The Rocky Mountain Outlook has been publishing an award winning weekly newspaper since 2000 when three long-time Bow Valley residents – Larry Marshall, Bob Schott and Carol Picard – began serious planning for a new publication in the Canmore-Banff corridor, one that would cover all communities from Lake Louise to Kananaskis. Theirs was a novel idea for the day – a free distribution weekly that would put into the hands of residents and the area’s millions of tourists the news, entertainment and sports from the communities in which they lived and vacationed, and offer the area’s advertisers an effective vehicle to reach those visitors.
Schott, a 20-plus-year resident of Canmore became sales manager. Picard, former editor of the Canmore Leader and a 15-year resident of Canmore, became editor, and Marshall, another 15-year resident and former managing editor of both the Canmore Leader and Banff Crag & Canyon, was publisher.
Going head-to-head on two fronts with the area’s two existing weeklies – the Canmore Leader and The Banff Crag & Canyon (now combined into the Bow Valley Crag and Canyon published by Sun Media) – meant that few people gave the Rocky Mountain Outlook much chance of survival. Not only did they not charge for individual copies, they debuted a mere nine days after Sept. 11, 2001, when the world’s tourism market had completely evaporated.
But by going direct-to-press with pages and being fully digital meant the paper was far more nimble than any weekly publication at that time, allowing for later deadlines and actual breaking news in its coverage. The Outlook also offered full process colour extensively throughout, much to the delight of both readers and advertisers.
Self-financed by the three, the paper did indeed flounder at first, but its combination of gritty determination and outstanding talent, from photographers, reporters and ad designers all the way up to senior management, won them the market, reader by reader and advertiser by advertiser.
By the end of its second year, circulation had climbed to 12,000-plus and the paper grew from 36 to 72 pages. By the summer of 2008, the Outlook was routinely running at 104 pages.
By 2004, when the paper was finally eligible for membership in the Canadian Community Newspaper Association and the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association, it had already become the talk of the industry in Western Canada and began winning the first of dozens of national and provincial awards it has earned since, everything from Best Newspaper overall in its circulation class to Best Photography, Feature Writing, Editorial Writing, Ad Design and Cartooning.
In 2003, Marshall left the paper to return to his roots in Manitoba. In 2005, the remaining partners sold the Rocky Mountain Outlook to Black Press. After much interest by other prospective buyers, they determined that Black was the perfect owner for the paper they had birthed.
In 2008, Schott died of cancer after a long and spirited battle. In September of that same year, Marshall died of a heart attack while living in Brandon, Manitoba. Picard left in December of 2008 to pursue other passions, secure in the knowledge the Outlook was in the hands of a team of talented and dedicated journalists, many of them the original staff of 2001.
After Schott passed away, Tracey Scheveers arrived from Red Deer to take over the reigns as publisher for a couple of years. Jason Lyon, a former sales associate with the Outlook, was promoted to publisher in 2010 when Scheveers returned to the Red Deer area. At the same time, Dave Whitfield took over from Picard as editor where he remains today.
Great West Newspapers, based in St. Albert, purchased the Outlook from Black Press in 2010.
In 2015, Rocky Mountain Outlook won six Canadian Community Newspaper Awards: 3rd place for Outstanding Reporter Initiative, 3rd place for Best Local Editorial, 2nd place for Best Local Cartoon, 2nd place for Best Spot News, 3rd place for Best News Feature Photo and 1st place for Best Sports Coverage.
See more about the Rocky Mountain Outlook at: www.rmoutlook.com.