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COMMENTARY · 15th June 2012
Terrace Daily News
The Terrace Daily internet based community service has been online since January 2007. We have provided an opportunity for every citizen to post content and community service information absolutely free since the beginning. Businesses can list themselves free, anyone can post a personal classified ad for free, birth and death notices, garage sales, work wanted ads, etc, etc, all free. This week the Terrace RCMP advised us they no longer consider the Terrace Daily worthy of receiving their news releases.

“The Terrace RCMP issues news releases to credible media outlets. The Terrace Daily does not fall in this category.” wrote Terrace RCMP spokesperson Angela Rabut

The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) issued a news release last Tuesday which was critical of the Terrace RCMP. We published this as well as two other articles critiquing the RCMP. One was a spoof exaggerating the dog encounter with Mr. Tugwood and the Mayor (who sic’d the RCMP Inspector on Tugwood) as well as the serious situation the BCCLA news release addressed. The other was a much harsher assessment written by a blogger who preferred his/her name not be used. We did provide a link to the sites for readers to discover the source.

Prior to this and for the entire duration of the life of the Terrace Daily, right up until last Monday, we always received RCMP news releases. When there is a missing person we take the time to post these on all the websites, Rupert, Kitimat, Hazelton and Smithers. It is a valuable community service, which has been very successful in assisting everyone, not just the RCMP.

Sometimes the media officer is away and there is a delay so we waited until Wednesday am to email Constable Rabut to discover why. We were also looking for a response to the BCCLA report.

Our email subject line was “We seem to be missing news releases.” And we wrote, “Was there one issued on the accident with the van in Thornhill? Are there any reports since last week? Did the Terrace Detachment issue a response to the BCCLA news release? Thanks.”

The one line response was “The Terrace RCMP issues news releases to credible media outlets. The Terrace Daily does not fall in this category.”

Rabut advised us to discuss the matter with Inspector Hart. We called Inspector Hart and left a message for him, as he did not take the call, asking him to call us to discuss this. We called again today and he is away from the office until next week. We called Staff Sgt Rob Prichett and he did not wish to discuss the issue, suggesting we should speak directly with Hart.

Many of the comments left on the published stories are critical of us and many are supportive. This has been the story of the Terrace Daily since 2007. We have exposed many issues some people would rather were left hidden and unexposed.

It is a common understanding in the news business, perhaps all business, if you get one complaint letter you can be certain there are another ten people who are unhappy. On the flip side, if you receive one positive letter you can be certain there are another one hundred who are also happy.

The reason for this discrepancy is people would rather complain than praise. People will take the time to write or call when they are unhappy but generally stay quiet when they are pleased. It is referred to as the “Ten to One Rule”.

We are happy to claim we receive ten to one positive to negative, which extrapolated using the above formula means we can assume for every unhappy person reading our site, we have one hundred who are pleased. Extrapolated further, 120 unhappy readers means we have the entire population of Terrace, 12,000, quite content with the work we do.

We’re sad to say, today the RCMP fall into the unhappy category.

We published material composed which reflected them in a bad light. Many articles have been published reflecting many in difficult and unfortunate situations and circumstances. Kevin Annett, who writes critically on the Churches and the residential schools, is a frequent contributor. Arthur Topham, who writes critically on the RCMP in his and other jurisdictions, is also a frequent contributor. We have written, and published writings by other authors, numerous harshly critical pieces; on the RCMP, CSIS, the federal and provincial governments, the local native bands, the Chamber of Commerce and the City. We provide some of the most obscure information on a plethora of subjects. Much is difficult to write however write and publish it we must as only with all the information, uncomfortable or not, can freedom and democracy thrive.

When someone contributes material, be it a news release or a composition, it is theirs, not ours. Therefore we do not edit them or research it. We leave it for our readers to determine what to take and what to leave. Other media rework news releases and publish them as if they were news they investigated themselves, without advising most, if not all of the content, was provided by the government. We prefer not to deceive our readers. When it is a news release we post it as a news release and tell our readers where it came from. And one must look and differentiate what is published as "Reporting" "News Release", "Commentary", "Contribution" or "PSA" (Public Service Announcement).

