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COMMENTARY · 31st May 2007
Merv Ritchie
I came here a year and a bit ago, to the Northwest, to set up a Newsprint Press so that a truly local paper could be printed here. Maybe you aren’t aware that Black Press owns all, save one, of the newspapers in the Northwest. Yup it’s true. The Standard, The Kitimat Sentinel, The Northern Connector, The Northern Daily, The Northern View, The Smithers Interior News, Houston, (Lakes District News), every stinking one of them one except The Prince Rupert Daily News, which is owned by Glacier Press, is a Black Press Publication.

I arrived here to restart a paper that you may remember, The Northwest Weekly. The Northwest Weekly had failed due to some economic miscalculations to say the least. At that time the Northern Daily, The Northern View and The Northern Connector did not exist. Notice the word “North” in all these titles. Within a month after our new printing press began spitting out copies of our new paper “The Northwest This Week”, Black Press started slappin’ us up side the head, so to speak.

The only papers that were being delivered to your doors at that time were the Standard, the Advertiser and that new upstart, from the failed staff of the Northwest Weekly, the “Look Inside” publication.

Our plan was to start a daily here and we were not too shy to announce this fact. Well shiver me timbers, I had no idea what money there was in advertising revenue and the effort people would go through to protect their market monopoly. Black Press wasted no time. First move, buy up “Look Inside”, which wasn’t a problem really, they just gave the owners a job and a bit of cash. Black Press has a lot of that (cash) cause all our business people keep giving it to them. Come on, really, what option do they have? Black owns everything up here, pretty much. Then they started a daily. Not a real daily just something they regurgitated that they were already producing all over the Province. They just called it the Northern! You might remember it didn’t even have our weather forecast. The farthest North they looked was Kelowna. Shoulda called it the “Look Outside”.

Next move was the Advertiser. They changed the name of it to “The Northern Connector”. After that they started a paper in Rupert, for the former editor of the Look Inside, called the Northern View. Not only that, the titles blazoned across the tops of all these papers was in a bold red. Just like our paper that we started more than a full month earlier. Now everyone, and I am sure you remember, was being overwhelmed with papers called North-something and didn’t understand why. The answer is simple. Black Press economically punished us for even thinking about challenging their market control. Some business people even told us that Blacks sales staff told them, that if they advertised with us the standard wouldn’t give them any more special deals. A threat to secure a businesspersons loyalty, how low can you go. Frig it sounds like George W Bush saying, “either you’re with us or you’re against us”.

They could still provide you with news that was two weeks old and tell the business people that their deadline was Thursday for next Wednesday’s publication and today nothing much has changed. Except that now I am back and on the Internet providing new news, cutting edge news.

Opps, silly me, I forgot that Black was watchin’. I have been doing this web based news now for a couple of months and guess what, “Money Bags” is pissed. Now they are updating their web based site too, every day. Ya know, I have a good heart; I am willing to work my butt off to do a good job. But watching all the business people in this town support these economic bullies just blows me away. But maybe, just maybe, bedfellows sleep together.

The Chamber of Commerce is a group of business people that have as their purpose, promoting business in town. They will, however, only contact, inform and support those that join their exclusive club. I respect that paying dues and attending their meetings are beneficial to all the members but very few people knew about the Trade Show last month because they only told their own members. I guess all the other businesses in town don’t rate. And just last week there was a barbeque for Rich McDaniel. I would have loved to be there because I think Rich is a brilliant and committed citizen of Terrace. However the Chamber was running the show and only told their members.

