I was sort of expecting it, so it wasn’t a complete surprise to be threatened with a lawsuit today.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the councillor – Metroland Media will be “forced to take legal action” if I don’t immediately comply with their wishes by altering the content of this blog.
I don’t blame them for being upset – providing us with dribs and drabs of Bells Corners news is how OttawaThisWeek gets us to turn the pages and look at their ads. And if they can’t sell ads, how can they pay the reporter’s wages, paltry though they may be, and still make a nice profit?
So if I give away some of their Bells Corners news for free you can’t expect them to be happy.
I still look forward to reading the community papers, but they are usually very thin in Bells Corners news. Wasn’t it better in past years? I remember when Lesley Goudge even had a Bells Corners column every week.
On the rare occasions that you see a little tidbit of Bells Corners news, it’s usually something that’s been fed to the reporter by the councillor himself. It’s a mutually profitable relationship – she gets little ‘scoops’ and ideas for her stories, while he gets to put his own self-congratulatory spin on whatever’s in the paper.
Last week there were only three photos of Rick Chiarelli in OttawaThisWeek, so it must have been a slow week for photo ops. His buddies Pierre Poivrière, Lisa MacLeod and Rusty Baird also make regular photo appearances in the small papers, usually to take credit for spending some of our taxes. Not that it has has anything to do with those expensive front page ads that the Conservatives love to purchase with our tax dollars!
Sometimes the relationship between the newspaper and the politician is way too cozy. For example, I noticed a particularly fawning piece in the Sun about what a wonderful councillor we have here in Bells Corners. At first I thought it was a parody! I checked to see which journalist had written it, expecting to see the name of Rick’s Bells Corners amigo Doug Hempstead.
But no! The byline on the article was Nancy Cairns.
The average reader would assume that she’s a journalist, but in reality she’s one of the councillor’s employees, her salary paid for by your taxes.
Shouldn’t she have been identified as such by the Sun? You can’t just ask political aides to write news stories and then pass them off as the work of a journalist.
Reporters for small community papers, if they’re good, often escape poverty by moving up to the big leagues – getting hired by the politician as office staff, often a stepping stone to an even more lucrative position, like BIA executive director or even politician. Perhaps that’s one reason why many of the stories they write about politicians are sometimes sorely lacking in balance.