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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].

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B.C. Reporter declares war on its competitors

March 6, 2011 2 comments

In the space of two freaking days, this blog suddenly gained two competitors. Thus, I hereby announce my desire to destroy them both.

Or not.

Seriously, it’s great to see Kamloops Daily News associate editor Catherine Litt and another mysterious (that’s my thing!) blogger start writing on the interwebs this weekend.

Catherine uses Tumblr for her “B.C. Newspapers Blog.” Here’s an intro of sorts to her blog:

While I do believe the end is nigh for traditional newsprint products, you won’t find me bemoaning that point. Instead, I’ll focus on the opportunities (and there are many) that await those of us willing to embrace change.

The “Northern Reporter,” meanwhile, uses Blogger for his/her aptly named “The Northern Reporter.” Here’s the last sentence of his/her description:

This isn’t a journalism blog, exactly. I’d call it a personal blog about journalism. I’m here to share my pain of learning the ropes in a newsroom, because I’ve discovered that as far as pain goes, this job has a fair bit of it.

more…

I’m pumped to have company, and hopefully Catherine and NR can keep up the excellent output.

Each has already provided a pretty good laugh. Catherine on interactive newsprint, and the NR on a Rossland story that deserves a bee-plus for punnery.

Gators, pinball wizards, school boards and animal people

February 28, 2011 Comments off

Lotsa stuff from around the Lower Mainland last week. (Two more posts coming later today).

Superb story, in the Burnaby Now, by Jennifer Moreau on an autistic pinball genius and aspiring poker king.

Robert’s latest passion is poker. For the past three or four months, he’s been teaching himself how to play by watching YouTube videos and has already ranked No. 11 in one of B.C.’s amateur leagues. With his natural ability to handle numbers, statistics and probabilities, Robert seems cut out for the game.

“If you ask him, ‘What are the chances of getting royal flush?’ He’ll probably say, ‘One in 650,000,’ ” Maurizio says. “He tells me this stuff, and it goes over my head.”

more…

The poker thing blows me away because it’s generally assumed that a large part of that game is the ability to read competitors’ intentions. And yet, a major symptom of autism is the inability to pick up such social cues.

Also in the Burnaby Now, Janaya Fuller-Evans reports on allegations of bullying, infighting and other alleged misdeeds that one normally expects to see in the arts community, rather than among animal lovers.

Arnold noted many instances of harassment, from board members directly confronting her over issues to moments where she felt threatened, including when her truck was vandalized while parked at the association’s barns.

more…

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The new Black Press front pages are improved, but the stories themselves badly need paragraph breaks. I imagine someone’s working on that. Meanwhile the WordPress Theme for Black Press blogs is truly horrible and gloomy and makes me not want to read on even when the content is quite good. Please change it.

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The phrase “board of education” sounds stupid. They’re school boards, they should be called as such.

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I just noticed the sleazy weekly editorials in the Delta Optimist. How do you get your editorial percentage when the copy is so obviously an advertisement? The Optimist is the only Postmedia paper with a business column down the right hand side of its news page. Why? Why? Why?

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A crazy crime spree in the Chilliwack area included, as Robert Freeman of the Chilliwack Progress puts it, “one woman’s emergency 911 call, one vehicle burning under the Agassiz/Rosedale bridge, one dust-up with a Chilliwack car dealer, one startled shopper in the Chilliwack Safeway parking lot – and one alligator.” Oh, yeah, and there was a marijuana grow-op involved (although I guess the presence of drugs isn’t all that surprising).

In a similar vein comes this beauty of a headline from the North Shore Outlook: “Stinky thieves steal laundry loot.” And yes, the thieves were actually smelly.

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Two stories — one in the Richmond News, the other in the Coquitlam Now — about stutterers are hooked on last night’s Oscars and The King’s Speech. I think a smart PR person is probably behind each, given that they both mention Columbia Speech and Language Services, but that’s OK; the stories are good.

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The Richmond Review has published its 30 under 30 section. These features about all these high-flying young achievers always depress the hell out of me, but are fun to read anyways.

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Your webinar of the day:

Be like Delta Leader photog Evan Seal and turn your camera on an angle.

This Tri-City News file photo of an ambulance at a hospital is awesome. File photos don’t have to be boring.

And for some reason community newspapers forget that the simple Q and A format can make for great reading and very easy writing. Marisa Babic of the Surrey Now puts questions to under-fire Vanoc head John Furlong.

(One thing, though: we Canadians don’t have a timid sense of patriotism. We just like to pretend we do. If we weren’t patriotic Molson’s I Am Canadian commercials wouldn’t be so successful. Hopefully the Olympics ends the charade.)

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Nice story (and lede) by the Vancouver Courier’s Naoibh O’Connor on a First Nations school that has rebranded itself as an “Earth School.”

