1. Chronicle Herald
The end has begun.
Veteran Chronicle Herald reporters are leaving the paper, finding secure employment elsewhere. Yesterday, Dan Arsenault, who’s been working the crime beat for decades, took a job at allnovascotia.com to head up that company’s new Newfoundland operation. And longtime Province House reporter David Jackson was hired as the press secretary for Premier Stephen McNeil. It wouldn’t surprise me if other reporters soon bail on the company; I’m certain that resumes are being mailed about.
The company seems content to chase advertising revenue through its throw-away weeklies, but management is even getting that wrong.
I’m reminded of my time at The Coast. Like all newspapers, The Coast was facing the loss of advertising revenue and so branched out into publishing more of the quarterly or biannual City Guides and other revenue generators. It made sense, and the company was willing to experiment to find products that worked. Some didn’t — the dating site is a bit of a groaner — in the balance, however, the company appears to be doing well (I have no detailed knowledge of the company’s financial position, past or present). But owners Christine Oreskovich and Kyle Shaw smartly realized that they couldn’t give up on the weekly newspaper, and to their credit they’ve continued to put enough resources into the weekly to keep it viable. The community’s better off for having another media voice, and the company is better off for having a strong, recognizable brand.
In comparison, the Chronicle Herald has pulled too many resources from the daily paper, and is starving it. Henceforth, the Chronicle Herald will not be primarily a daily newspaper (and maybe not at all), but rather a collection of ad salespeople and printers. There’s no longer a central identity to the company. It could change its name to Acme Printing and no one would care. Needless to say, that’s of no benefit for the community — we’re losing a media voice — and I can’t see how it benefits the company, either — with no central brand, there’s no reason for the company to be the go-to place, even for printing.
I’m told the Chronicle Herald went $12 million in debt to upgrade the printing plant, and added another $6 million to that to buy a handful of other, smaller, media operations. And as the strike continues, the company is trying to prop up its advertising sales to those recently acquired operations. In the company’s media kit, it announces that:
In addition to our core print and online products, The Chronicle Herald is pleased to offer an extensive media network for all your niche audience advertising needs, including specialty newspapers, student publications, a bilingual magazine and assorted websites.
That “network” includes:
• The Quad County Weekly, a Chronicle Herald product that is distributed in Antigonish, Guysborough, Southern Inverness and Richmond Counties.
• the Casket, the old Antigonish paper with a long history of good reporting that the Chronicle Herald bought and quickly dismantled to turn into a throw-away advertising flyer.
• Dakai Maritimes, a Mandarin/English paper distributed in Halifax.
• The Dalhousie Gazette (!) — I had a Twitter conversation with Gazette editor Jesse Ward last night, and he assured me that while the Gazette has a pre-strike printing contract with the Chronicle Herald, it has no advertising relationship with the paper. Ward tells me it’s “weird” that the Chronicle Herald would be claiming to sell ads for the Gazette, because the Gazette has its own ad staff. He said today he’ll tell the Chronicle Herald to take the Gazette off their list of potential advertising targets.
• Goalline.ca, a website that provides administration systems for local amateur sports teams.
• CanadaSelect.com, which is attempting to become a Canadian Yelp, I guess.
• Nova Scotia Webcams — Updated! every time you look at a cool picture from the harbour web cam, you’re helping take a job from an experienced reporter. UPDATE: I had an exchange with the Nova Scotia Webcam people today, and they tell me that they’ve had $0 in revenue from the Chronicle Herald, and they’ve asked to be removed from the Chronicle Herald media kit. Looks like, as with the Dalhousie Gazette, the webcams were perhaps oversold as a Herald ad property.
• Cream Careers, “a multi-channel, comprehensive employment platform that is dedicated to careers and the economics that affect them.” Cream Careers? This sounds like — no, Tim, don’t go there… Ahem. I wonder if discussion of the economics that affect jobs includes an analysis of how a busted business model results in a company using scab reporters.
• Transit 360 — a pretty good transit app created by MindSea; the Chronicle Herald bought a minority stake in MindSea in 2014. I’ve relied on Transit 360, but just deleted it from my phone.
Speaking of scab reporters, things are getting rather ugly on the scab front, as this exchange makes clear:
It’s sad that so many people have no understanding of worker solidarity.
