Home > Housekeeping > BC Reporter dead at two (updated!)

BC Reporter dead at two (updated!)

March 4, 2013

UPDATE: Because I’m an insensitive asshole, I neglected to mention and thank my co-blogger, the Northern Reporter, for his/her  contributions since joining on. That was really idiotic of me.  Anyways, NR brought some good insight and some additional momentum that kept the blog circling the drain a little longer than it would have otherwise. So kudos is deserved.

After circling the drain for several months, it’s finally time to take the plunge.

This blog is dead.

Mainly it’s because I’ve lost interest. The response from journalists has been great, but covering community journalism — if that’s what you can say this blog did — is both exhausting and dispiriting. It’s bad enough to have to work for companies that either don’t care about the journalism, or illustrate institutional stupidity. To write about it just gets boring. Sometimes it also seems needlessly risky, especially considering the lack of results, or possible results. (You don’t need me to tell you Glacier’s stab at Layar is doomed.) Writing about the good stuff just isn’t as fun. It requires time that right now I’d rather be allocating elsewhere.

The blog was useful and fun in many respects. I think it did function as a place where you could learn about the wacky new editor of the Nanaimo Daily News or how the local hockey team was playing hardball with the Kamloops Daily News. But the less work I put into it, the less it functioned that way. And unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to do so. I’ve found that reading — fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, whatever — is a hell of a lot more satisfying that writing about community newspapers. Sorry.

I was also lucky to have reached most newspapers and newsrooms. I know I’ve seen oblivious colleagues reading my work. That was gratifying. It also, unfortunately, meant that my ambition for the blog had been achieved. That’s great, but when you have nowhere to grow, and when you’re not going to “make a difference” in the teenage-idealist’s definition of the phrase, then motivation can flag.

I did learn a lot from this, though. First, I now know there are some community journalists out there like me who are ambitious but otherwise not inclined (I think) to wade into the daily newspaper world. I’m also more convinced than ever that there are strati of reporters and editors out there, some who are very good at their jobs, and some who aren’t, either because they haven’t been trained enough, because they lack the talent, or because they just don’t care anymore. All in all, I think that’s good. It means community journalism has a lot of room to grow, and it has good reporters and editors who can hopefully help spur their colleagues on to bigger and better things. If only their bosses will let them.

One more conclusion that I might as well get out now: the Internet is not going to be a big money-maker for community newspapers in the next decade. I hope they prove me wrong, but the readership of community newspapers still consists of people who didn’t grow up with computers in their schools. Unfortunately, the people who run newspaper chains don’t realize that most of their customers do not spend the day at their computer looking at news sites. And they also don’t realize that the type of news their newspapers specialize in is ideally suited for print, not the web. The web is great for covering quick-developing news stories, or issues of provincial or national relevance. But there isn’t really all that much need-to-know-now news that happens in your average community; it’s not in the mandate of community newspapers to cover non-local issues; and when something regional happens, people are more likely to head to the website of news organizations with more resources and a bigger name.

Local newspapers can seek page views all they want, but the internet is not going to bring home the bacon anytime soon. At best, it’s a place to play defence against competitiors. (So why, if Castanet, in Kelowna, can make a profit why can’t newspapers’ online divisions? Mainly because of investment of resources. Glacier Media and Black Press are never, ever, ever going to give, say, their newspapers in Langley or Port Alberni two more reporters devoted solely to creating content for their website. Ever. AND, even if they did it would still fail because Kelowna is probably the only community-newspaper city, because of its size, economy and distance from other major population centres, that could support such a business at this time. Even then, I think, it took the Kelowna wildfire to give Castanet the brand-name boost that it needed.)

So newsprint is dead. Long live newsprint.

Also similar reasons, this blog is over. So it goes. I’m gonna keep the Twitter account and, hopefully, use it more. Less characters, means less work, which will hopefully encourage me to re-engage with the purpose of this site, if not in this medium

Categories: Housekeeping Tags: ,
  1. SalishSeaSam
    March 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Boy, your previous ‘exposé’ of the amateur at the helm of the Nanaimo Daily News sure came to fruition last week with major advertisers pulling ads and the community generally in an uproar over a very racist letter that was run. And Mark MacDonald’s apologies in print sure show him to be the hack that you revealed. good on you and have another think, please, about making this an open forum about the state of print journalism in BC. Badly badly needed. Cheers…

  2. Mj
    March 25, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Don’t be silly. Make some careful alliances, open up to contributors, build some plausible deniability by sharing the risk and keep this going.

