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Posts Tagged ‘The Province’

The Sun or Province? I’ll pass.

April 26, 2011 Comments off

As far as community newspaper journalism jobs go, mine is about as guaranteed as they come. I am not getting fired or laid off anytime soon. I know this. It feels good.

At the same time, and perhaps because of this security, I have not lost all ambition. While I wouldn’t hate working at my newspaper until I retire, I still hope to achieve some unspecified, umm, achievement. I don’t know what that is but I know what it isn’t: an every day job as a reporter at one of British Columbia’s two biggest daily papers.

In fact, I would much rather work as a reporter at my current newspaper, than at either the Province or the Sun. (Caveat #1: there are one or two positions at the Sun, particularly, that I’d probably take; and if the pay was right, perhaps a couple more. But for the purpose of this post, I’m looking at a general assignment reporter position, e.g.  someone whose job it is to churn out copy for the web and the paper).

There are a couple reasons for this:

1. Security

A lot of people work at the Sun and Province. A new reporter, thus, automatically starts at the bottom of a very tall tree. But that can be OK. More scary is the fact that the outlook is still bleak for large daily papers. I didn’t go to the Sun’s website or paper for coverage on the Japanese tsunami, like I would have gone to its pages 20 years ago. And yet there are still people producing that type of content. It doesn’t matter that, as a reporter, I wouldn’t be assigned to collect wire service material for the website. The fact remains that the Sun and Province — and Postmedia in general — seem to have no overarching vision for the 21st Century. The reliance on photo galleries to generate page views demonstrates that, as does their woefully behind-the-times website.

Many community newspapers, meanwhile, are running about as lean as they can get. That’s bad for workload, but there also comes a time when your job can’t be cut. And that’s an OK feeling.

2. Lack of vision

As I said above, the Sun and Province have no ambition at the present time. They’re not treading water so much as flailing about for air. That’s not a great feeling and is definitely not conducive to producing, or showcasing, great journalism.

3. Beats

As a community newspaper reporter, you have the opportunity to cover an array of beats and get to know a range of people. That breadth can be exhilarating. It’s kind of like the difference between reading a piece of genre fiction, or an epic on the scale of War and Peace. You get to see all the moving pieces and how they interact with each other.

At a daily, while one can get the same sort of breadth the depth that comes with covering small events as well as large is missing. Instead, one tends to jump from one major event to another, with little time in between to focus on the smaller stories that put the big ones into context. That can result in a loss of perspective. If you spend every day writing about murder, it’s hard to grasp and life-altering just how dramatic such an event can be for those involved.

Then there’s the fact that those diversity of beats allow the curious journalist a little bit of variety in their days.

4. Independence

While most reporters can pitch their editors story ideas, when you work for a community newspaper, those pitches aren’t going to get shot down often, if ever. Essentially, as long as a story mentions your community by name, you have a green light to write about whatever tickles your fancy.

The downside

Of course each of those points come with downsides. Job security can mean working with colleagues who have lost their desire and should have retired years ago. Community papers are often (usually?) ignored by their owners and have no guiding vision for the future. You can get stuck in pretty shitty beats, or covering lame stories for months if not years between big news events. And that independence also means you don’t get much training or editing to help you improve.

But at this point, they’re all not enough to make me want to throw my lot in with another crew.

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Why The Province’s theft of a Jeff Nagel’s story matters

March 23, 2011 1 comment

The Province’s theft of a story from Black Press’s Jeff Nagel is certainly hilarious, but it also underscores problems with Postmedia as a whole, and the interaction between Postmedia dailies and community papers in particular.

Postmedia has laid off 500 workers, saving $35 million, since it was bought up by some (evil?) hedge fund comprised of its debtors last year. At the Province, that has meant diminished staffing levels that have resulted in multiple errors, some very, very obvious, in recent months.

Every time I pick up the paper, I spot something that has me saying, “did anybody actually read this before it went to print.”

Now I’m not one to throw stones unnecessarily. But I’m not. I make plenty of mistakes myself. Like those found in The Province, many of them could probably have been prevented by reading my copy or a page over a second time. Indeed, given enough resources and enough time by editorial staff, all mistakes should be able to be eliminated. The problems arise when staff doesn’t feel like they have time to meticulously go over the next day’s paper. And that feeling crops up when you’re dangerously understaffed (11 editorial staffers have taken buyouts in the past year). The danger comes when innocent mistakes occur in a way that has not-so-innocent repercussions. Only then do the true effects of cuts become clear.

Second, the paper editions of The Province and the Sun (to a lesser extent) regularly and sometimes gratuitously pick up stories produced by Postmedia’s community reporters. The websites are even bigger thieves.

Of course, this runs both ways, with community papers using relevant daily copy, and for many community journalists, it’s a tad gratifying to see your byline in one of the country’s largest papers.

