1. Home for Colored Children settlement moves forward
There was an emotional day in court yesterday, as Justice Arthur LeBlanc signed off on the $29 million settlement between the province and former residents of the home. “I was raped at eight-and-a-half years old,” Harriet Johnson told the court. “The same man put me on the streets of Halifax as a prostitute.” Chronicle Herald reporter Eva Hoare has done a good job covering the case, which mostly involved the abuse of orphaned black children, although white children also were abused at the home.
For the second time in two months, someone has set St. Andrew’s church on fire. The most recent fire was started around 11pm Sunday, but damage is minor, says Metro.
3. The storm that keeps giving
4. Orange lobsters
Lobsterman Bryne Murphy has pulled in two bright orange lobsters from his traps off Glace Bay. “The odds of finding a bright orange lobster are about one in ten million,” says ATV. The two lobsters will be set free.
1. Nova Centre supporters are panicking, and for good reason
Yesterday, the Halifax Examiner, er, examined why there’s such hysteria among the business elite in Halifax, over the Nova Centre. The short answer: it looks like the project is going to fail. This article is behind a paywall, available only to paid subscribers. You can buy a subscription here.
2. Wong Watch
Reporters are cows, says Jan Wong (really, she says that), and the future of reporting is on the internet. Way ahead of you, Jan.
District 7 & 8 Planning Advisory Committee (4pm at City Hall)—Two issues will be discussed. The first for discussion is the proposed “Southport” development just south of the Superstore on Barrington Street, a six-storey 142-unit apartment complex with ground floor retail.
Dalhousie-Sorbonne III Summer Film Institute (8pm, Sir James Dunn Theatre, Dalhousie Arts Centre )—a public screening of short films curated by Sylvia Hamilton (University of King’s College)
I’ve been meaning to plug Spacing Atlantic ever since I started this enterprise, but I was looking for a really good post to illustrate the site’s worth. Well, here it is: yesterday, SA published Sean Gillis’ essay on how transit resources are allocated between heavy ridership routes—the bread and butter urban routes that bring in the bulk of transit revenue—and broad coverage routes—those that go way out into the sticks so that more and more people can use the bus, if they want to, even if the actual ridership numbers are very low. Gillis points out that determining the distribution of buses between the two types of routes is ultimately a political decision, and he expects (as do I) a political firestorm over the issue, as suburban and rural councillors start demanding more bus service in their districts, at the expense of basic urban coverage. But Gillis also points out that because Metro Transit has such nonsensical scheduling—at some times of day, you can find six different bus routes following the exact same Spring Garden Road/ Barrington Street/ Gottingen Street path at the exact same time—there is some potential flexibility in the system. (A few years ago I wrote about Halifax’s “California Scheduling” problem.)
In the harbour
(click on vessel name for pictures and other information about the ships)
Independence II, vehicles carrier, Fawley (a port in Hampshire, England) to Autoport
Bulktank Germany (no info available), product tanker to Imperial Oil
Atlantic Compass, ro-ro container carrier, Liverpool, England to Fairview Cove West.
Eternal Sunshine, oil products tanker, Rotterdam to Anchor for CFIA Inspection
Lucky Trader, bulk carrier, Dakar to Anchor for CFIA Inspection
Travestern, oil/chemical tanker, Saint John to Anchor for bunkers.
Geco Diamond, research/survey vessel, BP Siesmic Survey to Pier 30
The Route Halifax – Saint-Pierre race 2014 begins at noon, Sackville Wharf.
You’ve probably noticed that I don’t often link to “crime” stories in this daily recap of local news, even though local media outlets tend to concentrate on them. This is a conscious decision, made for several reasons.
For one, “crime” coverage, as typically practiced, just seems like voyeurism. Much of what passes for “crime” is just the sad expression of broken lives, addictions, mental illness, and the like, and while I feel for the people involved, I don’t know that it does them any good to detail the mayhem. On the other hand, exploring the broader issues of broken lives, addictions, and mental illness is a worthy journalistic endeavour, and I wish newsrooms would put more resources into it.
Secondly, the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality of media, especially TV news, is bad for our society. Real crime rates are plummeting. We have less crime now than since the early 1960s, and yet the all-crime, all-the-time news coverage gives the impression that the streets are dangerous. In reality, the streets aren’t so very dangerous, but the impression of high crime rates leads to disastrous “tough on crime” politics that ruins lives by marginalizing and targeting some groups, and by criminalizing behaviour that was once accepted.
Third, “crime” reporting, as typically practiced, is lazy reporting. The police department issues a release, a reporter re-writes the release. Compare, for example, this police release about a dog left in a hot pickup truck in the Costco parking lot, to this “article” about the incident on the News 95.7 website. Why does the “article” warrant a byline? Why not just link directly to the police release and be done with it? I guess it has more to do with generating content than practicing journalism.
The next step up from re-writing press releases is to follow up with a call to the police spokespeople. This is doing real work, but it’s important to note that it is the police department, not the media outlet, driving the agenda.
Understand that I’ve been the primary advocate of opening up the police department, by making the police blotter public. But the point isn’t to simply have more raw material for reporters to do lazy work. Just the opposite: the point is to give information for in-depth analysis. For example, are certain neighbourhoods being targeted by police? Are some people, with certain racial profiles, repeatedly arrested but not charged with a crime, and does that constitute harassment? There are many more ways for penetrating journalists to dive into the data, and if necessary, hold the police to account. This is the very purpose of a watchdog press.
Fourth, some things are called “crime,” and some things aren’t. It’s easy to do a bunch of one-off stories about buddy who got wasted and did something stupid: the police give you the release with all the details and are more than happy to have their spokespeople talk to you. Buddy who got wasted is probably ignorant and poor, and doesn’t have the resources to challenge you, so you can just point and laugh. But the real crimes often happen in corporate boardrooms and government offices, and nobody is handing reporters the details. They have to be ferreted out, by hard work. And you’ll be going up against some smart, resourceful people with the means to challenge you.
It’s easy to beat up on ignorant poor people. The rich and powerful, not so much. We in the news business get to decide what kind of journalism we practice.