The story of the week was the downtown arena project. I wish I had been free on Friday to Storify the reaction to city council’s decision to buy the land amid news of the negotiations between the city and the Katz Group with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in New York.
The volume of tweets on #yegarena and #yegcc was overwhelming, as Mack Male shows in this post summarizing the day and the Twitter reaction. Word clouds have had a bit of a bad rap lately, but to me, the clouds in this post and the post setting up Friday’s events do a pretty good job of letting us see what was said.
As Mack notes, Mike Otto of The Charrette also did a nifty little bit of data journalism on opinions expressed about the arena proposal in calls to 311, the city’s information line. (Speaking of The Charrette, Otto’s partner-in-awesome Scott Lilwall recently launched a semi-regular feature called Ask the Charrette, an invitation to ask them anything about urban planning. In this city, at this time, there are a lot of questions that need answering, so have at it.)
For a more elegiac take on the debate, see Zoe Todd’s post on how the arena narrative clashes with her own feelings about the story of this city. The post itself was already a worthy read. Then Journal sports columnist John MacKinnon made a rather rude comment, to which Zoe responded thoughtfully and with class. The ensuing back-and-forth is revealing and also worth your time.
This is a neverending story. If I’m missing something good on the arena issue, let me know in the comments. Now, what else?
— Besides being another great get-together and a chance to show off my dino-loving daughter, this month’s Girl Geek Dinner introduced us to an inspiring young University of Alberta paleontologist named Victoria Arbour. If you like dinosaurs, I encourage you to read Victoria’s blog. You can also follow the U of A’s Dino Lab on Facebook. The next Girl Geek Dinner will be held Nov. 17 at D’Lish Urban Kitchen and Wine Bar.
— YegNews has officially shut down after four months of operation. I was skeptical about its editorial and business model from the get-go, and its challenges were all the more difficult to surmount when Scott McKeen departed in July. But I also applaud anyone who tries anything new and hard. Alain Saffel deserves credit for that. Failure is a gift, as long as we learn from it.
— Jay Runham of the Jay n’ J movies podcast was kind enough to take me out to see Page One: Inside the New York Times, which I had been dying to see. We recorded a “slider” episode of Jay n’ J (sans J, aka Jordan Blackburn, who was out of town). The movie’s brief appearance in Edmonton is over now, but have a listen to see if you’d like to rent it or see it on Netflix. It was such a delight to meet Jay in real life. Next up, I believe, is a full episode on Footloose, featuring woman-about-town Brittney Le Blanc.
— The Conservative leadership vote and Premier Alison Redford’s cabinet-making have provided plenty of fodder for Dave Cournoyer on daveberta.ca. With Redford in charge, a provincial election won’t happen until spring, but nominations are well underway. Here’s Dave’s running list of who’s running.
— Efforts to organize MediaCamp Edmonton 2 are in full flight now. We’ve changed the date to Feb. 4 (instead of Jan. 28) so as not to conflict with the next Startup Weekend and Global Game Jam. MediaCamp aims to bring storytellers and developers together to see how we can help each other do what we do. Watch the website for details in the coming weeks. We’re using the hashtag #yegmediacamp on Twitter to seek input and share links. If you’re interested in coming, please fill out this survey so we can try to make it all you want it to be. If you’re interested in sponsoring or volunteering, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s always so much more to say, and yet, that feels like enough. Feel free to add more in the comments, on Twitter or on Google+. More media news can be found on Mack’s Media Monday.
(Speaking on Mack, that’s his photo up top, taken in May 2010 at an open house on the Edmonton Arena District.)
“Have you read Zoe Todd’s latest?” I have asked this question several times in the past month, in various discussions about urban planning, architecture and the general effort to make Edmonton look and be better. Her blog, Urbane Adventurer, has become a must-read for me, and if you are interested in such things, you should put it on your list as well.
My first encounter with Zoe was hearing her impressive talk on “Edmonton as an Aboriginal City” at Pecha Kucha Night 7 (the image above comes from Edmonton NextGen’s Flickr set from that night). She revisited that theme in an excellent guest post at The Charrette in June. Although she spends some of her time in Aberdeen, Scotland, pursuing a PhD in social anthropology, she thinks a lot about Edmonton, as is clear in recent posts on preserving historic buildings and the “back alley” view of the city.
She has launched a Tumblr called Post-awesome: a prairie movement. It’s “a place to look at ‘crap architecture’ in the city of Edmonton. And to celebrate good architecture, too,” riffing on Mayor Stephen Mandel’s famous lament about the current state of design. She’s a musician, too. Zoe is an all-round impressive Edmontonian, and worth following in all ways (including on Twitter: @z_todd).
