Questions raised by top journalism award

Website used "to attack the opponents" of editor's brother deemed worthy by CJF

An organization which devotes itself to rewarding "accountability, accuracy and independence" in journalism is coming under fire from members of the Vancouver journalism community after issuing their highest award to a web-based news source known for political boosterism. The Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) at its 15th Annual Awards ceremony held at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto issued their Excellence in Journalism Award to the online Vancouver Observer (VO) in their small/local media category.

Contacted by City Caucus, CJF media spokesperson Wendy Kan explained that the award is issued by a jury to news organizations that apply to be considered for the award. In order to be considered for the award candidates must meet some basic requirements around diversity, accountability, professional journalistic practices, accurancy in reporting and independence. Asked if the CJF releases a shortlist of candidates in the category, a flustered-sounding Kan responded that no shortlist is issued by the CJF, nor does the organization release the application by the winning candidate. Asked by City Caucus how the public would know if there was more than one candidate considered for the award, or even multiple submissions, Kan would not comment on the record.

City Caucus requested an interview with Canadian Journalism Foundation Executive Director Natalie Turvey, but was told she was unavailable. Instead, our inquiry was directed to the awards jury chair Michael Benedict, President of MCB Strategies and a former Executive Editor of Maclean's. Speaking with Mr. Benedict before he boarded a flight, it was confirmed that the CJF jury does not routinely reveal which media organizations apply for their awards. Asked if the CJF jury might release the application of the winner in the small/local media category, Benedict said we should ask the Vancouver Observer for it.

When Benedict was asked whether their jury vets the candidates he responded, "we rely on the integrity of the submission [by the applicant]." Of the nine-member CFJ awards panel of jurors, eight are based out of Ontario (7 Toronto, 1 Ottawa) and the ninth is based in Halifax.

Vancouver Observer is a website run by Linda Solomon. Solomon is best known as the sister of Joel Solomon, the mentor and chief fundraiser for Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver. They are daughter and son of Jay Solomon, a Chattanooga, Tennessee-based shopping mall developer who served briefly as head of the U.S. General Services Administration in Washington, DC, before returning to his home state. Linda Solomon became a permanent resident of Canada after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center made her a self-described "9/11 refugee".

Linda Solomon at CJF Awards

Linda Solomon was featured beside City Caucus in a 2011 feature article in BCBusiness Magazine titled "The Politics of Vancouver Blogs". Vancouver Observer was cited as a site with "clear political allegiances" to Vancouver City Hall and Mayor Gregor Robertson. In Vancouver's journalism circles the Observer is deemed mainly as a partisan source favouring the current government at Vancouver City Hall. Four veteran journalists were interviewed by City Caucus for their opinions on VO receiving the CJF's top honour, and none would speak on the record.

Asked point blank whether VO is news one journalist gave a qualified 'yes'. "Anyone today can set up a news source today, so I can hardly exclude them from that category. I've seen some of VO's journalists and I see them making a reasonably rigorous effort to cover the story fairly. However, do I think Vancouver Observer is independent? No. They spend too much time blowing smoke up the ass of Vision [Vancouver]." The seasoned reporter said that VO should be allowed to apply for a journalism award. But should they have won? "No, I do not think so. It in effect dismisses really good journalism in the marketplace. The problem with the CJF award is that it torks the appearance of these kinds of awards. If the CJF jury had even done a simple background check they would have realized the don't deserve an award for journalism."

Another veteran Vancouver journalist who has tracked VO's work said they have attempted to find journalistic merit in the site's work. "I've read one story that I can confidently say was well-researched. But I've tried to take a step back and my judgment is that VO is really more of a buttress for Joel Solomon's interests and making Gregor Robertson look good."

A senior member of Vancouver's journalism community claimed to be "disheartened" by the news VO had received the CJF award. "I saw what they posted about Vivian Krause and I was outraged. The story about her claimed to have sources in the ENGO sector, but we know the source is Joel Solomon. VO are in a clear conflict of interest when they report this stuff, but they do not disclose it. It's a breach of journalistic ethics that I find disheartening." Krause today tweeted that VO blocks her on Twitter, not allowing her a rebuttal.

Does this mean that online journalism in general is discredited? This industry veteran says no. "I'd say new media and citizen journalism can offer something. What's troubling to me is that the [CJF] award was given to an organization driven by a clearly partisan agenda. Online journalists must be held to the same high standard as everyone else in this field."

Finally, City Caucus contacted a long time and widely read newspaper commentator and reporter. Asked about VO's award a belly laugh came across the phone. "I think it's pretty funny that you can get an award after you use your website to attack your brother's opponents!

"I've tried to find something worthwhile on VO's reporting, but the fact is they just irritate me."

