Posts Tagged ‘Cowichan Valley’

Homer Simpson, Charles Taylor, and two Targets

January 19, 2011 Comments off

Very, very solid week of reportage from the Island and Sunshine Coast. Want to help me with this? E-mail me at bclocalreporter (at) gmail (dot) com.

This headline in the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial: “Uranium clean-up underway” is understated and yet I still went, “HUH!?!” Apparently a ship has stopped between Ladysmith and Chemainus after “… containers holding the uranium had shifted and two open drums moved outside their sea containers. People inspecting the ship have since discovered more than the two reported drums have spilled,” according to the story by the Ladysmith Chronicle’s Matthew Peterson. Sounds like Homer Simpson might be the safety officer onboard. (The Chronicle went with the tamer (lamer?) headline “Ship carrying uranium anchored near Ladysmith/Chemainus.”

Wawmeesh G. Hamilton writes a solid story in the Alberni Valley News about a local Haitian-Canadian whose home in Port-au-Prince was destroyed a year ago, but who hasn’t been able to go back and see the damage herself.

Christine Wood has returned to the Coast Reporter after finally finding a half-decent daycare for her kids.  She takes over for Jenny Wagler, who’s now working for Business in Vancouver. Christine started at the Reporter in 1999, but left in 2007 to care for her kids. (I assume her return means that the reporter position listed on Gaulin is now filled). The Reporter also hired Justin Samson as its weekend photographer.

Why is every Postmedia Vancouver Island site just a little bit different? I can’t figure out if it’s maddening or delightful.

I hate to get picky, and I don’t know who wrote the cutline for this very nice Comox Valley Record photo, but just to be clear, the Just in Time Vocal Jazz Choirs IS NOT “literally soaring into spring with their new musical theme: Fly!” Until they sprout wings or jump on a plane they will not be figuratively soaring.

Here’s a quote you don’t get all the time:

“I’d rather this be a murder suicide so I know there’s nothing to be worried about,” she said.

That from a breaking story by Saanich News reporter Kyle Slavin after a pair of bodies were found in a house yesterday. One wonders why, exactly, this anonymity-seeking neighbour would be afraid if it wasn’t a murder-suicide.

Another question of note: every time I see the words “Charles Taylor prize” I wonder why the hell did someone name a writing prize for a brutal Liberian dictator. Unfortunate name, that.

I’m not sure how I feel about this Nanaimo News Bulletin headline: “Nanaimo Target targeted by U.S. Target.” The story though, by Toby Gorman, is interesting. Seems there’s a store in town called Target that is not the Target we’ve been hearing about on the news. Predictably, lawyers are involved.

J.R. Rardon has an equally interesting story in the North Island Gazette. He reports on a local family who got charged $852 — including $85 for a “bunch” of bones — after their seven-year-old daughter played a free iPod game while on vacation. It’s a major-league scam but the family’s getting their money back.

Back to the Saanich News, where Natalie North writes about local actors training med students about how to interact with patients. Very nice package, from the story to the photos to the sparkling page layout (the page is in the photo spot next to the online story).

Finally, I’ll point out again the the Powell River Peak’s website is awesome and super duper fast to load. Please! Somebody copy them fer Chrissake. From the Peak, Laura Walz reports that a cousin of the super-evil Mountain Pine Beetle is chomping down on trees there.


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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.

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!


Cher, Pamela Anderson and PR lackeys

December 15, 2010 Comments off

Can someone find me a photo of a broken version of this mug?

Kevin Rothbauer of the Cowichan Valley Citizen reports that “The Kerry Park Islanders and the rest of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League won’t have the Westshore Stingers to push around any longer.” Nice bit of sports reporting on a “hapless” franchise.

The Gulf Islands Driftwood’s Elizabeth Nolan reports on the rescue of a woman known to locals as “Cher” from a boat. The woman, who was likely having a stroke, is apparently musical and sings and plays the guitar. I’ll leave it at that, except to say the story is good.

Some funny/sad court reporting from Campbell River Mirror reporter Paul Rudan, who writes about a father-son drug dealing operation.

Franklin Lee was held in custody over the weekend and appeared in provincial court on Monday when he pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. He had pleaded guilty to the same charge in October and was fined $250.

Corbett was about to elaborate on Lee’s past criminal record when Judge Peter Doherty quickly cut in, “Oh, I’m familiar with Mr. Lee.”

The judge agreed to the proposed sentence of time served and six months probation, and was certain that Lee could not abide by a no-drug order.

The judge, who normally sits in Courtenay provincial court, asked why Lee had moved to Campbell River when his intention was to get away from criminal activity.

Lee shrugged and said he’s “away from the violence” which the judge thought, “was a good start.”


Coast Reporter editor Ian Jacques, last seen ranting about the RCMP new French press release policy, has a new bunch of PR lackies in his sights. He’s mad that the Vancouver Coastal Health authority didn’t invite the media to a meeting at which they released plans for a new mental health facility. Jacques calls their approach to public relations “draconian.” VCH said they wanted to spare the public to feel that they could “express feel that they could express themselves freely and not be inhibited in any way with the media present or with a large public group present,” which is very clearly absolute bullshit.

As every facet of this new facility relates to the public interest and no part of this was done without public funds, there is no reason for this meeting to have been held behind closed doors. It begs the question: what is VCH hiding? We will never know because we weren’t allowed to be there.

This situation lacks the basic openness or accountability that is demanded by people in a free society, and interfering with transparency will, in the end, help no one.


In my experience with health authority PR folk, you could also probably label their PR approach “dragonian.” (Does that joke make sense?)

The Ladysmith Chronicle has a video of Pamela Anderson on their website. Yes, that Pamela Anderson. As with Cher, that is all I have to say.