This includes the RCMP who have had all their good work published here, Cops for Cancer, Bike Rodeo’s, Guns and Hoses Hockey, the DARE program, etc. etc. Almost all delivered to us and reprinted as News Releases.

Lack of financial support from the business community has not stopped us from revealing issues they do not wish revealed. Many have pulled their ads and like Rio Tinto Alcan, some will never support a publication which might portray them in a negative light. We understand this but as media, we do not respect it, nor do we respect other media, who shirk from their duty as media, to report the truth regardless of where they get their advertising revenue.

In 2011, after the BCCLA published their report “Small Town Justice” we had to counter BC RCMP media relations officer, Inspector Tim Shields, after he stated Terrace was a crime ridden City.

Although the report itself shed a bad light on Terrace, Shields made it worse by repeating a statement which was a bold faced lie. The inspector in Terrace, prior to these false claims, was Dave Fenson. We documented all the RCMP reports delivered to City Council during his tenure and that of the next Inspector, Eric Stubbs.

We defended Terrace in our published report and demonstrated how Terrace was never a “crime ridden City” as Shields stated. Terrace has had a problem with drunks since its inception and chronic alcoholism is the only issue Terrace faces, which could be referred to as being “ridden” with.

We wish the other media would also defend Terrace against such outrageous claims.

Making people unhappy is sometimes just part of the job. Just like the RCMP. They certainly cannot please everyone and many take umbrage at anything they do.

We trust the RCMP will get over their hurt feelings and continue to allow us to provide the service we have been, for them and everyone in the community. The last thing the RCMP and Terrace needs is more negativity.

The facts are quite simple. The BCCLA news release brought this to everyone’s attention. We simply published more details and more reports than the other media cared to.

Numerous people have been seriously injured while in Police custody. That is all there is to it. Investigations are underway. Shane Parker, who also suffered serious injuries in 2010 while in police custody, was in court earlier this year and the trial will resume in the fall. All of these issues will be in the media for years, at least ours, if we survive this bout. And the Terrace RCMP, like the British, needs to find a way to develop a stiff upper lip and not let the negativity interfere with the good work they have been doing.

Anyone who has read the numerous RCMP reports Inspector Hart began issuing when he arrived, knows they have a very trying job dealing with all the alcohol related encounters.

We have video recordings of these officers maintaining their cool after being hit in the face with a mouthful of spit. We would not want their job and do not know many who would. But maintaining composure is a must, which goes for the guys on the street and the people in the offices.
That is a very dangerous idea of democracy Maggie
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 29th August 2012
Like the elected MLA's and government staff, like Parliament and the federal gov't employees, like Mayor, Council and their staff, all are servants to the public - as are all the levels of the RCMP - And all are paid for by the citizens of the communities. In a democracy, one ideally run by servants directed by the citizens, the servents don't get to pick and choose.

But as it appears today with the Federal governement, they have the same skewed concept of democracy as you, that is they see their rights as dictatorial and call it democracy.

Most Canadians now accept this as they have known little else of democracy. Only those over 50 seem to remember what democracy in Canada looked like before the Mulroney/Regan/Thather era.

The RCMP invited us to their media gatherings, Hart even suggested his new recruits check out our sites prior to their arrival, everything was cool until they beat a man into a coma and we covered it they way it should be covered.

Don't you dare call this action democratic. Millions died in Europe to stop such idiotic ideas.
Democracy rocks Terry...
Comment by MaggieJo Johnson on 18th June 2012
I appreciate your comment Terry, where in relation to the RCMP backing out of providing media outlets to TD that you ask..."Is this democratic".

'Glad you mentioned that cuz...well...simply put. Yes, it's democratic.

