City Light News changes ownership

CALGARY, AB-The day Peter Fleck married his wife Doris, he dashed out after the reception, dressed in his tuxedo, to deliver newspapers. Thirteen years later, he delivered his last load.

Fleck, the founding editor and publisher of City Light News, finalized paperwork in early March selling the Calgary publication to Peter McManus and John Syratt.

"I guess when Doris married me, she really discovered she was marrying the paper too!" Fleck laughs, recalling not only the post-wedding deliveries back in 1990, but also writing his vows while delivering papers that same morning.

The first issue of City Light News, now simply known as CLN, came out in December 1987, just a few months before the Calgary Olympics. Local churches were involved in outreach during the Games, something Fleck and his partner Dorothy Hirch felt the newspaper could facilitate.

Fleck eventually bought out Hirch and moved the office into his home. What started out as a monthly publication shifted to bi-monthly and then quarterly, although the page count grew from eight to between 20 or 24.

Circulation grew from 5,000 to 12,000 copies distributed in Calgary, as well as to surrounding communities in southern Alberta, with spot distribution in Lethbridge, Taber, Cranbrook, B.C., Bible schools and even some international cities.

"The strength of the paper is that it's local in its emphasis. People are getting Christian news and information from a local perspective," says Fleck. A comprehensive calendar of events is also a huge drawing factor.

"We're also there to strengthen the Christian community and let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. There's so much the church can do if it works together and I think the paper has been a catalyst for that, in facilitating cooperation between churches."

McManus, owner of a printshop for 19 and a half years, and Syratt, a former ad sales rep at the Lethbridge Herald, say they plan to keep the same local emphasis and already have 18 of the top Christian writers in Alberta lined up as contributors.

They want to increase the page count of the paper, bring in new technology for desktop publishing and plan to go back to a monthly publication, with the first issue slated for April 6.

Fleck says the decision to sell became clear as other interests came into play. He and Doris were doing the majority of the newspaper-related tasks themselves, including distribution, advertising sales and design, layout, editing and photography. But outside of the paper, Peter hosted a radio program, was becoming more involved in his church and most recently, has been involved with the Vibe Awards, which focuses on Canadian Christian music.

"As I became more and more involved with other things, I found that I was having less and less time for the paper, when the paper really required more of my time," says Fleck. "So it just seemed for the paper to truly reach its potential, I felt it was time to hand it off to someone else."

There were many highlights over the years, Fleck says, but learning of the impact the paper has made on people is still among the best.

He recalls one front-page article about a church meeting at the top of the ski tower at Canada Olympic Park. "Through that article, three different people actually ended up going to that church and making Christian commitments, and then their whole families came to the Lord afterwards," Fleck says.

"We're not intentionally evangelistic, but when people do come to faith through the paper, that's an enormous bonus. That definitely makes it worthwhile."

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About the author

Kelly (Henschel) Rempel is the Senior Editor for ChristianWeek.