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Times Colonist website - incomplete coverage


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#1 Barra

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 09:59 PM

I am indebted to a local voter who called me on Sunday to ask why all the Victoria municipal candidates names were not listed on the Times Colonist's website. One of the other candidates was able to get through to the TC editor late Sunday and the error was fixed by Monday. If she hadn't called me, who knows how long the error would have persisted. 19 of the 35 council candidates - most if not all of whom had provided profiles in the format required - were left off of the website.

Below is the text of a letter that I have sent to the editor of the TC:

I was shocked to discover, from an elector who was diligently trying to research Victoria's 35 + 8 City Council candidates, that not all the candidate names and profiles were included on the TC website this past weekend. For weeks the TC has been directing readers to go to this website for information on the candidates. The Victoria city profile was in print on Saturday, so I assume that a lot of electors were going to the site on Saturday and Sunday in order to do their due diligence in researching the candidates. The weekend prior to an election is "prime time" for candidates - our last chance in many cases to expose ourselves in person on the streets to candidates, and time when electors are free from work etc. to do their research.

The Time Colonist failed in their promise to the electors - the promise to provide complete information on the candidates - and while the error was rectified this morning, those two critical days were lost. Folks who checked the website on the weekend and made their selection based on the profiles that they saw - assuming that it was a complete list - are not likely to go back to the website to see if the content might have changed.

Clearly the TC has made an error and has harmed the chances of the 19 Victoria Councillor candidates who were left out of the website on the weekend. You have an obligation to make us whole and to acknowledge the error. I am asking that you to: 1. issue a printed apology in the TC this week to those candidates that were left out, 2. advise readers that the website coverage on the weekend was incomplete and has been updated, and 3. provide the profiles of ALL Victoria council and mayoral candidates in print prior to the election.

I recognize that the newspaper faces challenges in providing fair coverage for 43 candidates, and I would not otherwise have made this request, but as the primary - for 150 years - news source in the city of Victoria, you have an obligation to be fair and complete when you say that you are going to be fair and complete, and in the case of the website coverage on the weekend, you were misleading the public.

I am sending this email at this time to allow you the opportunity to rectify the error prior to the election. I will also be following up with a complaint to the BC Press Council, using the proper format for doing so.

Pieta VanDyke
Victoria City Council candidate
Pieta VanDyke

#2 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 10 November 2008 - 10:45 PM

Good letter, Barra -- I agree, the T-C really flopped on this. FAIL.
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#3 Jacques Cadé

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 10:06 AM

The Times Colonist ran an editorial (link) today endorsing its choices for this Saturday's elections. Although the T-C was not as demonstrative in its support as it could have been – it often just mentions the candidates it likes, rather than clearly telling citizens to go out and vote for them – I'm glad that it at least staked out some positions.

In Victoria, the T-C likes Rob Reid for mayor, Charlayne Thornton-Joe and Geoff Young among the incumbent councillors, and Rob Randall, Barry Hobbis and Lynn Hunter among the newcomers.

#4 Joseph

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 12:27 PM

I see the TC FINALLY added Rose Henry to their website. They still have no pictures for myself and a few other candidates. I sent them my picture twice, well before the deadline.

#5 mat

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 12:41 PM

Did Canwest cut TC staff along with the Chek TV layoffs?

#6 Audrey

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 01:54 PM

The Times Colonist ran an editorial (link) today endorsing its choices for this Saturday's elections. Although the T-C was not as demonstrative in its support as it could have been – it often just mentions the candidates it likes, rather than clearly telling citizens to go out and vote for them – I'm glad that it at least staked out some positions.


Serious question: is it really standard for media sources to endorse political parties? It makes me vaguely uncomfortable.

#7 Bernard

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 02:18 PM

It is not only standard, I would call it tradition.

When most cities in Canada had several daily newspapers, one was normally Liberal and one Conservative.

The TC was started in 1858 by Amor de Cosmos and it was very political. He used the paper to advance his issues and politics. The 19th century newspapers were wildly partisan.

In any election, most dailies will make some endorsement of a political party or candidates.

#8 Caramia

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 02:31 PM

It should be noted that the aged Amor de Cosmos is still alive and now posts on Vibrant Victoria. While he is occasionally afflicted with bouts of tourrettes syndromn, he still has all his wits about him, and is widely considered to be one of Victoria's most well preserved brains. We credit this to the superior pickling properties of Victoria microbrews.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#9 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:14 PM

Serious question: is it really standard for media sources to endorse political parties?


Oh yes, as Bernard said. Recall the momentum that built up in the last days of the US election, with successive big city papers coming out to endorse Obama? It was like a wave, one after another.
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#10 martini

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 12:28 AM

I was thrilled to see Dave Pitre endorsed.

Myself and many voters have been fed very little candidate information.
Especially surrounding school trustees.
I don't know what the answer or solution is to that.

I also was puzzled by Jody Paterson's article on 'rolling the dice' on municipal elections. Why were trustees not mentioned?

I posted the dates for attending trustee candidate meetings, but otherwise how would people know? Doesn't make sense.

#11 Coreyburger

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 06:46 AM

I am really disappointed in the TC and how they did their election website. In fact, there is no good non-partisan website out there that talks about everything, lists all the groups and how they rated people, etc.

#12 Sue Woods

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 09:44 AM

I agree about the TC. Most of our web photos were cut off across the forehead and chin. We look like dorks! Its like going into a restaurant - and while their whole reason for existing is to provide food - the food is terrible. A newspaper exists to communicate. How can they get the basics so wrong.

I do want to acknolwdge the News Group and Monday Magazine however - for following through on their committment to post surveys, be available for immediate coverage, and being factual and respectful in all my dealings with them.

One more sleep :)! Best wishes to all candidates. This is not an easy road to take. My hat is off to everyone who does.

Sue

#13 Coreyburger

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Posted 14 November 2008 - 09:59 AM

The TC's biggest problem is the standard (read crap) UI forced on them by being a CanWest paper. Like most badly designed sites, there is simply too much crap around the outside.

I have also been pleased with News Group, as they have actually covered the Oak Bay race. However, they could do better on posting stuff online. They need to realize that online views do not canabalize offline ones, in fact, the opposite is likely true.

 



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