1. Chronicle Herald talks break down
Yesterday, I wrote that I was hopeful about the ongoing negotiations between the Chronicle Herald and its newsroom union. Alas, that optimism was misplaced… I received the following press release from the union last night:
Talks between the Chronicle Herald and its striking newsroom workers broke off today when the company tabled a position worse than the one that forced workers to strike in January.
David Wilson, lead negotiator for the union, said the stance taken by The Chronicle Herald is “unworkable and insulting.”
Mr. Wilson, who represents newspaper workers across Canada, says the Herald’s position is unlike that of any other newspaper company in the country.
“The employer says it needs to get the concessions that our union has given at other newspapers across the country and I say, ‘What concessions?’ ”
Outside of a few tweaks to allow for more flexibility, there have been no concessions at other newspapers, he said.
“We presented a concessionary offer to the employer last week that should have piqued the employer’s interest. It had concessions we never anticipated we’d give, and yet it was still rejected.”
The company wants to lay off almost half the 57 newsroom workers and drop the hourly pay rate by 20 per cent. It would move the work of 18 senior editors outside the union with a annual salary drop of $20,000 to $40,000 with no guarantee of continued employment. Most editors have more than 25 years of service with the Herald.
The striking newsroom workers, who recently launched their own online news publication Local Express, are urging Nova Scotians to boycott The Chronicle Herald and any business that advertises in it until the strike is over.
The union is selling advertising on the website and is accepting monthly donations to pay contributors’ expenses.
The Halifax Typographical Union, a local of CWA Canada, represents 57 reporters, editors, photographers, editorial writers, columnists and support staff at Atlantic Canada’s largest daily newspaper.
I can’t express how sad this makes me. Quite literally, this is the end of the Chronicle Herald in anything but name.
Without the professional journalists, the paper is crap. For just one example of many, here’s my friend and Toronto Star reporter Alex Boutilier’s Facebook post from Tuesday:
Soooo if my name shows up in tomorrow’s Chronicle Herald, it’s not because I’m writing for them while their journalists are on the line. They reprinted a Toronto Star article from a few days ago, with no attribution to the Star other than my name.
I suspect that it has something to do with my story being picked up on the CP wire. I’ll be getting in touch with the newsroom to ask them to take my name off the story.
The Chronicle Herald posted the article on its website:
“This is kind of messed up,” wrote Boutilier. “I don’t even see the story on the wire.”
Since Boutilier complained, the Chronicle Herald has removed his byline from the story posted on its website. Besides the original article in the Star, I can find no other newspaper that published it.
I swung by the library yesterday afternoon to see if the article was in the dead tree version of the Chronicle Herald, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t in the stacks. Maybe someone was reading it, or maybe the library gets it by mail and it’s a day behind; I don’t know. So I walked to the convenience stores down the hill, but none of them had the Chronicle Herald — I can’t say for sure, but perhaps they’ve cancelled delivery of the paper?
But while at the library, I checked out some back issues of the paper. Besides classifieds, Monday’s paper had a total of just six ads, one of which was for the Halifax Hurricane basketball team, owned in part by Chronicle Herald president Mark Lever.
Tuesday’s paper was a tad beefier, but only because of the World.Oyster.Go advertorial paid for by Nova Scotia Business Inc:
Readers could be forgiven for not realizing that articles with the World.Oyster.Go. tagline are advertisements. The articles look just like news stories — World.Oyster.Go. stories are mixed in with straight news stories, using what looks like the same font. The word “advertisement” does not appear on the articles, but rather there’s a smaller tag, next to the large World.Oyster.Go tag, that reads simply “Custom Content Feature.” Even if readers see the “Custom Content Feature” tag, there’s no explanation for what that means.
But now the advertorial doesn’t even contain the “Custom Content Feature” tag. Instead, there’s an ad for NSBI below the “article,” which says “presented by,” but it doesn’t explain what is being presented. It’s all very confusing.
Tuesday’s advertorial plugs Eel Lake Oysters, which is one of 10 companies NSBI is promoting through the Nova Scotia Export Achievement Awards, an exercise in export promotion.
NSBI sees the advertorials as strictly within the agency’s mission. “NSBI is focused on — and mandated to — work with companies to increase export activity and get more companies in the province doing new exporting activity,” NSBI spokesperson Shawn Hirtle told me last year. “We need to increase awareness about and encourage exporting, especially with Nova Scotia companies that are export-curious or export-ready.”
