Posts Tagged ‘Black Press’

Columbia Valley Pioneer, Invermere Valley Echo sign co-operation agreement

October 5, 2012 5 comments

The owners of the Columbia Valley Pioneer and the Invermere Valley Echo have signed a joint operating agreement that will preserve the existing newsrooms but consolidate administration and accounting duties.

The Pioneer will remain free, while Invermere Valley Echo will remain a paid-subscription paper with a paywalled website. The papers will remain owned by different entities, but Rose-Marie Regitnig will serve as publisher of both papers.

The Pioneer reports:

This means both businesses can work together, instead of fighting for survival in the face of decreasing profit margins.

Each newspaper will maintain its owner. Black Press still owns The Echo, and Misko Publishing still owns The Pioneer. And both will maintain their distinctive editorial voices, Ms. Regitnig explained.

“To serve the community best we feel that each paper should maintain its personality and thus both will have varied content, just as they do now,” she said. “Significant stories may run in both, but as we have two separate editorial teams, the coverage of the same event will differ.”

“This agreement is set in place to make each newspaper better, in every way.”


“I believe that this joint operating agreement will allow us to get so much further by letting us shift our mindsets and work together, rather than against each other,” Ms. Regitnig added. “That can be an uncomfortable and intimidating concept to most of us when we think of our business competitors, but we are taking this approach because we believe in it.”

“Our competitive editorial spirit at both newspapers will still be there, and that is good and healthy. It creates better newspapers.”

The Pioneer has a poll on their website asking what their readers think. So far, of 22 votes, half think it’s the wrong move, while six people approve.

If somebody could explain to me who, exactly, the publisher will report to (e.g., who’s her boss?), it would be much appreciated, because I sure as hell can’t figure it out.

Also, please feel free to explain how newspapers can retain a “competitive editorial spirit” while running some of the same stories?


What the hell is Bob Doull up to?

May 3, 2012 4 comments

Unless you work for him, or have worked for him in the distant past, you may not know the name Bob Doull. But quite slowly over recent years, Robert W. Doull has been amassing a strange collection of community papers around British Columbia. And yet, it’s hard to get a sense of his real objective.

So, with that said, I’m going to put out what information I’ve collected and see if anyone can make sense of it all. (I would love it if Bob emailed me to explain his grand designs to this blog’s readers).

Here we go:

The former cartoonist of the Banff Crag and Canyon has the most info about Doull’s backgroud here.

Among the highlights, according to that writer: Doull started as a writer at the (left-wing) Georgia Straight. He later became general manager of (the right-wing) Alberta Report before he started buying papers in 1987. First under the name Black Tusk Holdings, and later as WestMount Press, Doull built a chain of 21 papers, mostly in the Rocky Mountain area of B.C. and Alberta.

The cartoonist praises Doull for “believing in quality newspapers” and turning both the Crag and the Canmore Leader into award-winning publications.

Doull is quoted in an American Journalism Review article in 1996 as saying:

“We take the long view . . . If we lose credibility with readers, it will do us more harm than good in the long run.” And: “During the recession, we didn’t cut any positions. We had a higher level of benefits than provided by union shops… We have to keep people we value.”

In 1998, Doull sold his chain to a subsidiary of Sun Media, according to the cartoonist. He then disappeared for a bit.

In 2005, he was involved in something called the Christian History Project. According to Kaye Corbett of the Vernon Daily Courier, when the project ran into trouble, Doull blamed a “moslem” for destroying records and setting the company back $700,000.

Corbett wrote:

Islamic terror has reached Canada, at least on paper, and at least in the mind of newspaper publisher Bob Doull.

As president and CEO of the Christian History Project, Doull has been forced to lay off about 50 people and the planned 12 volumes of the $3-$5-million project, ‘The Christians — Their First Two Thousand Years’ has ceased publication after only six volumes. And he identified a former technician of destroying or retrieving all the records, including the volumes of work from outstanding artists and writers, plus all the customer records from the expensive computer system, based in Edmonton, Alberta.

Doull, who is publisher of a number of community newspapers in British Columbia and Alberta, said that ‘B’, a member of contact center administration for the project, was either a Moslem or connected with Moslems in halting the massive publishing undertaking.


