Lotsa stuff from around the Lower Mainland last week. (Two more posts coming later today).
Superb story, in the Burnaby Now, by Jennifer Moreau on an autistic pinball genius and aspiring poker king.
Robert’s latest passion is poker. For the past three or four months, he’s been teaching himself how to play by watching YouTube videos and has already ranked No. 11 in one of B.C.’s amateur leagues. With his natural ability to handle numbers, statistics and probabilities, Robert seems cut out for the game.
“If you ask him, ‘What are the chances of getting royal flush?’ He’ll probably say, ‘One in 650,000,’ ” Maurizio says. “He tells me this stuff, and it goes over my head.”
The poker thing blows me away because it’s generally assumed that a large part of that game is the ability to read competitors’ intentions. And yet, a major symptom of autism is the inability to pick up such social cues.
Also in the Burnaby Now, Janaya Fuller-Evans reports on allegations of bullying, infighting and other alleged misdeeds that one normally expects to see in the arts community, rather than among animal lovers.
Arnold noted many instances of harassment, from board members directly confronting her over issues to moments where she felt threatened, including when her truck was vandalized while parked at the association’s barns.
The new Black Press front pages are improved, but the stories themselves badly need paragraph breaks. I imagine someone’s working on that. Meanwhile the WordPress Theme for Black Press blogs is truly horrible and gloomy and makes me not want to read on even when the content is quite good. Please change it.
The phrase “board of education” sounds stupid. They’re school boards, they should be called as such.
I just noticed the sleazy weekly editorials in the Delta Optimist. How do you get your editorial percentage when the copy is so obviously an advertisement? The Optimist is the only Postmedia paper with a business column down the right hand side of its news page. Why? Why? Why?
A crazy crime spree in the Chilliwack area included, as Robert Freeman of the Chilliwack Progress puts it, “one woman’s emergency 911 call, one vehicle burning under the Agassiz/Rosedale bridge, one dust-up with a Chilliwack car dealer, one startled shopper in the Chilliwack Safeway parking lot – and one alligator.” Oh, yeah, and there was a marijuana grow-op involved (although I guess the presence of drugs isn’t all that surprising).
In a similar vein comes this beauty of a headline from the North Shore Outlook: “Stinky thieves steal laundry loot.” And yes, the thieves were actually smelly.
Two stories — one in the Richmond News, the other in the Coquitlam Now — about stutterers are hooked on last night’s Oscars and The King’s Speech. I think a smart PR person is probably behind each, given that they both mention Columbia Speech and Language Services, but that’s OK; the stories are good.
The Richmond Review has published its 30 under 30 section. These features about all these high-flying young achievers always depress the hell out of me, but are fun to read anyways.
Your webinar of the day:
Be like Delta Leader photog Evan Seal and turn your camera on an angle.
This Tri-City News file photo of an ambulance at a hospital is awesome. File photos don’t have to be boring.
And for some reason community newspapers forget that the simple Q and A format can make for great reading and very easy writing. Marisa Babic of the Surrey Now puts questions to under-fire Vanoc head John Furlong.
(One thing, though: we Canadians don’t have a timid sense of patriotism. We just like to pretend we do. If we weren’t patriotic Molson’s I Am Canadian commercials wouldn’t be so successful. Hopefully the Olympics ends the charade.)
Nice story (and lede) by the Vancouver Courier’s Naoibh O’Connor on a First Nations school that has rebranded itself as an “Earth School.”
Rainwater drips like a broken tap off the corner of the First Nation long house roof into a concrete barrel. Droplets barely ripple the surface of six-inch deep water pooled above a bed of rocks, sand and debris. Fidgety Grade 2 and 3 students gather around Brent Mansfield on this cool late-January morning at Grandview/¿uuqinak’uuh elementary. Mansfield, the school’s garden project coordinator, hoped for more of a downpour for today’s lesson, but a drizzle will do.
Finally, in case you missed the Black Press shuffle, the North Shore Outlook and WestEnder have got new editors.
