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BC Reporter dead at two (updated!)

March 4, 2013 17 comments

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

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Categories: Housekeeping Tags: ,

A boring post (unless you need a new gig)

May 23, 2012 Comments off

Here’s a project: compare the number of posts on this blog to B.C.’s weather patterns. I’d bet you’d find a correlation between participation and blog activity. That’s my way of blaming the weather for the lack of posts in recent weeks. And also my way of saying that postings may be relatively scarce in weeks and months to come. I’ll still blog, but I’ve got other things happening. I’ve also been assured Northern Reporter’s got something in the pipeline to prove that I haven’t pulled a Sarah Phillips on him.

In the meantime, apply for a job: the Prince George Citizen needs a reporter, as does the Alberni Valley Times, Burnaby Now, Fernie Free Press, and North Shore Outlook.

Categories: Housekeeping Tags:

B.C. Reporter Reporter stages (not-so-hostile) takeover of rival blog

April 26, 2012 3 comments

This blog is now an empire. Or not. But good news: soon the person who runs the Northern Reporter blog will begin blogging here. He or she will write about, well, whatever he or she (we really need a better gender-mysterious pronoun) wants to. Likely it will include the same sort of anecdotes and opinion relayed on that very good blog during its tenure. Please see the press release attached below.

Of note(-ish), my colleague isn’t really my colleague. He or she works for a different company. I know his or her identity. If he or she wants to share it, it will be up to him or her (CHRIST this gender thing gets tiring).

Here’s what NR wrote last year about staying anonymous, and about that blog’s raison d’etre, which I hope will continue:

I was having a Twitter-sation with Mike Kellett today. Twitter-sation is the word I just came up with at this moment to describe conversing with someone using Twitter and I expect royalties for future use.

Anyway, it was an innocent enough conversation (and conluded as such, no controversy here) and I merely helped him figure out what to have for dinner. I suggested a meal that I had only recently been introduced to, curry with coconut milk, vegetables, meat and rice.

What inspired me to make this blog post from all this is he asked me if I worked for The Citizen, Prince George’s daily newspaper.

For the record I don’t, but it just brought to mind suddenly the fact that I don’t identify who I am in this blog. Got me to consider again the reasons I do that and to decide if it’s a good idea.

The main reason I do it is because when I started the blog the idea was to tell tales from the newsroom and the lessons I learn from what are usually mistakes. I guess I’ve been in papers longer than I think sometimes (not a long time by any stretch, however.) but I still think of myself as a wet behind the ears rookie. This blog was to help me sort through the business and help improve myself, while also providing some entertainment and hopefully a little bit of education to other newbies in the field.

Due to the fact that I’d be telling stories about people who bothered me in some way or who disagreed with what I’ve covered or how I’ve covered it or people who have outright shouted at me in the office, I decided I’d keep my name, and theirs, out of it.

Keeping theirs out of it is just a no-brainer. They didn’t sign up to be blogged about. Keeping mine out of it, well, I got it into my head that if people knew who I was, they might be able to put together some of the people I’d refer to. Considering it’s all small towns in northern B.C., I thought the potential for burning bridges was damn near 100 per cent.

And if it was known who I work for, it might get into some people’s heads, include my management’s, that I could be seen as representing the company, which I’m not. I’m only representing my own viewpoints.

Keeping anonymous just seemed the best way to go.

Perhaps one day, if I leave my post and move on to a new position or field, I’ll reveal myself. But for now you’ll have to only know me by my online persona, The Northern Reporter.

Did anyone else hear an echo when they read my moniker? I know I did.

As noted above The Northern Reporter has a Twitter account. Follow him that reporter of undisclosed gender here.

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Why invent the wheel? I thought I”d repurchase a recent Glacier release for my purposes. Insertions are in brackets]

Vancouver, [REDACTED] B.C., October 18, 2011 [April 26, 2012]— (TSX:GVC) Glacier Media Inc. [B.C. Reporter Reporter] is pleased to announce that, through its affiliates (collectively “Glacier [BCRR]” or the “Company[Blog]”), it has entered into definitive agreements with Postmedia Network Inc [Northern Reporter]. (“Postmedia[Northern Reporter]”) to acquire Postmedia [Northern Reporter]’s community newspapers [journalism] blog in British Columbia, the Times Colonist, [and] related digital media assets, and certain real estate assets.

