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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gone, really

Hello, feed readers!

I moved my site just before Christmas. That's a crazy time, so I'm not sure if you all got the message I posted. I am now at, and all of my posts are over there. Please bookmark the new site, update your links, and subscribe to my new feed.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I'm not here, and if all goes as planned, I won't be back.

I am moving to, and all of my posts will be available over there. Please bookmark the new site and update your links. Feed readers, please subscribe to my new feed.

Many thanks to Amy and Shauna, who are awesome and know much more about web design than I ever will.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Best NWT Blogs

We are now taking nominations for the 2008 NWT Blog Awards. For more details, head over to the contest site.

Harrumph, harrumph!

I am about to get on a plane, and I am not particularly happy about it.

I have to go to Edmonton for an uncomfortable medical test called a "sleep-deprived EEG", so I haven't slept since I got up for work yesterday morning. If I am even less coherent than usual, that's why. The test measures the electrical activity in my brain.

Don't worry about me: I am totally fine except that I have epilepsy, a brain disorder that can be controlled with medication. It's not a secret, but I don't blog about it because it's not relevant.

The test is not painful, but it's very uncomfortable. I have to be tired to the point of exhaustion for the test, and it leaves me with electrode gel all through my hair. For extra fun, the technician will flash a strobe light in my eyes and ask me to hyperventilate. The idea is to push the brain beyond its comfort zone: a normal brain (yes, ha ha) will be able to deal with it, but an epileptic brain won't.

I used to have it done here in town, but now I have to go to Edmonton. Because I cannot possibly finish the test and get on a plane six hours later, I am staying overnight and coming back tomorrow evening. I need to shower and sleep when this stupid test is over.

The timing sucks, and the logistics suck, and the test sucks.

The point -- and I do have one -- is that I will probably be a bit slower to respond to your e-mails for the next couple of days. If you need to reach me, call my cell.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"I can give you lots of links to prove it"

Reader-submitted complaint: I CANNOT believe how much you defend journalists. They are not honorable, they are DISHONORABLE.

Uh, you know whose blog this is, right?

"I'm not even sure who to blame"

Reader-submitted item: Thought you might find this interesting, albeit incredibly sad. I wonder what will happen to our system of checks and balances. I don't think there will be any.

Yes, I am starting to become alarmed at the state of the news industry.

The future of news is online -- I almost never read a dead-tree version of a newspaper -- but the industry has been so slow to react that I'm afraid it might all come tumbling down.

I get my news from, and, along with a bunch of local and specialty websites. You have probably already identified the problem here: These websites are successful because they get most of their content from somewhere else. The Globe and Mail's staff work to publish a newspaper, which used to produce profit to pay those employees. The stories from that newspaper are fed to

Now, what will happen if people stop buying the newspaper?

News organizations have tried to respond to this shift, but they haven't found a business model. The New York Times put its columnists behind a pay wall, but then took them out. Slate and Salon experimented with charging for access to their stories, but their content is free now. The Globe and Mail charges readers for access to older stories. I'm not sure how well that's working for them.

There is a strong sense that online content should be free, and blogs are partly to blame. However, blogs can never take the place of newspapers. Most of us don't do original reporting; we simply provide commentary or personal anecdotes. This isn't bad, but it doesn't give readers the kind of information they can get from newspapers. Even the best local blog can't replace a newspaper.

The infrastructure required to keep a newspaper running is staggering. Costs must be kept to a minimum, so journalists are generally paid next to nothing. I made $250 a week at my first reporting job in 1997. I no longer have a personal stake in the matter, but I still think this is a huge problem. As long as salaries remain low, the newspaper industry will continue to churn through young, inexperienced staff, continually losing them to other professions as they lose their idealism.

This is a problem for all of us: everyone's got to start somewhere, but I think most people can agree that a person who's been on the job for a while is generally more valuable to an employer than a person who has no experience. In the case of journalism, our society is the main beneficiary when we have a vigorous, talented free press. If you have your eye on the bottom line, though, a green reporter costs much less than someone who's been around for a while, and can probably produce the same amount of copy.

You can see how this is a business model that was at least partly founded on a belief that the work serves a public good. So when advertising revenues fall and readers abandon the only version of the product that was ever profitable, where does that leave the industry? I'm afraid of the answer.

Thanks for sharing this link. Now I'm depressed.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sadly, this probably WAS one of my better moments

This arrived by e-mail this morning. It's from the Christmas party I attended Saturday night.

I think of it as photojournalism: it's not the sort of picture I would plan to have of myself, but it DOES accurately capture a moment.