But it’s easy to see how this cross-pollination can create problems. First of all, the big dailies are using cheaper community reporters to cover outlying cities and towns instead of hiring their own journalists.  That substantially reduces the opportunities that exist for those community reporters hoping to make a leap to a daily—including the Postmedia reporters whose copy is plucked up by The Province and the Sun. Meanwhile, those reporters are paid community newspaper rates for stories and photos that appear in a daily paper. That would seem a tad alienating.

Then there’s the whole lack of freelancing options available to reporters and photographers with both Black Press and Postmedia. But that’s an issue and a rant for another day.

Leave a comment.

Photo by Rebecca Wilson via Flickr.

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This blog has had more visitors in March 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!

 

Categories: Columns Tags: ,

Province steals/borrows without permission copy from Black Press’s Jeff Nagel

March 22, 2011 Comments off

In recent months, and for one reason or another, The Province has been making mistakes that would be horrible for a one-editor community newspaper, not to mention a major daily with dozens of editors and supposed safeguards against errors.

Today’s page three, though, takes the cake.

Open the paper up and you’ll see a story written by Jeff Nagel, of Postmedia News. At the end, the story’s attributed to Postmedia’s Times-Colonist.

Of course, Jeff Nagel doesn’t work for Postmedia. Jeff Nagel works for Black Press as a roving Lower Mainland reporter. And the story The Province used wasn’t from the Times-Colonist, it came from its competitor, the Victoria News.

If Jeff wants to chime leave a comment on how The Province is trying to make amends for their boo boo, it would be much appreciated.

On his Twitter feed, he’s giving Postmedia the benefit of the doubt and attributing it to simple incompetence:

Seems @TheProvince erred and ran story of mine complete with Nagel byline on page 3 today. My bosses are less amused than I was.

Dunno. Likely someone scraped & parked my copy, intending to replace when T-C version arrived. Only they forgot.

You said it not me! It wasn’t exactly a complicated piece: 90 per cent oppose ‘grab’ of pre-paid ferry tickets http://t.co/CRuAwc7

‘Stole’ would mean mens rea. I’m willing to believe incompetence rather than intent is the answer.

I’ll have a deeper analysis about what this mistake says about the state of Postmedia’s papers tomorrow morning.

Friday journo-jobs (Nov. 26/10)

November 26, 2010 Comments off

I hope to make this a regular feature. I’ll feature the newest print job listings in British Columbia and selections from the wilds of Alberta (because they’re invited to this party too).

Two B.C. gigs on Gaulin this week and another at Black Press. There are more at Mediajobsearch, but I didn’t have the time to post them. Find them here.

The Province – Web editor

From Gaulin: “The Province is looking for an experienced journalist with strong multimedia skills for an immediate position working on the webdesk in the newsroom.” More…

This job is only a six-month gig, that includes weekends and nights. You need to be able to write a good story for both print and web, shoot video and create podcasts (Is this something we’ll be seeing more of from the tab?) Knowledge of sports and entertainment are assets. Closes Dec. 3. On an aside, what’s up with the randomly bold words in the ad?

Business in Vancouver – Layout editor

From Gaulin “Business in Vancouver newspaper is seeking a Layout Editor to oversee design and layout of editorial content within the weekly newspaper. The role will include posting daily content prepared by BIV’s newsroom on BIV’s website.” More…

The job title says it all. You need three years of laying out pages and knowledge of Indesign for this. Closes Dec. 3. Competition likely to be intense. Of note, BIV also recently posted a reporter job, the deadline for which was today.

The (Invermere) Valley Echo – Editors

From Black Press, Careers: “Black Press is currently recruiting for two full-time editors, one in the East and one in the West Kootenay….We are looking for talented individuals, who are able to understand the challenges and rewards of small community newspapers and mentor small newsrooms while meeting daily and weekly deadlines.” More…

Sounds like a pair of regional manager gigs. You have to “mentor” a number of small newsrooms. You’re going to be writing a bunch too. Closes Nov. 29.

Alberta

The Wetaskiwin Times, a Sun Media paper, is looking for a multimedia reporter. Wetaskiwin is just south of Edmonton. Need a pulse and the ability to start immediately. Job originally posted Oct. 1.

The Hanna Herald, another Sun paper, needs a multimedia journalist (they seem classier, don’t they?). Hanna is 200 km northeast of Calgary. The guys in Nickelback are originally from there. You need a pulse and the ability to churn out copy quick. Job posted Sept. 30 for two months.

The Athabasca Advocate, a Great West paper, needs an editor. The paper is based an hour north of Edmonton. Paper’s expanding (!) to a three-person newsroom. You need experience. Job posted Sept. 30 for two months.

The Edmonton Journal, the Postmedia daily, has an opening for a reporter. Job is a year-long maternity leave position. Closes Dec. 8. You need a “proven ability” as a journalist and a bunch of abstract qualities.

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

Photo by Brenda Gottsabend via Flickr
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