Asked if the problem rests with awards for journalism, the response was glib. "We have to be careful in our industry. Some of us are going to get dislocated shoulders from patting ourselves on the back so much. The thing about VO is they keep telling everyone repeatedly how great they are. If you say something often enough people start to believe you. I think this is what's happening here."

City Caucus has emailed the Canadian Journalism Foundation for a response and will share it here as a follow-up. Here is the press release related to the event.

– post by Mike


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About The Author

  • Hi, Mike –

    I’m wondering if you can name the Vancouver journalists who were interviewed and are quoted in this blog post.

    Thanks so much,
    Lesli

    • JJ

      Lesli,
      All they needed to do was to apply…LOL
      And if no one else applies, then… At least they applied this time considering that all the people pumped up by Vancouver Observer never needed to apply for jobs at City Hall. Those were gifts from God himself, ahem… LOL!

    • Lesli, of course I could. You probably know each one of them from your experiences in public relations. But each spoke to me only on the condition they were off the record, and they represent a good sampling of experience within the local industry.

      If your concern is that our report is misleading, then I would challenge any working journalist in Vancouver to either contact me or post a comment here with their own views of VO, especially if it contradicts the range of opinions I’ve cited above.

      And for those who think there is a double standard here, we make no bones at all about our partisanship and wear it as a badge of honour. We’d never put our content forward for journalistic accolades.

      • waltyss

        Good journalism is not an article full of purported quotes from cowards who will not go on the record and who claim to be in journalism (or at least that is the way you describe them).
        And Mike I hate to tell you but a bunch of nameless “journalists” spouting the same line is hardly a range of opinions. Sort of like the range of opinions on Sun TV.

        • Without unnamed sources there would be no journalism. I took good notes during my conversations. I called several sources and they all asked to be off the record — their choice, I respect that.

          In Vancouver the fact is if you say anything bad publicly about Gregor Robertson you will be pounced on by the Mayor’s office staff. Their bullying of newspaper editors and reporters is well-known.

          The question for me is did the CJF do their due diligence in their decision-making for this award? I imagine it took a lot of time, but as Michael Benedict admitted to me in the interview, if their decision to give VO this award was flawed then they will have to review their processes.

          Having someone represent CJF in BC might have helped.

          • waltyss

            Nice attempt to take a dig at Vision in a post that had nothing to do with it. But I’ll bite. I hope you are not going to suggest that the NPA or the current Liberal government do not attempt to bully reporters. I think it is wrong whoever does it. However spare me the holier than thou and stick to the point. You are undoubtedly right that journalism could not function without anonymous sources. However, an article that has nothing but anonymous sources is not journalism; it’s juvenile name calling. Moreover, while journalists are not happy when someone refuses to go on the record, it is simple cowardice when they do the same thing.

          • @Waltyss, actually I interviewed six people for this piece, four (the Vancouver journalists) were off the record. I’m grateful for their candour. I don’t know how other politicos deal with media, but I’m sure there are some tense exchanges between all media and political handlers. It doesn’t justify bullying though.

            As for Vision having nothing to do with VO, other than being the apparent mouthpieces for the party, perhaps you’re right.

  • JJ

    Boy oh boy, now this guys are calling themselves journalists , LOL!
    Look at Hollywood, awarding themselves prizes for what…eight, nice decades? Laughable, when not too many know who this Vancouver Observer is, or who’s behind it!
    Ha, ha, soooo funny!
    Look Lesli Boldt is here… Vision pals all around!
    You know what…go fish!

  • Ned

    Whaaaaa?
    Vancouver Observer awarded?
    “The thing about VO is they keep telling everyone repeatedly how great they are. If you say something often enough people start to believe you. I think this is what’s happening here.”
    Could not have said it better, if I was sober!
    VO is the “propaganda” arm of Vison vancouver and of their main sponsor Solomon Joel the brother of the editor of the VO, the first cousin of the Tyee, nephew by uncle to the great grandfather of Tides Canada….
    I did not know that CJF would sink that low, oh wait a moment … another foundation? Where dio they get their funding I wonder, he, he!

  • Terry M

    Award for VO???????????

    • @Terry M. Not just any award, the Canadian Journalism Foundation top award. VO and CBC’s The Current were both given the award. It would be interesting to get the thoughts of The Current’s producers to know they shared the category with VO.

      • teririch

        The CBC’s Current Affairs should be offended at being placed in the same catergory as the VO.

        Can an FOI be filed to see how they completed their application?

  • I’d like to see working journalists post in this space also, Mike – it’s a great opportunity for them to get themselves on the record (as they’ve always insisted I be).

    It’s a rare journalist who will speak to disparagingly about about their peers, and even more rare to do so on condition of anonymity. In fact, the Canadian Association of Ethics’ Ethics Guidelines (http://www.caj.ca/?p=1776) state: “We generally declare ourselves as journalists and do not conceal our identities, including when seeking information through social media,” and that “We do not allow anonymous sources to take cheap shots at individuals or organizations.” Neither of these tenets seems to have been followed, at least from where I sit. I find this fascinating.

