Saturday, January 23, 2016

Post 3172 - J Stuff

Two things.

First thing.

The staff at the local paper, the Halifax Chronicle Herald, went on strike at midnight. They are probably out for a while, maybe even quite a while. They made major concessions to the employer, the Dennis family, but those were rebuffed; and today, the employer issued layoff notices to 18 of the 61 striking staff. The union is investigating the legality of those layoff notices. One of the notices went to the union captain.

I get that legacy media are suffering these days, but there must be a better way to get around this. The Herald has been in operation since 1824, but has become a thinner and thinner read by the year, with shorter and fewer investigative pieces along the way, as reporters are forced produce articles every day and cannot focus on pieces that take much longer to produce. This makes the paper a poorer product and drives away readers. It is a vicious circle.

The employer has contracted with a New Brunswick news provider to produce some local articles. And, too, the employer has apparently contacted local freelancers to produce local content with the assurance that their byline will not be used. So, scabs will be working on the paper, likely starting on Sunday, to make the Monday deadline.

Some freelancers, such as my friend Jodi DeLong, have promised not to do any work for the Herald while the strike is on. Bless them. This will cost them monetarily, and there is a chance that the employer will remember this and no longer hire them once the strike is over. I get the feeling that the employer has a long, scabrous memory and may enact revenge on those freelancers who are shunning them.

About two weeks ago, staff took a byline strike, and refused to let their names be published with their articles. In retaliation, the employer has stricken all bylines from the paper ever since, likely in anticipation of the strike that began today.

I thought about buying the Herald today. It would have been produced before the strike and I could in good conscience buy it. If I do, it will be the last Herald I buy while the strike is on. I will not link to any articles the Herald announces on Facebook. If I happen to find out who the scabs are who write for the paper during the strike, I will announce their names here.

Second thing.

The Halifax Examiner, run by Tim Bousquet, finally launched his long-promised series today. It is called "Dead Wrong", and is about the many unsolved murders of women and girls in Halifax, which go back decades, and how many of these cases may have been bungled by the police. The first part, which he tells me runs about 10 000 words, ran today, and took me a good hour to read on my tablet. He promises that subsequent chapters will run on Saturdays, being released around noon.

There is an underlying tone of anger and skepticism in Bousquet's best work, and those traits are in abundance here as he focuses on the murder of a young sex worker some 20 years ago, and how the man convicted of that murder may be utterly innocent of it, as other murders continued while he was in the clink. It is an interesting read so far, and likely to become a fascinating one. I heartily recommend it.

If I can fault Tim just a titch, it is that there are an awful lot of people to keep track of. I wish he would remind the reader who people are a bit more often. At one point, he mentions this girl's pimp by name, and then doesn't mention him again for several thousand words. I recalled the name, but it would have been nice if Tim had said something like "Brenda's former pimp" prior to stating the guy's name. But that's about it.

Tim is overly generous with the Examiner. A huge percentage of its content is free, but this article is behind his paywall. To get a teaser for the series, and a link to the podcast in which he discusses it, go here. It is only ten bucks a month to get full, unfettered access to the Examiner, and after paying the mortgage and buying cauliflower, it is the best bit of money you can spend. If this enables him to produce more and more of these long pieces, then he has a reader for life in me.

It's funny. This post is about journalism, from a legacy publication like the Herald, to a cutting edge one like the Halifax Examiner. There is room in our lives for both kinds.

See you tomorrow.


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