While Doull placed the blame on a “Moslem,” the former executive editor of “The Christians”, Paul Stanway pinpointed that ‘B’ was not a Moslem, but a “beer-swigging Anglican.” When informed of Doull’s assessment of the situation, he said, the project had suffered financial woes with “overspending” before the computer problems. Stanway is the former editor, and now columnist, with the Edmonton Sun.

Doull informed me that ‘B’ had been questioned by Edmonton police, but had been released, and it’s not known where he might be.

In 2006, the project was declared dead. (Kaye posted his columns were posted on the Internet in 2007, hence the date at the top of the post).

In 2006, Doull founded Corvus Publishing and later bought and sold the Abbotsford Post).

In January 2010, Doull (as Corvus) bought the Columbia Valley Pioneer. It was controlled by a company first called Abel Creek Publishing, of which Doull was the president. Now it’s controlled by Misko Publishing Limited Partnership. Doull is the president of that company.

Here’s what the Pioneer wrote about Doull when he bought the paper:

Corvus Publishing was founded in 2006 by Robert W. Doull of Penticton. “I felt that the large chainswere harming papers by attempting to standardize allaspects of their decision-making and stripping jobsout of small communities,” Mr. Doull said.

He explained that the initial concept of Corvuswas based on three principles.

“Firstly, the future of print publishing lies in adedication to quality product with opportunities for the staff to be creatively challenged. Secondly, employees need to be treated respectfully with full responsibility for their own work. Finally, local papers need tobe locally managed,” he said.

Corvus is a full or partial owner of six other news-papers – one on the Sunshine Coast, three in theOkanagan, and two in northern B.C.

Several months later, Doull bought several papers: Kamloops This Week, Prince George Free Press, and the Merritt Herald. The Prince George Citizen reported that the Free Press is now operated by a company listed as Prince George Publications Limited Partnership while KTW and the Free Press are operated by Thompson River Publications Limited Partnership. The Citizen said the companies controlled 10 papers. KTW editor Chris Foulds said not much change had taken place over the first two months under the new bosses:

“Regular readers of Kamloops This Week would never know we had been sold by Black Press to Thompson River had we not announced it in the newspaper and online at

And, that is because, from an editorial point of view, nothing has changed.

Our staffing remains the same (that is to say it remains skeletal, which I am fond of continually reminding my boss!), as does and the pursuit of news and stories.”

Chris also did some speculating:

“Doull also bought Black Press’s Merritt Herald and Prince George Free Press newspapers as part of the deal, which may or may not be connected to a July deal that saw Black Press buy a number of newspapers in the Kootenays from Glacier, which happens to own the Kamloops Daily News.”

Doull is listed here as also controlling the Invermere Valley Sentinel and Oliver Chronicle. No date on that document, but of note, Kamloops This Week is listed as being owned by Black, which obviously dates it to pre-Oct. 2010. It lists the papers as “Independent (or via Black Press).”

In 2011, Doull got back into the alt-weekly game by purchasing both Edmonton weekly publications: Vue Weekly and See. He then merged the two fter declaring that “the market no longer supports two alternative weeklies.” The new, merged Vue is operated by Postvue Publishing Limited Partnership.

An Edmonton Journal article on the sale (in which Doull says the existence of two alt-weeklies was originally premised on a dispute) has some revealing nuggets.

First, and least revealing, the Journal article says Doull owns 13 papers in B.C. Can someone fill in the rest for me?

Doull also said he wanted to keep both paper’s staffs.

Then there’s this, in which Doull speaks, apparently, about chains of alt-weeklies:

“We’ve always agonized about that,” said Doull, who operates 13 community newspapers in B.C. “At what point do you become a chain? I live in Penticton and operate out of my basement. I’m the sole director of the company, so I’m responsible for the decisions. In that sense we’re independent. But you’re never really independent. You always have banks, shareholders.”

So now we know what Doull headquarters looks like.

On April 26, 2012, the Jasper Fitzhugh reported that it had been sold to Bob Doull, president of Aberdeen Publishing.

So what’s the game here? I honestly have no idea.

