In the harbour
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
Atlantic Concert sails to Liverpool, England
Harmony Leader sail to sea
Singelgracht sails to sea
CSL Metis sails to sea
No copy editor this morning. Please be kind.
I have said this before the demise of the Herald is not the demise of journalism. It is however the loss of a publication of record ( which it has not been for some time). We need a new type of journalism to grow and prosper. A community without credible journalism spirals into lack of transparency and accountability. We already see this happening at the municipal level and the inner cabal of mandarins starting to call all the shots.
There are now more PR hacks wandering the halls of government in this City than there are real reporters. Do we really think it is a good idea to hand the reins of public information over to people who serve those bureaucratic masters?
Re: The Herald
I happen to own a number of printing presses, and while I mostly employ them toward literary purposes I get pretty aggravated when those who purport to own presses for the purpose of printing newspapers neglect their responsibility to the community.
I happen to care passionately about newspapers and the role they have traditionally played in our communities. I did stints working on the student paper at university and freelancing for small independent weeklies in the years preceding my entry into the book trade. While people might not automatically link them, I view the particular way I undertake literary publishing as an act akin to journalism.
It pains me to see how ill-served this province is by its print media these days. It’s not that we don’t have any good journalists with the skills and the tenacity to sift the truth out from the clamour. They exist. What we seem to lack are proprietors with a strong vision for our community’s well-being, owners with a sense of what the fuck journalism is for, willing to foster a culture of journalism within their organizations that is worthy of the name.
It is difficult for an absentee corporation like Transcontinental (which controls many of our community papers) to sustain a sense of community purpose, encumbered as they are by a DNA-coded predilection for pursuing profit for their shareholders. They do not share the fate of our community and feel little more responsibility for the sustainability of our civic discourse than do the lumber companies for the sustainably of our ecosystem. They practice a lazy (and damaging) sort of strip mining of our community’s stories, a form of resource and wealth extraction. What proper journalism survives in their pages is a testament to the tenacity and commitment of the handful of reporters they coincidentally employ whose personal sense of responsibility (to the community and the craft) compensates for their employer’s lack.
While not all of our papers are owned by absentee corporations, even the locally owned ones seem to lack a vision for journalism’s role in the community. I am particularly disappointed by the poor and puzzling behaviour exhibited by the owners of the Herald. As well as having an obvious disregard for their workforce, the Herald’s owners seem to have lost all sense of what journalism is for. I have watched them gradually withdraw journalistic resources from my own community, replacing engaged and professional coverage with the feel-good fluff of their goddam freebie flyer-wrapper. Despite Transcontinental’s flaws, its reporters are at least still trying to stay on top of the civic essentials in the communities they serve – the municipal councils, the courts, etc. They are spread thin but still present; occasionally they find the resources to do truly good work, though it rarely rises beyond basic reactive reporting (there are no resources, and no column-inches, available for investigative reporting or long-form writing). The Herald doesn’t bother to engage with this level of civic discourse outside of Halifax unless it’s front-page tragic, and yet it feels no shame in extracting advertising revenue from regions like the Valley through its puff-peice flyer wrapper. Without providing the essential service of proper journalism to our community, the pursuit of this ad revenue is simply cynical, an act of strip mining. It disregards the paper’s basic civil contract to provide a service to the community in exchange for this revenue. The Herald has broken faith with my community. I would rather see those ads underwriting the work of Transcontinental’s reporters who are at least trying to cover unglamorous but critical community beats. The Herald’s weekly flyer-wrapper gives us pet grooming advice when what we need is analysis of municipal government. Not cool.
I print poetry books for a living, so you can spare me the sob story about the difficulty of making a go financially of print formats in a digital media age; I know the challenges well. At the end of the day, I chose to employ my resources and my skills in a way that I feel feeds both my community and my family and I don’t regret its subsistence economy. While ink and paper might remain a viable if tenuous format for transmitting literature though time and space in a meaningful way, I suspect the traditional newspaper model is irreparably broken and that we are in a period of transition. In the interim, while the captains of industry scramble to figure out if they can retool their failing enterprises into something more profitable, the community needs to look to its own needs and to figure out how the elemental yet critical role that journalism plays in our civic life can be nurtured, supported and renewed going forward. I’m grateful for Tim’s work on The Examiner toward that end.
I personally don’t believe that McCluskey is out. I think she’s just saying that she isn’t running again, so as to tempt several others to throw their hat in the ring. I believe that she’ll opt back into the race when she has 4 or 5 opponents also running. Just like in the last election, they’ll split the vote and she’ll get back in office.
She is definitely retiring, as are Watts,Dalrymple and Rankin. Karsten and Walker may also depart to pension heaven.
Thank you for posting PD’s amusing rant on weather. When I was young and had perfect hearing, I’d have the radio on in the morning prior to leaving for work with one of my goals being to hear what they had to say about the weather. I was never able to find out because as soon as a person starts talking about weather, my mind shuts off. So I had to gauge the weather by looking out the window. That often resulted in my returning home later in the day in a sweltering state because I had too many clothes on or I had to run up my stairs shedding soaking wet clothes to hang and dry. It still feels like a good trade-off.
My other goal was to entertain my son when “Marching Around the Breakfast Table” music came on. Our table was against the wall. At age 52, my son still isn’t amused, but he’s amusing and that’s another good trade-off!
with respect to pedestrian-car interactions. I agree with sean’s comments as posted. I might also add there are two more things our Traffic Authority folks could consider:
1. removing the ability to make right hand turns anywhere, on a red light.
2. Allowing pedestrian solo time in the intersections. We have a light for north-south flow, followed by a light for east-west flow of traffic. Then all traffic stops and we have a walk signal in all directions for pedestrians. This worked in the town where I spent time as a teenager. I have seen it work in cities outside of Nova Scotia.
Good for David Jackson leaving a job with no long-term potential, but it’s unfortunate that as press secretary for McNeil he wound up taking a job with no long-term potential.
You only posted part of the conversation with that lady. There was more on the Facebook page. From what I can gather, she does work (I assume freelance, not as employee, from what she said) for one of the non-unionized CH wraps in the Valley and did a story for one of them up there, and the CH took her copy for the CH. I would imagine that the terms of her contract are that once she sells it, they can use it wherever they want in any of their publications or online, as that’s the normal deal these days.