Posts Tagged ‘Bill Phillips’

Tunnel vision, cranky editors, and very ambiguous headlines

March 21, 2011 Comments off

Some curiosities from the past week in the Interior:

Prince George Free Press editor Bill Phillips writes on his blog about how his cranky editorness caused him to not fall victim to the Enbridge hair hoax that bamboozled many news outlets last week.

This headline in Columbia Valley Pioneer, “Crook family history revealed in new book,” can be read the wrong way. (The family are Crooks, not criminals.)

Last Friday, the Nelson Star published a list, as part of an ongoing series of West Kootenay-related lists, of three abandoned highway tunnels, including one between Slocan and Silverton that was built more than 80 years ago, as the seventh part in a series of West Kootenay-related lists. It’s a good thing the list didn’t run one week later because on Sunday the Star reported that that same Slocan highway tunnel collapsed last week, possibly on the same day the paper went to press. (Remember, the tunnel was abandoned).

The Tampa Bay Lightning released Salmon Arm product Mitch Fadden from his minor league contract after the Salmon Arm Observer broke the news earlier this month that Fadden is facing drunk driving charges (although the Observer didn’t mention Fadden’s NHL connection in that story).

So the Kamloops Daily News ran an article about a man who was unhappy about having to pray at an AA meeting and the comments duly began — some fairly tame, others pretty vicious. And so the Daily News published an editorial pointing out that some of the commenters were a tad impolite and intolerant. I was going to write that this all makes one consider the point of comments in the first place, but then I remembered some of the letters my paper receives and publishes. I guess I can’t be against discussion and free speech, even though those who tend to lead the way are often imbecilic racists.

Ambiguous headline No. 2 comes from the Penticton Western News: “Penticton student heads to Midway.” Midway, some will know, is a small town two hours from Penticton. It looks like this in winter:

And for Midway residents who read that headline,  the story’s lede could be taken the wrong way:

While many high school students are looking forward to spring break as a chance to kick back or perhaps even travel with their family to Europe, Mexico or some other exotic locale, Emily Chartrand is making plans to go a bit farther afield, at least in terms of distance from civilization.


The student, for those who must know, is going to the Midway Islands, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Don’t get me wrong about the story: there’s nothing wrong with it. But the lede combined with the headline is just plain funny.

And I’m slow on the uptake here, but former Vernon Morning Star reporter Natalie Appleton was shortlisted for a national short fiction award. She also recently finished her memoir, How to Meet a Nice Man from Medicine Hat, and is expecting a baby so all in all, sounds like a good year for Natalie, who’s now teaching at Okanagan College.

Oh, and two jobs, by the way: the Trail Daily Times needs an editor and the Rocky Mountain Goat needs a full-time reporter.

Photo by Havan Kevin via Flickr.


This blog had more visitors in February than any previous months. It’s still a one-person show, though, so any help would be great. It’s easy, quick and the pay is shite. E-mail bclocalreporter (at) gmail (dot) com.

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


Should dailies be allowed to compete in community newspaper competitions?

March 10, 2011 5 comments

Among those papers not nominated for a Ma Murray on Tuesday was the Prince George Free Press.

Here’s what Free Press editor Bill Phillips had to say on his blog:

Am still choked though that the association has allowed daily papers to enter the awards. Dailies are nominated for a dozen Ma Murray awards this year.

There are good reasons in favour of, and against, the participation of daily newspapers in a community newspaper competition.

On the one hand, dailies usually have more resources that are not always reflected in the categories in which they are entered. Specifically, many have multiple levels of editors, something rare among community papers.

And working for a daily is usually considered more prestigious than working for a weekly/bi-weekly/tri-weekly and the staff is usually more experienced.

On the other hand, it seems to make more sense for the Prince George Citizen to compete against the Free Press than, say, the Province. If the Free Press is a trout and the Citizen is a salmon, the Province is a whale.