    I am as clear about my bias as you are, and I respect your transparency. I hope those journalists you’ve interviewed will take the same approach. I look forward to seeing them step forward and to stand behind their remarks in this space.

    • Lesli, your comments are either mischievous or naive.

      Without unnamed sources some of the world’s most important and valued journalism would have never happened. My responsibility is to make sure that I quote accurately from my extensive notes taken during my phone interviews. If you’re counting, I spoke with six different subjects — two from CJF and four working journalists. Their remarks are not ‘cheap shots’. They are criticisms in earnest and genuine concerns about what’s happening to their field of work. The remarks about VO being a tool to bully Joel Solomon’s opponents are fair, and easy to prove.

      Second of all, let’s get the bullying by the Mayor’s office on the table. When I worked at 24 Hours I was told candidly that the Mayor’s office would call up our General Manager and tell him about his displeasure about my column. That info went down the chain to my editor, who had to stand by my work. Those were not fun days for either of us.

      Bullying and threats from City Hall are well known among certain circles — such as journalists, editors, NPA donors. Speaking on the record to City Caucus would invite the scorn of those bullies. Therefore I am bound to respect the confidence of those who spoke with me.

      If there are other working journalists in Vancouver who wish to contact me about their feelings regarding VO getting the CJF award, I will gladly share any of them on this site. I can be contacted by email confidentially at mike@citycaucus.com. I want to hear from those working journalists who think the award is deserved and cite examples of the kind of journalistic excellence the CJF require.

      • spartikus

        Daniel Fontaine writes for 24hrs, but I can’t find a column by Mike Klassen. Have I missed something?

      • spartikus

        Here is the New York Times policy on confidential sources.

    • R.Isaak

      Lesli, the difference is the newspersons are part of the actual story. They do not reveal their sources when a controversial issue is being reported, just as Mike is doing now. The main difference is Mike is not masquerading as an objective non aligned person. This is the critical difference between his views and those regularly expressed in the VO.

      • I should make it clear, my personal politics attracted me to this story. However, I don’t give a fig about VO. I do think, however, that the questions raised about CJF’s award are worthy of discussion. To me it’s just a good story — period.

    • Ned

      Lesli, may I ask you to ask Linda Solomon the following question:
      Who is funding your small but excellent Vancouver Onion? We know it’s not the readers, it can’t be the massive advertising, it’s not the Tides… Do it for me! 🙂

  • I am not that familiar with all the players in Vancouver and have only been exposed to VO from their articles attacking Vivian Krause. But from just that piece of the pie it’s patently obvious that there is no actual journalism going on at VO. I’d even go so far as to characterize some of the reporting as “evil”. I know that’s a strong and loaded word but the malice and deliberate nature of the words and phrases used has to be categorized that way because there is no other word for it.

    There is no middle of the road between good and evil. They are not two roads going in the same direction but opposing roads to different goals. Their choice of actions determines the direction they are going. To claim to believe in something good and to willingly commit an evil is to try and walk a line between them. To reject proper journalism as they have done is to admit that they are not fit to gain anything except by dishonesty. They chose the road and it’s the low road.

    They cannot escape from the consequences of this decision. Their publication will be judged by these choices. Good journalism will be treated with respect and admired. The corrupt will be held in contempt and condemned. Their beliefs don’t condemn them, but their actions do.

  • Max

    The VO and the Tyee are in the same category. Bought and paid for by the TIDES foundation.

    What a joke, I wouldn’t waste one minute out of my day on the VO site.

    • I’m getting accused of some terrible stuff by the Tides folks. Here’s Tzeporah Berman’s latest tweet:

      Embarrassing. Klassen & @CityCaucus jealous @VanObserver award. Perhaps if u reported instead of spewing bile & innuendo u might win too.

      https://twitter.com/Tzeporah/status/211490165326217216

      This is the narrative coming from the Mayor’s office: we’re “jealous” of VO’s award. Here’s a tweet from Patti Bacchus last night:

      @CityCaucus Which one? “News””veteran” “long-time” or “widely read”? I’m sitting with them all right now & they say you’re just jealous. 😉

      https://twitter.com/pattibacchus/status/211316205955452928

      Okay, folks, if you say so.

      • The Angry Taxpayer

        Mike,

        What the VO produces is pure opinion and hatchet carrying for the current occupants of City Hall. Their pieces merely masquerade as news.

        (BTW, what news stories have they broken?).

        For a steller, transparant and fair organ such as theirs they seem most curiously afraid to post negative reactions to their “stories’. You will be hard pressed to find anything except effusive praise in the comments sections of their pieces.

        That’s why what they produce is pure propaganda. They brook no alternative opinion. I’m sure their fart-catchers, who are muelling here, would privately agree. 🙂

        As for the always “mean girl` Patti Bachhus, she is true to form on her Twitter posts: Pffft.

        A little surprised at Tzaporah Berman, though.

  • Max

    @Mike:

    Wouldn’t waste a second even considering about their on going abuse.

    ‘Birds of a TIDES feather flock together….’

    If Patti Bacchus considers the VO as credible jounalism it answers many questions as to why many kids in this province ‘graduate’ without being able to form a proper sentence…..or read.

    As for their attacking Vivian Krause – Viison and their bag money man, Joel Solomon (akaTIDES) are running scared. More and more private sector companies involved in the resources in this province are paying great attention to her findings.

    We all know what happened when we put our lumber trading into the USA basket and the engative effects it had when the markets crashed. BC was left scrambling for other foreign partners. And TIDES and the NDP are trying to paint us back into that corner with our mineral resources. I would love to know how many of these US donators have ‘stock’ in mineral based companies.

  • Richard Unger

    Dear Mike,

    Don’t bother with this story, as neither I or any of my friends know of, heard of, or read this journal called “Vancouver Observer”.
    Considering (from your reportage and some of the comments above) the first cousin type relationship between them the Tyee, Tides , Solomon … it all falls into place.
    It appears to me, from an outsider POV that this paper is a continuation of Solomon’s and his friends affairs in this region of Canada.
    The “good news about Vision, Robertson” propaganda vehicle.

    Honestly I never heard of CFJ either, and I hope they are not another self appointed gurus in “journalism”.
    Also, what bothers me is this:
    “When Benedict was asked whether their jury vets the candidates he responded, “we rely on the integrity of the submission [by the applicant].” Of the nine-member CFJ awards panel of jurors, eight are based out of Ontario (7 Toronto, 1 Ottawa) and the ninth is based in Halifax.”
    So contradict me if I’m wrong. CFJ accepts applications from whoever wants to apply? Wasn’t there supposed to be a nomination process from a number of peer members? Like a recognition of their presence, or something?
    Strange.
    In my book this doesn’t sound good. How many out there were left behind, missed the application deadline, or never heard of this award to start with?
    Don’t bother, Mike. It’s simply not worthy.

    You have a nice weekend,

    Dr. Richard Unger MD (Ret)

    • Thanks, Richard. Like I said earlier, I’m not the slightest bit interested in VO. They’ve trashed me on a few occasions (one of their reporters called to apologize to me after VO’s “editor” tweaked the language in their story to make me sound like an asshole), but I know nobody I know takes them seriously here.

      The reason Daniel and I started CC was to push new policy ideas and to make news more accountable. Let’s face it, if we think the MSM gets it wrong, we’ll sound off. We think that reporting on municipal politics has improved markedly over the past three years.

      There’s no question we could shrug this one off. But there’s a larger matter of principle that I’ve tried to outline in my comments here. Should a TO-based society that celebrates journalistic excellence be rewarding what is seen as a political mouthpiece here in BC? If so, where does it stop?

      Excellent journalism works hard to take politics out of the equation. Let’s reward excellent journalists, not praise organizations that corrupt the idea of excellent journalism. If CJF had rewarded someone who had just left their job at the PMO can you imagine the outcry?

      Without great journalism then we become just like most of the rest of the corrupt states in the world where reporters risk their lives on the line every day. Their role is vital. Let’s get this one right.

  • Karla Sofen

    Another plastic participation trophy painted gold. Quite the accomplishment.

  • spartikus

    Yesterday on Twitter you said VO had published false information about Vivian Krause. I was wondering what that false information was.

    • Terry M

      With the mug you use for your Avatar, your comment couldn’t be more stoned!
      What are you smoking, btw?
      And say Hi to Boggie!
      By handing out this award to the laughing stock that is VO, they lost any credibility
      Ity they ever had!

      • Terry M

        Oops, I was referring to CJF… Please not another “foundation”!

  • spartikus

    Final comment: Krause today tweeted that VO blocks her on Twitter, not allowing her a rebuttal.

    Once I suggested to you, in a purposeful direct message so as *not* to make a *public* issue of it, that making an issue of a city Councillor tweeting about enjoying a lobster dinner while you simultaneously tweet about enjoying fine wine (as you and she both should) looked…kind of hypocritical.

    Another occasion I took issue with whoever was tweeting the City Caucus twitter account about the claim the “focus” on bike lanes was a factor in pedestrians deaths. I forwarded to the City Caucus account links from ICBC data and articles on this subject by veteran reporter Frances Bula.

    I was blocked by you both immediately after the above.

    How can I rebut you now?

    • You’re trying to rebut me now.

      • spartikus

        And Vivian Krause can try and rebut the Vancouver Observer in the comments of the Vancouver Observer.