The community newspaper media assets are comprised of two groups – the Lower Mainland Publishing Group (“LMP”) and the Vancouver Island Newspaper Group (“VING”).  The LMP properties include the North Shore News, the Vancouver Courier, the Burnaby Now, the New Westminster Record/Royal City Record, the Richmond News, the Delta Optimist, the Surrey Now, the Coquitlam Now, the Maple Ridge Times, the Langley Advance, the Abbotsford Mission Times, and the Chilliwack Times.  The VING properties include the Nanaimo Daily News, the Alberni Valley Times, the Harbour City Star, the Cowichan Valley Citizen, the Oceanside Star, the Pennyworth, the Westerly News, and the Campbell River Courier Islander/Campbell River Courier North Islander. 

The Times Colonist [Northern Reporter] was founded in 1858 [March of 2011] and serves Victoria, British Columbia’s [journalists] capital and Vancouver Island.  It is one of Canada’s oldest, most respected and award winning newspapers [community journalist-oriented blogs].

The purchase price for the acquired media assets and significant real estate properties is $86.5 million[$0] payable in cash [worthless Postmedia stock] at closing, subject to adjustment [beer] for working capital.  The acquisition will be financed with bank borrowingsGlacier [The Blog] is amending its credit [Wordpress] facilities to fund [facilitate] the acquisition of the assets [Northern Reporter] and provide additional borrowing [posting] capacity for ongoing acquisition opportunities.

The assets acquired strategically broaden Glacier[BCRR]’s market presence in British Columbia.  Glacier [BCRR] now offers the broadest coverage of local newspaper [journalist anecdotes] markets in Western Canada, which increases market reach for local, regional and national advertisers [shit fuck all], provides for significant digital media opportunities and strengthens Glacier[BCRR]’s competitive [monopolistic] position.  The operations acquired also enhance the Company’s depth of personnel and operating resources and offer attractive synergy opportunities.

While the acquisition significantly strengthens the Company[Blog]’s community newspaper [blogging] and digital operations, Glacier [The Blog] intends to continue to build its business information operations (which include its trade and business & professional information properties) with particular focus on digital and rich information opportunities.

Management will focus in the short-term on a balance of paying down debt [chugging whiskey], integrating the operations acquired, continuing to develop existing operations, targeting select acquisition opportunities and returning value to shareholders [beleaguered readers].  While [Because] the transaction is being financed with bank borrowings [pogs]Glacier [The Blog] will be in a stronger position as a result of the acquisition with manageable [no] debt levels and increased cash flow.  In addition to operational needs and acquisitions, a portion of any increased cash flow [donations] could be returned to shareholders in the future through share buy backs and increased dividends [hilarious contests].

The transaction is expected to close on or about November 30, 2011 [April 26, 2012] and is conditional upon regulatory and other customary approvals [the parties not getting distracted by their respective jobs and/or lives].

Shares in Glacier [The Blog] can[not] be traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol GVC.

For further information please contact  Mr. Orest Smysnuik, Chief Financial Officer, at 604-708-3264 {BCRR at bclocalreporter@gmail.com].

About the Company [Blog]: Glacier Media Inc. [B.C. Reporter Reporter] is an information communications company [blog] focused on the provision of primary and essential information and related services through print, electronic and online media.  Glacier Media Inc. [B.C. Reporter Reporter] is pursuing this strategy through its core businesses [hobby]: the local newspaper [Google News searching “reporter location:British_Columbia every now and then], trade information [acquiring gossip] and business and professional information markets [bitterly contemplating the future of print journalism].

Show me the money

April 23, 2012 Comments off

You may notice a new button on the right. It says “Donate.” It means just what you think. This is your chance to show just how much this blog means to you (that said, there is no way to extract donations from yours truly). If you want to give me money for operating this blog, that’s how to do so (I got the idea from Kamloops Daily News sports editor Gregg Drinnan‘s excellent WHL blog). At this point, my big goal is to make back the $10 or so that I spent to mail that Hunter S. Thompson book last week. Feel free to compensate me duly. Also, if you have any idea on how to spend Paypal dollars, I would appreciate the advice.

I promise to spend one-third of everything I receive on future silly and juvenile contests. In the interest of openness, I’ll maintain a running total of the amount of donations received (but donors will remain anonymous).

Is there a reason I shouldn’t take donations? Leave me a comment. There is, I guess, a risk of corruption. Somebody could (very, very, very etc. hypothetically) donate thousands of dollars to me with the hope that I would take it easy on a certain company, or aim my glare elsewhere. I promise to resist such urges. I’ll also point out that my current employer pays me tens of thousands of dollars (!!!) and I think I can reasonably say it has not altered what I write here.