At some point, you get into trying to define what, exactly, is a community newspaper. Is one just a small town/city paper, or does one have some other defining feature that would include or exclude a daily? Is it a perennial lack of resources? Or a mindset?

Weigh in by leaving a comment. Right now I’m undecided but I’ll try and formulate an own opinion soon.

Bobsleds, drug dealers, and landfill rage (!)

February 7, 2011 1 comment

A bobsled wipes out at last year's Rossland Winter Carnival

The roundup is back this week with a look at papers in the Interior.

There’s a very interesting story by Tracy Hughes and Lachlan Labere in the Salmon Arm Observer that is a little too twisted for me to summarize completely without just ripping off, word-for-word, everything Tracy and Lachlan very capably write. In short: a court has pulled a $1.75 million house off the market because one of its residents is a convicted drug traffickers facing new charges. However, the property’s owners is not facing charges and only a little bit of pot was found on the property. But the alleged traffickers did own the home in the past. Great reportage.

Also, in the Salmon Arm Observer, Barb Brouwer reports on what may be British Columbia’s single worst job: defending the local landfill from angry and violent would-be dumpers.

Anger from customers continues to be an issue at the Salmon Arm Landfill and police are recommending assault charges following the latest instance of violence.

For the second time in three months, attendant Debbie Dystant has been injured on the job by a customer expressing his anger over the 4 p.m. closing.


Over the past three years, Dystant has been sworn at and had angry customers attempt to run her down. But, while she was vocal about her previous experiences, she has hired a lawyer following this latest incident and did not comment. In November, another irate customer sprayed Dystant with gravel by peeling his tires, which bruised her legs and ruined her eyeglasses in the process.


I. Will. Never. Complain. About. My. Job. Again. (Or at least I’ll feel a tinge of guilt when I do so.)

A 100-year-old Kamloops curler is is the oldest active curler in the world according to no less an authority than the Guiness Book of World Records. Marty The Reporter Hastings of Kamloops This Week has the story, while photographer Dave Eagles‘s very imaginative and all-round awesome profile shot may be included in the 2012 version of the book. Here’s what centenarian Steve Gittus has to say about being in the book:

“I don’t know why I should be in there,” Gittus said.

“I didn’t have anything to do with me getting older. That’s just the way it is. I didn’t make a deliberate choice to become old.

“It just happened.”


An aside that has nothing to do with any of the story’s mentioned today: don’t use the word “noted” if it’s not absolutely perfect for the sentence. Use “said” instead. When you write “noted” it implies that the writer accepts whatever is being said as the clear and unarguable truth. It’s also just clumsy.

Matt Coxford of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman writes about mullet madness on the local junior hockey team:

Whether it’s lying down in front of a speeding puck or colouring his mullet red and black, Kimberley Dynamiter Rylan Duley will do what it takes to help his team win.

“Blocking shots is hard, but committing to a mullet is a different thing,” said Duley, shrugging off the suggestion it takes courage to sport the short-in-front, long-in-back hairdo.

“It makes you faster out there.”


Elsewhere in the crazy Kootenay International Junior Hockey Leauge, there’s this Nelson Star story and photo, I think by Andrea Klassen (?), about a crazy end to a recent game between Nelson and Castlegar:

“I looked at the ref before I even shot the puck, and I’m like, ‘how hasn’t he blown the whistle?'” a bemused Moir told the Star following the game. “The goalie’s behind the net without his helmet, just swarmed. I shot the puck anyway. It’s probably the greasiest goal I’ve ever scored in my life.”

By the time play resumed a smattering of Castlegar fans were climbing the glass at the Nelson and District Community Complex and screaming from the stands, while a water bottle went sailing from the Rebel bench.


Meanwhile, a terrific helmet-cam video (from YouTube) of a bobsled run down city streets is attached to the Rossland News’ story on the annual race, which was attended by Rick Mercer last year. Watch the video, it’s insane.

