Reporter Jeff Lee accused me of a drive-by shooting on the Vancouver Sun
This is turning out to be an exciting day. I've been attacked twice—once in our comments section by Vision Vancouver park commissioner Aaron Jasper and a second time in a blog post by Vancouver Sun reporter Jeff Lee. [I originally posted a link, but it no longer works, which means the article may not be on the Sun's site anymore.]
Here's part of what Lee wrote:
Over the weekend there was [sic] some drive-by shootings by Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith about the health and state of The Vancouver Sun and The Province. Even Geoff Meggs, the left-leaning Vision Vancouver councillor, one-time editor of a union magazine and political communications director for NDP premier Glen Clark, chimed in with view [sic] of how the newspapers were laying off staff and cutting news positions, which prompted Smith to once again shoot from the lip.
As a one-time journalist I would have expected Meggs (who is now seeking the provincial NDP nomination in Vancouver-Fairview) to be just a little bit more accurate. And I don’t put a lot of stock in Smith’s breathless pronouncements, simply because he’s got a vested interest in trying to make it look like we’re already laid out in the coffin. Oh, please!
Then Lee went on to describe how the newspapers are being "retooled". Some staff are taking buyouts and some of the editorial work across the chain is being consolidated in Hamilton, Ontario.
I've known Lee for many years and have enjoyed chatting with him about various issues. The last time we talked, he mentioned that his wife sells retail advertising for Pacific Newspaper Group, which owns the Vancouver Sun and Province.
So if we're going to start talking about someone having a "vested interest", perhaps Lee might want to take a look at himself in the mirror.
On his second point that I had perpetrated "drive-by shootings", I suggest that he re-read the two posts that I wrote. One merely cited what Meggs had written, which came in the absence of any information being released by Pacific Newspaper Group or its owner, Postmedia Network Canada Corp. There was no editorial comment from me, which hardly makes this a "drive-by shooting".
The second article was prompted by a tweet from the Vancouver Sun's then-executive editor Val Casselton, who has since been named managing editor. Again, it was a recitation of the facts, including an excerpt from the company's own management discussion and analysis.
I did refer to Postmedia as a "tottering" newspaper empire. This can be justified by the sharp decline in the company's share price over the past year, the sale of numerous assets including local community papers, and an $11.1-million loss in the last quarter.
But nowhere did I mention the word "bankruptcy" or suggest that the Vancouver Sun will close. I believe that if Postmedia fails as a company, someone else will buy the Vancouver Sun—quite possibly Glacier Media Group—and Lee and his wife will still have jobs.
Like I said earlier, I've known Lee for many years and I like him. Normally, his reporting is of a higher standard. I take it as a sign that things are getting a little tense at Pacific Newspaper Group headquarters in Vancouver.
Anyone interested in reading the two "drive-by shootings"—as Lee characterized them—can click on the links below. You don't have to listen to what I say. Make up your own mind and feel free to post a comment below.
(After this article appeared, Geoff Meggs wrote another blog post about Postmedia, which I covered here: Geoff Meggs elaborates on previous blog post about Vancouver Sun and Province.)
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.