People have choices according to our "democratic rules" of the times which we all helped create by the way.

As a result of all of our efforts in that regard, one can choose to frequent this site or not. That's democracy.

The RCMP can choose to patricipate in this site's venue or not. Again. That's democracy.

Am I missing somefin? The RCMP suddenly don't host a democratic right?

Let's not take it so personally, and just move on together from here. Clap, clap - done!
who benifits
Comment by Terry on 18th June 2012
that should be the question . the answer is simple . Black press benefits . Why is it in the interest of the rcmp and city council for black press to be the last outlet standing . is this democratic .
"statistically speaking"
Comment by Steve on 18th June 2012
Not to put down the hard working men and women of law enforcement but... Putting their lives on the line every day? Police and Sheriffs services barelay crack the top 10- in fact, in order, heres the top ten in terms of numbe rof on the job fatalities
10-Police and Sherrifs services
9- Garbage collection and processing
8-Drivers-Sales and Commercial truckers
7-Power line workers
6-Roofers
5_Farmers
4-Steel Workers
3-Aircraft pilots and engineers
2-Loggers
1-Fishermen-commercial

So, again, not to belittle our RCMP officersm but facts and figures don't lie. That said, I wouldnt want to deal with hostile drunks and domestic disturbances all day and every day, or knock on someones door to tell them a loved has been killed by a drunk driver.
Councillor Davies
Comment by Danny Nunes on 18th June 2012
When one reads your comment one could take away from it two things.

1. You do not take both sides into account as you dismiss the concerns and fears of those who seem to have legitimate fear and concern over RCMP and have not had a voice to raise those concerns and you seem to just scoff at the other side of the story and give RCMP a free pass...this is a terrible
way to view things for someone in your position who is required to see both sides and the concerns of both citizens and authority figures.

2. Like many others who want to post on this media lately you seem to like to use the tactic of veiled threats.

You mention "creative reporting" & go on to mention that the terrace daily isnt the only online media in town. One could look at your comment as a city councillor using her name and influence in order to force one local form of media to conform or be blacklisted in favor of another form of local media who wont be as critical to authority even though that is the job of media, to be critical.

With behavior like this I hope once again the people of terrace decide not to re elect you to office.
Councillor
Comment by SN on 18th June 2012
Marylin, do you really believe that the courts are actually some barrier to our safety? Also, as much as I realise that RCMP officers often face dangerous situations, their career is not a particularly dangerous one when compared to that of a logger or travelling salesman and many others with higher occupational fatality rates. The hollow cry claiming that they 'put their lives on the line every day' could be applied to many other jobs and is really a meaningless mantra for the ill-informed, ignorant or deluded.
Mayor
Comment by Rather Not Say on 18th June 2012
I just hope our mayor didn't command the police to stop sending press releases to the Daily. Because they should not be taking orders from him.
Councillor
Comment by Marylin Davies on 17th June 2012
Merv, I have to agree with Small Wonder. Our officers put their lives on the line every day keeping our citizens as safe as the courts allow. They do not deserve "creative reporting" for the sake of readership. Remember you are not the only source of on line news in this town.
Local Tyranny
Comment by Danny Nunes on 16th June 2012
Withholding press releases due to sour grapes from a news site that generates more feedback and site visits than any locally could be seen as the equivalent of endangering the public to satisfy a grudge.

If the RCMP or any body can define what is and isnt credible media when media is supposed to be independent and not swayed by the very institutions it may find itself reporting and investigating on then we are in trouble.

But of course many of you simply dont care. You have the excuses already for your apathy and ignorance.

Oh well the daily asked for it by what they posted, oh those people that say they were beat up well they must have been asking for it.