Doull’s papers in Kamloops and Prince George still use Black Press websites and Black Press regional copy. But in Invermere, his Columbia Valley Pioneer competes against a Black paper. On top of that, there is a rumour floating around that Doull may have some deal with Glacier Media. If such a deal exists, no money has changed hands. None of the Limited Partnerships listed above are mentioned in Glacier’s financial filings. As a public company, Glacier is required by law to declare investments in other companies. (Private companies, like Black Press, are not traded publicly don’t have to list their investments.)

I’ll just note that, from the outside, Doull seems to take hands-off ownership to a strange extreme. That, obviously, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Whatever his beliefs may be, he’s not writing editorials for his mismash of papers.

Do you know more? Email me at or leave a comment.

Human Rights Tribunal dismisses fired editor’s sex discrimination claim vs. Black Press

April 3, 2012 10 comments

In February, the Supreme Court of British Columbia upheld the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal’s dismissal of a complaint filed by former Grand Forks Gazette editor Shella Gardezi against Black Press.

You can read the full decision here.

Gardezi had alleged that Black Press regional publisher Chuck Bennett had fired her in October of 2010 because she was a woman.

Gardezi had worked as editor of the Gazette in 2008. In July of 2010, the paper was bought by Black Press.

It all started with a paper route.

In mid-October, Bennett sent an email to editors asking them to deliver papers for “Newspaper Carrier Appreciation Week.”

According to Bennett, via the court: “The idea behind the initiative was to show appreciation to the carriers for what they go through to get the papers delivered to readers and that they are a key part of the company.”

According to the court transcript:

Ms. Gardezi complained that on October 14, 2010 Mr. Bennett asked her to deliver newspapers which she considered was outside of her duties and beneath her position as editor. When she expressed her concerns to him, she claims that he became abusive, made ‘baseless accusations about the level and quality’ of her work as editor, and threatened to fire her. He told her she was going to deliver newspapers with ‘a big smile on my face’. She felt this demonstrated ‘sexism.’

In a statement for the respondent, associate publisher Jacqueline Metcalfe told the court that she forwarded an email by Bennett to various papers on Oct. 11 in which he asked editors to help distribute papers. Gardezi was reluctant so Metcalfe suggested they speak to Bennett, who happened to be in the office that day.

Ms. Metcalfe states that she was present throughout the entire meeting between Ms. Gardezi and Mr. Bennett. Ms. Gardezi indicated that she was worried that delivering a route would take her away from her duties as editor. Mr. Bennett suggested that he would help her with workflow strategies to compensate for time lost, but he never threatened to terminate her employment. Ms. Metcalfe also states that she participated in the initiative and delivered a newspaper route.

There was also a dispute about a nicer office Gardezi said she had been promised.

Ms. Gardezi complains that she went into the office on Sunday October 17, 2010, without pay, and cleaned out her old office in preparation for moving to the nicer office. She claims that she later learned that by October 17, Mr. Bennett had already decided to fire her….

Mr. Bennett states that on or around October 17, 2010 there were a number of office moves due to the resignation of the former publisher. He did not ask Ms. Gardezi to come in on a day off and move her office, and that as of that date he had not yet decided to terminate her employment.

Ms. Metcalfe states that she approved Ms. Gardezi’s request to move to the former publisher’s office, but never asked her to come in on a day off to make the move, and had no knowledge on October 17, 2010 that she was going to be terminated.

Then came the firing:

On October 27, 2010 Mr. Bennett terminated Ms. Gardezi without cause and told her she was not the right fit for where they wanted to go with the newspaper. Ms. Gardezi claims that she ‘had done an excellent job for the paper and quickly learned the expectations imposed by Black Press when the company bought the paper on July 1, 2010’. She viewed Mr. Bennett’s comment as baseless and ‘therefore likely related to gender discrimination.’…

On November 16, 2010 Ms. Gardezi learned from her landlady, who also rents a room to Karl Yu, that Mr. Yu, who worked as a reporter at the Grand Forks Gazette, had been appointed to the position as editor of the newspaper. On November 25, 2010 Ms. Gardezi learned that Black Press was hiring another reporter, and she was informed by email from Rick O’Connor, chief operating officer of Black Press, that the reason she was fired was because Mr. Bennett ‘felt a change was necessary with respect to (my) position.’ Ms. Gardezi complained that the only change was that she, a qualified woman, was fired and replaced by an unqualified man.