Come to think of it, it was the Chamber that was instrumental in destroying the Terrace Tourism Society because Jennifer Lewis, the TTS executive Director, was so damn competent, and doing such a great thing for Terrace. It seems that these Chamber folks (or maybe their own executive director) couldn’t stand watching her success. The TTS was going to bring in over a hundred grand. Buggers wanted it. You see, the Chamber used to run the Tourism show and it had been failing. Enter Jennifer Lewis and the new 2 percent Accommodation Tax that was supposed to be used to promote Terrace. Jeeze, she was doing such a great job, had a great website for tourism, (it was the one I looked at before I moved here), and the TTS was bringing in over a hundred grand to do more of the same. Bums couldn’t take it so they orchestrated a scheme to prove that the TTS was an unorganized and uncooperative bunch of buffoons. The opposite was true. The Chamber didn’t, and still doesn’t, even have a website. That is why the tourism promotion system failed under their watch years ago. They are the buffoons. Kermodei Tourism has a great new Executive Director now though, to be sure. The reason for that is because Jennifer Lewis hired her as her replacement first, before she had to go on maternity leave.

Damn it. Why do I try! Because I believe in people and maybe, possibly, I have nothing to lose. But here it is. What we call the “Rub”. Jack Talstra is the Boss. He is ultimately responsible. But he also has to rely on his advisors. Top City advisor is Ron Poole. He is the guy that remains no matter who you elect. Poole selects his staff that advises him about everything that goes on in this town. Next is the business in this town. The Chamber has an Executive Director. His name is John Taylor. The Presidents of the Chamber (just like Mayors) come and go but John remains. Sound familiar. Ron and John. Right now the Presy is the owner of M&M’s. You might remember that he wrote a scathing letter to Rod Link after his “Ba Da Bing, Ba Da Boom” editorial. Before him was Kevin Jefferies. Taylor remains.

Well, well, it gets back down to economics. He who has it controls it I guess. Rod Link wrote one editorial about the City, the Administration and the Chamber, (“Ba Da Bing, Ba Da Boom”) and he has to suck up for the rest of his tenure it seems. I don’t envy him. I respect him. But he works for Black Press. I do not.

So your news remains old and your deadlines are too damn early for you, to know what you have left to sell, but you keep giving Black Press your money. Ron and John have drinks together while most mire in the ghetto.

Some people say we get the government we deserve. Maybe that’s not all this applies to. What do I want? Your support. Unabashed. I need 15 people to buy up yearly sponsorship spots on the websites. Without this, in a week, I’m done. Anyone with half a brain, without a calculator, can figure out what my income is with 5 sponsors at a hundred bucks a month. And I am up against Black Press, what a laugh, come on really, I am supposed to keep this up? With your support this will be a breeze. I will cut the standard rate by 50% without blinkin an eye. And you will get current news, easy deadlines and will be supporting Terrace and a Terrace business. I am not a salesman. I will not bother you at your place of business. Can’t do it, don’t like it, takes away from your day and mine. I will even join the Chamber and work to change it from the inside.

Here is my plan. Are you reading this Mr. Black? I have the rights to run a newsprint press here. I have the newsprint and the ink to run for six months – no expenses – I am ready. I can provide a deadline of 24 hours for you, for a sale or advertisement. Right now I am doing this online web based news service. I will print the most relevant and current content weekly. Which day? Ah . . . .for now let me hold that under my hat . . .Moneybags is watchin’.
Re: Economic Bullies
Comment by Yvonne on 1st June 2009
I for one enjoy reading your articles. I am sorely disappointed at the different newspapers that spew out the same regurgitated garbage. I want - no change that - I NEED to know what's going on in the Terrace/Kitimat area and I like the news that is unvarnished and where the reporter/editor doesn't have to kiss someone's lower extremity to get his story printed.

Please keep up the good work and I look forward to many more enjoyable visits to your website.
Comment by blocky bear productions inc. on 7th June 2007
Hooray for you! Just read your piece,always thought the game was rigged. Thanks for laying it out. Hope you can keep the candle flame flickering. You would get some of my advertising budget if I had one. Don Bruce
Don't give up!
Comment by Lisa Larous on 31st May 2007
I just stumbled across your webpage a couple days ago. I really hope you don't give up and pack it in.

I really am enjoying what I read here.

I had never even heard of your webpage until a couple days ago. Perhaps you would have more sponsors if more people knew about you. I saw your page on FaceBook.

You really need to get the word out there on your webpage. It is a treasure which Terrace cannot afford to lose.