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Nanaimo Daily News publisher is Nanaimo’s second-most powerful person, Nanaimo Daily News says

January 31, 2013 5 comments

Every year the Nanaimo Daily News puts out its list of the city’s most powerful people.

This year’s list — the first published under the paper’s new managing editor Mark MacDonald — has anointed the News’ own publisher, Hugh Nicholson, as the paper’s second-most powerful person.

According to the story:

The Daily News publisher is also division manager of the Vancouver Island Newspaper Group, and is considered a go-to man within Glacier Media ranks. Nicholson plans to turn the Daily News into the flagship newspaper for the Glacier chain. His most recent project included the impressive re-launch of the Harbour City Star.

Nicholson is seven spots ahead of Nanaimo mayor John Ruttan, who topped last year’s list. He’s also 13 spots ahead of Shawn Atleo, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. As one commenter pointed out, 14 names are new and didn’t make the list last year. Nicholson is one of them, having only been appointed publisher last summer.

Of note, though, former NDN publisher Curt Duddy was ranked fifth both in 2010 and 2012. He wasn’t on the list in 2011 because “opted out to make room for someone else on the list.” (The publisher of the Nanaimo News Bulletin has not made the list in the last four years.)

Also of note, spots No. 4, 5 and 6 are occupied by car dealers — two of whom made the cut last year. Twelve of the list members are business owners. (I emphasize the number of businesspeople because building MacDonald emphasized bridges in his manifesto for turning around the newspaper industry.)

According to the paper:

Those who were on the list last year, but didn’t make the cut on this year’s list: businessman Hadi Abassi, publisher Curt Duddy, school district chairman Jamie Brennan, Snuneymuxw chief Doug White, VIHA president Howard Waldner, B.C. Ferries president and CEO Mike Corrigan, Nanaimo Port Authority president Bernie Dumas, MP Leonard Krog, Grace Elliot-Nielsen, Dawn Anderson, Paralympian Michelle Stilwell, Wendy Pratt, MP James Lunney.

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Former Prince George Citizen reporter tied to Philippines shooting

January 23, 2013 1 comment

A former Prince George Citizen reporter may have been the man who shot and killed two people in a Philippines courtroom this week before being shot himself.

Start of the Citizen’s story:

John Pope was facing charges of illegal possession of firearms when he was shot by police in Cebu City the Southeast Asian country. He was described in local reports as being a journalist.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs was unable to provide any personal details about Pope due to privacy concerns, but a man named John Pope was a Citizen staff reporter in the late 1970s and early 1980s. According to former Citizen employees, Pope was living in the Philippines for the last 10 to 15 years.

The Citizen also received a package from John Pope in the fall originating from the Philippines addressed to a former staff member.

Former colleagues at the Citizen had starkly different memories of Pope – some said he was a good friend and very loyal, while others said he was troubled and unhappy.

more…

Bowen Island Undercurrent found guilty of libel, must pay $35,100

January 3, 2013 Comments off

A man who was wrongly identified online as a sex offender by the Bowen Island Undercurrent was awarded $35,100 by a Supreme Court justice in late December.

You should probably read the full decision.

In a nutshell, a Bowen Island man, Simon James Sr., was found guilty of sexually touching a minor.
The Undercurrent, though, mistakenly used a file photo of the man’s son, Simon James Jr.

Hence the libel.

On the bright side, the print run of the paper was halted and not distributed. And the web version was quickly taken down, with only about 500 people having viewed the online version.

Kelly McManus wrote the story, while Justin Beddall was the editor.

In his judgement, Justice Sewell rules:

“In this case I have already decided that the publication was on a matter of public interest. However, in my opinion the publication of the plaintiff’s photograph was not an essential part of the report on the criminal proceeding in question. Publication of the Article without the photograph would have adequately informed the public of the matters addressed in the Article. In saying this, I should not be taken to be second guessing the editorial decision to publish a photograph. I do however think that this factor also called for a very high degree of diligence with respect to the accuracy of the photograph that was published.