According to Bennett:

His decision to terminate Ms. Gardezi’s employment was based on her job performance and unwillingness to participate in the workplace initiative, and unrelated to her sex.

Gardezi said:

“by allowing her ‘to work without pay for the benefit of the unqualified male he was planning to replace me with’ shows that Mr. Bennett ‘exploits female employees and demonstrates cruelty in the workplace.'”

Bennett and Black Press argued that Gardezi couldn’t show that there was a connection between her sex and A) the request for her to deliver papers; or B) the decision to fire her. They told the tribunal that nothing was said to indicate that Gardezi had been discriminated against.

After the tribunal dismissed her case, Gardezi responded by arguing that her replacement wasn’t qualified for the job:

… because he had only six months experience as a reporter and no related degree or diploma. On the other hand, she has a diploma in print journalism and six and a half years of experience. She complained that the fact that a qualified woman was fired and replaced with an unqualified man demonstrated gender discrimination.


Ms. Gardezi also alleged a number of other facts which were not in her original complaint, including her record of absenteeism compared to Mr. Yu’s, and that Mr. Yu came into work five or 10 minutes late each day, and further details regarding her meeting with Ms. Metcalfe and Mr. Bennett. She provided a lengthy list of other reasons for refusing to deliver newspapers which she did not include in her original complaint and complained that not all of the editors delivered newspapers, but they were not subjected to threats, intimidation, or termination.

[I have refrained from commenting thus far. I will attempt to continue to do so. But I’ll pause to argue that if you come into work “late” each day, it’s probably because nobody has told you that it’s not OK to do so. It seems to me that late arrival, either regular or irregular, is one of the perks that come from a job that isn’t nine-to-five. If they expect you to work nights sometimes. Then they can expect you to drag your sorry ass late once in a while.]

Anyways, back to our soap opera.

The respondents responded to the allegations relating to the decision to hire Mr. Yu. They argued that Ms. Gardezi’s contention that hiring Mr. Yu for the position of editor, when she was more qualified, amounted to discrimination on the basis of sex, was speculative and without factual support. They also asked that the additional facts that were not included in Ms. Gardezi’s original complaint not be considered by the Tribunal.

The tribunal finally dismissed the complaint, noting, in part:

Ms. Gardezi alleges that the eventual appointment of an unqualified male to her position was discriminatory. The Respondents deny that the new appointee was unqualified. Ms. Gardezi does not elaborate on his credentials, qualifications or lack of same. His alleged tardiness or requests for time off in a past role are frankly irrelevant. The appointment of a male worker to Ms. Gardezi’s position, sometime after her dismissal, is not, without more, sufficient to establish that Ms. Gardezi’s sex had any bearing on her dismissal.

And the appeal court agreed:

The Tribunal . . . decided that the respondents had established that Ms. Gardezi’s complaint had no reasonable prospect of success if it were to proceed to a hearing. It decided that the appointment of an unqualified male worker in the place of Ms. Gardezi, without more, was not sufficient to establish that her sex had any bearing on the decision to terminate her employment.

The appeal court judge concluded with a sympathetic word to Gardezi:

Ms. Gardezi is clearly distraught by the Tribunal’s decision. Perhaps I can explain it in other terms: if her position as editor had been replaced by a woman who had the same qualifications as Mr. Yu, Ms. Gardezi most likely would not have complained that she was terminated by reason of her sex. It requires more than the fact that she was replaced by a male with lesser or different qualifications, in order to succeed in proving that the respondents failed to employ her or to continue to her employ her by reason of her sex.

For what it’s worth, Gardezi now operates and

Black Press subscriber papers go to pay wall

March 28, 2012 5 comments

Black Press has followed an increasing number of newspaper publishers around North America and instituted a pay wall to access online content for those of its papers that aren’t free.

The pay wall hasn’t descended on every one of its subscription papers (Salmon Arm Observer and Trail Daily Times content, for two is still free.)

But other papers, like the Ladysmith Chronicle, are already behind the wall. Click on some of the Chronicle’s stories and you get redirected to a screen that says:

Welcome to

The content you are trying to access requires a subscription.