Categories: Housekeeping Tags:

A not-so-veiled threat about this blog’s future

October 20, 2011 Comments off

OK folks, I’m back, for now at least. But, if I’m going to keep this up, I need to both have a continuous stream of things to write about while, at the same time, spending as little time as possible doing so.

What that means is I need help. When you see a good, well-written story, drop me a line at bclocalreporter [at] gmail [dot] com and tell me about it. Also, tell me when  you see examples of journalism-gone-wrong, of journalists-in-the-news, of good headlines, of bad headlines, of nefarious publishers and angelic writers, and of anything else that may be of interest.

I can’t do this without you. So gimme a hand. On the right, soon, you will see an image of a pen, reflecting my enthusiasm for, and the projected life span of, this blog. When it’s full, you can expect this blog to live on for another few weeks. As the ink-level decreases, so too does the likelihood that this blog will be here in the morning. The only way to increase the ink is to send me links to interesting things. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The end of the J-Lust

February 18, 2011 1 comment

Today, B.C. Journo-lust — that name being a take-off on an American journalism list that made news a couple years back — became B.C. Reporter Reporter.

Why? Because the old name sucked. It was a tad sleezy. Also, because the other day someone searching for “mother and son in lust video” found this page, and that’s just gross.

The blog’s URL won’t change, just the little header up top. Please amend your Google searches accordingly.

Also, you may notice that the name still sucks. I will change it again if I hear a better one.

Categories: Housekeeping Tags:

Paul Godfrey, Paul Godfrey, Paul Godfrey

December 23, 2010 Comments off

This post is not about Paul Godfrey. However, he did spark its idea in my head. You see, there are people in Toronto and Vancouver who is really interested in what this blog has to say about Paul Godfrey. I’m not saying. I’m just saying.

I sincerely hope that that man is Paul Godfrey,  although I doubt that Godfrey Googles his name as often as I do. (On a barely related tangent, should Google, when used as a verb, be capitalized? Discuss…)

Whatever the case, it’s a good sign, because one of my wet dreams is that this blog will communicate to folks like Godfrey or David Black — or more likely their underlings — how their journalists believe their dozens of newspapers could be improved.

One of the problems with the ownership structure of community newspapers is that the men and women (but almost always men) who pull the strings are often hundreds of kilometres away from the newspapers they manage. I doubt they read any of the newspapers on a regular basis and, to make matters worse, the people who manage the websites and control 90 per cent of the content on the web are often in an entirely different location. I’m not sure what to call it. Decentralized centralization? Centralized decentralization? Declusterfuck? Whatever the case, it totally defies the laws of physics.

What I’m trying to say is that there is a major lack of communication between the lower and upper ranks of media companies.

I once wrote a story that touched on Toyota’s “lean” system of manufacturing. One of the principles of lean is that workers are encouraged to find efficiencies and add their opinions about how the workplace can be improved. Google does a similar thing. There’s nothing of the sort in Black Press or Postmedia. A journalist with great ideas has no way of relaying them to the people who control the purse strings or the papers’ web content. Instead the reporter bitches to the editor, who agrees with his reporter and shakes his head sympathetically. (Right now every editor reading this is both nodding and wondering if one of his reporters is behind this blog). At some point in the conversation, someone higher up the food change will be called an “idiot” or something of the sort. And that’s where it stops, because that’s where it’s encouraged to stop.

Hopefully, this blog can serve as a way to get those messages on the ground to the people at the top of the corporate structure.

I can dream at least.

Late night pissed-off addendum: I also doubt that I”m alone in harbouring a seething rage at the fact that newsroom budgets are still below ground even as a “struggling” newspaper is defined as one that does not make enough money, rather than as one that is losing money. The only thing I hate about my job is thinking about the twisted economics that limit how well I can do my job. Unfortunately, I’m confronted with those limitations far too often.

Merry freakin’ Xmas.

Leave a comment.

Photo by John Lillibridge via Flickr.

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Help keep this blog running for weeks to come by becoming a link farmer. It’s easy, quick and the pay is shite. E-mail bclocalreporter (at) gmail (dot) com. Also, take the poll on the right. It’s free. Lucky you.

Have I made an error? It wouldn’t be the first time. Leave a comment and I’ll duly update the post.

We’re making inroads into our census of B.C. community newspapers, but there are still a lot of blanks in the Journo-lust Spreadsheet. How many journalists work at your paper? How often do you come out? Who’s your publisher? Participation is free! The benefits unlimited! The exclamation points boundless!

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