So it would seem that I wasn’t the only person with the genius idea to send a bunch of questions to the Powell River Peak’s Tyson Fandrick about his newfangled iPhone/iPad/iEverything else app. Catherine Litt of the Kamloops Daily News did pretty much the same thing on her B.C. Newspapers Blog.
But I got it up first so first, to Catherine: “Na na na na nana. In your face!”
That said, you can read her post here.
I was going to do a roundup, but then I ran into three very interesting things about which I’d like to write in detail. Coincidentally or not, they all revolve around Glacier Media properties. (Given my enthusiasm for the three, and given the conspiracy-mindedness of some people, it bears mentioning that I don’t work for Glacier). I’m going to spread them out over the next three days so I don’t have to write anything else for those days.
This first one is absolutely huge.
The Powell River Peak has launched its own iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch app. To download it, go to the iTunes store and search “Powell River Peak.”
I don’t have one of the above devices, so I can’t properly review it, but I’ve raved before about the wonders of the PR Peak website, and I’ve no reason to believe the app will be any worse.
Here’s a screen shot from iTunes.
I’m going to try to do something more on this in the coming days, but in the meantime, a couple early notes:
1. The app is free and advertising supported. While that’s consistent with the newspaper’s business platform, I wonder if the Peak isn’t missing out on revenue, given that people have actually shown a willingness to pay for apps, including news apps, and given the fact that right now the Peak doesn’t have any local competitors in the Powell River news app field. Then again, in a small community like Powell River, where many people don’t own iPhones, you’re going to want everyone who does have an Apple device to download your app.
2. This leads one to wonder how long it will take for other community papers to follow suit. It seems likely that other Glacier papers — most likely the dailies — will be the next to adopt the technology, once any kinks are worked out of the Powell River app and if it proves popular-ish. But then again, they haven’t adopted the overall wonderfulness of the Peak’s website, so who knows.
Since the Vancouver Sun and the Province have apps, PostMedia seems like it should have all the tools to allow its community newspapers to have their own apps. But the PostMedia community newspaper web effort has been pretty dismal to this point and there’s no indication that that will change anytime soon.
I’m going to guess that Black Press has something in the incubator, but given the fact that the chain is still unreasonably obsessed with video, one can’t be sure.
I had written:
I also doubt that there is an audience for live blogs of city hall meetings, even if the idea is marvelous and inspiring (by all means, live blog if you’re going to take notes on your computer anyways, but it’s not going to add much traffic.)
Walz wrote back:
As someone who live blogs from both council and committee-of-the-whole meetings in Powell River, I found your comments about live blogging from council meetings interesting. Of course, we strive to drive traffic to our websites, but I’ve found that is not the main reason for live blogging.
I often receive comments from readers who tell me how much they appreciate the information. People who follow local politics can’t often attend meetings, but the blogs give them an insight into not only what is happening, but personalities, issues, positions. Elected officials and staff also follow the blogs, I find, especially staff who can’t attend the meetings, but want to know what is going on. Elected officials like to keep track of what I’m writing about them.
To people outside our community, the live blogs might not make as much sense as they do to people who live here. Powell River residents know the personalities involved. When a really hot topic is being discussed, readership increases. I’ve also been asked to live blog from other meetings, but I draw the line at committee and council meetings. It’s tasking, especially when the meetings are long.
I’ve found the thanks I receive from people is a good motivation to keep doing it. While the numbers may be small, the people who read the live blogs appreciate what I’m doing and let me know that. That keeps me going.
I’ve gotta say: I love to follow live blogs. I just doubted the reach. Apparently they’re well received, which is good, because I’d like to see them spread for a couple of reasons. First liveblogging probably gives reporters something to do during those council meetings where you want to stab yourself through the eyes. Second, they mean reporters need to have laptop computers, and I’d love a laptop. I would also guess that the fabulously designed prpeak.com website is probably an asset when it comes to making live blogs attractive and easy to use.
For more on this discussion, see more comments here.
