The Kamloops Daily News has been sued by Strauss Herb Company over an April 2 column by Russ Reid.
The company says Reid’s column gave readers the impression Strauss was knowingly trying to sucker customers into buying a worthless product, according to a story by Kamloops This Week reporter Tim Petruk.
According to Petruk:
The column was in response to a KTW front-page story nearly a month earlier — in the March 6, 2012 edition — titled Strauss claims victory, describing the fact Strauss Heart Drops had received natural-health designation from Health Canada.
In its statement of claim, Strauss took particular issue with one paragraph of Reid’s column — which stated Strauss “has refused to reveal its formula and put standard specific information about the ingredients on its product label.”
Reid went on to compare Strauss to 19th-century snake-oil salesmen and New York Ponzi-scheme con man Bernie Madoff.
The Kamloops Daily News responded, in documents filed last week, with a counter-claim against Strauss, alleging false advertising and seeking orders from the court that Strauss stop making exaggerated claims about its products.
The newspaper also denied any malice in publishing Reid’s column and claimed it was a matter of public interest — specifically citing reader comments under the column when it was published online, including a number of “intemperate remarks” from a user traced back to a Strauss computer.
As the story notes, none of the claims have been proven in court.
The Daily News published an unbylined story on the lawsuit with the headline “Paper responds to Strauss lawsuit.” (Although, I usually just quote snippets of stories, what with copyright and all that, I’m going to reprint in full since it’s pretty much a press release. If that’s a problem, let me know.)
Lawyers for Glacier Media, the Kamloops Daily News and a retired city doctor have filed a response to a lawsuit from a Kamloops company alleging defamation and libel.
The legal documents were filed in B.C. Supreme Court Friday, in response to a lawsuit from Strauss Enterprises (the Strauss Herb Company), and Peter Strauss, Brian Kettle, Bill Carey, Don Schulz and Robert Jackman of the company.
Strauss’s lawsuit, filed earlier this year, names Glacier Media Inc., The Daily News, Dr. Russ Reid, editor Mel Rothenburger and publisher Tim Shoults.
Strauss claims it was defamed in a column authored by Reid, who wrote about Health Canada’s awarding of a natural product number to Strauss Heartdrops. The article was published in The Daily News last spring.
The Kamloops Daily News and the other defendants have filed a response in which they deny that the column has the meaning claimed by the plaintiffs, and some of the defendants have challenged Strauss’s advertisements.
It’s not known when the case will reach court.
Rothenburger, incidentally, was slated to retire Sept. 14, two days after the news of the lawsuit was made public.
In a column in today’s paper, longtime Kamloops Daily News editor Mel Rothenburger announced that he plans to retire this fall.
I’ve been thinking about it awhile, but when I hit 68 this spring I started thinking about it more. So, on Friday afternoon, Sept. 14, in the 42nd year since I began working here, I will stop beating up on keyboards at The Daily News, and move out of the way for someone who will treat them better.
Last year, Mel received the 2011 Bruce Hutchinson Lifetime Achievement Award at the Jack Webster Awards. He’s also won some awards over the years, maybe for lines like these, from today’s column:
I’ve noticed a few things about being in my 60s, too. I’ve noticed, for example, that I’m the only one left in the office who pounds on a computer keyboard as if it was a typewriter. I’ve gone through three of them this month.
I’ve noticed there’s a note taped to my monitor that says, “Have you tweeted today?” and that I just ignore it.
So the Prince George Citizen is looking for a new managing editor. See the job posting on Gaulin here.
Of note (and purely in the interest of stirring the pot), Citizen publisher Colleen Sparrow talks smack in the posting, calling her paper “Glacier Media’s premier daily in B.C.” Glacier, of course, has a few other papers with publishers who might dispute that bravado, not the least of which are the Nanaimo Daily News, Kamloops Daily News, and, most notably, the Victoria Times-Colonist.
Add to the fact that the Citizen ran a four-page wrap last election for a mayoral candidate and one wonders if Sparrow has a wing to flap. Or maybe it is the best. Leave a comment (That means you, Tim and Cale).
As previously recommended. Follow this link to view Kamloops Daily News editor Mel Rothenburger’s acceptance speech upon being awarded the 2011 Bruce Hutchinson Lifetime Achievement Award.
Just as good is the seven-minute video shown prior to the presentation of Rothenburger’s award. Click here.
One more journalist trade and we can call it a trend. The Peninsula News Review has a new editor: Erin Cardone joins the paper from the Victoria News, where she was a reporter. She’ll replace Laura Lavin who has gone to, you guessed it (hopefully because of the lede sentence), the Victoria News, where she is now an associate editor.
Lindsay Chung is leaving the Comox Valley Record to become editor of the Ladysmith Chronicle.
From the Record:
With the Record since 2007, she has reported mainly about education, health, Courtenay and CFB Comox.
She just finished covering the Courtenay mayoralty and council elections.
