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Prince George Citizen apologizes for plagiarism

February 20, 2013 2 comments

In a letter to his readers, managing editor Neil Godbout of the Prince George Citizen apologized for an apparent case of plagiarism by one of the paper’s now-former staff.

The staff member was not identified in the letter but Godbout does say that person has been let go.

From Godbout’s letter:

While fact-checking an opinion piece written last week by this staff member, the similarity between the submitted work and a blog became apparent. The final paragraph of the submitted opinion piece was nearly verbatim to a similar paragraph in the middle portion of the blog. The staff writer did not credit the original writer or make any indication that the final paragraph of the opinion piece was written by someone else.

The full letter, found here, is very apologetic to the readers and I’d say great credit is due to the Citizen for being so upfront about the situation and dealing with it so quickly.

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Prince George Free Press adds digital offering

December 4, 2012 1 comment

The Prince George Free Press, a twice-weekly community paper in B.C.’s northern capital, has embarked on a new experiment: a daily, digital edition.

As reported here, the paper says it has launched a new, non-traditional daily product. Indeed, separate from its own website, which uses Black Press’ standard template (it’s no longer under Black Press ownership, although they do remain affiliated in some ways), this product is delivered right to your e-mail and readers scroll through it like an actual paper.

From the announcement:

“The Free Press Daily is markedly different than a website in a couple of ways,” said Bill Phillips, Free Press managing editor. “We haven’t loaded it up with web enhancements that have nothing to do with delivering the news of the day, and we actually deliver it to you. Rather than having to go a website to get your news, it comes to you … just like the paper version does.”

I also couldn’t help but notice a slight, light-hearted jab to their main competitor, the Prince George Citizen, a subscription-based daily paper. That came from a comment from the Free Press’ sales director:

“Why should you pay to get your daily news?” said Roy Spooner, Free Press sales and marketing director.

It’s definitely a neat idea. I’ll be curious to see if it sparks any other projects like that from other papers in the area.

– Northern Reporter

Smithers paper gets redesign

September 12, 2012 Comments off

Just a bit of northern news from the Northern Reporter here.

A paper from my northern neck of the woods just came out with a new look. The Smithers Interior News cleaned up their front page a bit and added some new design features within the paper.

In addition to a new look, they say they’ll have a dedicated Arts and Entertainment page each issue and will run a monthly two-page feature covering high school related news.

A side by side comparison of the Interior News covers. The old design on the left and the new on the right.

What do you think of this new design? Good? Bad? Whatever, leave me alone?

Categories: Uncategorized

Northern Reporter: How a bout that

August 2, 2012 Comments off

Well I did say I had no free time, didn’t I?

A single post about time management early in the summer and I disappear like, uh, like a shadow from a light bulb. Is that clever? Who knows, I’m tired.

Anyway, as I wrestled with someting to write about during a sudden moment of freedom, I recalled an early career story that I can’t believe I haven’t told yet.

So the year was 2007. Fresh at my first paper, I was assigned to report on the local boxing club which was hosting a competition over the weekend.

My extensive knowledge of boxing at that moment in time was as follows:

 

Yes, that much. However I watched the matches with enthusiasm, taking as many non-flash photos as I could, after the referee stopped a match and asked that I not use the flash after I made the flub. In a dark boxing arena that was terrible news for a reporter.

I carried on, however, and did what I could.

Back at the office later, the protocol was I laid out the sports page myself once I received the dummy, and my editor would take a peek at it before I marked it done.

This week, falling behind on his own work, the editor simply said he trusted me this time and to just send it when I thought it was ready.

Extra responsibility. Oh yeah!

Except my sorely lacking background in sports would have been obvious to my editor when I wrote passages referring to a “game” of boxing. There was something else I did repeatedly. Perhaps said exhibit match instead of exhibition. Who knows. All I know is that I butchered the terminology of the game.

Now, I argue to this day that boxing should be considered a game. Two people compete for a prize. Sounds like a game to me, just with more punching. I can’t really argue the other mess-up in the terminology, but hey, live and learn.

The boxing coach himself, a very nice, large, intimidating man, calmly filled me in on what I got wrong at a later match. I admire a person who strives to educate rather than belittle.

The random, anonymous e-mail from somewhere in Victoria, BC wasn’t so nice. A reader who keeps up with us online read the story and sent  a terse message basically insinuating I lacked mental capacity and questioned whether I even care about what I write.

I do care, for the record.

Ignorance isn’t always bliss, especially in the public record. Without knowing I didn’t know, I wrote up a boxing story with the wording all wrong.

I later purchased a copy of the New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge, specifically in response to my flub. It’s a massive book, but if it told me my bouts from my games or my rinks from my teams, it’d be money well spent.

And just so you know, boaters are also not to be messed with. My editor once told me about the readers who phoned him after he mistakenly called a larger tanker-like vessel a “boat”. It’s a vessel, dontchaknow?

Northern Reporter makes time to talk time

May 31, 2012 Comments off

I thought it appropriate to begin my life under the B.C. Reporter Reporter umbrella by talking about time, or, more specifically, the lack of it.

For instance, when Reporter Reporter announced the merger of our blogs, I had meant to write something to get the ball rolling.

That didn’t work out so well.

As time went on, time slipped by. How very cruel.

The more I thought about the lack of time on my side — I effectively have no personal time at the moment — the more I thought about how that affects the work I do. I’m just going to assume I’ve mentioned in the past the fact that I have, in my career, worked in a single person newsroom.

Even in the non-single person offices, the news beats for all the reporters basically comes down to who’s in the office when something happens (Well, somewhat.).

Resources can be scarce, is what I’m getting at.

To go back a little farther, I recall a fact I did reveal in one of my early entries is that I’m not a journalism school graduate. I’ve worked with such people, and they’re great, and being around them makes me feel at a disadvantage. They’ve worked under professors, done their research, did the scholastic training. Most, if not all, of what I know I’ve learned is through trial and error. (Hence the reason I exist as a blog.)

So, time is lacking, and I personally lack the formal training many colleagues have. That’s the basis for the trouble I sometimes feel I get into. I don’t have enough time or training to follow up on news tips for larger stories.

For instance, I was asked to follow up on a story about a company that’s working in the area which, in contrast to earlier, stated objectives, might not be hiring all the local people they can hire, preferring outside workers. That’s entirely speculation, of course. But I don’t actually have the training to form a strategy for approaching such a story, or even the time to do such.

I can just ask the company, but I’m sure I’ll get the usual statement as any company would give. Then what? Do I track down all the eligible local companies I can which could be doing work? How ‘local’ do I define ‘local’? And I suppose I would have to know what qualifications are being sought to really understand who’s being left out, if anyone. That’s a lot of work in a week for a single story.

And when there’s all the rest of the stories in the week that need written, and only so many people available to write them, how can it be justified to shift resources into a single, albeit potentially important, story?

I wish I had an answer to all this, but it’ll have to wait. I’ve run out of time for now.

Categories: Uncategorized
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