You may have heard, the financial downturn has been hard on the newspaper business. The old models, we’re told, don’t work. People don’t want to read things that conflict with their deeply held assumptions. Journalism — whatever that is — is an outmoded concept. These are desperate times for those who cling to ideas about how writing should be challenging and yes men shouldn’t be trusted.

And desperate times call for desperate measures.

That’s why we at prairie dog have decided to launch a new imprint from our publishing enterprise. While Whitworth continues to slave away at the thankless task of editing prairie dog proper, I will be heading up a new magazine we’ve dubbed, Prairie Horizons.

We’re calling it an in-flight magazine for the grounded.

We’ve come to recognize it’s time to put our opinions in the dust bin. Letting Stephen LaRose write whatever Stephen LaRose thinks was short sighted. Covering local or “up-and-coming” artists and musicians no one has ever heard of and who will likely be forgotten by the next fiscal quarter is no way to run a business.

And as for taking organized labour seriously and even accepting advertising dollars from them, what were we thinking?!?!?

Prairie Horizons’ content will be governed by a new mantra: “Support Saskatchewan in All Things.” We’ll be taking the “I’ve Criticism” out of “constructive criticism.” That leaves only “construct” behind, which puts one in mind of “construction” and we want to see a whole lot more of that in Regina’s future.

Prairie Horizons is about growing our city, building our city out to its prairie horizons. And the only way to do that is with a rock-solid foundation on which to grow a thriving and confident business community.

Expect to find the guts of every issue chock-a-block with advertorial content. The writing style will be breezy, the typefaces large, the photography bright, the crude, mocking illustrations absent, and the paper stock will be thick and glossy. And while we’ll be going in a totally new, totally innovative direction with Prairie Horizons, expect to see all those time-worn, trusted prairie dog names writing for us. Hey, like I said, times are tough for writers and they all have families (and selves) that need to be fed.

Don’t consider it selling out. Consider it selling up!

So, from now on, when you see our restaurant reviewer entering your restaurant, fear not that you may wind up with a three-and-a-half dog review that’s largely complimentary except for some quibbling over how your staff left four prairie dog staffers and their families sitting around unfed for over an hour and a half during your Sunday brunch then made them wait an additional forty five minutes for the bill and charged them even for the inedible toast. Whatever heinous restaurant crimes you’ve committed or have yet to, it’s all water under the bridge to Prairie Horizons. Our restaurant reviewer will only ever be turning up at your establishment to obtain a copy of your menu so that he can include colourful details into our standard, glowing restaurant review template.

And as for Fiacco’s office and the Sask Party, you’d better call us because Prairie Horizons won’t be calling you. In other words, no more intrusive requests for interviews. Instead, you send us your press releases announcing feel-good initiatives and events promoting the strength of Saskatchewan’s economy and celebrating the grit and determination of her peoples. We’ll take those press releases and hand them off to our team of skilled, prose technicians who will refashion them into a hipper, more contemporary argot guaranteed to play to the 16 to 45 year-old demographic. It will be like hiring an up-and-coming communications firm to massage your message but without mucking about with all that costly “hiring” nonsense.

Meanwhile, John Conway, we’ve already started proceedings to have a restraining order invoked against him. No way will that cranky old man with his “contrary opinions,” “insights” and “perspectives” be coming anywhere within a hundred metres of Prairie Horizons. We’re certain many in the Chamber of Commerce and in the Warehouse District will be happy to have that voice silenced. Hey, we can’t jail academics and intellectuals for treason just yet (give it time Saskatchewan, give it time), but we hope this gesture will provide solid evidence to the business community that we at Prairie Horizons are on their side.

We hope you’re excited with our new direction. And if you’re not completely sold, let me just point out that like prairie dog, Prairie Horizons will be free. Expect to find it stacked up at the end of bars, in furniture shops and at all the finer establishments downtown. And, we’re confident that in no time, Prairie Horizons will be available in Saskatchewan government controlled liquor stores, casinos and bus stations.

Thanks for everything, Saskatchewan. And we hope that you will survey with pride your Prairie Horizons.