The Demise of Traditional Journalism
Last week, tiny town Bay Roberts, Newfoundland and Labrador, was a victim of the demise of traditional journalism. The highly congested world of traditional reporting has 1000s of reporters seeking the attention of a public (with a short attention span) which is bombarded with information.
What is the obvious solution? Write a short, memorable headline (with catchy words if possible) and make it controversial and/ or sensational.
Worst Place to Live in Canada – WRONG
So what did Bryan do? He took the last town on a list of the BEST places to live in Canada and called it the worst place to live in Canada. Just think about it. You are number 10 of the top ten in your graduating class… quite an honour. However, according to Bryan’s logic being number 10 makes you the WORST in your class! Our town was on the MoneySense list of “Best Places to Live 2010.” That was a tremendous achievement!! Of all the cities and towns in Canada, including Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax, Saint John, St. John’s… our community with a population of only 5300 made the list!
So the town was NOT on a list of the Worst Places to live in Canada … it was the last town to make the cut in the BEST PLACES to live in Canada.
Crime Rate – WRONG
But the errors did not stop there. He states that the Bay Roberts has a high crime rate! People living in the town know that is absurd. Overall, Newfoundland and Labrador has one of the lowest crime rates in Canada.
Population Dropping – WRONG
He says the population is dropping, while according to the 2006 Canadian census, it rose by 3.4%. Also, according to the Canadian census 91.1 % of people live in single-detached houses, and 85% of families own their own homes. In 2008 and 2009, there were a total of 157 new housing starts.
No Cultural Activity – WRONG
Perhaps, in his most offensive statement, he says there is “no cultural activity.”
The Cable Building is both a Provincial Heritage Structure and a National Historic Site. The Building has been restored and contains the award winning Road to Yesterday Museum and the Christopher Pratt Art Gallery. The town has one of the finest town museums in the province. Hilary Cass, a respected visual artist, was a consultant on the design and layout. The Christopher Pratt Art Gallery is acclimatized and is designed to display a permanent collection of art work, including works by Christopher Pratt. In addition, it hosts the works of well known local artists and visiting art collections.
The town has two summer theatre productions. This summer “A Time in Pigeon Inlet” begins its third season on June 26th. The production features musician and storyteller, Kelly Russell (recognized by the provincial government as Newfoundland and Labrador’s first tradition bearer earlier this year). The June 26th performance will be a tribute to Kelly. In July and August, Victoria LOL #3 Museum and Playhouse will be featuring a production of “Saltwater Moon” by award winning Canadian playwright David French (who was born on Coley’s Point.) Last summer, they produced his play “Soldier’s Heart.”
There will be weekly outdoor musical concerts and sketches during our 2010 “Holdin’ Ground Festival,” starting on July 6th.
Many students from our schools are members of the Cantare Youth Choir under the direction of Deanne Delahunty Hiscock, accompanied on piano by Gordon King (both of whom are music teachers in Bay Roberts.) The Cantare Youth Choir performed with Canadian Opera star, Wendy Nielson last month and are performing in Carnage Hall in New York this month. Each year, schools run “Art Smart Programs.” In addition to school music and art programs, there are a number of teachers who offer private lessons in voice, instruments, dance, and art, and we have our own dance school in town – Catherine’s Dance Studio.
On a small scale, we are carrying out many activities that help to preserve traditional Newfoundland culture.
What makes the town of Bay Roberts exceptional is its community spirit. In the past year alone, the town has won four major awards.
For Winter Lights Celebrations, it won the National WinterLights Celebration Mentoring Award and Circle of Excellence 5 Star Award for Residential Lighting. During the summer, it won the 2009 Tidy Towns Award – Population category of over 3500 and the 2009 Torngat Municipal Achievement Award in the category of Environmental Sustainability with the Town of Spaniard’s Bay – won for their joint efforts on the Shearstown Estuary.
Although we make no pretenses to grandeur, Bay Roberts deserved to be on the list of Best Places to Live 2010.
Research, Reference and the Press
Bryan’s article is the perfect example of what I have been talking about in my ongoing series on the media.
He took an attention-getting headline and half-truths combined with misinformation, and spun both to suit his purpose which was to get hits on his website. In this case, his actions were annoying, but not devastating.
However, many times have we observed the same type of reporting about other places when the consequences tip the balance between life and death. In this age, when reporters are no longer journalists, and most are unethical and unscrupulous about what they write and what they print, we must all be slow to believe what is shown and what is written.
In the case of the misinformation about our town, it was hurtful and annoying – but not threatening to life, property and community social structures. In other cases, this type of un-researched, half-truths in media writing can have a bandwagon effect. Un-truths have the potential to build the type of prejudice and hatred which can eventually lead to the destruction of all we love and value as a society.
About the Town of Bay Roberts: