Edmonton Notes for January 8, 2017

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

  • The City mailed property assessment notices this week and most properties will see “a modest decrease” in value due to the slowing economy. “Overall, the City’s total taxable assessed value decreased slightly from $172.3 billion in 2016 to $170.3 billion in 2017.” A typical single-family, detatched home decreased by 2.7% while the typical condo decreased by 2.3%.
  • St. Albert mayor Nolan Crouse announced this week he is not planning to run again in October. “It has been said that one should leave the stage while the crowd is still clapping and while I am not certain if indeed the crowd is still clapping, I know it is my time to leave this stage.”
  • Have a Christmas tree to get rid of? The City is collecting natural trees starting on Tuesday, January 10. They’ll be picked up for recycling within three weeks. If you live in an apartment or condo, you can take your tree by January 30 to an Eco Station or Recycling Depot. “In 2016, more than 12,000 trees weighing 137 tonnes were collected for recycling.”
  • The latest “throw it at the wall to see if it sticks” move by Northlands is a longshot proposal to build a new horse racing centre near the Edmonton International Airport, despite saying last year it would get out of the business.
  • ETS fares are increasing an average of 3% starting in February. AISH, U-Pass, and Route 747 fares are not changing, but monthly adult passes are increasing $2.75 to $94.25. “ETS operates 929 buses, 97 DATS vehicles and 94 Light Rail Transit vehicles on more than 200 routes and delivered over 87 million transit trips in 2016.”
  • Edmonton’s new creative lighting pilot project will see the exterior of the World Trade Centre brightened in the coming months. The program provides up to $50,000 in matching funding and is intended “to support exterior creative lighting that enhances and highlights the visual presence of Edmonton’s historic resources, adding to our sense of place, identity and pride.”
  • Sharon posted her 2016 review of food in Edmonton this week, Epicureous in Edmonton.
  • The Edmonton Arts Council is hiring an artist-in-residence to work in Edmonton’s cemetaries. The deadline to apply is February 1.
  • Gordon Kent has a good roundup of the ongoing development you can expect to see around town in 2017.
  • Edmontonian Stefan Rzadzinski is looking to compete in the Race of Champions, which takes place in Miami later this month. You can vote for him to represent North America here! He’s currently got a big lead. You can learn more here.
  • Elise reports that the Mill Creek Daylighting project could have major benefits for the local fish population.
  • Whoa, wait a minute, an active NHL hockey player actually misses Edmonton?!
  • For more recent headlines, check out ShareEdmonton.

Ice District - Flag Wavin'
Ice District – Flag Wavin’, photo by Jeff Wallace

Upcoming Events

Alberta Legislature Grounds
Alberta Legislature Grounds

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #234

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

Happy New Year 2017

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for January 1, 2017

Happy New Year! I’ve had a nice blogging break over the holidays, but I’m ready to get back into it.

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Happy New Year 2017

Upcoming Events

Alberta Legislature Grounds

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #233

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

VR Future
VR Future, photo by Kurt Bauschardt

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for December 18, 2016

Just a week to go until Christmas! While I hope it snows, this tweet pretty much sums up the weather right now. Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Edmonton Tower
City of Edmonton logo now up on the Edmonton Tower

Upcoming Events

Edmonton public library downtown
Make Your Mark on Milner, photo by jasonwoodhead23

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #232

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

  • The Edmonton Sun’s court reporter Tony Blais is the latest confirmed Postmedia depature here in Edmonton – he’s taking this opportunity to retire. “Thanks to all who helped me,” he tweeted. The Edmonton Justices of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta called him “a true professional” and said he “accurately and fairly reported on the work of the courts.” Many of Tony’s local media colleagues chimed in on Twitter with praise too. His departure leaves Paige Parsons covering the local court beat at Postmedia.
  • As mentioned previously, Gary Lamphier is also on his way out at Postmedia after 15 years at the Journal. “I’m going to miss it, and I’m going to miss all the readers who took the time to respond to my columns, whether you agreed with me or not,” he wrote in his farewell column.
  • The latest Numeris radio ratings are out for the period August 29 – November 27. This time 630 CHED is on top after posting the largest gain, slightly ahead of 102.3 Now FM which has led the pack for over a year and posted the largest drop. There is some additional discussion of the numbers at PSR.
  • In a post on the demise of local arts coverage, Mel Priestley wrote that “we’ve entered a time in which the bulk of local performances are going to be lucky to get any print coverage.” She suggests that bloggers reviewing shows for free can’t be the solution.
  • A recent Postmedia editorial argued that in covering the “lock her up” chant at Rebel Media’s anti-carbon tax rally the media “ran shaming articles nationwide” that illustrated “how desperate they are to say there are Trump-like elements here in Canada.”
  • Global Edmonton featured local freelance photographer Amber Bracken and her coverage of Standing Rock and the Dakota Access pipeline protests.
  • Congratulations to Boyle McCauley News editor Paula Kirman on being named a Human Rights Champion by the John Humphrey Centre.
  • Thoughtful post on blogging and consumption by Adina. “Should blogs come with content warnings?” she wonders.
  • I was sad to miss The Yards’ latest salon event and winter issue launch. Sounds like they had a great discussion about downtown vacancies and the future of towers in our city. The Yards is looking for both a new editor and publisher with the departure of Omar Mouallem and Jarrett Campbell!
  • In his latest column, Marty Forbes says thank you to a number of “awesome people” including Chris Sheetz of CISN FM, Yukon Jack of The Bear, Jason Gregor of TSN, and many other local media folks. “If you are in media you have the power…use it for good,” he wrote.
  • There are always interesting tweets on the state of media in Edmonton, but a couple caught my eye this week. “Former journalists speaking ill of the media is the new ex-Edmontonians dissing #yeg,” wrote Chad Huculak. “With the anti-journo rhetoric coming out of certian politicians and websites, I wonder if schools/papers/msm should show more solidarity…” wondered Trent Wilkie.
  • The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton is looking for a News Editor to “help us share great stories of Catholic life in Edmonton and central Alberta”. The deadline to apply is December 19.