Besides the export promotion, Eel Lake doesn’t appear to get direct financial assistance from NSBI. The company has, however, received financing from the federal Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency — $57,500 in 2011 and $90,758 last year; both loans were to finance the purchase of equipment. But other companies promoted in World.Oyster.Go. have received NSBI financing. They include Surrette Battery ($400,000 in payroll rebates); LED Roadway Lighting ($5 million in equity investments); Ad-Dispatch / Current Studios ($250,000 loan).
What gets lost here is journalism.
Last year, NSBI was paying $34,900 for three months worth of “content” in the Chronicle Herald. I interviewed King’s journalism prof David Swick about it:
Chronicle Herald president Mark Lever has not responded to an interview request.
But as Swick sees it, “the Herald is probably looking at this and thinking, ‘OK, we’re going to pick up 35 grand and that could pay half of a journalist’s salary for a year. My concern, though, is credibility — what about all your thousands of readers who aren’t privy to what these vague words ‘custom content’ mean? They’re reading all of this extremely favourable copy and thinking that it’s Herald journalism. And how many of them will say, ‘Gee, the Herald only seems to be presenting one side, and is not presenting the whole picture.’
“And of course all great journalism is not one-sided,” continues Swick. “And all great journalism is focused on serving the reader — it is not there to get across the message of a political party or a corporation or an organization like [NSBI] wants you to get. That is anti-journalism. This is why advertorial so concerns me. Yes, the revenue is needed. But is it worth the price, and will the Herald overall be glad that they’re doing this when they have a lot of readers who trust them a little less?
“In journalism, all we’ve got is credibility,” says Swick. “We have to defend the credibility. And if it means missing out on the odd $35,000 contract, that’s probably a good idea, and we should spend our energy trying to find other ways to get that money. Surely to god we can do something other than give up the credibility we have left.”
The Herald has zero credibility. And the complete abandonment of any journalistic standards is showing in spades. Day in and day out, the paper is riddled with errors and questionable ethical tactics like publishing Boutilier’s byline without permission and the failure of reporters to identify themselves that I highlighted yesterday.
Mark my words: there will be another scandal on the order of the refugee story fiasco. It’s only a matter of time.
2. Residential school memorial
“The Sipekne’katik Band is seeking answers about what became of a $500,000 fund to memorialize survivors of the Shubenacadie residential school,” reports Jack Julian for the CBC:
According to documents obtained by CBC News, in 2011, the Shubenacadie Band — now called the Sipekne’katik Band — in Nova Scotia applied to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission for $500,015 for the Shubenacadie Residential School Commemoration Project.
After funding was approved by the commission, the former council voted to pass control of the project to a private company called The First Nations Centre of Balance and Resiliency.
Directors of the company included former band chief Jerry F. Sack, former band administrator Violet Paul, plus several nationally-known non-band members including Phil Fontaine, the former head of the Assembly of First Nations.
Between April 2012 and July 2012, the federal department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development transferred more than $452,000 to the centre.
Apparently, the company is claiming that it spent all the money on hosting the Truth and Reconciliation conference held in Halifax in 2012. Julian gets into more detail about that claim at the link.
3. Farley Mowat
“The mayor of Shelburne says the town is seeking an arrest warrant for the owner of a derelict ship that has been docked in the Nova Scotia town for more than a year and a half,” reports the Canadian Press:
Scrap dealer Tracy Dodds was recently found in contempt of court for failing to remove the once-notorious MV Farley Mowat from the harbour.
But the court gave Dodds until May 31 to remove the ship and avoid $10,000 in penalties and fees and 20 days in jail.
Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall said some work has been done to move the vessel, including removing the engine, but the deadline has come and gone and the eyesore is still berthed at the wharf.
Mattatall said she is “beyond frustrated,” as the rusted remains of the ship are taking up a large space at the port that could be leased out.
The boat belonged to the Sea Shepard Conservation Society, but it was seized in 2008 by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for interfering with the seal hunt, and then sold in a tax sale. The boat was docked in Woodside for a while, then moved on to Lunenburg, and finally to Shelburne where it promptly sank.
Incidentally, last year Sea Shepard announced it has a new boat christened the Farley Mowat. “The new Farley Mowat replaces the first vessel Farley Mowat that Sea Shepherd purchased in 1997 and retired in 2008,” wrote the Society in a press release, “retired” being an euphemism of “seized.”
“The new vessel,” continued the release, “was purchased with a bequest left to Sea Shepherd by longtime friend, Sea Shepherd International Chair and Canadian writer Farley Mowat, who passed away a year ago this month.”
1. Free transit
Somebody — I don’t know who — wrote something taking issue with me for saying transit shouldn’t be free. Honestly, I was going to engage the piece seriously, but now I can’t find it, and there’s no more time to write this morning in any event. I’m sure someone will send it to me, so I’ll address it tomorrow.