        Your response makes it curious why you raised the alleged blocking of Krause on Twitter as an issue.

        I’ll ask again, what’s the false information published by VO about Krause?

        http://twitter.com/CityCaucus/status/211188275833094147

    • Max

      Mike’s not drinking ‘fine wine’ on the taxpayer’s dollar.

  • waltyss

    Mike, thanks for putting me onto Vancouver Observer. Your tirade quoting only gutless self styled “journalists” aroused my curiosity. Read what they currently haveand thought it was a nice mix of stuff. I particularly liked their article on the scary Koch brothers being funders of the Fraser Institute. Now if they would only explore who funds the so called Canadian Taxpayers Federation and I will donate.
    In any event, I’ll take the Observer, you can have Ned, Max, Glissy the hasheater, Unger and the angry old white guys you seem to attract and even your boy, Councillor Affleck who is quoted in today’s Vancouver Sun as saying that Councillor Meggs by running for the NDP nomination in a Vancouver riding as having “clearly given up on Vancouver”. So our Vancouver MLA’s do not represent their riding (which is the city)? Is he really that stupid? Next time when you guys get together and dream up your issue, can you help him to understand what it is so at least he doesn’t appear to be so stupid.

    • Thought of The Night

      “Waltzing With Wiki Waltyss.”

      Look, I know what you’re saying, and I couldn’t be more sympathetic to your cause, but just because some people are laughing at you and call you names, it doesn’t mean that we have to go away mad, so Waltyss, all I’m saying is…

      “I understand!”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVkWONQeYcY

      I want you to be happy, Waltyss! I really do. And, again… I understand!

      We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

      • Waltyss

        Glissy, another post at the witching hour. Some people will start to draw conclusions.

  • Thought of The Midnight

    “Giving Vancouver Observer the CJF’s top Journalistic Award is like giving Martha Stewart top award for excellence in Insider Trading.”

    Let me be crystal clear. The only ones able to award anything to any publication in this business… are the readers. Period.
    Not long ago VO, was asking for support from readers, how did that turn out? I wonder how do they meet the payroll, good question from Ned “Who is funding your small but excellent Vancouver Onion? We know it’s not the readers, it can’t be the massive advertising, it’s not the Tides…”
    Yes, who?
    Any paper, old style or on line, survives by means of advertising, paid subscriptions, good marketing…
    I have to admit, I am not “circulating” VO’s pages.
    I am not too big on global warming fear-mongering, Ode to the Mayor and Table Manners. Naah, not me.
    IMHO, Vancouver Observer is Vision’s Voice Over. Period.

    After hearing the news re. VO receiving the CJF award, a friend of mine said to me:
    “I think this is a total joke, as a writer, you must be offended!”
    I said:
    “You’re damn right that I am offended. Not as a writer though… but, as a comedian!”

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy

    • I’ve said it once before, but I would be happy to challenge both VO and The Tyee to present all their financials from the past year, and I will do the same. Complete transparency on who funds VO, Tyee and CC. I’m all for it.

      http://impolitical.blogspot.ca/2012/04/financial-disclosure-for-bloggers-and.html

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/why-dont-political-bloggers-want-us-to-know-whos-funding-them/article4197665/

      • Steven Forth

        That would be great. I would like to see this. I would like to add Vivian Krause to the list, and the Vancouver Courier, and the Georgia Straight. I am sure that other people will have more names for this list. I wonder if there is some sort of neutral third party that could referee this. It would set a new standard for transparency and I think would be good for all of these news sources and would be a great thing for Vancouver.

        • Straight and Courier are ad-driven businesses. The latter was just purchased by Glacier Media, a large publishing group. Krause has been upfront about her funding — see her blog.

          • Steven Forth

            I have not found Vivian Krause to be at all upfront about her funding, and separating her blog from her other public activities in not tenable. VO is much more transparent.

      • waltyss

        Vancouver Observer has outed some of the Fraser Institutes funders (ah, those wonderful American billionaires). When do you think Harper and his harpies are going to rail about the Fraser Institute. A non-profit.
        Now, Mike you publish stuff from CTF (Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation) Why don’t we make a deal: you tell your readers who funds CTF and then we can bug VO to reveal who funds them.

  • Steven Forth

    What a useless post. If these four so called journalists don’t have the integrity to go on record their opinions are worthless. I find VO a breath of fresh air in the world of corporate controlled Vancouver journalism. And at least VO journalists and bloggers have the integrity to use their own names.

    • @Steven. We can usually count on you for a thoughtful comment, so let me direct you to the issue that I present here:

      A) The story in a nutshell is that a 15-year old society based in Toronto issued their top award to a west coast web magazine known to locals as a partisan mouthpiece.

      B) The site is connected to individuals known for political fundraising currently under investigation by the Canada Revenue Agency.

