I was trained as a journalist and worked as a journalist for many years before switching to the business side of the publishing business. Now retired from my Toronto job, I live and work in Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL).
This website started out on Sept. 22, 2018, with the name NiagaraFox.ca, but I changed the name to NiagaraObserver.ca on Nov. 18, 2018. I wanted its name to be precise about the where and who, but frankly it’s out of character of me to trade on my name.
I’m passionate about the role that journalism plays in ensuring effective and responsive elected government, so my initial articles were about democracy – specifically the October 2018 municipal election. I combined my interests as a data nerd and a website developer to create what I would describe as a community journalism website.
My initial stats
There’s no financial compensation for me in doing this, but at this point I can afford to get by on the “physic income” of satisfaction from being able to research, analyze, write and present content that other people may find interesting. The privacy disclosure about use of web browser cookies in the footer of every page tells you that I’m using Google Analytics to see how many people visit the website (see chart above). There were 698 users in the first two months, who visited on average 1.62 sessions per user, looked at 5.07 pages per session and spent an average of 4 minutes, 12 seconds per session. These readers certainly included the local political junkies.
When launching any new endeavour, it is essential to promote it. I spent most of my business-side career as a marketing executive, so I know that it’s necessary to tell people about something new, and why it might somehow benefit them. So, I inflicted the news about the new site via email to friends and colleagues. Several were quite positive (thank you).
Certainly, I was encouraged that by the time of the October election, 43 people had signed up to receive emails from me about new articles. (You can, too, here. The current confirmed count is 64.)
Lying in a hospital bed for five days following my heart surgery on Nov. 5, I decided that I wanted to expand the range of topics. So far, I think that I have “story ideas” (to use the journalistic vernacular) that include agriculture, conservation and tourism as well as what I’ve now re-labeled as democracy (my initial articles about voting patterns in NOTL).
For at least three months after my surgery, I’m supposed to take it easy – no heavy lifting, no wine, actually no to pretty much anything other than getting up to walk around the house every hour for a total of 1.5 hours a day walking. Working on this site is permitted, and frankly it’s a nice distraction.
That’s the why and how. I’ve no hidden agenda and welcome constructive feedback by email.
The only other disclosure that might be relevant is that, since 2007, I’ve driven a car with the license plate 2Niagara. In Toronto, I would explain simply that I wanted to point my car 2Niagara. I’ve also had a Twitter handle @2Niagara to support people and endeavours in the Niagara region. If you’re a Twitter-ite, please follow.
Thanks for reading. It may get interesting.
Send me an email.
Acknowledgements and thanks
I’d like to acknowledge and thank some people for their support of my endeavour.
Gary Hall Design
Over the past decade, my wife, Beckie, and I have come to know and appreciate the talents of designer Gary Hall. Gary worked with us to create and launch Garden Making magazine which published 33 print issues from 2010 to 2018 before falling victim to the challenges of all print media these days.
We’re fortunate to know Gary as a colleague and a friend, and now as another NOTLer because he and his partner also make their home in Niagara on the Lake.
Gary is very good at branding, and has provided a professional dimension to this website with his nameplate design. You can find out more about his work and services at GaryHallDesign.com.
Beckie has been my partner and editor for 45+ years. I’m responsible for what I say, but she certainly makes sure it is as coherent and concise as possible.