Rainwater drips like a broken tap off the corner of the First Nation long house roof into a concrete barrel. Droplets barely ripple the surface of six-inch deep water pooled above a bed of rocks, sand and debris. Fidgety Grade 2 and 3 students gather around Brent Mansfield on this cool late-January morning at Grandview/¿uuqinak’uuh elementary. Mansfield, the school’s garden project coordinator, hoped for more of a downpour for today’s lesson, but a drizzle will do.

more…

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Finally, in case you missed the Black Press shuffle, the North Shore Outlook and WestEnder have got new editors.

Photo by Ryan Somma via Flickr.

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That was a pretty good post, eh? Or not? Either way keep them coming by helping me out. 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!


The wrong side of the tracks

December 21, 2010 Comments off

Getting a letter from a lawyer can be Scary with a capital S. Lawyers are typically royal pains in the arse and extremely expensive, which makes the letter received by Burnaby Now reporter Jennifer Moreau from the lawyers of CP almost blessedly tame.

Jennifer has been reporting on the ongoing leakage from a Chevron refinery on Burnaby Mountain. The oil’s leaking out at a spot near the CP railway tracks and Jennifer went to the seep zone where she took a photo of a local resident, as well as her own fingers after touching the leaking oil. The caption for the latter photo reads, in part, “Oil in the ditch beside the railroad tracks downslope from the Chevron refinery.”

CP doesn’t like it when people walk across their tracks. It’s technically trespassing, and the company’s lawyers sent Burnaby Now a letter emphasizing that point and asking to stop walking on the tracks.

“We strongly urge anyone from Burnaby Now who has trespassed on CP’s right-of-way to cease and desist,” the letter reads. The rest is here, on Jennifer’s blog.

It ends by talking about CP’s concern for safety and asks the receiver to “Govern yourself accordingly.”

That’s all. No threats even.

It’s been a busy week on Jennifer’s Community Conversation’s blog. Earlier, Jennifer was rebuked (which was later withdrawn) by a pastor when a letter he sent about former KGB agent Mikhail Lennikov, who’s still holed up in a Burnaby church, appeared on the blog.

It seems he forgot that Jennifer was on his e-mail list. Read the conversation here (you may have to scroll down to the comments section.)

Photo by Jeffrey Pott 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!

Comments: long live online journalism; and live blogs: good or useless?

December 16, 2010 1 comment

If you post a comment, and you’re not a spam-bot or a crazy, odds are I’ll repost it because this WordPress theme kind of hides comments.

Chris Shepherd, overseer of News in the Koots and the Nelson Post, among others (right Chris?), responds to my post on Patch by commenting that online journalism saved him from PR. In my opinion, if the Internet can stop one person from entering PR it’s a force for good.

Greetings, Anonymous.

I couldn’t resist responding to this post seeing as it references two of my sites (the Nelson Post and News in the Kootenays).

I don’t know whether sites like mine will save us or send us to the hot place, but it has put me back into journalism in the town I love. I worked at a weekly here in Nelson (the Express) but realized there was no future for me there and the other papers – the Nelson Daily News (now closed) and Nelson Star – had no openings.

I toyed with the idea of joining the Dark Side (read: PR) and even bid on one contract. Fortunately I didn’t get the contract because I was recruited by the Kootenay Network, where the Nelson Post and News in the Kootenays can be found.

As I said, these sites allow me to be a journalist once again and with new duties that I’ve had to learn and come to terms with: namely aggregating (Less charitable folks call it copying).

You write that you don’t think rural communities aren’t as digitally connected, which is true, to an degree, but our traffic is high (47,000 a month) and I’ve had seniors tell me they know about News in the Koots.

You’re right about our low overhead and room to grow. We have plans to expand to other communities and have one in the Slocan Valley and one in Golden. I do believe the model we’re working on is one that can support journalists to continue to work and cover their communities.

I have more to say about live blogging but I’ll save that for your later post about the subject.

Keep up the good work on this blog.

I’ll just say that many community newspaper sites would probably collapse under the weight of 47,000 visitors, so kudos to Shepherd and company.

Shepherd also wrote about his experiences with liveblogging in response to a doubting comment of mine in that same Patch piece and a comment by the Powell River Peak’s Laura Walz. Shepherd:

I’d like to second Laura’s sentiments on live blogging. I also live blog council and committee of the whole meetings and I’ve had great feedback on them and could copy and paste Laura’s comments into my own as they’re all true.

I think the best comment I’ve heard was: “It’s like being at council without having to sit through all the boring stuff.” Indeed.

I’ve also live blogged one talk, given by David Suzuki, which had good feedback and when a downtown building caught fire in Nelson, we posted continual updates about the fire. People told us they would visit the story later just to see how it all played out.

That fire also showed me the potential of news on the Internet as people commented on the story: some asking questions about the history of the building and others answering those questions.

Don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it.

But from Castlegar News reporter Kim Magi comes this comment:

I don’t think live blogging can be seen as a black and white. There are many variables that depend on the success of a live blog.