2. Burnside jail
“Inmates at Nova Scotia’s largest jail attacked correctional guards nearly 100 times over a three-year period, with staff facing everything from beatings to being pelted with feces, according to documents obtained by CBC News,” reports Elizabeth McMillan:
Between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2015, there were 93 reported assaults on staff and about 493 assaults between inmates at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility.
3. Gloria McCluskey
Gloria McCluskey won’t be running for reelection this year.
With eight months left in her term and the 2016-17 budget to still be adopted, it’s probably too soon to talk about McCluskey’s legacy, but of course we will.
McCluskey’s been dedicated to Dartmouth to a fault. Every community needs a strong advocate, and McCluskey’s been that in spades for Dartmouth. While much of that advocacy has been nuts-and-bolts good governance issues — getting the potholes fixed, the park grass mowed, the trash picked up — McCluskey also had an old school mentality that nearly all development is good development. For instance, she unquestioningly supported the problematic Irishtown Road project (albeit she later denied she supported it), and her gushing support for Francis Fares’s King’s Wharf project was embarrassing to watch. (Pro tip: when a developer displays a bronze bust of you in his office, people will question your objectivity.)
And too often McCluskey’s parochial view spilled into a senseless anti-Halifax attitude, such as when she objected that the new Central Library wasn’t being built in Dartmouth, to take just one example of scores.
Every councillor has their pet issue, and besides going to bat for Dartmouth, McCluskey’s pet issue has been disentangling the municipal government from alcohol advertising. It’s a legitimate if debatable view; I just wish she had placed it in a broader context of the selling of municipal naming rights generally.
McCluskey’s greatest achievement was her deep understanding of how the proposed “tax reform” was fundamentally unfair and would punish the working poor, and especially the working poor in North End Dartmouth. McCluskey, a former assessor, got out in front of the issue sooner than other councillors and her leadership helped kill that horrific proposal.
Beyond that, agree with her or not, but McCluskey has always been able to give as well as she takes. She’s a large personality with a gravitas that eludes most other councillors. I’ll miss her.
Parker Donham is going on again about people going on again about the weather.
2. Cranky letter of the day
Why are we so anxious to destroy our history and cultural buildings in our beautiful town?
We should be proud of our fine heritage. For one thing we are the home of four Fathers of Confederation. The Bank of Montreal building could be a great place to show some of this history. Can we not go step by step toward saving the building?
As a tax payer I would be willing to pay even $5 toward a continuing fund to protect our historical buildings. If we allow this building to be destroyed we may set a precedent for future buildings such as the court house and the correctional centre.
Towns like St. Andrews by the Sea in New Brunswick have a powerful guild that protects even the doorknobs of their beautiful properties from being destroyed or changed in any way that would affect their historical heritage.
Can we not wait and check out more opportunities for financial help and slow down before we jump in and lose what we have to treasure rather than destroy.
Pauline Parker, Amherst
City council (10am, City Hall) — I’m philosophically and physiologically opposed to 10am meetings, but I’ll get there eventually and live-blog the meeting via the Examiner’s Twitter feed, @hfxExaminer.
Human Resources (10am, One Government Place) — Starr Dobson, president of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, will be questioned.
Dear White People (5pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of the 2014 film by director Justin Simien.
Africa’s Children Return! (7pm, Room 104, Schulich School of Law) — says the event listing:
Africa’s Children Return! Cuba & Africa’s Liberation Struggles will feature a film covering the Cuban Revolution’s three decade role in African anti-colonial and national liberation struggles: from Algeria to South Africa. Come and see this powerful film and participate in discussion and Q&A with Cuba specialists Dr. John Kirk and Dr. Isaac Saney on Cuba’s crucial role in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and critical contribution to the liberation of southern Africa.
“The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the peoples of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice, unparalleled for its principled and selfless character…Cubans came to our region as doctors, teachers, soldiers, agricultural experts, but never as colonizers.” Nelson Mandela, July 26, 1991.
Faith versus Fact: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion (7pm, Halifax Central Library) — Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne is the author of The New York Times’ bestseller book: ‘Why Evolution is True,‘ will speak.
In the harbour
Reykjafoss, cargo ship, arrived at Pier 42 this morning from Reykjavík, Iceland; sails to sea later today
Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro cargo, St. John’s to Pier 42
Sichem Mumbai, oil tanker, Thunder Bay to anchorage
No copy editor this morning. Please be kind.