Taking the cotton balls out of our ears
July 9, 2022 - our first newsletter, and a bit about what we are trying to do
Hello fellow optimists trying to make sense of the mad political landscape that is 2022!
Hi to everyone else as well.
Welcome to our inaugural newsletter address.
First, thanks for reading our work and thank you for signing up.
Six months into this unexpectedly complicated endeavour to deliver political analysis and in-depth journalism, we are approaching a modest, but encouraging 10,000 views per month to our website. Small but mighty (like my favourite aunt) and our subscribers are increasing every day.
Your support and interest mean a lot to us. We are journalists driven to understand what’s going on in the world. But without you, we might as well be talking to the mirror with cotton balls in our ears, to paraphrase the ever-quotable Premier John Horgan. Who will make us laugh when you’ve retired, Mr. Premier?! (Admittedly, BC’s attorney general and NDP leader-in-waiting David Eby does have potential…)
But I digress.
Allow me to introduce Northern Beat…
Our job is to dig into vexing situations to find out who is involved, how in tarnation it got that bad, and what can be done about it. We’re tackling the tough stuff. Divisive issues. Troubling trends. Hot-political-potatoes. The topics that make people’s blood boil and their ears ring. Asking questions some politicians would prefer to avoid. At Northern Beat, the most polarizing topic pulls us through the mist like a siren call (without the shipwreck ending). Our simple test for what makes a good story: it’s necessary, relevant, informative, constructive, and sometimes (finger’s crossed), entertaining.
Speaking of the indefatigable Rob Shaw, you may want to check out his latest weekly political column for Northern Beat on the BC NDP leadership coronation, er, I mean, race to replace premier Horgan. Rob covers legislative intrigue and shenanigans in Victoria for CHEK News (podcast Political Capital). He also dishes out political insights to audiences at CBC radio, the Daily Hive, and (in random call-outs while seated at his desk) to press gallery colleagues. If moose politics are more your thing (understandably), you might read Rob’s piece on that too.
Just when you thought we were done with elections for a while, Horgan’s decision to retire this fall may have thrown a monkey wrench into our hopes for a couple more campaign-free years. Pundits speculate another election could be in the works as early as autumn 2023 and a recent changing of the guard in the BC Conservatives’ board of directors might spice up the electoral scene. Especially if the conservatives siphon enough support from the BC Liberals in barely won ridings, writes Geoff Russ. Besides holding down a full-time fellowship with The Hub, Geoff writes a column for the National Post, and when he should be sleeping, he somehow fires off stories for us too. Huzzah.
With heat dome and forest fire season upon us again, you may want to dig into wildfire causes and cures, written by former CBC legislative reporter Jeff Davies. Despite what you may have heard elsewhere, climate change is not the biggest factor.
In an age when opinion is increasingly equated with expertise, and public discourse is dominated by sound bites and click-bait social media posts, independent ecologist Dr. Karen Price weighs in on the challenges of being a scientist tasked with conveying complexity in 10-second news clips. After Karen and her co-authors published their research on how little of the most productive old-growth remains in BC, logging proponents attacked the findings and the credibility of the scientists. Karen’s Op-ed for Northern Beat is her response.
If you still haven’t had your fill, try sampling a few stories in the investigative file:
· veteran journalist and ace researcher Keith Norbury wades through the intricacies of First Nations hereditary leadership;
· an investigation into the criminal and harassing behaviour of Tiny House Warrior activists during their ongoing four-year occupation of the long-suffering community Blue River;
· and the story that ignited my recent obsession with crime and social issues in BC’s inner cities, Terrace: a community in crisis.
The Terrace story grew from a simple text.
“Wanna join a noon zoom call tomorrow regarding crime in Terrace?” asked Skeena MLA Ellis Ross on Mar. 2. From there, it snowballed: conversations with the Terrace mayor and councillor, residents and business owners; visits to Terrace and Prince George; more interviews with mayors, the RCMP, health authorities, and people living homeless. In all, I’ve spent months researching the laws, policies, and societal forces fuelling a “state of lawlessness” in our inner cities. Check out Mean streets, part I of our series If not prison, then where? (Hydrate: it’s a long read!)
Which illustrates the central, unalterable challenge of delivering great investigative journalism. It’s complicated. It takes time and patience. Requires a LOT of research. And hours of interviews (55 people interviewed so far for the inner-city crime series). Then there’s the writing, editing, rewriting, fact-checking, and finally, the story layout on the website.
We believe this work is essential to our collective future. It keeps truth circulating in the public forum and it’s how we hold our leaders accountable in a democracy. We hope you agree. Because we can’t keep doing it without you. Northern Beat is a two-way street. [poetic riff]. You want the truth. We want to uncover it. Sometimes, when the planets align, that magical combination can spur honest discussion and genuine policy change that improves people’s lives.
For now, we’ve hit crunch time. We need your eyeballs (as they say in TV land), we want your feedback (what you liked, what’s missing, what we should cover next) and we’d really appreciate if you pitched in with a paid subscription.
As a paid subscriber, you can comment and interact directly with us on newsletter postings. We’ll add extra research tidbits, behind-the-scenes goings-on, snippets of conversations with sources, and interesting video and audio clips not found on the website. Everything you need to stay informed, while helping us keep the lights on – namely, to fairly compensate the hard-working Northern Beat writers who create our awesome content.
If you’re still not ready to take the subscription leap, we totally understand! There’s a zillion publications out there, we’re the new kids, and there’s only so many dollars to go around. Any which way, please keep reading and sharing our work when you think it’s deserving.
That’s it (deep bow to everyone who made it this far). We’ll be back next weekend with another update (assuming you don’t block us).
Until then, cheers and enjoy the summer!
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