But my very short response is this: even as I wrote the piece, I realized it would get entangled with my long-held view that the provision of government services should not be means tested. Clearly, well, clearly to me, the problem is that social assistance payments are far too low, and that leaves the city in the position of trying to the best it can for low-income travellers, and so creating a means test for reduced cost-bus passes. Maybe I’m getting caught up in one of those “the perfect is the enemy of the good” loops, I dunno.
I still think the most immediate problem in terms of improving the bus system is that it is viewed by many as transportation merely for poor people. And I don’t know how to address that.
2. Cranky letter of the day
Having experience as a high-level advisor to foreign diplomats, I understand the important role an ambassador plays in representing the image of a country.
When Kevin Vickers, the Canadian ambassador to Ireland, decided to accost an Irish nationalist protester at a joint Irish-Anglo state memorial in Dublin, Ireland to remember British soldiers who died during Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising, he broke the number one rule of being a diplomat: Don’t start problems.
An event involving commemorating British soldier casualties during the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland is likely to go over about as well as a German Second World War Veteran’s Memorial being held in Israel. Attendance at such an event is likely to invite controversy, without benefit to Canada.
Note to Canada’s diplomats, next time you get an invite like this remember these words: The ambassador expresses his/her thanks for your kind invitation and sends his/her regards, but due to his/her schedule is unable to attend. And at any events you do attend, please don’t touch anyone.
Marc Emery has always been a polite and respectable Canadian politician, and is a public face for good Canadian values. Emery should replace Vickers as the Canadian ambassador to Ireland.
Maybe Kevin Vickers could then instead lead up a national Canadian memorial to the late and unique Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, with the cast of Trailer Park Boys? He can brawl all he wants there, and Rob would’ve wanted it that way, until Jim Leahy and Randy show up that is.
Eric Hafner, Toms River, New Jersey, USA
Sandra Pinney, writing for Local Xpress, tells the story of how American lawyer and tuna fisherman Russell Moore Arundel in the 1940s bought Outer Bald off the coast of Shelburne for $750, and then established the fanciful nation of Outer Baldonia:
After establishing this micro-nation, “Prince Arundel” wrote official letters to map makers and the National Geographic Society, stating that they should include the Principality of Outer Baldonia in future maps of North America.
Eventually, this zany tale started showing up in newspapers across Canada, the U.S., and further abroad. It was picked up by the German trade journal Industrikurler and from there it seems that the story found its way to Russia.
Jacquard adds, “On October 25, 1952 L. Chernaya, in a letter written to the Literaturnaya Gazeta in Moscow, denounced the imperialist ‘Fuhrer of Baldonia’ as committing the highest degree of savagery by destroying all ethical and moral laws.”
Prince Arundel started a formal protest with the U.S.S.R., defending the rights of Outer Baldonia. He also let it be known that he was in alliance with the powerful naval forces of the Armdale Yacht Club in Halifax.
Eventually, the fabrication was uncovered. The international joke left Washington scratching its head, Russia furious and the locals laughing.
Alas, the tuna played out, and so the area no longer attracted the international visitors. In 1973 the Nova Scotia Bird Society bought the island for $1.
Pinney also links to the above video filmed and edited by Nigel D’Eon, a Shelburne resident who visited the island in 2010. The notes on the video explain:
The Outer Bald Tusket Island off the southwest Nova Scotia, Canada, was once known as the Principality of Outer Baldonia by its eccentric owner. The island is now the property of the Nova Scotia Bird Society. It is home for about 20 sheep, many Savannah Sparrows, over 100 pairs of Leach’s Storm Petrels, a few Bank Swallows amd a few Black Guillemots.
Public information meeting (7pm, that four-pad arena in Bedford with the name of a fucking bank plastered on it) — an “application by West Bedford Holdings to enter into a development agreement to enable three 12-storey and one 6-storey multiple unit residential buildings on Innovation Drive near Hammonds Plains Road and Angus Morton Drive, Bedford.”
No public meetings.
Still more graduation ceremonies at Dal, but no other events.
In the harbour
4am: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil to Charlottetown
8am: Pacific Princess, cruise ship, arrives at Pier 22 from New York with up to 826 passengers
9am: FS Monge, the white French rocket tracking ship that’s been tied up at Pier 20 next to the Farmers Market, sails to sea
10am: New Breeze, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Paldiski, Estonia
4:30pm: Pacific Princess, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 to sea
5pm: Tombarra, car carrier, sails from Autoport to sea
We’re recording Examineradio today.
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