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.
Unless you work for him, or have worked for him in the distant past, you may not know the name Bob Doull. But quite slowly over recent years, Robert W. Doull has been amassing a strange collection of community papers around British Columbia. And yet, it’s hard to get a sense of his real objective.
So, with that said, I’m going to put out what information I’ve collected and see if anyone can make sense of it all. (I would love it if Bob emailed me to explain his grand designs to this blog’s readers).
Here we go:
The former cartoonist of the Banff Crag and Canyon has the most info about Doull’s backgroud here.
Among the highlights, according to that writer: Doull started as a writer at the (left-wing) Georgia Straight. He later became general manager of (the right-wing) Alberta Report before he started buying papers in 1987. First under the name Black Tusk Holdings, and later as WestMount Press, Doull built a chain of 21 papers, mostly in the Rocky Mountain area of B.C. and Alberta.
The cartoonist praises Doull for “believing in quality newspapers” and turning both the Crag and the Canmore Leader into award-winning publications.
Doull is quoted in an American Journalism Review article in 1996 as saying:
“We take the long view . . . If we lose credibility with readers, it will do us more harm than good in the long run.” And: “During the recession, we didn’t cut any positions. We had a higher level of benefits than provided by union shops… We have to keep people we value.”
In 1998, Doull sold his chain to a subsidiary of Sun Media, according to the cartoonist. He then disappeared for a bit.
In 2005, he was involved in something called the Christian History Project. According to Kaye Corbett of the Vernon Daily Courier, when the project ran into trouble, Doull blamed a “moslem” for destroying records and setting the company back $700,000.
Islamic terror has reached Canada, at least on paper, and at least in the mind of newspaper publisher Bob Doull.
As president and CEO of the Christian History Project, Doull has been forced to lay off about 50 people and the planned 12 volumes of the $3-$5-million project, ‘The Christians — Their First Two Thousand Years’ has ceased publication after only six volumes. And he identified a former technician of destroying or retrieving all the records, including the volumes of work from outstanding artists and writers, plus all the customer records from the expensive computer system, based in Edmonton, Alberta.
Doull, who is publisher of a number of community newspapers in British Columbia and Alberta, said that ‘B’, a member of contact center administration for the project, was either a Moslem or connected with Moslems in halting the massive publishing undertaking.
While Doull placed the blame on a “Moslem,” the former executive editor of “The Christians”, Paul Stanway pinpointed that ‘B’ was not a Moslem, but a “beer-swigging Anglican.” When informed of Doull’s assessment of the situation, he said, the project had suffered financial woes with “overspending” before the computer problems. Stanway is the former editor, and now columnist, with the Edmonton Sun.
Doull informed me that ‘B’ had been questioned by Edmonton police, but had been released, and it’s not known where he might be.
In 2006, the project was declared dead. (Kaye posted his columns were posted on the Internet in 2007, hence the date at the top of the post).
In 2006, Doull founded Corvus Publishing and later bought and sold the Abbotsford Post).
In January 2010, Doull (as Corvus) bought the Columbia Valley Pioneer. It was controlled by a company first called Abel Creek Publishing, of which Doull was the president. Now it’s controlled by Misko Publishing Limited Partnership. Doull is the president of that company.
Here’s what the Pioneer wrote about Doull when he bought the paper:
Corvus Publishing was founded in 2006 by Robert W. Doull of Penticton. “I felt that the large chainswere harming papers by attempting to standardize allaspects of their decision-making and stripping jobsout of small communities,” Mr. Doull said.
He explained that the initial concept of Corvuswas based on three principles.
“Firstly, the future of print publishing lies in adedication to quality product with opportunities for the staff to be creatively challenged. Secondly, employees need to be treated respectfully with full responsibility for their own work. Finally, local papers need tobe locally managed,” he said.
Corvus is a full or partial owner of six other news-papers – one on the Sunshine Coast, three in theOkanagan, and two in northern B.C.
Several months later, Doull bought several papers: Kamloops This Week, Prince George Free Press, and the Merritt Herald. The Prince George Citizen reported that the Free Press is now operated by a company listed as Prince George Publications Limited Partnership while KTW and the Free Press are operated by Thompson River Publications Limited Partnership. The Citizen said the companies controlled 10 papers. KTW editor Chris Foulds said not much change had taken place over the first two months under the new bosses:
“Regular readers of Kamloops This Week would never know we had been sold by Black Press to Thompson River had we not announced it in the newspaper and online at kamloopsthisweek.com.
And, that is because, from an editorial point of view, nothing has changed.