      C) The site is known for meting out attacks on the critics of those fundraisers.

      So I ask you and our other thoughtful commenters the following:

      1. Is there a risk the CJF award will lend credibility to all partisan communications sources? We’ve broken several stories here at CC that were picked up by the MSM, but do I think we’ll be nominated soon for a Webster? Not a chance.

      2. Does a national journalism association have some responsibility to include judges either currently or formerly working in media from western Canada?

      3. What does it say when Vancouver reporters refuse to go on the record? I think all the above quotes are tough but fair. Would it put their jobs or reputations at risk being seen to be critical of this Vision-friendly organization?

      There are reporters (none of whom I spoke to in this report) who retweeted this story. Since we published our post on Friday I have asked for any working media in Vancouver to contact me either openly or privately to rebut the remarks of their colleagues. I promise to post those comments.

      I believe that there are Vancouver journalists who admire Vision Vancouver. But do they like them enough to consider VO to be “award-winning journalism”? I’m standing by to hear from them.

      More to come, I’m sure.

      • Steven Forth

        Fair questions, thank you.

        1. Is there a risk the CJF award will lend credibility to all partisan communications sources? We’ve broken several stories here at CC that were picked up by the MSM, but do I think we’ll be nominated soon for a Webster? Not a chance.

        Perhaps you should be. All media (all people) are partisan. I am fine with this but prefer people to disclose their biases. I try to do that as you do. So does Linda Solomon.

        2. Does a “national” journalism association have some responsibility to include judges either currently or formerly working in media from other parts of Canada such as west of Thunder Bay?

        Yes. But out in Vancouver we are used to this aren’t we? I don’t pay much attention to any national awards being focused on the local.

        3. What does it say when Vancouver reporters refuse to go on the record? I think all the above quotes are tough but fair. Would it put their jobs or reputations at risk being seen to be critical of this Vision-friendly organization?

        One way you have the right to be heard is by having the courage of your convictions. I will not associate with any business or organization that in any way tries to curtail my commenting or right to express my opinions and I try hard not to self censor. I expect at least the same level of integrity and commitment from people who make their living ‘reporting’ on the news. If Vision, or the CPC, or any other political organization are trying to punish journalists or advocacy groups for their opinions they should be called on this and, I hope, punished at the polls.

        • Thought of The Day

          “After much thought and careful consideration, the respectable panel of the Remmy Foundation have decided to award Vancouver Observer the top prize in the ‘ROTFLMAO’ Category… The Glissando!”

          Steven,

          FYI, here’s one reason why journalists, people linked to the city hall, or in business with the city in general, prefer to speak from behind anonymity.
          Remember how the Vision appointed Top Hack dealt with … The Press?
          Here, for your enjoyment some extracts:

          FRONTPAGE Nov. 2010

          “The Vision Vancouver regime imposed an unprecedented gag order on city staff and creating a “sealed fortress” to keep public information away from taxpayers.”

          “ This is unprecedented and a sad day for everyone who covers the hall… in their struggle for control, they’ve gone too far.” —Frances Bula

          “…a great step backwards for the public. It deeply politicizes the bureaucracy…For heaven’s sake, you don’t have to filter everything through the political screen, do you?” —Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun

          “It’s a sad day at Vancouver City Hall if Vision Vancouver and its hired gun, city manager Penny Ballem, have decided to silence these public servants…” —Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight

          “Two years into this administration and unhappy employees continue to bail out of city hall… All part, I suspect, of Vision’s unprecedented gag orders being placed on the public service at city hall.” —Allen Garr, Vancouver Courier

          “It’s ridiculous.”—Mike Howell, Vancouver Courier

          More here:
          http://archive.citycaucus.com/2010/11/gregor-robertsons-gag-order-a-bust-with-local-media

          I think here’s a lot of good journalism/ reporting in this story for either 24 Hours/ City Caucus to have qualified for a “Glissando” Award from the newly formed Remmy Foundation, your pick! 🙂
          You ask me… I’m fine with both!

          Who needs CJF?
          In our days, anyone with a generous sponsor behind can set up a “Foundation” over night, right from their own kitchen table… “Save the White Beaver”; “Penguins & Walruses”; “Organic Petrol”; “Urban Chicken”; “Manure Now!”; “My NIMBY Habitat”…

          Anyone could do that, and if anyone would do that, than anyone could be awarded, and if anyone would be awarded than no one would be left behind, and with no one left behind, anyone would be able to stay ahead of the curve!

          We live i Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

        • The Angry Taxpayer

          @Stephen Forth,

          See a previous comment of mine about VO not publishing comments critical of their pieces or world view.

      • Steven Forth
  • Max

    A while back and out of curiosity I took some time and cross reference the supposed journo’s listed on the VO site with Renewal/TIDES and or Solomon

    There are contributors on the site that do ‘business’ with the above and or have received funding of sorts.

