Archive | August 2016

Are PEI’s daily papers losing their editorial voice?

By Jim Brown

If you plan to read this, be prepared, it’s going to be a long rant and I accept from the start few people, other than former and current journalists, will likely care given the declining state of journalism in the 21st century. But I feel compelled to write it anyway. I am posting three photos, all of editorials shared by the Summerside Journal Pioneer and the Charlottetown Guardian (both owned by the same corporation), with the latest in both papers today. They ran Aug 23, Aug 26 and today (Aug 30). It’s obviously not a “one-off”. It appears to be a disturbing trend. In my eight and a half years with the Journal I can’t recall this ever happening – not even once. And, in response to an earlier Facebook post, another journalist with decades of service in both newspapers also doesn’t recall any incidence of shared editorials. Why is this happening? I have my suspicions, which have grown much stronger after today. Now, it’s not unusual for newspapers to run editorials from other newspapers, but always as guest editorials, which do not replace the local editorial, sort of like a submitted letter or column. The Guardian has at least five editors (including a sports editor) on its masthead. The JP has three editors, including a sports editor, and both papers have stables of good reporters who can contribute editorials (I wrote at least one a week at the JP during my eight plus years of service, and two or more several times). So I don’t understand why editorials have to be slashed. I’m not going to jump to conclusions at this point, although it would be very easy to. I’m going to ask a number of questions instead, which I hope somebody has answers to.
1. Are editorials being written at a separate desk off-Island? And, is this happening with other newspapers in the chain?
2. Is this a move to greater consolidation – perhaps even a potential closure of one of the newspapers?
3. Will the publisher eventually provide a statement or explanation to the readership and to all Islanders?
End of rant. I don’t see any point in belabouring this. I just wanted to get it out of my system and I think I have now.

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It’s haying time on Prince Edward Island

By Jim Brown

Fields of hay glistening in the sun can be found all over Prince Edward Island, including this beautifully sculpted landscape on St Mary’s Road, just outside New Glasgow. DSC_0014 (3)

Editorials shared twice in same week

By Jim Brown

Okay, once can be written off as an anomaly, but it is still very unsettling, especially since in my recollection that has never happened in the eight plus years I worked as a reporter-photographer at the Summerside Journal Pioneer, nor in the six years since. But now twice in the same week identical editorials, word for word, have appeared on the same day (Tuesday and Friday editions) of the Charlottetown Guardian and the Journal Pioneer and that has to be very disturbing to anyone who believes in the future of print journalism on PEI. Subscribers at the very least are owed an explanation as to why this is happening. How can a long-time reader not fear the worst? The editorial pages are supposed to be sacred, the true and distinctive voice of a newspaper. If that is lost, what’s next to go?

Fog descends on North Granville

By Jim Brown

Shortly after dawn in mid-August thick banks of fog rolled over parts of PEI, including this farmer’s field in North Granville, only a couple of kilometres from Stanley Bridge, where I live.

Do the right thing in Summerside-Wilmot

By Jim Brown
If you ask me there won’t be a better time for the residents of Summerside-Wilmot to tell their governing overlords to “stick it in your ear.” Fed up with tired, predictable non-solutions to rapidly mounting problems with our environment, our economy and our basic democratic freedoms? Well, if you live in Summerside-Wilmot, here’s your chance to act. Don’t vote for a glib, backslapping, slick as seaweed candidate who will only do what has been done before by countless other candidates carrying the blue or red banner. Vote for a Green or NDP candidate who doesn’t even know where the levers of power are – a candidate who won’t be afraid to tell his or her colleagues in Province House to “get stuffed” if they suggest something that doesn’t pass the smell test.
No lickspittles toeing the party line if Summerside-Wilmot voters do something intelligent and vote for a Green Party or NDP candidate instead of a standard-issue Liberal or PC hack.
C’mon what could be easier? Summerside-Wilmot residents aren’t voting during an actual provincial election. If they elected a Green or New Democrat candidate it wouldn’t really change much in Province House. The Liberals would still hold a substantial majority, no matter what. And the PCs would not get much closer to a majority if one of their candidates won.
Basically nothing would change, but in essence everything would. For once voters in PEI’s second largest urban centre would be sending a strong message to the two major parties, responsible for such of what’s gone wrong with PEI’s economy and its environment. Want to protect our precious groundwater supplies? Then why vote PC or Liberal when they have a long history of climbing into bed with Big Agriculture. Want to stop a distressing run of fish kills this summer? Voting Green or NDP won’t change policy overnight but it could mark the end of the beginning, as Winston Churchill once said.
Really, when you think about it, what’s to lose by voting for someone not carrying the blue or red colors? If you don’t like the alternative candidate, you only have three years to put up with them before the next election. Consider it a test run. Worried the major parties will “punish” Summerside-Wilmot voters for their impertinence? That isn’t gonna happen. Instead, you can bet lots of midnight oil will be burned in Grit and Tory offices trying to come up with policies, programs and cash to bring Summerside-Wilmot back into the establishment fold. Nothing to lose there.
Of course, voters could always do what their mommies and daddies, and grandpas and grandmas and great uncles and great aunts did, including the ones who voted for the Liberal/PC candidate in the early 1900s because they got a bottle of rum for their vote, or a cottage road paved.  But, again, how are they letting the family honour down by voting for an alternative candidate in a by-election?
This isn’t Brexit. The world isn’t going to end tomorrow. It’s one seat in 27 and a chance to begin charting a new course. Do it for the rest of us who wish we could.

Two newspapers, same editorial – what’s going on?

DSC_0001By Jim Brown

It was very unsettling to see  an identical editorial in the Tuesday, Aug 23 edition of the  Charlottetown Guardian and Summerside Journal Pioneer newspapers. I would hope this is only a one-off and not a sign of an irreversible consolidation of the two papers, owned by the same company. But I have to say I worked at the Journal Pioneer as a reporter-photographer for the better part of eight years and have been a loyal reader since leaving (close to seven years) and I can’t remember seeing this sort of thing before. Neither can another reporter with more than two decades combined experience at the Journal and the Guardian. Both newspapers have at least hundred years of history on the Island, and it would be a shame to see the papers lose what’s left of their distinctiveness. What is a newspaper, after all, without its own editorial voice?