Our staffing remains the same (that is to say it remains skeletal, which I am fond of continually reminding my boss!), as does and the pursuit of news and stories.”
Chris also did some speculating:
“Doull also bought Black Press’s Merritt Herald and Prince George Free Press newspapers as part of the deal, which may or may not be connected to a July deal that saw Black Press buy a number of newspapers in the Kootenays from Glacier, which happens to own the Kamloops Daily News.”
Doull is listed here as also controlling the Invermere Valley Sentinel and Oliver Chronicle. No date on that document, but of note, Kamloops This Week is listed as being owned by Black, which obviously dates it to pre-Oct. 2010. It lists the papers as “Independent (or via Black Press).”
In 2011, Doull got back into the alt-weekly game by purchasing both Edmonton weekly publications: Vue Weekly and See. He then merged the two fter declaring that “the market no longer supports two alternative weeklies.” The new, merged Vue is operated by Postvue Publishing Limited Partnership.
An Edmonton Journal article on the sale (in which Doull says the existence of two alt-weeklies was originally premised on a dispute) has some revealing nuggets.
First, and least revealing, the Journal article says Doull owns 13 papers in B.C. Can someone fill in the rest for me?
Doull also said he wanted to keep both paper’s staffs.
Then there’s this, in which Doull speaks, apparently, about chains of alt-weeklies:
“We’ve always agonized about that,” said Doull, who operates 13 community newspapers in B.C. “At what point do you become a chain? I live in Penticton and operate out of my basement. I’m the sole director of the company, so I’m responsible for the decisions. In that sense we’re independent. But you’re never really independent. You always have banks, shareholders.”
So now we know what Doull headquarters looks like.
On April 26, 2012, the Jasper Fitzhugh reported that it had been sold to Bob Doull, president of Aberdeen Publishing.
So what’s the game here? I honestly have no idea.
Doull’s papers in Kamloops and Prince George still use Black Press websites and Black Press regional copy. But in Invermere, his Columbia Valley Pioneer competes against a Black paper. On top of that, there is a rumour floating around that Doull may have some deal with Glacier Media. If such a deal exists, no money has changed hands. None of the Limited Partnerships listed above are mentioned in Glacier’s financial filings. As a public company, Glacier is required by law to declare investments in other companies. (Private companies, like Black Press, are not traded publicly don’t have to list their investments.)
I’ll just note that, from the outside, Doull seems to take hands-off ownership to a strange extreme. That, obviously, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Whatever his beliefs may be, he’s not writing editorials for his mismash of papers.
Do you know more? Email me at email@example.com or leave a comment.
Here’s my last post of 2010. Enjoy.
Check out this great series/feature/year-end wrap-up by Kamloops This Week:
Instead of just recapping the year’s most important stories, the paper updated them with “Where are they now”-style pieces. Actually, that’s the tag line for the stories.
I counted 11 stories in total, all which try to bring a new angle to something that happened earlier in the year. There’s an arts page, for which Dale Bass asked local entertainers what they’re up to now, an update by Tim Petruk on what the paper’s 2009 newsmaker has been doing (aside from not being president of the university), and two stories by Jeremy Deutsch on the stalled building plans for two very, very different venues–hint, one involves veils, the other bikinis.
Here’s the start of one unbylined article, which gives a sense of the direction of the pieces:
Months of outrage, protest and finger-pointing all came to ahead on a blustery March night, when the president of the Aboriginal Cogeneration Corporation (ACC)stepped into Kamloops for public forum at Thompson Rivers University.
Failing to sway the public’s disdain for a planned gasification project, only a few days later ACC president Kim Sigurdson said his company was abandoning its plans in Kamloops.
As the year draws to a close, there is little sign of the ACC in the city — and the public outrage has all but fizzled.
According to officials with the Ministry of Environment (MOE), the ACC is now looking at a site near Golden, by the Alberta-B.C. border, to set up its plant.
It’s a great idea and one that adds value, rather than just filling space. Of course, it also takes time so…yeah…
Lots of newspapers, including the aforementioned KTW, take a page from Time and crown their newsmaker of the year around this time. I like those stories but I love what the North Shore Outlook has done.
The Outlook spotlights a handful of people who have made change — changemakers, in other words — over the past year. And if most of the copy is borrowed from past papers, which it may or may not be, that doesn’t really matter. At this time of year — actually, at any time of year — it’s good to remind people that their New Year’s Resolutions don’t have to be about their weight.
Wow, that last line was sappy. Now, off to drink away 2010.