If you are already a print subscriber, this online access is part of your subscription. Just click on Register and then Activate Digital Add On on the next two screens to activate the online portion of your subscription.

If you are not a current subscriber, you can create an account and purchase a Print and Digital Subscription or Digital Only Subscription on the next page.

Click Help for further assistance.

Thank you.

Black Press has posted a FAQ about its paywall. Here are the three most interesting Qs and As:

Q: Why has the paper chosen to make some of its content “Premium Content?”

A: Like any business, we need to price our product in such a way that we can continue to provide the level of quality to which our customers have grown accustomed. Maintaining our staff of talented local journalists, sales people and designers would not be possible without subscription fees. This also corrects an anomaly that’s existed for years – where our print subscribers paid to read our stories, which were available online free. This properly recognizes the value all our subscribers place on our content.

Q: Will the entire site require a subscription?

A: No, much of the content on our site will still be free, including: breaking news, calendar, and all facets of provincial coverage. Subscriptions are required to access our in-depth local news, sports, opinions and features.

Q: Can I buy a subscription on the website?

A: Yes. You can pay for delivery of our print edition plus online access, or just the online access quickly and easily through our site.


This strikes me as a good, easy move that should have been made long ago. While there is an argument to be made for a paid paper in a large city to offer its content for online for free (particularly if it has free competitors), it seems stupid to do so in a small community where you already charge for your paper and where you have no free competition. This will again reinforce the need for Salmon Arm and Trail residents to go out and buy their local paper. While I guess it could hurt online advertising, that’s still a small slice of revenues compared to the money made from ads in the print editions of those not-free papers. In a community like Ladysmith, nobody is going to be able to make money running a free online news site—at least not for many years.

Now will Glacier follow suit with some of its papers? The Prince George Citizen seems to hold back much from its paper editions, but some of the smaller subscription papers still post much, if not all, of their content online.

P.S. If anybody at those papers has an opinion, please weigh in. Also, if, in a couple months, somebody could forward me pre-paywall and post-paywall subscription numbers, or email me about how a paywall affects their subscriptions, it would be much appreciated.

Good idea? Bad idea? Leave a comment.

Your 2012 Ma Murray nominees

February 22, 2012 5 comments

The finalists for the BCYCNA’s 2012 Ma Murray Community Newspaper Awards were announced Tuesday. I’ve posted the complete list of nominees below. The Vancouver Courier leads the way with seven finalists. Monday Magazine has six [or seven, if you count Special Publications Award, about which I have mixed feelings. See the comments for more.] The North Shore News and Coast Reporter are close behind with five finalists each. [UPDATE, if there are others I have missed with at least five nominees, leave a comment]

I’ve also tallied the results for the newspaper companies.

Overall Excellence

Black Press – 14 (2011 – 17)

Glacier – 6 (2011 incl. Postmedia – 4)


Black Press – 20 (2011 – 16)

Glacier – 12 (2011 incl. Postmedia – 15)

Glacier dailies – 3 (2011 incl. Postmedia – 5)


Black Press – 14 (2011 – 17)

Glacier – 8 (2011 inc. Postmedia – 9)

Yukon News – 5 (2011 – 4)

Anyways, Here are the full results (I’ve omitted advertising and special publications awards, find them here):


Arts & Culture Writing Award

Cowichan News Leader Pictorial, Ashley Degraaf: Keeping that old fire burning
Richmond News, Eve Edmonds, Alan Campbell, Michelle Hopkins & Chung Chow: Arts alive in Richmond
Vancouver WestEnder, Jessica Barrett: Writing on the Wall

Business Writing Award

Monday Magazine, Mary Ellen Green: Ugly sweaters for all
Nanaimo News Bulletin, Toby Gorman: Beekeepers anxious about winter results
New Westminster Record, Christina Myers: In business: making ‘fun’ of allergies

Columnist Award

Abbotsford News, Andrew Holota: Insight into “what were they thinking?”; Hockey fans
Monday Magazine, Brian Kieran: Driver testing is designed to fail seniors; Campbell retains power to
inspire outrage
Vancouver Courier (West Side Edition), Mark Hasiuk: Self‐righteous moralists dominate casino
debate; Candidates court Chinatown while enabling its downfall part of the anarchy