    • March 25, 2013 at 5:09 pm

      Alas, it’s always been open to outside contributions (see the Contribute button at the top.

  3. Pen and pad
    March 10, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    First Public Eye Online and now this. Damn. I’m convinced in the value of this site. Reporters hold others to a higher standard of accountability and this place gave a chance to hold our industry to the same standard because we don’t and its not. When we write stories, maybe only a few people read them but at least we accomplished raising awareness. Same thing goes here Make a big splashing difference – maybe not. But the difference is in the awareness. Kudos. Hats off. Fly the flags at half mast now.

  4. Lina
    March 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    How sad! I had just discovered this, and was still enthralled by its honesty and usefulness, when I stumbled across this last post. Well, I understand it’s hard to keep up. And so I thank you, most sincerely, for the work you did put into this project. As a recent entrant to community journalism, I found these posts to be extremely helpful, and heart-warming – in the sense of learning that others out there were struggling with the same issues. Best of luck to you, and I hope we see you retake your leadership role in journalism in another shape.

  5. SalishSeaSam
    March 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Well, you had a pretty good go, didn’t you. And you’ll probably never know how many of us counted and your blog ‘being there’ whenever we wanted a fix. Thanks for all the words. And thanks to you, I’ll never read the NDN the same ever again.

    Too bad your last hurrah wasn’t a comment on the press barren (sorry, baron) who wants a refined swan song to his career.

    Oh well… maybe it’s time for someone else to take up the task, in their own way. BC journalism, like our politics, may be shoddy, but it is truly never dull.

    Cheers and good luck to ya,

  6. Anonymous
    March 6, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Bummer. It was awesome while it lasted. Thanks very much for your work on the blog.

  7. March 5, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    So long! Sometimes I think I know who you are but then I think I’m wrong. Now I’ll never know.

  8. Barry Link
    March 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    This feels like one of our favourite journo watering holes or bars closing down. Thanks for all the effort, was always amazed at the work involved. Speaking of bars, if you ever want to reveal yourself and stop in our area and talk shop, I’ll buy you a beer or two or three.

  9. Fiona Hughes
    March 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    You’re hilarious. I’m going to miss you.

  10. March 4, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Dearest BCReporter,

    Some supergenius clicked through to my website, figuring I was the mastermind behind this blog and sent me the following email:

    “Glad that you are closing your BC Local REporter blog and looking forward to you deleting it. You are simply using this website to post defamatory materials or allowing others to post defamatory materials. And the way you get away with it is to not post your contact information. WHy don’t you post your real contact information and allow yourself to be held liable in BC court for your actions. Instead you refuse to disclose your contactinformation. You amount to nothing more than a common criminal who engages in defamatory liable with this website and hides by not disclosing your contact information.”

    I like that he/she sent it anonymously, calling you out for our anonymity. 🙂

  11. March 4, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    That is sad news. We always enjoyed your posts here at the BCYCNA. See you in April at the awards I am sure … and feel free to identify yourself. Your secret is safe with me : )

  12. March 4, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks for the kind words. See you around on Twitter.

  13. March 4, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear you’re giving up the ghost. You have so many valuable things to say about community journalism and its developments. I do hope you pop back in from time to time and let us know what’s shakin’ down.

  14. Dale Odberg
    March 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Thank you for your hard work & all the best to you in your future

  15. Pat Tracy
    March 4, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Sorry to see your blog shuttered. I knew it had low odds of reaching its third year – but hoped it would limp along with a once-in-awhile injection from your potential contributors.
    Thank you for doing what you could, while you could, to connect community journalists, shed light on the bizarre and the beautiful in community newspapers – and take well-aimed shots at newspaper companies and chains that sometimes appear too preoccupied with surviving this week to even consider the next month or year.
    As an owner of what is now called a ‘necro-blog’ I would encourage you to rethink dealing yours a final death blow. Even the occasional glint of intelligence is better than none at all …

  16. David
    March 4, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Sad to read this. Thanks for all your work over the past couple years. Your blog had always been informative, thought provoking and entertaining.

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