Best NWT Blogs

OK, so Clare is well ahead of me, as usual. The Nunavut bloggers seem much more coordinated than we are. (Or maybe it's just that Clare is more coordinated than *I* am.)

Who's up for the 2008 NWT Blog Awards?

I propose the following rules:

  • To be eligible, a blog must be about the NWT or written by a person in the NWT.
  • Anyone can nominate a blog for the contest.
  • Winners will be chosen by judges, who will also provide the prizes for their categories and can be non-bloggers or from outside the NWT.
  • To be eligible, individual blog entries must have been published in 2008.
Please let me know:
  • What you think of these rules: I'm open to other ideas.
  • If you are interested in judging one of the categories.
  • Which categories we should include (check out the Canadian Blog Awards for some ideas).
You can either leave a comment or e-mail me privately: dryas at theedge dot ca.

I will ask judges not to judge categories they will be entered in, and to put real effort into choosing between the blogs that are nominated: I would love it if this contest could draw attention to the undiscovered gems of the NWT blogging world rather than just confirming who has the most readers.

If there's no interest in running a contest this year, we won't do one.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I've been thinking about trolls lately.

Trolls are the jerks of the Internet: they show up only to bother people and derail conversations. They take advantage of the good will of people in online communities.

In general, I believe that people should be heard, and that the proper reaction to speech we don't like is to encourage MORE speech, not to silence the original speakers. But where does that leave us when the trolls arrive?

I watched with interest as the PETA folks re-discovered Darcy at Way Way Up last week. I've had threats before, but Darcy wins for the sheer number of angry anti-hunting comments.

Townie Bastard makes the point that these guys make a lot of noise, but rational people don't pay attention. I wonder if that's the case. I've certainly heard them on the radio lately, which is not necessarily proof that people listen to them: it could just show that the CBC feels that people need to know what they're saying.

But I do have to agree with his main point: when jerks show up on my favourite blogs, I don't really pay much attention to them. If anything, I become less sympathetic to their goals. In PETA's case, I'd be the first to agree that killing animals is bloody and horrible and should never be done lightly, but the way they present themselves wrecks any credibility they might have gained.

I'm not sure that other people feel the same way, though. What do you guys think?

"If I had money falling out of my butt, I would totally buy one."

Reader-submitted item: Okay, there's nothing naked or even DEAR GOD, I CAN'T STOP LOOKING AT HIS CROTCH involved in this link. At all. I swear. It is kind of awesome, tho.

You're right: this website DOES have obvious drawbacks. However, in this holiday season, I think we can all agree that this would be the perfect gift.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Curiouser and curiouser

Last night, Tina and I put two and two together.

Well, sort of.

We put this:

together with this:
and then with this:
That is my dear friend LeeAnn (Alison's behind the camera: the three of us were roommates at King's). Above that photo, you can see LeeAnn with Dan, who was her "gentleman caller" at the time. And above that, you can see Rob, Tina and Dan.

Tina and I appear to have been missing each other by days since the middle of the 1990s. I'm sure to be wherever she just left. The coincidences are freaking us out.

Everyone will suffer the fire we've made

Reader-submitted item: A journalist told me it's not his fault if there are mistakes in his stories as long as it's because people didn't call him back.



I'm not even sure where to start with that. I had to pull Tusk out just to calm myself down. I embedded a video in this post so it'll be available if I start to hyperventilate.

Journalism is an HONOURABLE profession. It requires work and dedication and constant vigilance. "They didn't call me back" is not any of those things. This is not something you say out loud. It's something you think inside your head after you get fired.

Here's the problem with that excuse: It devalues your entire news organization. People who know anything at all about the issue will know you've made stupid mistakes, and they'll assume that you are just as sloppy with your other stories, too. Now, that's the very last thing you want. Your credibility is more important than any individual news story. (Remember Mary Mapes?) Depending on the situation, there can be ripple effects across your newsroom or even your news organization. Yep, you've just made all of your co-workers look like morons. They'll thank you the next time they need to call the person who has all of the answers.

If you can't get the information you need, you can't go to air. It's as simple as that. Let's not pretend this isn't the standard. We ALL know it's the standard.

Journalists have an obligation to the public, not to a deadline. I have always hated it when half-researched stories are rushed to air or to print. It makes you look stupid. Really, really stupid. And you only make it worse when you blame someone else for your mistakes. If you can't do a story unless someone calls you back, you can't do the story until he or she calls you back.

When you destroy your own credibility with shoddy research, nobody will want to talk to you. Imagine how hard it'll be to get people to call you back when that happens. And then it's going to be hard to get a new job. And you're definitely going to need a new job.

Seriously, be selfish and hold the story until you can verify it. Isn't your credibility worth that much?