Editorial Award

Monday Magazine, Grant McKenzie & Timothy Collins: Code of Justice: Kimberley Proctor’s killers
will face a fate worse than death
Nanaimo Daily News, Paul Walton & Dustin Walker: North Nanaimo needs low barrier project;
Cantelon has inflamed the housing issue; lies about low‐barrier facility unhelpful
Vancouver Courier (West Side Edition), Barry Link: Why you should vote

Environmental Initiative Award

Coquitlam Now, Jennifer McFee: School diverts 85 per cent of waste
Cowichan News Leader Pictorial, Peter W. Rusland: Pointed bid made for waterfront park
Vancouver Courier (East Side Edition), Naoibh O’Connor: Earth tones

Environmental Writing Award

Monday Magazine, Mary Ellen Green: Dying to stay green: Victorians are making end‐of‐life
decisions with the same values as they lead their lives
North Shore News, James Weldon: B.C. aphrodisiac contains cadmium
North Shore Outlook, Sean Kolenko: Sink or Swim

Feature Article Award

Chilliwack Times, Tyler Olsen: Lost girl
Kamloops Daily News, Catherine Litt: Walking tall: She was a 78‐year‐old woman on a 426‐
kilometre expedition
Monday Magazine, Danielle Pope: No Shame: Healing the Wounds

Feature Series Award

Nanaimo Daily News, Dustin Walker: Legacy of Fear
The Chilliwack Progress, Jenna Hauck & Eric Welsh: Teenager’s life turned upside down
Vancouver Courier (West Side Edition), Mike Howell: Riot

John Collison Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism

Keremeos, The Review, Steve Arstad: Helping for humanity’s sake
Revelstoke Times Review, Aaron Orlando: Forests ministry knew of conditions in squalid camps;
workers not yet paid
Surrey, North Delta Leader, Jeff Nagel: Justice Denied

Neville Shanks Memorial Award for Historical Writing

Monday Magazine, Danielle Pope: Remember Us: Chinese Canadian vets honour the country that
cast them aside
North Shore News, James Weldon: A separate peace
Revelstoke Times Review, Aaron Orlando: Does ‘Revelstoke’ meteorite hold evidence of extraterrestrial

Outdoor Recreation Writing Award

Campbell River Mirror, Alistair Taylor: Youths escape death in river incident & Trees and high water
create hazard on the river
North Shore News, Manisha Krishnan: Going downhill ‐ fast
North Shore Outlook, Maria Spitale‐Leisk: Breathtaking Journey

Sports Writing Award

Abbotsford News, Dan Kinvig: Picking up the pieces
Langley Times, Gary Ahuja: Football fills family void
Vancouver Courier (East Side Edition), Bob Mackin: A stadium reborn


Feature Photo Award, Black & White, Over 25,000

Cowichan News Leader Pictorial, Andrew Leong: Drawing the boundaries
Maple Ridge‐Pitt Meadows News, Colleen Flanagan: Vigil for two young souls alike
Victoria News, Sharon Tiffin: Happy fisherman

Feature Photo Award, Black & White, Under 25,000

The Interior News, Jon Muldoon: Tubing on Tyhee
Yukon News, Justin Kennedy: Starry night
Yukon News, Mike Thomas: Reflecting face

Feature Photo Award, Colour, Over 25,000

Campbell River Mirror, Paul Rudan: Journey begins for Phillips chinook
Richmond News, Chung Chow: Taking flight … a chickadee prepares to go airborne from a cherry
blossom tree in Garry Point Park
Victoria News, Don Denton: Totem gets its groove on

Feature Photo Award, Colour, Under 25,000

Eagle Valley News, Lachlan Labere: True inspiration
Salmon Arm Observer, James Murray: Watch the birdie
Shuswap Market News, James Murray: Share and share alike

Photo Essay Award

Cowichan News Leader Pictorial, Andrew Leong: The Exhibitionists
Gulf Islands Driftwood, Susan Lundy & team : Day in the Life of Salt Spring Island
Powell River Peak, Alicia Baas: Game day