That was a pretty good post, eh? Or not? Either way keep them coming by helping me out. It’s easy, quick and the pay is shite. E-mail bclocalreporter (at) gmail (dot) com.
Have I made an error? It wouldn’t be the first time. Leave a comment and I’ll shamefully update the post.
We’re making inroads into our census of B.C. community newspapers, but there are still a lot of blanks in the Journo-lust Spreadsheet. How many journalists work at your paper? How often do you come out? Who’s your publisher? Participation is free! The benefits unlimited! The exclamation points boundless!
Burnaby Now arts editor Julie MacLellan takes a post on hick town I made a little while back and runs with it. Runs very far. (And no I’m not assuming she read my post, she very kindly referenced this blog).
Anyways, Julie writes about all the good things that come along with working at a small-town newspaper. She gradded from J-school in Ontario 16 years ago and sent resumes out across the country, eventually getting an offer from the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle. She decided to give it a go.
That was November 1994. I ended up staying in that wonderful newsroom, with editor John McKinley (thanks, John, you still rock) until the summer of 1997, when I migrated to the mainland to be with my then-boyfriend (now-husband).
Those two-and-a-half years opened my eyes to what a genuinely incredible thing it is to work for a community newspaper. If you want to write stories that matter to people, that have an impact on their lives, that make a difference every single day – well, there’s no better place to do that than in a small town.
Sure, sometimes it’s a pain in the butt – people won’t hesitate to come up to you in a lineup at the bank or the grocery store to tell you just exactly why your story about that new development missed the point, or why you really ought to do a story about their sports team (or child prodigy chess player, or art show, or teenage sensation singer, or, or, or). And they won’t hesitate to gossip when the new, single, 24-year-old female reporter is seen at a bar with, say, the guy who runs the shop next door … not that that ever really happened, of course.
But what you lose, occasionally, in the ability to draw lines between your “work” self and your “real” self, you gain back in spades in the genuine connections you build. If you park your big-city ego and urban snobbery at the door – because nothing will turn people off faster than someone who erroneously thinks that they’re too good or too talented for a “hick-town” newspaper – you’ll realize what an incredible sense of community you can build in short order.
As a reporter, you get doors opened to you that would take years otherwise. You become part of a town faster than perhaps anyone else ever could. Each and every day, you are out talking to real people, doing real things. You are writing about them and taking pictures of them at work, at creative pursuits, on the sports field, at school. You are constantly hearing from people about what you are doing – for better or for worse – and you are never, ever allowed to forget that your mission is to serve the community in which you live.
It’s something that’s far too easy to lose sight of when you move to a bigger newspaper in an urban setting, where the disconnect between reporter and reader is much greater, and where you inevitably spend more time at your desk and less out there walking around the streets, talking to real people. It’s easy to get caught up in chasing big headlines (or, these days, in trying to increase “page views” on the website) and forget about what we’re here to do in the first place – which is to say, keep our community informed about what’s happening in our collective backyard, tell interesting stories about interesting people and provide a forum for people to share their ideas – all those things that make community newspapers such an important part of people’s lives.
In a small town, you always know that your work matters. And that’s an amazing thing.
The rest, in which Julie talks about how the skills learned at a small paper will prove invaluable wherever you go, is very much worth reading. But I’m not going to steal the whole bloody thing so check it out here.
Burnaby Now/New West News – reporter/paginator
From editor Pat Tracy‘s blog comes this: “This position is for a talented self-starter with the ability to discover news on a neighbourhood level.” This is a full-time, four-days-a-week position for a year. Starts within the next two months. You need to be able to use social media, paginate and proof pages, and report. Closes Dec. 15. Read the full thing here.
Monday Magazine – editor
Not strictly a newspaper job, but may fit the right resume, so long as it’s long enough.
From Gaulin: “You must have a solid journalistic track record and direct newspaper or magazine experience, be an excellent wordsmith, a strong personality, an idea generator, an organizational demon and be able to effectively communicate with both the top brass and the person on the street.” More…
While many may be ruled out by an inability to verbally “communicate with top brass” without the use of expletives, there may be someone out there. You need a cover letter, clippings, references, bulleted list of story ideas and a 400-word editorial to apply. Deadline is Dec. 6.