In the Castlegar News: a mother whose 11-year-old son *Cole (*CORRECTED) “suffered a life-altering spinal cord injury while skiing” leaving him paralyzed from the waist down — at least for now — writes a long and touching letter about her child’s recover and future. Making things more difficult is the fact that *Cole’s parents are separated meaning that there are two houses that need to be made wheelchair accessible. I wonder how often that happens, or how a paralysis affects families that have already split up. I don’t know how you’d get access to someone to write that feature, though…

Will someone write a column about the thousands of dollars ICBC is spending on all those bloody Vicky Gabereau advertisements? They’re fucking everywhere.

Finally, from the better-late-than never files: last week Prince George Free Press editor Bill Phillips wrote on his blog that the competing Citizen failed to sufficiently correct a wrong Page 1 story last week.

Monday’s banner story in the Citizen says the college board is “vowing to keep” the aboriginal programs. Nowhere in the story does it mention that they got it wrong on Saturday. To top it off, there is a small correction on page two that simply states their page one story on Saturday contained incorrect information … without offering any corrected information.

As mentioned above, the measure of a newspaper is in how it handles its own mistakes. I rest my case.


Photo by urbanbenchwork via Flickr.

No joke: reporter retires at the age of 54; Northern roundup

January 10, 2011 Comments off

Farewell to Trail Daily Times reporter Ray Masleck, who has retired after 30 years and one month after arriving in town. He writes, in his farewell column headlined “I wasn’t planning to stay – honest“:

I rolled off the bus in Castlegar in the middle of a cold, clear night, 30 years ago last month.

Apparently, the place with the simple but odd-sounding name where I was headed was so obscure the Greyhound didn’t even stop there. The driver said a van would be along shortly to take me the rest of the way.

Rumbling down the river valley in the jitney (an Eastern word I would soon have to ditch, along with my barret and poofy-Montreal shoulder bag) I wondered what Trail – that dot on the map south of Field and west of Yahk – would be like. Then I arrived in a place that seemed to consist entirely of belching smoke stacks lit up by orange arc lights that extinguished the stars.


I didn’t know that it was possible to retire at 54 as a journalist, but somehow Ray found a way to do it. Perhaps it has something to do with his degree in business and economics. I don’t know, either way, congratulations. A short news article, and photo, on Ray’s retirement can be found here.

Masleck said he has lots of interests to keep him busy in retirement including golf, skiing, serving on several volunteer boards, and reading.


The Interior News has a slideshow featuring photos of a movie being shot on a mountain. The photos are good and the slideshow is beautifully executed and much more professional looking and easy-to-use than any page-view grabbing disaster done by the Sun or Province.

I’m not sure who wrote this Terrace Standard piece on the funeral of a kid who died while horsing around at a friend’s birthday party, but it’s very well written. Reporter Margaret Spiers took a photo, so I’ll give her credit for the story too.

A TEARFUL memorial for Brad Levesque, who died while horsing around at a friend’s birthday party earlier this week, took place tonight at the Elks Hall with about 150 people in attendance.

Levesque’s mom, Sonya Thomas, his two grandmothers, Ali Wheeldon and Betty Rawcliffe and several friends, parents and teachers spoke about him, their memories of him and the dangers of teen drinking.

“I want you kids to understand, it’s not fun, and it’s not funny. It could’ve been any child in this room,” said Wheeldon.


Finally, Prince George Free Press editor Bill Phillips snaps a photo of an irresponsible snowmobiler and shames him in his paper. Very nice, although hopefully nobody exactly asks how the photo was taken.

Photo by Tobin via Flickr.

Omineca Express reporter scoops dailies; strippers raise money

December 2, 2010 Comments off

Hannah Wright of the Vanderhoof Omineca Express was the only journalist to report on the first appearance in court of Cody Alan Legebokoff, whose accused of the first degree murder of a 15-year-old Vanderhoof girl. That despite the presence of reporters from the nefarious big city media, according to Bill Phillips‘s blog.