“In this case the status of the source of the information was in one sense highly reliable. Mr. Beddall relied on information provided by Ms. McManus and Ms. Wait, both reliable sources. However, the principal difficulty I have is with the quality of the information that led to the publication. On the facts I have found no one ever identified Mr. James as the person who was convicted of the offence. The only person involved who had observed Simon James Sr., the person convicted, was Ms. McManus. However, Ms. McManus did not positively identify the plaintiff as that person. Her evidence went no farther than to say that the person in the photograph looked like the person convicted.

…..

There was ample time for the defendants to confirm the true facts. Ms. Wait provided the photograph to Mr. Beddall some days before the Article was posted. It is of course obvious that if confirmation had been sought, Mr. James would have been able to provide the correct information.

….

“I am of the view that the conduct of Black Press prior to publication, while falling short of bad faith, is an aggravating factor. I have tried to avoid applying hindsight in assessing that conduct. However, I am satisfied that the way in which Mr. Beddall went about trying to verify that the photograph was in fact a photograph of the person convicted fell far short of the due diligence required in the circumstances. Despite this, the defendants denied liability and put the plaintiff to the expense of rebutting the defence of responsible communication.

“There is also no question that the plaintiff has been deeply emotionally affected by the publication of the libel. He removed the Raven Tales decals from his car, which was the one depicted in the photograph complained of this case. He has had difficulty in coping with his personal reaction to the publication.

“On the other hand there are also mitigating factors. The defendants moved very quickly to remove the libel from the Undercurrent web site once it was brought to their attention. Black Press ensured that the press run of the print version of the Undercurrent was held back until the Article could be altered to the satisfaction of the plaintiff’s counsel. The defendants made a timely offer to publish a retraction and apology that was not taken up by plaintiff’s counsel.

“I am also satisfied that Black Press took all reasonable steps to locate and remove cached versions of the Article from the World Wide Web. In this regard they cooperated with the plaintiff in diligently following up on all cached versions located and identified by his counsel.

“As a result it is clear that only a relatively small number of persons actually saw the libel and in all probability even fewer saw it without knowing that Mr. James’ picture had been posted in error. There was considerable evidence presented as to how often the site was viewed. I need not refer to it in detail. I am satisfied that less than 500 persons saw the offending material.

“Fortunately, there is no evidence that Mr. James’ career has been adversely affected by the publication. He has been invited to participate in community events involving children since the incident.

“I conclude that this is a case that calls for an award of significant damages, mitigated by the above factors.

“I have considered the cases on mistaken identity referred to by the defendants. In my view this is a more serious case than one of simple mistaken identity. In this case the Article and headline were intended to refer to Mr. James. They described him in some detail. The statements were made about him. In the cases referred to by the defendants, the error would have been obvious to anyone who knew the plaintiff. That would not be the case here because the captioned words do identify Mr. James.

“Taking all of the circumstances into account, I assess general damages in the amount of $35,000.

“I also award the plaintiff special damages of $100, being the cost of removing the Raven Tales decals from his car.

“The plaintiff is entitled to his costs of the action on scale B, but subject to the parties having liberty to apply with respect to costs.

Kelowna reporter under investigation for undercover drug buy that led to police raid

July 30, 2012 1 comment

Castanet reporter Kelly Hayes has some serious cojones. But it seems the RCMP thinks they may be a little too big. (Castanet is an established Kelowna news website)

Hayes made an undercover drug buy, filmed the deal, turned the evidence over to the cops, and is now apparently being investigated by the RCMP for his actions.

Earlier this month, a Kelowna resident contacted Hayes to complain about the constant traffic and relentless noise at the apartment unit above her. She took video and, convinced her neighbour was a drug deal, spoke to the RCMP. She was told she didn’t have proof, so she then went to Castanet, which showed a hell of a lot more initiative. Here’s Hayes’s story.

He went undercover as a pothead, bot $40 worth of weed, then turned the whole thing, plus the video evidence, over to the cops. Hours later, police raided the unit.

The RCMP said they were already monitoring the house. Castanet news director Trevor Rockliffe said Hayes was being monitored during the transaction to ensure his safety.

From the story:

“Kelly told the RCMP and we waited a couple of weeks for something to happen, when nothing was being done we shot the video.”

