November Subscription Drive
Erica Butler writes:
I will be the first to admit it: I don’t like paywalls.
It’s a drag when you spot something interesting on social media and then discover you don’t get to read it because you are not a subscriber. It’s a bummer not to be able to freely share things you read because you know your friends or family are not subscribers. Just like everyone else, I got used to free access to a relatively healthy news media for the past 15 years. It was a pretty sweet deal.
But things have changed, and are continuing to change. We still don’t really know where we’ll end up, but we know we have to start experimenting with new models of doing journalism.
The Halifax Examiner is one such model. A locally-focussed (but not limited) adversarial news site that is completely free of advertising. A site that does not produce “content,” as if journalism were simply the act of filling the void between ads. A site that instead shares information, analyzes events, and sparks discussion.
(Yes, I said “sparks discussion” and I say it happily, because the online comments section of the Examiner is not the cesspool of belligerent, offensive babble that is found elsewhere online, but rather a place where people add ideas, commentary, and even hash out arguments respectfully right before your eyes.)
I support the Halifax Examiner with a low-income subscription of $5 per month. My $60 per year gets me access to the work of journalists like Linda Pannozzo, Jennifer Henderson, El Jones, Tim Bousquet, Stephen Kimber, and others. It makes me smarter about my city, my community and my life. It’s my hard-earned money well-spent.
For those who are waiting for technology to once and for all crack the nut of journalism’s business model, and miraculously deliver us a world without paywalls, well, best of luck to you. I have no doubt it will happen someday. But in meantime, we still have lives to lead, elections to vote in, taxes to pay and powerful people and systems to keep in line.
The Examiner is not a tech-driven venture. It’s a journalism-driven venture, with a journalist at the helm. And whether or not paywalls irk or offend you, you have to admit, Halifax needs the Examiner right now.
The “commuter daily” Metro used to have a weekly transportation column in each of its papers across Canada, and Butler wrote the Halifax version of the column. But earlier this year Metro discontinued each of the columns — weirdly, commuters weren’t interested in transportation.
I thought Butler did a good job at Metro so I offered her the same position, and now here she is writing a transportation column for the Examiner (see Views, below). I pay her the same thing Metro was paying her, but twice as often (once a week as opposed to every other week).
As part of this subscription drive (we’re halfway through!), I’m taking Butler’s past columns that are more than a month old from behind the paywall, so you can see what you’ll be paying for when you subscribe. You can find them here.
1. Terrance Patrick Izzard
Halifax police have identified the man killed Sunday night as 58-year-old Terrance Patrick Izzard, and the medical examiner has ruled his death a homicide.
2. Long Lake clearcut
“Last Thursday, Resourcetec Inc. agreed in Halifax provincial court to pay $12,556 in fines, while charges against two other companies were dropped,” reports Richard Woodbury for the CBC:
The clearcut occurred after Dexter Construction Company, which owns land adjacent to Long Lake that it uses for infill purposes, hired Resourcetec Inc. to cut down some of the trees on the land it owns. Resourcetec then subcontracted that work to Scott and Stewart Forestry Consultants.
“The allegation essentially was that Resourcetec failed to adequately supervise their subcontractor in the performance of that cut,” said Crown attorney Brian Cox.
Having been provided poor direction, Scott and Stewart started cutting the trees and then crossed into the provincial land boundary where it mistakenly cut down 3.8 hectares of Crown land, said Cox.
Charges against Dexter Construction were dropped because they’re Dexter Construction.
3. Christmas tree for Boston
The CBC has been making a big deal out of the $250,000 cost of sending a Christmas tree to Boston each year. This is typical CBC: it files Freedom of Information requests for stuff, then even if the info obtained is utterly non-controversial, it’s gotta write an article about it in order to justify the staff time in fling the FOI request. So we get a bunch of articles about nothing much, plastered with screaming headlines expressing outrage because we’ve got to get people to read those articles about nothing much.
Which is to say, I’ve got no problem with spending a quarter of a million dollars on sending the tree to Boston.
What I do have a problem with, however, is the mischaracterization of the exercise as a “thank you” to Boston for the help Bostonians gave Halifax after the Explosion. It’s nothing of the sort.
