Saturday, August 14, 2010

The dry tinder of a media war for Prince George

An interesting little debate is playing out on the pages of the Prince George Citizen and through the Internet portal of the online news service Opinion 250, one which is placing one of that city's most recognized media figures in the middle of the story.

The Prince George Citizen, which is published by the one time owner of the now closed Prince Rupert Daily News, seems to have decided to make some past history of Opinion 250 founder Ben Meisner as a story worthy of investigation. The paper also turned the controversy into an Editorial page item, even using Meisner's oft used sign off as their own final comment on the tempest.

All of which seems to have if nothing else, provided for no shortage of commentary directed towards its efforts, not all of it particularly complimentary.

The Citizen story recounts a libel suit filed in  1997, when Paul Ramsey then a Prince George MLA and cabinet minister with the NDP successfully sued the commentator, who was then working for CKPG receiving a judgement of 30,000 dollars  upon its conclusion.

The court case seems to be the main thrust of the Citizen article which has focused on a recent statement by Meisner regarding his recent appointment to the BC Law Society.  Suggesting that the journalist who has made his name in the city for digging into the facts of other personalities in the city, was apparently a little shy when the tables were turned on him.

Meisner's take on the whole situation was a bit of bemusement that the Citizen was trying to as he puts it "trash my appointment to the BC Law Society".  On his website Opinion 250 he offers up his counter point to the original Citizen article, taking the paper to task for what he clearly sees as some shoddy reporting.

Readers of the product of both media outlets have weighed in with their commentaries as well, not surprisingly those on Opinion 250 are for the most part quite supportive of their champion of journalism, while over at the Citizen the commentary also seems to be one of compliment to Meisner and of contempt for the paper's efforts.

Of interest are some of the perceptions of the newspaper's version of events and indeed on its current delivery of news product to the city.

We found it somewhat familiar to learn that the Citizen, as the Daily News did twice a week in Prince Rupert apparently provides a "free" paper, in this case  a once a week freebie on Thursdays. An observation that Meisner points out in his rebuttal, suggesting that in his opinion, the Ctiizen used his name and personna in the city to attract readers to their free issue, in effect we imagine to try and improve circulation.

Free papers it would seem are a rather permanent feature of the Glacier Media product line now, though as the course of events played out here may suggest, it is a project that perhaps doesn't always work out as planned or desired.

We're not sure what it all means in the scheme of things, other than a little diversion in the heat of a Prince George summer.  But it sure heralds the makings of a pretty good media war for the city,  played out on the pages of the traditional broadsheet and from the portal of the brash relatively new participant to the media scene.

Even more entertaining for outsiders, are the comments from the readership as they weigh in with their thoughts on the current state of their media options there, a focus group for newspapers everywhere providing some cutting remarks about the local news scene there, some of which may seem rather familiar for Prince Rupert residents.

For a full review of some of their observations, scroll down to the bottom of the page on the links provided above.

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