Friday, January 20, 2006

Local News Review - Jan 15 - 20, 2006

This week was Category 1 News week. In our opinion this past week, Jan 15 through today Jan 20 has not been a stellar week for the local papers. We come to the simplistic conclusion that the papers have 3 kinds of stories. The first is filler or what we could call lazy news which is basically nothing spectacular and quite frankly boring. Examples abound like the overly balanced news on the election candidates in Langley, some theoretically heart warming stories, cops find human ashes in car, editor shaves his head bald, merchant closes shop, etc. Basically boring and the editorials and even letters to the editor are boring. The ads are generally more interesting on category 1 days! Filler news is category 1. Some Cat 1 news in a paper is expected , but mainly or only cat 1 news is disappointing.

Category 2 News has some sparks of life and potential with some interesting stuff but once again not as hard hitting or investigative as they could be. It leaves the reader craving more and feeling as unsatisfied as a disinterested lover. This week's papers had potential category 2 stories like the township tax increases hinted at but buried deep in the Times paper's bowels! For another version on tax increases look here. Also some potential not followed up on in detail was the Grandstand story( not enough info, scratched the surface), the Hornets leaving (again no impact or real background), and the school closings scratchings. We believed these stories had potential. Climax free news is Category 2.

Category 3 News seems to be very rare and the only good example was a few weeks ago when the Times had a detailed, well reported series of comprehensive angles and background articles in their crystal meth series of stories in one paper. I still congratulate them on that to this day. Brilliant! Category 3 stories are in depth stories on things like the real story on the gold plated Grandstand which still remains unreported. High impact, eyebrow raising, innovative, pertinent, investigative, interesting and informative is Category 3 News.

This past week has been category 1 for just about everything in all papers. One Category 2 item was the Grandstand cost overrun in today's Advance. But readers were only titilated on this one. For the life of me I did not understand what the $40ok overrun was referring to. I do know the project started at $3m, up to $4m, up to $5m and In the mean time some attempt is being floated that it was always $5.7 million. Yet the city still is expecting to pay only their share of the $3 million option to this day.! (Find another version on this story here & here) .

The other category 2 Advance story was that the Hornets are moving. Heck, where are the comments that the Township spent gobs of money to keep them here a couple of years ago by upgrading the seats, elevators and what ever else and the fact that we heard that the Hornets were not allowed to extend the advertising at the civic centre. The Township tax increases story was buried in the Times so far in we can't even find it any more. See here for another version of theTownship tax increase story. The School closings including Carvolth just has to get more in depth. The school board seems to constantly glide under the media's radar. During the election they promised more interaction with the community. The article in today's advance displayed none of this promise.

The editorials have been essentially category 1 and the multitude of letters including the "I love Harper" or "I fear Harper" have been category 1. The exception is on page 57 (as far back as you can go) in the Advance where a resident relates her story about her mother's treatment in Langley Hospital. This is Category 3 and it should be followed up on. If only the Langley Free Press was able to have as many reporters as the local media we would strive to bring the standard up to category 3 as much as possible! But we are only a local blog.

Keep in mind the foregoing is only this writer's opinion and maybe we are being unrealistic and far to harsh. Perhaps this is the standard that a community newspaper can deliver to, should deliver to and is expected to deliver to, especially under a large umbrella business organization like Black Press & Canwest. Maybe this is normal and ok. If it is, I apologize. They are obviously not a Globe & Mail or Vancouver Sun nor do they have their resources. But one can dream can't one?

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