The Whitecourt Star needs an editor. This paper is always hiring, probably because it’s located in one of the lousiest small towns in Canada. No offence to Whitecourt…ers(?) You need to be able to write, take photos, edit and manage a three-person newsroom. Management experience helpful but not necessary. Deadline is Dec. 4.
Photo by Brenda Gottsabend via Flickr
Hannah Wright of the Vanderhoof Omineca Express was the only journalist to report on the first appearance in court of Cody Alan Legebokoff, whose accused of the first degree murder of a 15-year-old Vanderhoof girl. That despite the presence of reporters from the nefarious big city media, according to Bill Phillips‘s blog.
Wright thought to check with the court clerk, a tactic everyone else seems to have forgot.
From Wright’s story:
Legebokoff appeared emotionless during his brief court appearance, other than being quite red in the face. He kept his head up and stared straight forward, except for a brief look around the room when he first entered.
The only people in the public seating area was an older man and woman who sat together in the front row.
Check out Bill’s blog Writer’s Block for the story on the story.
Down on the coast, Andrew Fleming (@Flematic) of the New West Record/Burnaby Now has a quirky short story on a local writer who was nominated for, but didn’t win, an award(?) for bad sex writing. Any story in which you write (even in quotes) “Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her” deserves a mention.
Andrew also deserves credit for pointing out this open letter to newspaper photographers, which has a lot of good advice even if it is geared to daily photogs.
Last week it was “BC Daily Deals” (which admittedly also turned up on numerous other Black press websites). Then it was a super creepy photo. Now, a moving drugstore. Really, Langley Times? I’m not trying to single you out, but you’re making it really, really tough.
The Maple Ridge News photog Colleen Flanagan, meanwhile, pulls off the seemingly impossible task of very tastefully shooting a stripper with a handful of 20-dollar bills in her stilettos, bra and short shorts. The story by Monisha Martins is pretty good too.
Seen something else I should know about? Want to write a post? Have better photos than the Creative Commons Flickr pool ones I use? E-mail bclocalreporter(at)gmail.com.
Help complete a census of B.C. community newspapers by filling in the blanks of the Journo-lust Spreadsheet.
Photo by Roger H. Goun via Flickr
Crusied through the Lower Mainland papers and came across the following stories.
Good work by David Burke at the Squamish Chief on that insane improvised explosive device (a.k.a. car bomb) in Whistler the other day. Plenty of neighbour quotes makes for good reading.
Nice short story by Mitch Thompson of the Maple Ridge Times on those crazies who dress up like they lived in medieval Europe. Nice photo too.
Wow, wow, wow. This is just abominable. I feel for Marco Morelli. This story/ad was run in the Bowen Island Undercurrent and Langley Times. Morelli actually did as good a job as one could expect and thankfully buried the Black Press angle. But still… I didn’t want to write anything negative today but this is just too much. At very least the story should acknowledge that Black Press owns the paper the story appeared in. And the headline… “Group buying phenomenon offers a great deal for everyone.” Oh my.
Lighter fare (in a good way) from the Burnaby NewsLeader’s Wanda Chow, who breaks a story about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’s Burnaby connection.
Great ongoing court reporting from the Surrey Now’s Tom Zytaruk on the murder trial of Muhktiar Singh Panghali (whose name I had to copy and paste just to get it right).
The submitted photo on this Langley Times story is very, very creepy…
Michael McQuillin‘s story in the the New Westminster NewsLeader about the collateral damage that may be caused by a proposed new overpass is terrific. He actually personalizes a traffic story. Mario Bartel‘s photo is awesome too. Story also links to a powerpoint presentationon the NewsLeader’s Facebook (!) page.
Simple but well written story on a new swim coach by Phillip Raphael in the South Delta Leader.
Finally, a cool snow football picby Fred Schaad.