I hope none of you never experience this sort of abuse firsthand...actually scratch that I hope you in fact do as it seems that might be the only way for you to escape this bubble you live in.
Petty
Comment by SN on 16th June 2012
While I agree that the Terrace Daily has printed some questionable material in the past, the fact that this comes so closely on the back of some robust, if questionable reporting of wrongdoing by the local RCMP suggests that this is just the RCMP being petty or scared. This behaviour tells me that the local RCMP are unable to withstand criticism and demand sycophantic press coverage. If this is the case, if news outlets have to weigh up whether a critical article will result in loss of access to RCMP press releases, then the press is no longer free from outside influence. I for one would sooner have access to news with some questionable content, than have to wonder how many reports have been suppressed to appease the ego of the local RCMP. I'm sorry to say, but this action has only reduced my opinion of the RCMP and at this time I feel they can ill afford to have less respect in our community.

By the way, those who complain about people posting relatively anonymous comments about the RCMP, has is ever crossed your mind that these people are afraid of how the RCMP will treat them if they know who they are. The fact that we feel the need to do so is further evidence that a significant number of people actually fear the RCMP more than they respect them and that is a far from healthy relationship.
From "Small Town Justice", published 2011 - Much the same
Comment by BCCLA on 16th June 2012
WelcomeToWilliamsLake.ca (July, 2010)
The local news website WelcomeToWilliamsLake. ca was initially welcomed by RCMP, who provided the website with news and traffic updates as well as press releases and interviews. When the website reported Nick Weekes’ allegations (see “Boot Cabaret” above) that RCMP officers were allegedly antagonizing his aboriginal patrons, the outlet stopped getting press releases.

An e-mail from Warren Brown to the Editor of WelcomeToWilliamsLake. ca dated July 28, 2010, reads:

“LeRae, yes you are officially removed from the Williams Lake RCMP media list. The Nick Weekes interview has some part to play. Again to reiterate, I am not going to use you as a venue to debate. I find that to be poor reporting . . . I provide this communication with the expectation that it will not find its way into a news release in the Welcome to Williams Lake publication.”

The local RCMP have since given a series of exclusive stories to a competing news outlet and refused to provide interviews or press releases to WelcomeToWilliamsLake.ca. The website has been in contact with the RCMP independently and through the BCCLA. The RCMP has since required the Williams Lake detachment to post their news releases to the E-Division website and acknowledges that failing to do so was a breach of policy.

Despite concerns raised by Welcome- ToWilliamsLake.ca until the BCCLA filed its formal complaint, the BCCLA was not aware of any code of conduct investigation into the allegedly retaliatory activity of the detachment head against the media outlet.
I can't blame the RCMP
Comment by Chris Arnold on 16th June 2012
I have to say, I am a regular reader and for the most part enjoy and appreciate the Terrace Daily very much. But... I really can't blame the RCMP for cutting the TD out of the loop after recent posts that were in very poor taste. The "spoof" you refer to was really over the top and uncalled for in my opinion. It made the TD look like a spiteful gossipy rag just trying to stir stuff up for the sake of it. I think your reports on suggested police brutality are fine and these things should be reported on and open for discussions but your spoof and the person behind it who obviously has some serious emotional baggage and an axe to grind was really uncalled for. I hope things can get back on track with the TD so it can get back to being closer to a credible media outlet.
Media control
Comment by Gary Edwards on 16th June 2012
This BS over Accredited Journalists began during the BC Rail Trial when appointed writers from The Mainstream Media were allowed to say who was accredited or not.
That farce was deliberately set up to stop professor Robin Mathews from obtaining information that the big newspapers had access to. In other words the media was controlling what we read and people like Professor Mathews were shut out.
That farce was also the reason I turned to online independent news like the Terrace Daily. At least now I can get the full news. The RCMP in refusing to distribute press releases to ALL MEDIA is in effect muzzling the people and control;ling their news and problems.
I bare no disrespect for the majority of the RCMP but as others state here there are bad apples in every bunch. And how are we to know about the bad apples if not given both sides.
I believe the Police have shot themselves in the foot with this move and while they are doing it they have caused me to have just a little more disrespect for that organization. If they really want to clean up their act they will stop pulling these little tricks. WE have every right to read their news releases in whatever media we wish. They have made another grave error.
"more of my paranoia?"
Comment by Blocky Bear on 16th June 2012
Ever since Mulroney moved direct authority over the R.C.M.P. to the P.M.O. the tone and direction is being set there! This would include monitoring the spin. d.b.
Ya got it right Merv...or was it left?
Comment by Blocky Bear on 16th June 2012
I would like to commend Terry on his piece. The whole thing starts falling apart when the muzzle comes out! I watched a flick on HBO last night on this topic entitled The Rum Diaries,starring Johnny Depp,written by Hunter S. Thompson. Great stuff! Keep on trucking Merv! d.b.
Small Wonder...
Comment by R1chard Jenn1ss on 16th June 2012