The news director says he prefers his team to report the news and not be the news, but sometimes you have to do what you can to help people.

“Our concern is for the neighbour who brought the complaint to us. She is at risk, and she knows it.  She was put at risk by the city when they tried to send a letter to her stating they were looking into the drug situation at the property. The letter never reached her, it was addressed to the dealers upstairs. Something had to be done.”

more…

Three people are facing charges, but the RCMP say they are also investigating Hayes’s actions. They told Castanet:

“We are considering the totality of the circumstances including the quantity of drugs and the intent of the transaction on his part. We are continuing to consult with Crown Counsel.”

The RCMP spokesperson said the force doesn’t condone the actions and that Hayes “committed a criminal offence” (which could be a legally risky thing to say).

Hayes told the Vancouver Sun that he’s upset that he could face charges.

“I was pissed,” Hayes said, saying it was the RCMP’s idea that Stein go public with the story. The Kelowna RCMP did not make anyone available on Sunday to discuss the case.

more…

This isn’t the first video shot by Hayes to lead to criminal charges—but the last time it happened, it was a Mountie who ended up in court. (The Mountie was recently acquitted on one assault charge but still faces the count linked to Hayes’s video.)

If I was Hayes I wouldn’t be too worried. The fact that the RCMP officer is speaking about “the intent of the transaction” seems designed to give the cops and Crown counsel the ability to not lay charges. It’s understandable that they want to discourage people from orchestrating their own undercover drug buys. So they’ll likely huff and they’ll puff and in the end no charges will be laid. At least I’d assume that’s what will happen. Still, I can understand Kelly’s concern. He did, after all, buy $40 worth of pot, on camera.

Mounties, Whistler News website square off

July 26, 2012 1 comment

In which news website The Whistler News publishes a post with the headline “Whistler RCMP Accused Of Unlawful News Disclosure” and the Whistler RCMP issue a public reply:

In an unbylined article, the News cites the Official Languages Act, of all things, to condemn the Mounties:

The Whistler RCMP Detachment on the week of July 22 – 28, 2012 refused to share the weekly news information via the public RCMP websites or directly via email with all members of the public who requested it. The only possible way to receive the news information from the Whistler RCMP Detachment was to appear in person on Tuesdays at 4:00 PM. The accusation of unlawful information disclosure has been voiced by some members of the community. The allegation claims that by forcing people to enter the RCMP Detachment that it is a denial of freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter Of Rights and Freedoms. The claim is based upon the fact that the area inside the Whistler RCMP Detachment is not neutral ground, therefore some members of the public are automatically denied freedom of speech and expression by the unequal sharing of weekly news information by the Whistler RCMP Detachment.

The following example is given as evidence to support the allegation brought forward against the Whistler RCMP Detachment.

– On Thursday July 19, 2012 The Whistler News contacted the Whistler RCMP Detachment to request that the weekly news updates be provided.

– RCMP Sergent Rob Knapton noted that the weekly update news information is not shared via email or the RCMP websites, but instead in an in-person meeting.

– An invitation was provided to the meeting which was scheduled for Tuesday July 24, 2012 at 4:00 PM at the Whistler RCMP Detachment.

– The news information is provided on a weekly basis in English only.

And the Mounties issued a public reply to The Whistler News‘ claim:

Last night (July 25th) I received an email from the Whistler News via the BC RCMP email address. The email expressed concerns with not having received our media release pertaining to speeding vehicles in Whistler. This morning, while looking into this matter and hoping to address this privately with you, I discovered that you chose to publish your article called Whistler RCMP Accused of Unlawful News Disclosure without giving us a chance to respond or comment.

The news release on the speeding vehicles was fanned out via our media email distribution list and widely covered by media. I am concerned that you neglected to state in your article that you had recently asked to be removed from that very list. In fact, you stated I never saw anything regarding Whistler in my inbox so I asked to be removed from it a couple of weeks ago.