Premier speaks with reporters at the Alberta legislature 25107
Premier speaks with reporters, photo by Premier of Alberta

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

  • Postmedia has won the 2016 North America Google Channel Award which “recognizes significant growth in AdWords for the Strategic Account Growth category and is only given to one Google partner in North America each year.” Isn’t it great to see Postmedia winning awards for strengthening one of the primary companies that has caused them so much financial trouble?
  • The Fort McMurray Connect is shutting down as of December 22. The weekly newspaper employed three people. CBC noted the announcement “comes on the heels of the news the town’s daily newspaper, Fort McMurray Today, will only be printing thrice weekly and will focus on posting stories online.”
  • Adrienne LaFrance says in The Atlantic that “the ‘fake news’ brouhaha is, at its core, about…the growing distrust of media institutions.”
  • Donald Trump was named “Person of the Year” in Time Magazine for 2016 – no surprise there. What’s really interesting is that cover photo: “The decisions that Time made regarding how to photograph Trump reveal a layered, nuanced field of references that place the image among, in this viewer’s opinion, the magazine’s greatest covers.”
  • Praise for CNN’s Jake Tapper in response to his questioning of Vice President-elect Mike Pence. His repeated questioning “was an object lesson in what doing it right looks like.”

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Here’s a quick plug for my new media project…

Taproot Edmonton is a source of curiosity-driven stories about our city, cultivated by the community. We don’t sell eyeballs, and we don’t put up paywalls. Share your curiosity with us and help support the future of local journalism in Edmonton by becoming a member.

Edmonton Notes for December 11, 2016

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

Walterdale Bridge, Edmonton, Alberta
Walterdale Bridge, photo by Jeff Wallace

Upcoming Events

2016 Krampusnacht
2016 Krampusnacht, photo by Robert

Media Monday Edmonton: Update #231

Here’s my latest update on local media stuff:

New legislation would get big money out of politics 24221
Photo by Premier of Alberta

And here is some slightly less local media stuff:

  • Marc Edge argues in the The Tyee that “a mindset shift is…needed among both federal regulators and journalism educators” to treat news media as “a public service of enormous social and political importance.”
  • The Outline has launched. It’s “a new kind of publication for a new kind of human.” Haven’t looked at much of the content yet, but the homepage certainly brings me back to my Geocities and Tripod days!
  • 10 million digital subscribers: that’s the new goal for the New York Times. As of September, they had 1.6 million but they have been growing by as many as 10,000 per day since Trump won the election.
  • Voice of San Diego has one of the most successful membership programs and now they’re going to share what they’ve learned with others through a new initiative called the News Revenue Hub.
  • Craig Silverman has been named media editor at BuzzFeed. He’s going to remain in Toronto, where he was formerly the head of BuzzFeed Canada.

You can follow Edmonton media news on Twitter using the hashtag #yegmedia. For a great overview of the global media landscape, check out Mediagazer.

So, what have I missed? What’s new and interesting in the world of Edmonton media? Let me know!

You can see past Media Monday Edmonton entries here.

Edmonton Notes for December 4, 2016

The deep freeze has arrived. After hovering just below the freezing mark for a few weeks, temperatures in Edmonton are dropping fast and are expected to be as low as -30 on Friday. On top of that, we’ve got some fresh snow which means City crews are clearing & sanding roads. Better bundle up and give yourself more time this week!

Here are my weekly Edmonton notes:

Headlines

The Viewpoint
The Viewpoint, photo by Jeff Wallace

Upcoming Events

Crossing the street
Crossing the street after a game at Rogers Place

Chicago, Trump, and what comes next for journalism

I was in Chicago with Sharon a few weeks ago when Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election. It seems like a distant memory now, but I sensed quite a bit of optimism the day before the election as we explored the city. Maybe it was just residual joy from the Cubs winning the World Series and the massive parade that had taken place just a few days before, but it was there. The lines at early voting stations were incredibly long and we marvelled at the Americans patiently waiting to do their part for democracy. People wouldn’t wait that long back home, we thought!