Remember that Nanaimo Daily Bulletin series on healthy living and pre-New Year’s Resolutions? Here’s Krista Bryce‘s part four.

I missed this the first time, but this story in the North Island Gazette by Teresa Bird on a man who won’t have to face sexual assault charges because he was denied a speedy trial deserves to be read. Shockingly, no one else seems to have picked up this story. This exposes definite problems with the lack of court resourcs up in Port Hardy.

Perhaps somebody needs to give the classified person at the Peninsula News Review an express course in journalism news sense. This, four days after the fact, from today’s web edition:

North Saanich councillor Peter Chandler made a public apology to former Peninsula Recreation Commission member Don Hunter in the Dec. 10 issue of the Peninsula News Review.

Chandler apologized to Hunter in the classified section of the paper, after an out-of-court settlement reached before the case was to go back to court on Dec. 13.


The cops do a standup news conference in front of a grow-op house in Saanich. Why don’t they do these everywhere?

And finally, SwarmJam awkwardly invades the website of the Alberni Valley Times and other Canwest Island papers. Booooooo.

Photo by Jerry Sifwer via Flickr


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)

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!

Slugs, soldiers and Santa Claus; Island roundup

December 6, 2010 Comments off

Krista Bryce of the Nanaimo Daily News is halfway through a six-part series on early New Year’s Resolutions (kicker: Don’t wait for Jan. 1 to make your healthy lifestyle choices”). The series relates the personal stories of people trying to get healthy. Part one focuses on a guy who’s quitting smoking and introduces the series with some advice on how to get fit. Part two tells the story of a fellow who lost 282 (!) pounds. And part three focuses on how new gadgets and technology can make workouts more fun and more effective. All the stories feature several sources and great photography, also by Bryce. Stories are published each Saturday.

I found Bryce’s series through the “Editor’s Picks” section of the NDN’s website, which is just under the main stories. All websites should have such a section. Unfortunately, few do.

The Powell River Peak has a story written by a local soldier, Tod Strickland, stationed in Afghanistan. Sometimes the best journalism can mean letting other people do the writing. Also, I’ll say it again: the Peak’s website is freaking amazing (I’m going to dedicate a full post to it later, but while browsing I noticed that I’m not alone in my love for the site; media/IT director (!) Tyson Fandrick won the 2009 and 2010 CCNA for best website.) (One minus: took me too long to find the Peak’s twitter feed).

Ashley Gaudreault of the awkwardly named Cowichan News Leader Pictorial has a great feature on Santa Claus. Or at least a Santa Claus impostor. I like this:  “On a cruise down the Panama Canal, nine people asked to pose with him for a picture so they could say to their grandkids they went cruising with St. Nick.” Now that’s a brave editor who will publish a behind-the-scenes Santa Claus story. Should the story have a disclaimer? Maybe something like: “Warning: adult content. Parental guidance required”?

Edward Hill of the Goldstream Gazette writes about a local school’s annual drive to raise 10,000 pieces of non-perishable food in four hours. Good story, great idea for a fundraiser.

And Erin McCracken, also of the Goldstream Gazette, has another very interesting story, this one on an endangered tiny, blue, beautiful (!) slug.

Well written, simple sports story with a great lead by J.R. Rardon of the North Island Gazette. Good photo too.

Hilarious Peninsula News Review headline: “Smurfette released from rehab.” Nice story by Christine van Reeuwyk.

Pirjo Raits of the Sooke News Mirror talks to a boy credited with saving his family from a fire.

Finally, just as I presciently predicted, SwarmJam is spreading. OK, not the business itself, which will probably sputter and die a deserved death, but the stories about it. Booooooo.


Have I made an error? It wouldn’t be the first time. Be my editor by leaving a comment (the button’s up top by the headline). 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)

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

Photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

Nanaimo News Bulletin hits poverty hard

November 30, 2010 Comments off

This Friday the Nanaimo News Bulletin and reporter Rachel Stern will wrap an extended and extensive four-part series on poverty’s pervasive impact in that city.

It’s a huge issue and one deserving such an in-depth look from the twice-weekly paper.

Part one started last Monday with a long, wide-ranging story about the need for more and better affordable housing. Stern details how housing prices have outstripped funding sources for those in need. The issue also featured two more stories about the long-stagnant minimum wage.

Part two on Friday looked at the effect of poverty on one’s health and stomach. High housing costs mean poor families have less to spend on food. And, as Stern writes in her showcase piece, when they can buy food, that food is often unhealthy. The poor are also twice as likely to have arthritis and rheumatism.

Part three looked at how many elderly people live in, or near, poverty. The answer: just about one-fifth, although most live just above the poverty line. Eighty-four-year-old Jean Smith is one of them.

In each story Stern does an excellent job of personalizing impersonal figures but also breaking down the actual figures so people realize just how little money many people live on.

Part four will wrap Friday.

The BCYNAs may be calling next.


Elsewhere on the Isle:

Google Maps is an underused tool for reporters, despite its ease of use. The Ladysmith Chronicle shows that it can be used easily and with good effect even for a relatively isolated and minor story.

Headline: “Fondue explosion sends two to hospital.” ‘Nuf said.

Kevin Rothbauer of the Cowichan Valley Citizen got a photo of a fireball that used to be a house. Good reporting on the fire by Sarah Simpson. Got names of the injured homeowners and a recounting of events. (It’s amazing how traumatized people never mind talking to a reporter while they watch a house burn.)

An aside: when will Postmedia’s Vancouver Island papers get the same style of website as their Lower Mainland cousins, (i.e. a ghetto-ized Vancouver Sun site)?

An aside, pt. 2: I love the website of the Powell River Peak; it’s fast, easy-to-use and intuitive.

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

Photo by Bridge Coila via Flickr.
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