Home > Uncategorized > Chris Shepherd explains why he’s quitting as Nelson loses another journalist

Chris Shepherd explains why he’s quitting as Nelson loses another journalist

February 2, 2012

On Monday, Inthekoots/Nelson Post managing editor (and, as Stephen Colbert would declare, friend of the blog) Chris Shepherd filed a bitter farewell column in which he more or less tells (professional) journalism: “I’m quitting you.”

It begins:

I think journalism is in trouble. So much trouble that I’m leaving, rather than go down with what I see as a sinking ship. There is a way for the community to have a vibrant media however, and I’ll tell you what I see as the solution.

I hope that doesn’t come across as bitter, but the fact is I’ve stopped being a journalist because there’s no money in it.


Chris talks about the extremely high turnover rate in certain small (and not-so-small) northern and interior towns, how it is linked to the lousy pay, and why it’s bad for the communities themselves. He singles out a rash of new reporters at the Nelson Star to illustrate his point, on which Star editor Bob Hall weighs in. But more on that later.

Chris also notes that the community itself needs to step up to the plate if they want continued coverage. (I could echo his sentiment: this blog won’t exist for much longer unless readers start pointing me towards interesting stories). Chris says that community members need to start telling their own stories, instead of waiting around for others to do it for him. (It’s a sentiment I repeat often at my paper. How can I know about your event,  your problem, if no one tells me about it.)

Chris explains that while he’s exploring other career options, he’ll continue to be involved with Inthekoots in a limited, voluntary way.


In the comments section, Nelson Star editor Bob Hall bids his competitor goodbye:

Chris, it’s unfortunate that you have decided to leave journalism. From what I could tell over the last few years, you have some pretty solid skills and it was a pleasure to work in the same community for the time we did.

What I find more unfortunate about the above is the way you have decided to go out. You write about ideals and then proceed to only tell a sliver of the story as it suits you. The facts you are spewing about the Nelson Star are weak and skewed.

Bob takes exception to Chris’s comments about the Star. Frankly, I think he takes a little bit too much exception. Chris didn’t exactly attack the Star; he just mentioned the amount of new reporters who have come through the town in recent years. And, he does it in such a way to underscore the importance of keeping journalists happy and well fed, which I think is a noble goal. That said, Bob does have a point when he notes that sometimes it’s good to have reporters with ambition to continue on to bigger things. We all know of reporters or editors who start to mail it in after X number of years at a good enough job. But it still annoys me when journalists get defensive after being subjected to mild criticism.

The pair have traded comments in the days since and Nelson Star reporter Megan Cole has chimed in to bid Chris a fond farewell. Others, including other reporters, have done the same and the comment stream on the story is well worth a view.

Whatever the case, Chris’s departure is most unwelcome. The news industry has taken a thumping in Nelson in recent years. It’s pretty obvious that there is less journalism today than there was five years ago. There are, clearly, some structural problems. Perhaps Nelson simply isn’t big enough to sustain more than one news organization. I’d like to think otherwise, but until something structural happens with the online news industry as a whole, I think that’s probably the case.

Leave a comment.

  1. February 3, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I find it almost almost ironic that the pay is so much shittier in small towns than it is in larger cities because, in a sense, the job is even more difficult. There simply isn’t as much going on to choose from and you often have to dig around more to find interesting stories to tell. During my own fledgling journalism career I’ve yet to relocate anywhere specifically for a job and I’ve always been rather daunted by the idea of parachuting into a community where I don’t already know the history, the major players, the secrets or the gossip.
    Incidentally, I know I speak for a lot of people when I say I hope you don’t give up on this blog. There is no small degree of speculation among B.C. journos as to your identity (not to mention gender) but I think you’re probably smart to keep it anonymous. No sense inviting the wrath of a potential corporate overlord. Given the typical workload for a full-timer, I’m amazed you find the time or energy to keep this going on the side but am glad you do.

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