Early Voting in Chicago

The next day was the election. We spent some time downtown and were approached by GOTV volunteers who asked if we had voted yet (how’s that for blending in!). We told them, “sorry, we’re Canadian” and they chuckled. We wished them good luck as we moved past and they responded, “thanks – we’ll need it!” A crack? Later that day we were taken on a tour of Chinatown, which included visiting some polling stations. It was business-as-usual for the most part, but at the second polling station we encountered a heated debate between an elections officer and an activist that someone had complained was getting saying a bit too much to voters. There was passion there, a real sense that this mattered!

No Electioneering

That evening we went back to our temporary home and watched the results come in. Like many people, we couldn’t quite believe it. We stayed up to hear Trump’s speech and made sure to watch Clinton’s the next morning. Then we ventured back out to explore more of Chicago. Gone was the optimism we felt a few days earlier as a sense of shock set in. We overheard people talking about the election everywhere we went. We walked past the beautiful Trump tower as a police officer stopped to take a photo of it. I wondered why he wanted it.

Protesting Donald Trump in Chicago

That night we stumbled into the massive protest against Trump that wound its way through central Chicago. We saw the large gathering at the base of Trump tower and we saw the protesters marching again later in the evening near Michigan Avenue. On social media we could see that similar marches were happening in major cities all across the country. For the most part it was peaceful, but the heightened police presence did make us feel a little uneasy.

On Thursday, two days after the election, I attended the People-Powered Publishing conference in downtown Chicago. The purpose was to discuss “innovative projects and practices that build stronger connections between reporters and the publics they cover.” Understandably, the room full of journalists wanted to talk about the election and what happened and why. And about what will happen next.

There have been a few positives, of course. The New York Times has seen subscription growth that is ten times the same period last year and donations to organizations like ProPublica are up significantly. Journalism leaders like Marty Baron and Margaret Sullivan have used their platforms to reiterate the mission and purpose of journalism and to articulate the importance of holding the powerful accountable.

But most of the news has been negative. Trump continues to denigrate the media while the media continue to amplify his lies. Questions about access abound, especially after Trump called the media in for a major dressing down. That’s likely just a taste of what’s to come. Fake news is a big topic of discussion, with calls for Google and Facebook to do more to stop it, raising fresh concerns about just who a modern media company is. And to top it all off, “post-truth” was named word of the year for 2016.

So, what did happen? How did the media fail to see a Trump victory? And what comes next?

Maybe social media and the echo chamber that often results is to blame. “Psychologists and other social scientists have repeatedly shown that when confronted with diverse information choices, people rarely act like rational, civic-minded automatons,” wrote Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times just days before the election. Instead, they look for sources that confirm their existing preconceptions and biases.

Or maybe it had more to do with the campaign Trump ran against the media. “As a result of Trump’s attack-the-messenger strategy, for perhaps the first time in U.S. history no mainstream outlet has any influence over the voters backing one of the presidential nominees,” wrote Jack Shafer in a popular Politico piece. Trump received billions of dollars worth of free publicity as a result.

Or maybe the media just refused to believe it was possible that Donald Trump could win, as The Atlantic’s Salena Zito wrote back in September: “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”

Of course, the reality is that Trump won the election by getting millions of Americans to vote for him. The views of his supporters were too often dismissed by the media, wrote Kyle Pope in the Columbia Journalism Review. “Now a new era needs to begin, a period in which reporting takes precedent over opinion, when journalists are willing to seek out and understand people with whom they may have profound personal and philosophical differences.”

That can’t be done by simply visiting the so-called flyover states. It can’t be done by perpetuating the “us vs. them” attitude that often permeates newsrooms, even unintentionally. It will require listening. Not just hearing, but genuinely listening “for the sake of understanding and building truly reciprocal relationships with communities,” as Josh Stearns wrote in 2013.

If Trump and Brexit are just the latest in a growing wave of populism, then we should expect more uncertainty, more uncharted territory, more previously unthinkable becoming possible and even likely. Good journalism that serves the community is going to be more important than ever, but we can’t keep doing it the way we’ve always done it. We can’t just tweak things and hope for a different result. We need new approaches, new business models, and new experiments. Some will fail, but that’s okay. We need to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Importantly, we need to support good journalism wherever we can. Both to keep the good stuff coming and to provide opportunities for new experiments. That post has some great suggestions on how to find and support trustworthy journalism. Of course if you’re in Edmonton, I hope you’ll consider supporting us at Taproot Edmonton!

Listening is central to what we’re doing at Taproot. The curiosity of our community drives the stories we produce and the collective knowledge and insight of the community helps us to make those stories come to life and to have impact. I was thrilled to find a great deal of interest in our approach at the conference in Chicago, and I was grateful to hear about all of the other interesting experiments that are trying to achieve similar objectives. A little bit of optimism returned as I listened to others talk about how we can change journalism for the better.

We don’t have all the answers, but with Taproot we’re doing our part to produce good, trustworthy journalism and to figure out what the future of local journalism looks like. If this is important to you too, help us by becoming a member!