And now, rounding up:
— Speaking of urban affairs, Deborah Merriam had an interesting blogpost recently about sustainable development in the suburbs. It reminded me of some of the issues that the Edmonton Journal’s Elise Stolte is exploring in her Living on the Edge series and blog.
— Urban planner Myron Belej had a piece about making business districts more walkable on YegNews. Speaking of which, YegNews is now back to regular publishing after a little hiatus, with Dave S. Clark replacing Scott McKeen as editor. I still think YegNews should follow my advice, although I do notice a few more links out. I also like that publisher Alain Saffel has taken the time to comment on other blogs (including mine) and on stories on the site. Being an active participant in the conversation makes for a more civil community, as Anil Dash writes.
— For an excellent chronicle of Edmonton’s watery backbone, check out Donna’s River Valley, a walking diary by Donna McKinnon (@illustratedword on Twitter).
— And if this summer’s raininess has been getting you down, look at the bright side: it makes for pretty pictures. Randall Talbot proves it.
For more urban planning and development, it’s always worth your while to check out The Charrette, and the edmontonian does a bang-up job of rounding up the headlines on these and other matters. For more media news, see Mack Male’s Media Monday. Comment below if I’m missing something, or find me on Twitter.
The past week saw the debut of YegNews.com, billed as “Edmonton’s Online Newspaper.” The launch of a new source of journalism is always good news, and I love that the focus is local. I see quite a few comments, tweets and likes, too, which indicates it is being well-received.
I hold YegNews’s founders, Scott McKeen and Alain Saffel, in high esteem. So I hope they will take this unsolicited advice in the constructive spirit in which it is intended:
1. Make it webbier. There are very few links in the copy, and most of those I came across link to other YegNews stories. The link economy is a crucial to journalism on the web. Mainstream media outlets don’t do it as much as they ought, mostly because their content management systems don’t make it easy. But that’s not an obstacle on a site built on WordPress. Linking also saves you from re-inventing the wheel. Why start an events calendar from scratch when you could just link to ShareEdmonton or YegLive?
2. Aggregate. YegNews has a small staff, much smaller than that found in the “corporate newsrooms” that have been downsized, Scott feels, “to the point of the ridiculous.” So do the same thing mainstream newsrooms ought to be doing — link to all of the great coverage that is already taking place in Edmonton’s vibrant new media community, and link to all of the mainstream media, too. Be the one-stop shop for all things Edmonton, regardless of the source, and you’ll be a service to time-pressed readers.
3. Do what no one else is doing. If you link and aggregate, then you can put your scarce resources towards stories that aren’t getting adequate coverage. I don’t think Edmonton needs more reporters at press conferences; it needs more reporters digging up stuff nobody knew before or making connections no one has made before. It needs people mining the open data catalogue and other sources of information for patterns and turning them into stories. It doesn’t need more of the same.
4. Understand the economic challenge. Local is vital, unique and laudable. But it is not lucrative. I strongly advise anyone in local media, new or old, to read Judy Sims’s take on Patch, the chain of hyperlocal news sites owned by AOL, for a look at why it is so hard to support local news with local advertising online. It’s a hard sell for established websites, even harder for ones just starting up. Sims has some good advice, and this Steve Buttry post on alternative sources of revenue might be applicable, too.
“We encourage creativity and risk-taking at YegNews,” Scott writes. That’s good. Both will be needed to make a go of it. I wish Scott and Alain and their crew all the best.
A few more notes, to make this a proper roundup:
— The fifth episode of the edmontonian presents aired on ShawTV on Sunday night and is now available on YouTube and iTunes. The theme is Edmontonia, and as always, it is full of terrific Edmonton stories and music.
— Speaking of Edmonton TV, check out this new web series, The People That Touch Your Food. You can find out more and even kick the creators some dough on their IndieGoGo page.
— June 24 was crazy for social-media-related events. Get a load of the Twitter chatter about Social Media Breakfast 7, featuring Adam Rozenhart on podcasting; What the Truck?!, the food truck festival organized by Mack Male and Sharon Yeo; and the birthday party for the Edmonton Girl Geek Dinner, put on by Brittney Le Blanc and Shauna McConechy (who is now a Torontonian!). I managed to hit all three, plus Trimalchio, a book club with a twist organized by Andy Grabia. Watch here for the fruits of our labours.
As always, check out Mastermaq’s Media Monday for more on the realm. You can comment below (now that I have re-enabled Disqus, having stupidly turned off my comments by accident when I changed Tumblr themes last week), or you can find me on Twitter.