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Opinion: Was The Squamish Chief newsroom paid to write those real estate stories?

'We were not.'
If you want to know more about our newsroom processes, sign up for our newsletter. As part of our building trust initiative, we are explaining a journalism policy or jargon each week. Sign up for free at Photo by Moto-rama/Getty Images

Two of our top-read stories online last week were about unusual real estate listings — one, a “rustic” cabin near Elfin Lakes and the other, a house that looked like it hadn’t been renovated since the 1970s.

While the stories certainly caught readers’ attention, they also made some ask why we were sharing these stories.

Some folks wondered if we were paid to share them.

We were not.

We have always done stories on the real estate market, but not simple listing samples like those stories, so it is easy to understand why readers were questioning.

Why we shared

With the housing market on fire like it is in Squamish, the newsroom, like almost everyone else in town, has become more interested in real estate listings.

More often, we are oohing and ahhing at either the price of a property or what some of the houses are like — “They have a skateboard park inside this one!” or “They built a climbing gym in the garage!”

We send each other listings that seem really unusual.

We recently noted that some of our sister papers were writing quick little stories about unique or perplexing listings.

We thought it was an interesting idea for us to try.

And that is how our local real estate stories came to be.

Is it news?

News is lots of things.

Some stories are a full meal, like council stories or deep dives into why the wastewater ended up in the estuary.

Other stories are snacks, like a story about an upcoming local event, a few shots of stunning wildlife photography, or real estate offerings.

We aim to inform and entertain.

Flipping through decades-old copies of The Squamish Chief — which we keep in the lobby for anyone to see — it is clear that news evolves.

For example, we don’t often do write-ups about people getting married, sick or leaving town anymore.

Today those would likely seem an invasion of privacy.

This evolution continues.

Over time, we have tried some ideas that have stuck — such as posting submissions of stunning photos on our social media — and thrown out others that didn’t work so well, such as calling council briefs Council Cuts. Some folks thought it sounded like council was deciding to cut out some programs rather than the intended meaning of “shorts/notes.”

We learned from these real estate stories that when we don’t explain our methods and reasons, some assume the worst.

So again, we didn’t get paid to write those real estate stories. They were simply pieces we thought readers would be interested in.

If you want to know more about our newsroom processes, sign up for our newsletter. We explain a journalism policy or jargon each week as part of our building trust initiative. Sign up for free at

Jennifer Thuncher is a journalist and the editor of The Squamish Chief. 




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