Wright thought to check with the court clerk, a tactic everyone else seems to have forgot.

From Wright’s story:

Legebokoff appeared emotionless during his brief court appearance, other than being quite red in the face. He kept his head up and stared straight forward, except for a brief look around the room when he first entered.

The only people in the public seating area was an older man and woman who sat together in the front row.


Check out Bill’s blog Writer’s Block for the story on the story.


Down on the coast, Andrew Fleming (@Flematic) of the New West Record/Burnaby Now has a quirky short story on a local writer who was nominated for, but didn’t win, an award(?) for bad sex writing. Any story in which you write (even in quotes) “Like a lepidopterist mounting a tough-skinned insect with a too blunt pin he screwed himself into her” deserves a mention.

Andrew also deserves credit for pointing out this open letter to newspaper photographers, which has a lot of good advice even if it is geared to daily photogs.

Last week it was “BC Daily Deals” (which admittedly also turned up on numerous other Black press websites). Then it was a super creepy photo. Now, a moving drugstore. Really, Langley Times? I’m not trying to single you out, but you’re making it really, really tough.

The Maple Ridge News photog Colleen Flanagan, meanwhile, pulls off the seemingly impossible task of very tastefully shooting a stripper with a handful of 20-dollar bills in her stilettos, bra and short shorts. The story by Monisha Martins is pretty good too.


Seen something else I should know about? Want to write a post? Have better photos than the Creative Commons Flickr pool ones I use? E-mail bclocalreporter(at)

Help complete a census of B.C. community newspapers by filling in the blanks of the Journo-lust Spreadsheet. 

Photo by Roger H. Goun via Flickr

When in doubt, blame the media

November 29, 2010 Comments off

Well the Prince George Citizen seems to have stepped in it.

As I write this, the top story on the Prince George Free Press the headline: “RCMP, city, firefighters blast Prince George Citizen.” Firefighters and police officers were accused of participating in a brawl in a story in the Citizen. The original offending story on the Citizen website – it’s apparently been removed after provoking articulate comments like “you’re an idiot” – but it has pissed off all the people who matter in town. The Citizen told Free Press reporter Arthur Williams that it stands by the story.

Despite the story and headline — which I guess is the only one you can write — Free Press editor Bill Phillips seems to take his competitor’s side. On his blog he writes, “It doesn’t seem like the local officials actually took the time to talk to the Citizen about the story, but rather called a press conference to complain about it.”

At first blush, for us, it’s fun to see the other guys get blasted. However, we are being dragged into something between the city and the paper. I suppose it’s a public response to a public story.

What’s interesting is that neither the city, the police, or the firefighters seem to be willing to launch a libel suit against the Citizen, which is the only recourse for most people who feel maligned. Perhaps they just want the public response.



In other northern news….

Lots of comments on this 100 Mile House story by Ken Alexander about a one-armed woman fired by Dairy Queen for, according to the B.C. Human Rights Commission, more or less having one arm.

Ryan Lux of the Alaska Highway News writes that Fort St. John council will let pastors pray in City Hall for city officials to craft wise legislation. The program will be run for a three-month trial period. Success will be determined by the number of staff and politicians showing up for prayer not, apparently, by the brilliance, or lack thereof, of resulting legislation.

The aforementioned Bill Phillips also writes about a study that reports men are dying quicker than woman up north.

Alan Hale of the Northern View in Prince Rupert writes about a limited First Nations blockade and runs into your typical Ministry of (Insert gov’t department here) wall. The issue is interesting. The government response isn’t, but it is disturbingly typical. Why do they always have to reply to such comments in e-mails in which they often don’t address the original questions? Actually don’t bother answering. The reason is just too obvious.

Seen something else I should know about? E-mail bclocalreporter(at)

Reminder: help complete a census of B.C. community newspapers by filling in the blanks of the Journo-lust Spreadsheet. 

Photo by Ian Muttoo via Flickr
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