City councilor struggles to sell paper after campaign promise
"No one wants to buy a paper these days," said Revelstoke city councillor Aaron Orlando
By Samantha Holomay
City Council Member Aaron Orlando says selling a paper these days is near impossible.
City Council member Aaron Orlando is between a rock and a hard place when trying to sell the Revelstoke Mountaineer.
Wearing several hats in the city of Revelstoke, he has worked as an instructor at Okanagan College, volunteered for a local radio station Stoke F.M., and was a previous city council member from 2014 to 2018.
Orlando is also the owner, writer, editor, and creative director of the local newsletter, the Revelstoke Mountaineer. He says that nowadays, only a few people are in the market to purchase a newspaper.
But people who own newspapers are rarely elected to the city council.
“No one wants to buy a paper these days,” said Orlando. “It’s hard to make that look like a viable choice for someone who may want to purchase a business,” said Orlando.
Orlando pledged that if he voted on to the city council board a second time, he would sell the Revelstoke Mountaineer if re-elected. However, his main reason for parting ways with the paper is due to the split focus it causes from his city council obligations and responsibilities as a managing editor.
Due to the transitional period, Orlando has opted to lay off a portion of his staff and transition them to freelance positions only. As a result, reporters like Nora Hughes have been working part-time until she plans to leave to work for Black Press Media.
“I’ve worked at the Mountaineer for about six years, and I started about a few months before I got out of school,” said Hughes.
Nora says that she doesn’t blame Orlando for selling the paper and understands that it is and has been stressful.
“He has to do what he has to do. I understand he is not in a comfortable position, and I’m not one to cast judgment on that. It’s not my place to speak on that,” she said.
In B.C. There have been a few examples of city council members owning or being involved with local publications.
Barbara Roden is the editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek journal, elected to a second mayoral term in September 2022.
Although the Canadian Association of Journalists has no regulations discouraging mayors and city council members from being involved with local publications, some people view it as a conflict of interest.
Revelstoke is the third municipality to have a journalist be elected to the paper.
Another example of a city official being involved in politics is James Miller of the Penticton Herald.
Miller also pledged to remove himself from all reporting duties, editorial decisions, and council matters until he was elected.
Revelstoke is the third town municipality to have a journalist be elected to the paper.
Even though no actual regulations are being broken, many people have still raised their eyebrows at a city councilor being so closely tied to local incentives.
The local business owner said that she doesn’t think it’s too big of an issue because, in Revelstoke, everyone knows everyone.
Sophia Ratte, the owner and chef at La Baguette, said that she believes in Orlando’s integrity.
“I know Aaron, I’ve met him on several occasions, and I think him being on the city council is a completely separate issue. Revelstoke is very small, it’s easy to get caught up in that, but he holds each other accountable here,” said Ratte.
Which is on brand for any newspaper editor, but the situation gets more complicated when that council can control the narrative regarding community awareness.