Portrait/Personality Photo Award

The Chilliwack Progress, Jenna Hauck: Latimer and Tractorgrease break boundaries
Yukon News, Ian Stewart: Business portrait
Yukon News, Mike Thomas: Helicopter pilot

Sports Photo Award, Over 25,000

North Shore News, Cindy Goodman: Jammin’
North Shore News, Mike Wakefield: Fly‐by‐kite operation
Penticton Western News, Mark D. Brett: Bring her down

Sports Photo Award, Under 25,000

Coast Reporter, Justin Samson: Coastal Seshins
Gulf Islands Driftwood, John Cameron: Driven to Ride
Quesnel, Cariboo Observer, Percy N. Hébert: Great snag

Spot News Photo Award, Over 25,000

Campbell River Courier‐Islander, Dan MacLennan: Free four all
Cowichan Valley Citizen, Kevin Rothbauer: Three homes, three days, three fires
Vancouver Courier (West Side Edition), Dan Toulgoet: Riot

Spot News Photo Award, Under 25,000

Nelson Star, Megan Cole: Delivering a Macabre Message
Quesnel, Cariboo Observer, Percy N. Hébert: Trapped
Yukon News, Mike Thomas: Car meets motorcycle

Cartoonist Award

North Island Gazette, Lawrence Woodall: No title, on Commentary page
Powell River Peak, Wendy Brown: HST Referendum
Vancouver Courier (West Side Edition), Geoff Olson: Dog heaven


Special Section Award, Over 25,000

Abbotsford News, Dan Kinvig & Cristine MacDonald: Faceoff
Cowichan Valley Citizen, Andrea Rondeau, Lexi Bainas, Sarah Simpson & Kevin
Rothbauer: Valley food something to crow about
Surrey, North Delta, White Rock Now, Marlyn Graziano, Beau Simpson, Kim Rose & Margot Gauley: Possabilities

Special Section Award, Under 25,000

Coast Reporter, Ashley Doyle: Horizons 2011
Oak Bay News, Oliver Sommer, Penny Sakamoto, Jennifer Blyth, Tricia Stringfellow & Brian Pert:
Salute to Mayor Causton
Whistler Question, Eric MacKenzie & John Magill: GranFondo Whistler

Website & Online Innovation Award

Abbotsford News, Don Barbeau & Cristine MacDonald: My Ride
Kamloops Daily News, Mark Rogers: Kamloops Daily News website
Yukon News, Mike Thomas: Yukon News

Ma Murray Community Service Award

North Shore Outlook, Staff: Back to School
Richmond News, Michelle Hopkins, Eve Edmonds & Chung Chow: Bank feeds city’s body, mind and
Richmond Review, Mary Kemmis: Ethel Tibbits Awards raises record amount


Newspaper Excellence Category A

Bowen Island Undercurrent (B)
• Bridge River News (G)
North Thompson Times (B)

Newspaper Excellence Category B

• Fernie Free Press (B)
• Hope Standard (B)
• North Island Gazette (B)

Newspaper Excellence Category C

• Gulf Islands Driftwood (B)
• Salmon Arm Observer (B)
• Squamish Chief (G)

Newspaper Excellence Category D

• Coast Reporter (G)
• Oak Bay News (B)
• Whistler Question (G)

Newspaper Excellence Category E

• Cowichan News Leader Pictorial (B)
• New Westminster Record (G)
• Parksville/Qualicum Beach News (B)

Newspaper Excellence Category F

• Langley Advance (G)
• Peace Arch News (B)
• Victoria News (B)

Newspaper Excellence Category G

• Abbotsford News (B)
• Kelowna Capital News (B)
• Surrey, North Delta Leader (B)


Black Press bails on anonymous comments

November 21, 2011 3 comments

Today, Black Press announced that it was changing its online comments policy and will henceforth only allow readers to comment after signing in with their Facebook identity.

Rob DeMone explained the move thusly:

The policy has led to some unpleasant and mean-spirited postings. It’s also raised an inconsistency in our Black Press​ brand. Our community newspapers don’t print anonymous letters, yet we’ve allowed our websites to become a place where people can hide their identity while occasionally taking shots at one another.


DeMone notes that the move is of a kind with those made by other media companies which have introduced similar policies. He says it has resulted in good discussion with less sniping and assholery.