Of course, in 1917 and 1918 Bostonians (and others) provided medical and material relief that saved many lives. There was a terrible disaster relatively nearby, and people rose to the occasion.
And so in 1918, as the city of Halifax was getting back on its feet, the province sent a Christmas tree to Boston as a token of appreciation for the help. All very good. But from 1919 through 1970, the people of Nova Scotia were completely ungrateful for that help, at least not so grateful as to send another Christmas tree.
The “give a tree to Boston” thing was revised in 1971, not out of gratitude — most of the people who survived the Explosion were long dead from less spectacular causes — but to promote the provincial tourism and Christmas tree industry industries. Like all good advertising campaigns, the promotion was wrapped around mawkish feel-good sentimentality, and everyone in Nova Scotia and in Boston got to pretend that they were somehow basking in the reflected kindness and gratitude of people who lived two generations before — “Hey, your grandma was a nurse who came to Halifax to help my grandfather… maybe we can make a buck on this thing, eh?”
Immediately after the Explosion, relief trains came from Moncton and Saint John, but we don’t thank those communities with trees because, let’s face it, we don’t need a bunch of New Brunswickians wandering around aimlessly downtown; rather, we need Americans spending their high-valued greenbacks. So: tree for Boston, continued ridicule for Saint John.
Let’s recap: a quarter of a million dollars for tourism promotion is chump change, especially given all the press it generates south of the border. It’s certainly nothing to get worked up about, CBC. But tourism promotion has nothing to do with actual gratitude.
Also, there’s no Santa Claus.
4. Side guards
“Halifax’s first two city vehicles with side guards were unveiled today, more than two years after cyclist Johanna Dean died when she was hit and killed by a truck on Windmill Road in Dartmouth,” reports Sean Previl for Global.
1. “Shared responsibility”
“The city has launched another round of Heads Up Halifax, its campaign to ‘help raise awareness about the responsibility shared by drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians when it comes to crossing the street safely,'” writes Erica Butler. “As a mandate for a safety campaign, it’s a poor one.”
Butler goes on to note that there are two kinds of responsibility — the responsibility we each have for ourselves, and the responsibility we have for each other. The Heads Up Halifax campaign, she says, ignores the latter.
This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, click here.
2. Cranky letter of the day
No one much is cranky today. I think harsh reality is silencing tin-foily cranks.
Bikeway Connector Project: Open House (6pm, Italian-Canadian Cultural Association, 2629 Agricola Street) —the Macdonald Bridge bike lane will be discussed.
Centre Plan (6pm, Nantucket Room, Sportsplex) — more Borgs!
Public Accounts (9am, Province House) — Lynn Hartwell, deputy minister of Community Services, and Peter Vaughan, deputy minister of Health and Wellness, will be asked about Homes for Special Care: Identification and Management of Health and Safety Risks.
These Defence, Political Science (9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Sabrina Hoque will defend her thesis, “‘The ‘Causal Tree’: A Comprehensive Analysis of The Relationship Between UNDP Expenditures and Quality of Governance in Developing Countries.”
Peptid (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Clarissa S. Sit, from Saint Mary’s University, will speak on “Bioassay-driven Discovery of Peptide and Small Molecule Natural Products.”
Mayanne Francis (7pm, Room 1020, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building) — former Lieutenant Governor Mayanne Francis will talk about her faith, presumably in the supernatural, as the talk is moderated by Neale Bennet, prez at the Atlantic School of Theology. RSVP here.
Coriolanus (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of Ralph Fiennes’s 2010 film, starring Fienne himself as the Roman general from the Shakespeare play.
In the harbour
5am: Dalian Express, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Cagliari, Italy
6:15am: Helga, general cargo, arrives at Pier 31 from Willemstad, Curaçao
5pm: Dalian Express, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
11:30pm: Helga, general cargo, sails from Pier 31 for Rotterdam
We’ll be publishing an investigative news piece this morning, just as soon as I can copyedit it and add all the bells and whistles that go along with such articles.
And I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 2pm.