Editors' Picks: Media
Best shit disturber in the electronic media
CBC’s French-language reporter in Vancouver, Frédéric Zalac, played a leading role on an investigative team that looked at thousands of RCMP Taser records. They revealed that RCMP were giving people multiple electric shocks with stun guns. They discovered that old Tasers were defective or did unexpected things, like sending a greater electrical current than expected. And Zalac demonstrated how the RCMP had actually watered down the rules on the use of Tasers after the death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport in 2007. It was true public-service journalism. For that, Zalac and others on the CBC and Canadian Press team won a Michener Award. And cops in various provinces removed Tasers from use to have them tested.
Local Tweeter who best balances the social and media in social media
You gotta love Rebecca Bollwitt, better known as Miss604. She’s been one of the city’s top bloggers for years and has built a prolific career utilizing and exploring social-media possibilities in the 2.0 world. So it’s no wonder that Miss604 has emerged as Vancouver’s top tweeter. Being a good tweeter is a tricky thing, let alone being a great one. You need to follow, you need to be followed, and, most importantly, you need to contribute, whether in the form of retweets or original posts. Miss604 does a grand job of balancing the “social” and the “media” part of this social-media platform. Although some businesses use it solely for marketing purposes, Miss604 broadcasts a nice mix of resourceful links with personal notes from her everyday life. Combining both talent and passion for the platform, Miss604 organized a fundraising charity “twestival” earlier this year, with a second one scheduled for this autumn.
Best Gossip Girl
Celebrity gossip blogger Elaine Lui, a transplanted Torontonian, has made Vancouver her home. Her site, LaineyGossip.Com, grew out of a newsletter she sent to her friends critiquing happenings in Hollywood. Now it’s one of the most reliable sources for all things smut. Differing from other gossip blogs, Lui’s site has minimal pictures and focuses more on being a good read instead of instant gratification. And with her network of contacts, her blind items and scoops are worth the wordage. Whether she’s jet-setting to Cannes, coming back from Sundance, or being sent to events for CTV’s E-Talk, Lui constantly has her finger on the pulse of who’s hot and who’s not, all while still having time to update her Freebie Five.
Best Navel-gazing Web site
Managing editor, film guy, and skateboarder Bob Kronbauer leaves the ugly news to traditional media so that he and his many editors extraordinaire can show you all of what is awesome in Vancouver. From “blowing up your spot”, where editors report on their hidden gems in the city, to “dogtown”, featuring a dog a day, to interviews with “Vancouver’s most awesome” celebrities and ordinary folk alike, this recently “officially incorporated” Web site with its conversational, quippy style will make you believe in the awesomeness that is Vancouver. A day’s postings might include a photo-based informal review of an off-the-beaten-track restaurant, a query as to who lives in all those little park buildings, a short profile of a clothing company, a shot of a trio of raccoons in Stanley Park, a skateboard video, and the Vancouver Film School’s connection to the movie District 9. It even notes that the buses in Vancouver have a display that says “Sorry” when they’re not in service. Nice. You can also follow VIA on Twitter and make your day completely, well, awesome: twitter.com/viawesome/.
Best dead air
Pratt & Taylor, July 20, 2009
You know why radio is great? It’s live. How do you know it’s live? When the hosts stumble over pronunciations, giggle inappropriately, or hiccup. If you’re very lucky, you might hear a once-in-a-blue-moon genuine freak-out where someone gets pissed off, throws down the headphones, and stomps out. That’s what Team 1040’s Dave Pratt did on July 20, in response to cohost Don Taylor’s assertion that poker is not a sport. What will Pratt do when he learns that the Earth is round?
Best new radio show
Slipping Into Darkness, with Jim Byrnes
Shore 104 FM debuted in July on the last open FM frequency on the local dial, and it’s a welcome, genre-jumping new alternative. CBC Radio Two’s recent makeover not only outraged classical-music fans, it features way too much strumming by second-rate sensitive songwriters. It’s smart idiosyncrasy that makes us turn to a music station, the kind you often get on CBC’s Espace Musique (when they’re not playing treacly French pop). Shore could be accused of catering a bit too much to incipient senior males, but at least it isn’t retro rock delivered by carbon-copy frat boys. And on Saturday night between 8 to 11, Jim Byrnes’s show, Slipping Into Darkness, delivers music radio as it ought to be: knee-tapping, hip-swivelling musical education delivered with style and unpretentious intelligence.