A former NDP aide who recently took over the local weekly Terminal City has fired Darren Atwater, the paper's founding publisher and editor. According to one of Atwater's allies at the paper, writer Amil Niazi, this triggered a walkout by several staff members who have decided to create a rival weekly.
Niazi described Atwater's dismissal as a "punch in the gut", emphasizing that Atwater created Terminal City 12 years ago. "He has given up a lot to stand by the newspaper," Niazi said. "For them to treat him like this is appalling."
John Kay, formerly a ministerial assistant to NDP cabinet minister Paul Ramsey, told the Straight that he has acquired majority interest in Victory Square Publishing Ltd., which publishes the paper. Kay declined to discuss any "confidential business dealings" or the identities of any shareholders apart from Graeme Atwater, Darren's brother. "I have certainly raised money for my investment from a variety of sources, but that's about as far as I want to take it," Kay said.
Kay added that he didn't see anything newsworthy in his decision to make changes at the paper, which is now edited by food writer Bess Lovejoy. Terminal City media columnist Ian King told the Straight that he will stay.
Niazi claimed that Kay has said he wants to "go slick and corporate". She said that former production manager John Cow, former theatre critic Alan Hindle, and former advertising manager Sarah Albertson will work on the launch of Only Magazine, which is being created in Darren Atwater's apartment. Darren Atwater did not return a call from the Straight.
"We showed our support for Darren and for the ideal for Terminal City, which was definitely taken away," Niazi alleged.
According to the B.C. corporate registry, advertising-agency owner Paul Hovan is the only director of Victory Square Publishing. Hovan's company, Quest Publishing Ltd., bills itself as "a progressive social marketing and advertising firm" that produces the on-line publication The Tyee, which received seed money from the labour movement. Hovan told the Straight that he sold his controlling interest in Victory Square Publishing two months ago to Kay, who worked at Working Enterprises Ltd., a holding company owned by the B.C. Federation of Labour and several unions.