PREMIER EDITORIAL

PREMIER EDITORIAL

Welcome to the Quesnel Cariboo Sentinel the north central interior's newest source of news, information and opinion. Please bear with me at this time as the site is definitely 'under construction'. Hard hats are recommended. smiley

 
First off I suppose it is relevant to ask why another online publication is deemed necessary for the Cariboo and Quesnel. The simplest answer is that Quesnel now has only one main source of news and that is the Quesnel - Cariboo Observer. This places David Black's publication in the position of being a media monopoly in the community and, as such,  the public is only privy to whatever information is published by the Black Press corporate newspaper chain.
 
As the Editor and Publisher of the Quesnel - Cariboo Sentinel I find this situation to be unsatisfactory for a variety of reasons, the foremost being the fact that the general public is not given any choice in terms of editorial perspective and/or content.
 
The argument could be put forth that I, of all people, shouldn't be critical of the Observer seeing as how I've likely been given more copy space within that publication than any other resident of Cariboo in recent history (I've been a regular contributor to the newspaper since 1976 both within the "Letters to the Editor" page and also as a columnist for a period of time back in the mid-eighties).
 
While I readily admit that the Observer has been most gracious in this regard, for which I am most grateful, I still feel that given today's challenging times – locally, provincially, nationally and globally – there is a definite need for a much greater variety of news and opinion. Information empowers people and the more the better.
 
Fundamental issues such as freedom of speech and freedom of the internet and media, coupled with the growing realization that over 90% of the corporate mainstream media rests in the hands of an extremely small percentage of the people, are essential concerns to me and, I believe, to many other Canadians.
 
Democracy, as I grew up understanding it, meant that the people living within a nation were the ones to decide on how they wished to live and work together and how they wished to relate to their neighbour nations but in today's fast and furious and confusing world these old ideas are being seriously jeopardized and in many cases superceded by powerful vested interests, both corporate and financial, who appear to be more interested in simply making a buck off the people and controlling their movements and minds rather than serving the country in a positive way.
 
Being one of those who thinks globally and does his best to act locally I see the need for not only change but also for conserving many of the basic values that both enhance and preserve our democratic rights.
 
Freedom of choice and speech are the lifeblood of any community, province or nation and along with these critical factors must be mentioned diversity of opinion and multiple, independent sources of media. In other words the more and varied sources of information in today's complex and challenging world the better.
 
One of the great dangers of a monopoly media is that it tends to always support the status quo and in doing so lends itself to undue influence by political and economic groups. This I see occurring right at home today in Quesnel. The following example should illustrate what I mean.
 
Over the past six months or so Quesnel's City Council has become embroiled in controversy surrounding the spending habits of some council members and decisions made regarding hiring procedures with respect to staff. This, in turn, has led to a flood of letters to the Editor of the Observer by those affected as well as by concerned citizens who would like to see greater transparency with respect to the city's policies on spending. My personal experience plus the feedback that I've received from other parties to this issue leads me to the conclusion that Black Press (for whatever reason) is withholding valid and possibly vital information which the general public should be aware of.
 
I have had letters to the editor withheld for extraordinary long periods of time and I know that others too have experienced the same frustration while in the case of certain council members their opinions and positions are given a preponderance of publicity within relatively short periods of time.
 
As well, and this I consider a very serious issue, after one of my letters to the editor concerning the hiring of City Manager John Stecyk appeared in the Observer on June 21, 2011 within a matter of days I received an email from the city's legal council, Murdy & McAllister in Vancouver demanding that I send a retraction and apology to the Observer or else face the possibility of a defamation suit. Following receipt of said letter I sent a letter to the editor of the Observer to inform the public of what the city was doing. It has now been close to two months and the letter has not appeared. In the meantime though the Mayor of Quesnel and certain councillors who tend to agree with the Mayor's position appear to have ready access to the local paper whether within its news columns or the letters page and have engaged in an ongoing PR program designed to disparage the one city council member who has been adamant in demanding accountability on the part of the city. I am referring of course to Councillor Sushil Thapar, financial chair for the City of Quesnel.
 
So it is for reasons such as these and many others that I made the decision to start another publication for Quesnel and the North Cariboo region.
 
I will have more to say on these matters and other related issues as time goes by but for now I hope that the Quesnel Cariboo Sentinel will find a receptive audience and that residents of the Cariboo will support my efforts to diversify the news coverage and the opinions of Quesnel and the surrounding area.
 
I would like to also include in this initial editorial the fact that the QC Sentinel has its own forum on site and I would encourage readers to register and join it. I expect that it will provide a much broader venue for people to discuss issues. Of course letters to the editor will be most welcome and their appearance should not be hampered by time nor space. Please try to keep the length to a reasonable size of say 1000 words max.
 
Feedback and suggestions are always welcome. Contact me at: Arthur Topham <editor@quesnelcaribooobserver.com>