For instance, as the reporter for the Castlegar News, I don’t think live blogging would be effective at our city council meetings. Our councillors are usually unanimous in their voting (it’s honestly noteworthy when votes are close) and our readers are interested in the outcome, not necessarily how council got there. Of course I include quotes from councillors about why they voted a certain way when I speak to them after meetings, but since our meetings are usually over and done with in an hour, I don’t think there would be a point of a live blog.

With all that aside, I can only go so far with the equipment I’m carrying. A notebook, recorder and heavy camera are enough without adding a laptop to the mix.

We do often update our stories online as they unfold, and make note of that in the headline so our readers are aware, and our stats show this is efficient.

Categories: Technology Tags: , ,

Live blogs rock

December 16, 2010 2 comments

Laura Walz responds to my comment doubting the reach of live blogging.

I had written:

I also doubt that there is an audience for live blogs of city hall meetings, even if the idea is marvelous and inspiring (by all means, live blog if you’re going to take notes on your computer anyways, but it’s not going to add much traffic.)

Walz wrote back:

As someone who live blogs from both council and committee-of-the-whole meetings in Powell River, I found your comments about live blogging from council meetings interesting. Of course, we strive to drive traffic to our websites, but I’ve found that is not the main reason for live blogging.

I often receive comments from readers who tell me how much they appreciate the information. People who follow local politics can’t often attend meetings, but the blogs give them an insight into not only what is happening, but personalities, issues, positions. Elected officials and staff also follow the blogs, I find, especially staff who can’t attend the meetings, but want to know what is going on. Elected officials like to keep track of what I’m writing about them.

To people outside our community, the live blogs might not make as much sense as they do to people who live here. Powell River residents know the personalities involved. When a really hot topic is being discussed, readership increases. I’ve also been asked to live blog from other meetings, but I draw the line at committee and council meetings. It’s tasking, especially when the meetings are long.

I’ve found the thanks I receive from people is a good motivation to keep doing it. While the numbers may be small, the people who read the live blogs appreciate what I’m doing and let me know that. That keeps me going.

I’ve gotta say: I love to follow live blogs. I just doubted the reach. Apparently they’re well received, which is good, because I’d like to see them spread for a couple of reasons. First liveblogging probably gives reporters something to do during those council meetings where you want to stab yourself through the eyes. Second, they mean reporters need to have laptop computers, and I’d love a laptop. I would also guess that the fabulously designed prpeak.com website is probably an asset when it comes to making live blogs attractive and easy to use.

For more on this discussion, see more comments here.

Timing is everything

December 14, 2010 Comments off

Multitasking isn’t as easy as it sounds. It certainly isn’t that productive. Studies indicate that each time you change tasks, it takes a substantial amount of time to refocus. Checking your e-mail, twitter, or favourite blog every 15 minutes isn’t conducive to effective work flows. Neither is the sending of e-mails, twitter updates or blog postings every 15 minutes.

At the same time, though, our new media (that really is a horrible term, isn’t it?) demands constant attention and updating.

A common downfall among newspapers’ Twitter accounts is the way they regularly issue whole swaths of tweets first thing in the morning, with links to all of the new issues’ stories. This is a great way to get de-followed. It also encourages Twitter users to skim over all your tweets. A better method is to tweet regularly throughout the day. That way your tweets seamlessly integrate into followers’ ongoing conversations.

But that brings us back to the multitasking conundrum. Nobody wants to have to tweet every hour. At that point, Twitter becomes a major pain in the ass, rather than a resource.

Thankfully, there’s a solution.

Those readers who have subscribed to my Twitter account may have noticed that I tweet regularly during work hours.

Now I’m not going to lie and say I never check on this blog while I’m at work, but most of what you read is written in my spare time. That includes the Twitter updates.

I use an online program called Hootsuite. Among the program’s (free) benefits is a scheduling feature that allows me to time exactly when a tweet will be issued. Since Twitter activity isn’t very high late at night, I’m not going to tweet (another icky term) into an empty void at 1 a.m. Instead, I’ll tweet at an appropriate time when it may attract some attention, say 10 in the morning. I can also make sure that my tweets are appropriately spaced out from each other, so that they fit into the conversation that is Twitter, rather than briefly taking it over. Subtlety is better than brute force.

You may also have known that this blog is also regularly updated during work hours. And again, yes, sometimes I stray during lunch and write something for this blog. But more often than not I have written the post the previous evening, or even sometimes several days ago, and scheduled it to appear at my preferred time (usually at least several hours after my last post). This way I can carefully — or more often than not, haphazardly — orchestrate my daily roll-out of posts to maximize the likelihood that they’ll be seen and read. After all, even if I’m doing this for free, I don’t want my words to go to waste.

Check out the poll on the right side of the page. Classy, no?

Photo (!) (?) by Robbert van der Steeg via Flickr

Leave a comment, dammit.

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

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)gmail.com.

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!

Categories: Technology Tags: , ,
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