Don't blame the RCMP. Blame the cowards.

I do believe there should be accountability for both the subject and the author. Accountability with authority isn't easy for the situations where it is, in fact, necessary. Also.. sometimes these articles on the daily go too far. But hey, that's my opinion and I'll simply say it. Cards on the table.

Aside from the RCMP, why the anonymous finger pointing judgement?
Give Merv credit at least you have an accountable person, a name to be placed in your very own "bad books" unlike yourself the anonymous coward.

You have to wonder what other things you do anonymously behind peoples backs...
very sad
Comment by Terry on 15th June 2012
now all that we will be able to read are the negative aspects of the RCMP . There will be no place to read about the good work that they do . Which since reading about the troubles they face has tempered the fact that like all walks of life have a few bad apples . This wall of silence will only reinforce the them verses us feeling that so many of us have . who are the legitimate news outlets ? I don't know anyone that reads and takes the standard black press serious . It's just an envelope for the shopping ads and soc/lib political rag. Do they even have a police report ? it doesn't even have a cross word puzzle . That might make it worth picking out of the yellow boxes for free . if the rcmp or anyone else wants to get a message out to us they better get with the program . The internet is here to stay . The black presses of the world are going the way of the dodo bird . News papers the world over are not being read and are going under the world over . And the ads between the sheets are going unread into the wood stove or in the garbage . Sadly for the advertisers they don't get it either. We check the ads for safeway sales on line . That's why you see less of them in the paper . We have safeway in our bookmarks . They are one click away . We can check hundreds of ads in the time it would take to go and get a paper and the paper comes once a week . we read the terrace daily ,daily . wanna sell me something .then leave a message for me here. Keep on keepin on Merv and crew . we sold a bunch in your free ads . Long live the free press.
Do you think...
Comment by Janice Robinson on 15th June 2012
That the withdrawal of RCMP input to the Terrace Daily means that they will stop reading it? Will many miss reading their weekly "press releases" on this website, and subsequently cease being a reader of the Terrace Daily?

Have they ever perused the commentary about their track record on the CBC? Did they offer any of the guidelines on which a media outlet is deemed "credible" by the RCMP?

Very strange.
please reconsider
Comment by Lulu on 15th June 2012
I admire the RCMP, they have a tough job, but they are not perfect. One can understand that they want to project an image of unerring competence, but it is one of the media's jobs to hold their feet to the fire, as they do to politicians, business leaders, etc. One of the ways is by using humour, and I think that they were laughing not so much at the RCMP, but at the situation they found themselves in. I always read their report in the online daily, and nowhere else. I hope that they reconsider because without this, the public wouldn't know how hard that they work, and assume that they don't, or worse, have something to hide.
Small Wonder
Comment by Your Name on 15th June 2012
You post editorial after editorial accusing the RCMP of being racist thugs, inciting others to think the same, and you wonder why you aren't considered a news source? You should look at your own prejudices. Some groups are completely beyond reproach no matter what they do, (first nations, environmentalists), while others are scapegoats for your two minutes of hate (business, authority). There are bad apples in every bunch, but you only focus on the bad apples in the barrels you don't like.