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May 26, 2022
February 7, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: February 7, 2017

Stories in the news and of note

Written by Jeff Samsonow

This is our first look at what’s in Edmonton’s regular news coverage. It will be a regular feature here at EQ. For what it’s all about and why we’re doing it, check out our explainer post.

The original Al Rashid Mosque.

In the wake of so much news around Muslim communities, after a terrorist attack at a mosque in Quebec City and the targeted travel ban brought in by the new U.S. administration, Edmontonians have been among the many across Canada coming together to show we love and respect our Muslim neighbours.

It’s as a good time as any to remember Edmonton is home to Canada’s first mosque. That in no way means Edmonton has moved beyond hate, but it can help those who feel overwhelmed by “us and them” arguments to know that there really only is an “us” and everyone’s rights are worth protecting and defending.

In similar themes, there are a couple of hate-related tools being worked on here in Edmonton. One is from a group working to document and track all hate incidents and crimes in Alberta. The interactive tool Alberta Hate Crimes Committee is building could help identify communities where people are most attacked or feel vulnerable, which could make it easier for government, key organizations and even police to provide support to those who need help and resources to combat societal inclinations (and people) creating acts of racism and xenophobia.

Edmonton is also going to be hosting an anti-racism arts festival this month. The emphasis here is that if more people can come together publicly, it’s easier to confront the challenges of racism.

Here’s an interesting story that doesn’t seem to have gotten a lot of local follow-up: Alberta industry oil spill estimates “too good to be true”. This particular story has what could be a very important issue at its centre; that the agency responsible for monitoring how much oil is spilled in Alberta, and what oil companies clean up, has been underestimating how much is cleaned up and how much damage is done. For decades. For tens of thousands of spills.

The story I’ve linked to, and that got picked up by a couple local newsrooms, is from The Canadian Press (CP), which is a wire service. CP covers stories across the country and newsrooms that pay for the content can then run the stories in their own coverage. Often that means, as it appears to have happened here, the story won’t get much follow from local journalists who consider it “covered”. (And, to be honest, CP can and does produce some great journalism, which can stand on its own most of the time.) This is great for newsrooms that don’t have reporters covering areas of interest CP tends to spend time at, such as provincial governments.

I just thought the questions at the heart of this one would garner a lot more in the way of follow. It’s definitely a tough one to get into, requiring some time to research, so maybe we will see more from Edmonton and Alberta newsrooms on this later as reporters dig into the report. The allegations certainly raise a lot of questions.

An interesting side note on this story, if there’s not any more coverage from local and provincial newsrooms this is the kind of headline that gets people thinking about “bias” in news. The (wrong) thought would be that Alberta media wouldn’t want to run a story that’s disparaging to our highest-profile industry because of some kind of influence or a whole bunch of personal bias in favour of the oil industry.

Of course, the truth is closer to what I mentioned about the relationship with The Canadian Press. The story gets picked up by some (or many) newsrooms, it runs somewhere in the mix of coverage – usually with lower profile than newsroom-produced stories – and because it was run there’s not much of an effort to go deeper on the story.

If you think there’s some kind of secret media conspiracy to cover up stories or push some agenda, it’s almost always actually a lack of staff and the ability to run wire stories that’s your culprit.

This isn’t a comment on the interviewee or content, but it’s been noticeable to me in the last year that more Q+A style articles are popping up in the news(paper). There’s certainly times these can be interesting and even offer more information on a particular topic, especially when it’s in addition to the main story.

I’m curious, however, if this is also a way to either crank out more content quickly, or save an interview from the trash bin when it’s not going to find itself in a larger story (rightly or wrongly).

Let me know if you’re noticing more Q+As as well, or if I’m just imagining this.

Now let’s close things out today with a story of an “astounding” Edmonton artist we recently lost. Unfortunately, this Indigenous artist lived most of the past decade on the streets of Edmonton.

At City Hall today: City Council meeting continued (agenda). Watch live beginning at 9:30am.