    • Steven Forth

      No doubt these are the same links you claim to have found linking me to these organizations. Your favourite ‘sock puppet.’

      • Max

        @Steven Forth:

        When you asked,I posted those links and others commented on them.

        Feel free to backtrack and check them out yourself and then you can dispute them, or not.

  • Sandra Chamberlain-Snider

    Instead of the CJF award lending credibility to the Vancouver Observer, I think it’s the opposite, the VO colours the award. Maybe the journalism academics associated with the foundation would be interested to know how the Observer is perceived amongst us local news and political readers. Words like “integrity” and “excellence” may be connected to a word like “partisan” without prejudice, but we, the readers, just like to know.

  • Steven Forth

    I wonder how many of the people commenting here are regular readers of VO, if they have read it at all. I find it one of the best sources of journalism about Vancouver. And it is completely upfront about its progressive POV. I do not look to the major media outlets for news on Vancouver. My major source is Google searches, followed by VO and CC. I do listen to CBC Radio a fair bit. I would think The Current would be delighted to be mentioned with VO, but I hope someone does ask the question.

    Most of this reads like sour grapes.

    • boohoo

      Sour grapes indeed. File this one under
      who cares. Local small time newspaper gets award no one has heard of from group no one has heard of. Yawn.

    • Ms Jones

      Steven , if only half of the people reading and commenting on the pages of City Caucus, would stay out of VO’s pages, than VO… would have no readership, LOL!
      And then I am asking myself, how did they manage to get an award in the first place.
      It’s getting too old, this thing they do, the way these groups pump themselves up, trying to look good from all directions, when in reality all they do is having their fingers in too many jars at all the times.
      It’s quite amusing to… Observe that in Vancouver. 🙂
      Pulitzer for Linda.. ha, ha, ha, are you kidding me?

      • Steven Forth

        Didn’t know you had access to VOs visit stats. Perhaps you could share them with us. You seem to have access to CC’s stats as well. Why don’t you post them?

        Ever get tired of people claiming to know things they don’t? VO is a great site and has some great content. I encourage everyone to check it out.

  • Brenton

    So we’re all working with the same data, here is what Mike Klassen wrote:

    “Vancouver Observer was cited as a site with “clear political allegiances” to Vancouver City Hall and Mayor Gregor Robertson.”

    Here is what was actually written:

    “Websites and blogs from writers with clear political allegiances, which once only commented on news from traditional outlets, are now breaking news and supplying stories for reporters. Consequently, they are inspiring accusations of biases and low standards from city hall, even as its staffers scan these sites for updates.”

    • Writer Kevin Chong’s point being that you hear from both sides of the political equation — pro-Vision or anti-Vision. VO was not put in the piece as a neutral party, nor was City Caucus.

      • Steven Forth

        Who would be a neutral party? And would such a neutral party provide better reporting?

  • Brenton

    In that same Business in Vancouver article that Klassen quotes from, it states that Linda Solomon was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Anyone know what it takes to get nominated for a Pulitzer? Is it like the Nobel Peace Prize, with open nominations? Juried?

    The article also states that the Observer won a Canadian Online Publishing Award in 2010. Other orgs that won include the Globe and Mail, CBC, the Toronto Star, etc. The COPAs are run by Masthead, “the must-read online journal for the Canadian magazine industry” and sponsored by such companies as the Audit Bureau of Circulation and BPA Worldwide, “the global industry resource for verified audience data and media knowledge.” No mention of whether they get money from Tides Canada.

  • Steven Forth

    Is there any evidence that Tides or Renewal or any other of these organizations contribute funds to VO?

    This is why Mike’s suggestion of transparency on funding is an important one.

    • Max

      @Stven Forth:

      One more time,in case you missed it-the links showing a pic of ‘Steven Forth’ at a Renewal/TIDES function were posted.

      You are free to back track and take alook.

      • Steven Forth

        I think CC may be editing the links out. I am not aware of having attended any event sponsored by Tides or Renewal, so could you at least help by naming the place, date and name of the event?

        Thanks, your favourite sock puppet.

        • What links have been edited? We’ve not altered any comments on this post. Your three links all work fine for me.

          • Steven Forth

            I was trying to give @Max the benefit of the doubt. Sorry, did not mean to cast doubt on CC. My apologies.

          • Max

            @Mike:

            A short while ago and on another topic on CC I asked Steven Forth if he was the same ‘Steven Forth’ mentioned and pictured on one of the Renewal/Endswell/TIDES web pages.

            He asked me to provide the link(s) and I did – back on that blog topic.

            That is what Steven is referring to.

            I know another commentor posted a reply regarding the picture link – it is there should Steven wish to back track and look for himself.