From earlier this month:
Timothy Schafer, is the Trail Daily Times newest reporter. Schafer, is still young enough to rock a pony tail but is already building a reputation as the Mike Sillinger of the Canadian newspaper world:
At 27, he became the youngest daily newspaper managing editor at the time in Canada. Print got into his blood, as did the need to be plugged into the heart of a community, and that new passion took him across Western Canada.
Prior to coming to the West Kootenay, Schafer has been a managing editor (Lloydminster Daily Times, Prince Rupert Daily News, Parksville Morning Sun), photographer (Prince Albert Daily Herald), desk editor (Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Fort MacMurray Today) and reporter (Nanaimo Daily News, Yorkton This Week and Enterprise, Wynyard Advance, Interior News (Smithers) and Comox Valley Echo).
Susanne Martin is the new editor of the Bowen Island Undercurrent. Longtime editor Martha Perkins will provide “guidance” as managing editor.
From the paper:
The publisher of two travel books – on Prague and Nepal – [Martin] is also a freelance writer whose fiction and personal essays have been published in magazines and anthologies.
Over the years, she’s held various roles in all aspects of the Undercurrent and is very much aware of the important role the newspaper fills in the community. She’s provided the newspaper with continuity and is a respected feature writer and reporter both in the community and beyond.
Rothenburger spent two years as mayor of Kamloops and he talked about how it was important for journalists to actively involve themselves in their community, when they feel the need. Unfortunately, they’re not up on the Jack Webster website. I hear there was a cracking speech and a great video. But when they are, I’ll post a link.
In the meantime, here’s a Webster write-up on Rorthenburger:
Mel Rothenburger was fired from his job as Editor at a Prince George newspaper. That was more than 40 years ago. And it was a good thing.
A good thing for Kamloops because that city became home to a young journalist who believed above all else that integrity mattered. A good thing for journalism in British Columbia because it gained a champion who still believes passionately in his community and the audience he serves. Reporter, editor, columnist, historian and more recently webmaster and blogger, Mel Rothenburger defines the importance of local news.
Also at the event, Chilliwack Times reporter Tyler Olsen won the Webster for Community Reporting for his four-part series on marijuana grow operations. Pique Newsmagazine reporter Jesse Ferreras was nominated in the same category for his stories on the initial public offering of Whistler Blackcomb. Vancouver Courier reporter Sandra Thomas received a nomination in the News Reporting category for her expose on a Vancouver nursing home. And the Nanaimo Daily News was nominated for excellence in multimedia journalism for its extensive coverage of the 2010 election, which included hosting online debates.
The Kamloops Daily News is closing its press and mailroom over the next two months, according to a statement earlier this week by KDN publisher Tim Shoults.
Before I briefly weigh in, here’s the full statement:
Today is a sad day at the Kamloops Daily News.
Representatives of Glacier Media, the parent company of the Kamloops Daily News, served the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union Local 2000 notice under section 54 of the B.C. Labour Code that The Daily News will cease operations of both the press and mailroom within the next 60 days on Monday (Feb. 21).
Glacier has entered into a contractual obligation with Black Press to print and collate our publications in their plant in Vernon for the Daily News and the Kamloops Review.
These moves will utilize unused capacity at these plants and will allow significant savings for The Daily News operations.
It will also allow The Daily News to continue to focus on our core competencies of news generation, advertising sales, composition and publishing both print publications and online products.
The decision affects seven full-time staff and 24 part-time staff in the press and mailroom operations of the Daily News, representing a total of 19.3 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions.
The potential last day of operation of the pressroom and mailroom based on this notice is Friday, April 21, 2011.
Glacier Media remains committed to the newspaper business and the communities it serves and expects to maintain the strength of its publishing operations through focus and resource allocation to the core business disciplines.
It is with sorrow and sincere concern for our staff that we have reached these difficult decisions. We recognize the challenges that these decisions will provide to the individuals directly affected and their families, and extend our sincere thanks to them for their years of service.
It should be clear that we do not take these decisions lightly. We have worked hard to create a strong business in the interest of our employees, our readers, our clients and our shareholders.
While not as leveraged as some media companies, Glacier has debt and has few options but to reduce costs as a result of the loss of advertising revenue we have incurred during the recent economic downturn.
We do not anticipate that further significant adjustments of this type will be required but this is dependent on the length and severity of the current economic climate and its implications on our advertising revenues.
There is no joy in these decisions but a more secure future is promised through these actions for all of us.
–Tim Shoults, Publisher
Running a press these days clearly costs a newspaper money and, if you can have your paper printed elsewhere for less money, that seems to make financial sense—although it’s clearly not good for all those people employed in presses. In fact, it seems like something that was probably inevitable, at some point. I imagine it will affect deadlines at a daily paper, given that Vernon is 90 minutes away when the roads are good.
Given that it wasn’t too long ago that Glacier was talking about investing, the talk about cutting is worrying, as is the stuff about the current economic climate.