Krista Bryce of the Nanaimo Daily News is halfway through a six-part series on early New Year’s Resolutions (kicker: Don’t wait for Jan. 1 to make your healthy lifestyle choices”). The series relates the personal stories of people trying to get healthy. Part one focuses on a guy who’s quitting smoking and introduces the series with some advice on how to get fit. Part two tells the story of a fellow who lost 282 (!) pounds. And part three focuses on how new gadgets and technology can make workouts more fun and more effective. All the stories feature several sources and great photography, also by Bryce. Stories are published each Saturday.
I found Bryce’s series through the “Editor’s Picks” section of the NDN’s website, which is just under the main stories. All websites should have such a section. Unfortunately, few do.
The Powell River Peak has a story written by a local soldier, Tod Strickland, stationed in Afghanistan. Sometimes the best journalism can mean letting other people do the writing. Also, I’ll say it again: the Peak’s website is freaking amazing (I’m going to dedicate a full post to it later, but while browsing I noticed that I’m not alone in my love for the site; media/IT director (!) Tyson Fandrick won the 2009 and 2010 CCNA for best website.) (One minus: took me too long to find the Peak’s twitter feed).
Ashley Gaudreault of the awkwardly named Cowichan News Leader Pictorial has a great feature on Santa Claus. Or at least a Santa Claus impostor. I like this: “On a cruise down the Panama Canal, nine people asked to pose with him for a picture so they could say to their grandkids they went cruising with St. Nick.” Now that’s a brave editor who will publish a behind-the-scenes Santa Claus story. Should the story have a disclaimer? Maybe something like: “Warning: adult content. Parental guidance required”?
Edward Hill of the Goldstream Gazette writes about a local school’s annual drive to raise 10,000 pieces of non-perishable food in four hours. Good story, great idea for a fundraiser.
And Erin McCracken, also of the Goldstream Gazette, has another very interesting story, this one on an endangered tiny, blue, beautiful (!) slug.
Well written, simple sports story with a great lead by J.R. Rardon of the North Island Gazette. Good photo too.
Hilarious Peninsula News Review headline: “Smurfette released from rehab.” Nice story by Christine van Reeuwyk.
Pirjo Raits of the Sooke News Mirror talks to a boy credited with saving his family from a fire.
Have I made an error? It wouldn’t be the first time. Be my editor by leaving a comment (the button’s up top by the headline). I’ll duly update the post.
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 for your newspaper in the Journo-lust Spreadsheet.
Photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr
This Friday the Nanaimo News Bulletin and reporter Rachel Stern will wrap an extended and extensive four-part series on poverty’s pervasive impact in that city.
It’s a huge issue and one deserving such an in-depth look from the twice-weekly paper.
Part one started last Monday with a long, wide-ranging story about the need for more and better affordable housing. Stern details how housing prices have outstripped funding sources for those in need. The issue also featured two more stories about the long-stagnant minimum wage.
Part two on Friday looked at the effect of poverty on one’s health and stomach. High housing costs mean poor families have less to spend on food. And, as Stern writes in her showcase piece, when they can buy food, that food is often unhealthy. The poor are also twice as likely to have arthritis and rheumatism.
Part three looked at how many elderly people live in, or near, poverty. The answer: just about one-fifth, although most live just above the poverty line. Eighty-four-year-old Jean Smith is one of them.
In each story Stern does an excellent job of personalizing impersonal figures but also breaking down the actual figures so people realize just how little money many people live on.
Part four will wrap Friday.
The BCYNAs may be calling next.
Elsewhere on the Isle:
Google Maps is an underused tool for reporters, despite its ease of use. The Ladysmith Chronicle shows that it can be used easily and with good effect even for a relatively isolated and minor story.
Headline: “Fondue explosion sends two to hospital.” ‘Nuf said.
Kevin Rothbauer of the Cowichan Valley Citizen got a photo of a fireball that used to be a house. Good reporting on the fire by Sarah Simpson. Got names of the injured homeowners and a recounting of events. (It’s amazing how traumatized people never mind talking to a reporter while they watch a house burn.)
An aside, pt. 2: I love the website of the Powell River Peak; it’s fast, easy-to-use and intuitive.
Reminder: help complete a census of B.C. community newspapers by filling in the blanks of the Journo-lust Spreadsheet.