The downside is obvious: no Facebook profile, no comments. Indeed, it has already drawn the ire of commenters for that reason.

But DeMone has responded by noting that those people can always send a letter to the editor. Which seems like a good comeback.

My take is that, all things considered, only a tiny fraction of those who read Black Press papers end up commenting online. So even if you drive all of them away, it’s probably not going to hurt the paper. But by putting a name to a comment, the policy should encourage the less-crazy-but-still-opinionated slice of society to take part. It may also (although I’m unsure of the law surrounding comments) insulate the chain from the legal risk posed by anonymous comments. It sure can’t hurt.

Of course, you can still leave a comment on this blog, anonymously or not. I continue to allow anonymous comments because sometimes, when discussing one’s employer, it’s necessary to avoid using one’s name. On other topics, it’s less desired. I would block a comment that uses anonymity to attack another journalist, but fortunately the blog’s readership is such that I’ve never had to do so.

Leave a comment below.

Categories: Technology Tags: , ,

Editor and reporter traded for each other

November 14, 2011 Comments off

Bits and bites that have come across my computer screen.

Dorian Geiger published his first column as the Lake Cowichan Gazette’s new editor. He’ll replace outgoing editor Tyler Clarke. Funnily enough, the two have switched papers. Clarke has gone to work at the Prince Albert Daily Herald, for which Geiger had been reporting. From Geiger’s column:

Before arriving in British Columbia, I had been working at a Saskatchewan daily newspaper just north of Saskatoon in the community, Prince Albert, where I worked as reporter for their newspaper, The Daily Herald. I enjoyed my time there but when opportunity came knocking and the Gazette job presented itself, I immediately decided to head west in search of greener pastures. Tyler had been searching for greener pastures, too, as I understand. With his girlfriend, Tabitha unable to find employment in the Lake Cowichan-area, Tyler found a job in Saskatchewan. That job just so happened to be at the Prince Albert Daily Herald. Both unaware of the coincidence until we were hired at our new publications, we unknowingly been apart of a “newspaper trade.” Although I have never met Tyler in person, we are Facebook friends and have been corresponding back and forth with tips for each other with how to absorb our new roles at our respective new newspapers.



I also recently stumbled across the site of The Squamish Reporter, a relatively new online news site edited by Gagandeep Ghuman.

Earlier this year, Ghuman was nominated for a Canadian Association of Journalists award for investigative journalism for a story on a fire audit that went unheeded by the District of Squamish. The audit had been leaked to Ghuman. The story prompted a threatening letter from the District soon after publication. Ellin Bessner has much more on the Reporter on her blog, including the following tidbit:

Because money is tight, and advertisers and the district give most of their dollars to the Chief, which has been around for two decades, Ghuman says he spends two days a week driving a cab to help defray expenses of putting out his weekly, and maintaining his online site. Come to think of it, driving a cab is probably a great way to get story ideas!

Ghuman probably isn’t all that popular these days in the newsroom of the district’s rival paper. In 2009, he worked as a reporter at the Squamish Chief, before going freelance. Now his own paper is coming out and competing with the Chief every Friday in the community of 15,000 people, an hour north of Vancouver on the Sea-to-Sky highway. He emails each new edition every Friday to 1,800 people.



Running your own newspaper or news site may be a dream for many, but the economics are obviously extremely difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. The recent closure of Public Eye Online demonstrates that better than any other recent event.

If Sean Holman‘s popular and scoop-tastic news site can’t survive, it’s hard to figure how other online-only publications can survive without the personal financing of their publishers. On the other hand, and this is hard for me to write, but maybe such sites really need salespeople to sell ads. I’m not sure… but, even as one’s soul cringes, it’s worth considering.


Finally, some chain news.

Black Press has led a consortium to buy the San Francisco Examiner. It sounds like a big purchase, but the Examiner is just a shadow of its former self. The hundred-year-old-plus newspaper is now a free daily newspaper in the mold of 24 Hours or Metro.

Glacier Media, meanwhile, reported increased revenue in its third-quarter results. (The deal to buy Postmedia’s B.C. community papers is expected to be finalized around the end of November.)


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