          • gman

            And here is the link Max put up and Steven didn’t respond to. http://www.flickr.com/photos/renewalpartners/2431700565/

          • Steven Forth

            Thanks. And here is another photo from the same stream also claiming to include a person called Steven Forth. http://www.flickr.com/photos/renewalpartners/2431700037/in/photostream/ However neither of these is me as anyone who has met me can confirm and as you can see from my LinkedIn profile picture. It may be some other Steven Forth (though it is an unusual name). http://ca.linkedin.com/in/stevenforth Again, I have never been to Holyhock, do not invest with, or in Renewal, have not recevied an investment from Renewal, and I am not a member of Vision. I was briefly a member of the NPA. I am not currently a member of any political party nor do I have any plans to become one.

          • Steven Forth

            And if you had troubled to read further you would have found that this was an event in Toronto and that the Steven Forth was “Steven Forth from Indigo Books & Music” who was easy to find on LinkedIn http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/steve-forth/2/75/326

  • teririch

    Funny that you ask that question Steven as I asked Linda Solomon the same a fair while back (1.5 years?) after coming across an OV job posting on Craig’s List.

    It was a paid position and from I could see at the time, they use a lot of ‘interns’ – not paid.

    She said they get ad revenue – which I cannot see how they can support any staff via ad revenue – website advertising is cheap when compared to print and would not cover staffing costs and overhead operating costs- especially for a site like the OV.

  • boohoo

    Lol. You’re still suspicious Steven…. How can we really know that’s not you?!????(says people here anonymously…) lol

    • Steven Forth

      Guess I will have to have a party and invite people! I am actually thinking of doing a LinkedIn meet up for my contacts in Vancouver!

  • Let’s see – City Caucus is criticizing Vancouver Observer for being: “a web-based news source known for political boosterism” – wow! I won’t comment on VO but look up “political boosterism” in the dictionary and the City Caucus URL shows up.

    I suspect an element of jealousy is at play here at least.

    Congrats to VO though!

    • teririch

      @Bill Tieleman:

      I would think with your background that even you through your own bias would agree that the VO does not offer ‘outstanding, ground breaking journalism’.

      I follow the VO via twitter and I think once have opened up a story. Most of what they post up is regurgitated, pro union, pro Vision, pro NDP…..

      When you measure the VO against other blogs sites such as CC, AGT. Bob Mackin, Frances Bula, the Mainlander…- that have unearthed legitimate ‘ground breaking stories’, stories that the MSM have later picked up and run with, the VO doesn’t even come close.

      But hold the ‘party line’ there Bill and try and tell us that the VO has merrit.

      That is as rich as stringing the words NDP and ‘fresh start’ together.

      • Waltyss

        teri, do you have anything to add beyond vitriol. We know you hate the NDP and anything left of Stephen Harper. Good on you but we get it, we really do. Now do you actually have a different thought to contribute?

    • Good job staying on message, Bill.

    • rf

      Lets see — Bill Tieleman referring to himself often as a journalist….? Kinda of the same thing.

      VO, City Caucus, Bill Tieleman. Lobbyists at best, Shills at worst.

  • The Angry Taxpayer

    …and here come the cavalry, right on time, with the Vision Vancouver meme of the night;

    “Jealousy!”

    It all sounds so Grade 8.

    But I guess better a one word pejorative, than providing us with examples of “outstanding, ground breaking journalism” from the VO organ, eh, guys and gals?

  • Thought of The Day

    “Same way VO is Vision Vancouver’s… Voice Over, BT is NDP’s… Bully Tipster. Duh!”

    It’s only me or everyone else noticed how Bill Tieleman came in here, Spinning and Whirling, doing a complete turn of the body on one foot, on point, Pirouetting en Dedans?

    He did his signature move of Pas De Trolls, then finished in a jealous Arabesque!
    If it wasn’t funny enough already, his name abbreviates as… “Le Mini Ballet”. Go figure!

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

    • Paulette

      ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!!
      Glissy, when are you going to tell us who you are? I’d buy a ticket to your stand-ups! 🙂
      One thing for sure, picturing Bill Tieleman in leotards tights and ballet shoes made my day!

  • Thought of The Day

    “Same way VO is Vision Vancouver’s… Voice Over, BT is NDP’s… Bully Tipster. Duh!”

    It’s only me or everyone else noticed how Bill Tieleman came in here, Spinning and Whirling, doing a complete turn of the body on one foot, on point, Pirouetting en Dedans?

    He did his signature move of Pas De Trolls, then finished in a jealous Arabesque!
    If it wasn’t funny enough already, his name abbreviates as… “Le Mini Ballet”. Go figure!

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • The Angry Taxpayer

    @Glissy,

    Erudite, and funny as hell.

    Always a wonderful combination!

  • Richard Unger

    I see Waltyss is everywhere on this site. The newest parasite released by the Vision comrades into the general population. In older times we used DDT on them. Good for all roaches!

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