alcan air shed hearings came near I had to decide whether or not I could afford to sit through two weeks covering the hearings, doing what was essentially unpaid work. The huge assessment related jump in property taxes confirmed my decision to concentrate on work that may actually produce some revenue.
Despite expressions of support from many in the community on all sides of the energy issues, that support did not result in either advertising revenue nor sufficient donations to even cover the web hosting costs. With Kitimat Modernization winding down, no LNG Final Investment Decision on any project for at least a year, the still struggling world economy and rising costs in Kitimat across the board, it is unlikely that advertising or donations will increase.
Northwest Coast Energy News was, in effect, somewhat subsidized by work I did for my mainstream media clients. However, with fewer news stories in Kitimat and with the mainstream media also facing more budget cuts, that income stream has also slowed to a trickle. (I have been unable to interest my regular clients in coverage of the Unifor strike nor the RTA hearings).
The advantage of web site is that it can be maintained at minimal cost. If this was a print operation it would shut down.
Northwest Coast Energy News (and our friendly rival the Kitimat Daily) are known in the news business as “hyperlocal” sites. When I founded Northwest Coast Energy News in 2011, the “experts” all predicted that “hyperlocal” was the wave of the future. That optimism turned out to be wrong. Most hyperlocal sites have shut down in the past couple of years, due to lack of revenue and burn out in the case of “sole practitioner” or small staff sites. Around the world, the problem hyperlocal sites face is while communities generally welcome and express support for such sites, those communities are either unable or unwilling to provide the economic support necessary to keep the site going.
Northwest Coast Energy News is not shutting down—yet. I will continue to provide coverage on breaking energy, environment and business news that is vital to the community as well stories I can generate at minimal cost that may not be covered by the Kitimat Daily or the Northern Sentinel.
That means Northwest Coast Energy News should still be operating on a minimal basis in the case of a positive Final Investment Decision on an LNG project that could make the site economically viable.