Your article then states that the Whistler RCMP’s weekly media briefing is forcing people to enter the RCMP Detachment and you call that a denial of freedom of speech. For clarity, people are not forced to attend the RCMP Detachment unless they’re under arrest. Media are invited to attend to be briefed on local issues. That is a longstanding practice in many RCMP Detachments and is done as a courtesy to local media. Your assertion that we have somehow impacted your freedom of speech is absurd.

If you would like to be re-added to our media email distribution list please advise and I will see to it that you are immediately re-added.

Supt Ray Bernoties
Officer in Charge
BC RCMP Communications

So, I think we can give that round to the Mounties.

A couple other points: The Whistler News seems to like the local Whistler RCMP press releases, seeing how they regularly publish them verbatim with no editing. Also, who writes or edits this site? Most articles are written by “Staff Journalist.” I see some very good Canada Day photos attributed to [REDACTED at the request of the photographer to preserve his Google results]. But no one’s taking credit for the words.

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Afraid for her safety, Burnaby reporter blogs about restraining order troubles

June 27, 2012 3 comments

Burnaby Now reporter Janaya Fuller-Evans has written a blog post in which she says she fears for her family’s safety because of the RCMP’s inability or unwillingness to enforce a civil restraining order against her drug-addicted ex-husband.

On Wednesday, Fuller-Evans published a post on her personal blog about the difficulties she has had enforcing a civil restraining order against her ex-husband, who is now homeless and addicted to crack cocaine and heroin.

The restraining order was granted in March. Fuller-Evans writes that since then, her husband has repeatedly breached it. She’s called police in the past, and was told her ex would be arrested “if he phoned or showed up, and it wasn’t regarding visitation.”

This week, after another incident, Fuller-Evans called Mounties again. She writes:

The dispatcher spoke with her supervisor, and they both agreed they needed to send officers over to take a statement and then arrest Dan.

At 11:30 p.m. they called and said they couldn’t make it out because of a major incident – understandable. Then they told me they could only enforce the order if Dan didn’t return our son after a visit. This made no sense, as he’s not allowed unsupervised visits.

When I asked what I should do, I was told that if Dan assaults me, I could get a criminal restraining order, and they could arrest him. This was presented as my best option.

I know that the police are overworked, have incredibly long shifts, and encounter profoundly upsetting things on a daily basis. But I have a protection order that is enforceable, and thus far, they have not enforced it. Twice, when I called in, I was told it either didn’t exist or was cancelled.

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She continues:

But I am saying this now, publicly – I am afraid for the safety of my family. I am afraid that we will leave our apartment one morning and he will be out there in a bad state.

Scary stuff and hopefully the RCMP will smarten up. Too often, the force’s right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. (Indeed, while the tasering and the sexual harassment and the shootings get much of the press, I think (from personal experience) the force also has major internal communication that need to be remedied pronto.

Fuller-Evans is no stranger to dealing with other people’s drug addictions; last Sunday, she blogged about the toll drug addiction has taken on both her sister and her former best friend.

It’s a helpful reminder that sometimes the people reporters write about aren’t so different from the people they know, love, or have loved—for better or for worse.

Vancouver Courier sportswriter wins spot on Lingerie Football League team

May 9, 2012 Comments off

So, this happened:

Vancouver Courier sports reporter Megan Stewart won a spot on the Lingerie Football League’s B.C. entry, the B.C. Angels, after taking part in a tryout last month.

See the column (w/ not-so-revealing photo) here.

Megan explains that while she’s won a spot (trying out in a hoodie and tight-fitting pants), she was still not 100 per cent sure that she’d suit up in the team’s Aug. 25 opener in Abbotsford.

I don’t know if I’ll stay and play; the lacy uniforms include a garter belt.

Playing tackle football-a pursuit that isn’t widely available to girls or women-is exhilarating. I’m learning just how complex, fast and incredibly fun a game it is. And I’m already loyal to my Angel teammates and their ambitions to play pro-am sports.

But she seems to be coming around to the idea. On Wednesday she tweeted: “Great first session this morning with my rad personal trainer @fit_for_sport. I will be ready to wear a garter belt on the gridiron. #LFL

We’ll be watching (not like that, you pervs!) to see how this thing develops. As Megan notes, a Toronto team folded last year citing mismanagement and safety concerns.

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