Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Last Edmonton Headlines

Good morning, Edmonton. This is indeed the last time you and I will discuss the news of the day here in Headlines at the edmontonian. Let’s hope there’s some juicy news to dig into.

It’s almost always funny, in a sad kind of way, that when governments announce they are going to tackle a problem or get tough on something, it’s a problem that’s had previous attempts to do just that. Edmonton’s recent worries over violent crime is just one of those issues. So, hopefully this is the time everyone follows through on plans and recommendations.

Meanwhile…Edmonton Police are teaming up with other agencies for a new kind of patrol…an action team!

On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an Edmonton firefighter who went to New York with the Red Cross is trying to remember the triumph of the human spirit he saw in the days after the Word Trade Centre towers fell.

The City of Edmonton is trying to entice filmmakers to shoot here. Though, not with a grant or tax break, or deals if they are locals or use local crews. I don’t think it’s a great idea to move $5-million from the financial stabilization fund when you’re running a deficit.

“Are people supposed to park on the next block? It’s insanity.” Really? Parking one block away is the end of the world?

(more…)


Hang Up and Drive Headlines

I guess, more accurately, that headline should “Hang up, put down the sandwich, don’t do your hair and makeup, shave before you get into the car, stop tweeting on your iPad and drive.” Yes, Alberta’s new distracted driving law takes effect today. It’s a $172 ticket, so keep your eyes on the road.

Alberta is not the first province to have this kind of law.

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Edmonton councillors will talk about the community revitalization levy (CRL) in October. This is the tax zone that’s supposed to help fund the downtown arena downtown revitalization projects. I hope it goes through and we finally see something productive happen on 104 Street, at 109 Street, at the old Canada Post property, with LRT expansion, and…what? That stuff is already happening?

Are you sure? I mean, how can it happen without an arena?

Speaking of LRT…Engineering design is to begin on Edmonton’s expanding LRT system.

Edmonton’s deficit for the year is improving.

One community in each of Edmonton’s five police divisions is going to get a little more policing. This is part of a new crime reduction strategy from the Edmonton Police Service. The EPS, by the way, is stretched thin trying to solve this year’s extra homicides.

I’m a little boggled on this one. Three Edmonton newsrooms (the Sun, CTV, and CHED/iNews) have a story today on a fatality report being released. Yet, CBC had it two weeks ago. Just a strange delay.

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This school year will be the first for public education in Morinville. Which sounds really weird when I read that back. (Today is the first day of school for most students.)

A new way to move patients through the University Hospital faster will likely be applied at other hospitals after successful wait time reductions. We’re also performing more surgeries in Alberta.

Being the start of a new month all the monthly magazines are out with new issues. Alberta Venture’s got a look at the Slave Lake fire.

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The photocopiers were flying, more textbooks are likely to be required, and more online links will be provides, because the University of Alberta’s getting out of its copyright agreement with Access Copyright. (Also, check out that new Gateway website! They’ve also got a refresher on top U of A summer stories.)

U of A students are depressed, not getting exercise, and not eating enough fruits and vegetables. But they’re not doing as many drugs as you may think.

The U of A’s Faculty of Arts is cutting some language classes to save money.

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Libraries are not just “warehouses for books” anymore.

And that library story probably has a tie-in to this one about Blockbuster closing their remaining Canadian stories. (Locally, you can still find movies at Videodrome and The Movie Studio.)

 


August 19 Edmonton Headlines

Look at the difference in road top. Smooth!

Welcome to the end of the week, Edmonton.

Since the daily news media loves talking about crime, building it up to levels not actually seen here (or in most cities, for that matter) the Edmonton Police Service is hitting YouTube with new videos to talk about crime officers are seeing on a regular basis. This is great. Not that it won’t come with a little bias from the EPS, but that it helps force the crime debate to get real.

The City of Edmonton is changing things up for snow removal this winter. Neighbourhoods will continue to be bladed with 5cm of snowpack (down from 10cm in previous winters), there will be parking bans on bus route (and elsewhere if it really snows), and you’ll be able to see when your neighbourhood will be cleared on a new website.

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Now, this could just be like the last provincial election when news media were predicting a breakthrough for the Alberta Liberals, but I’m getting the sense from coverage of the Progressive Conservative leadership race that Gary Mar and Alison Redford are the frontrunners. Ted Morton didn’t even get a mention in this story from Medicine Hat’s debate. Sounds like the Mothership really is down.

While some may say Mar’s idea of private healthcare gets shot down on principle alone and won’t get a fair discussion, I say talk about how many more doctors and medical staff you’ll hire before you create two levels of care. If you don’t hire more staff, buy more diagnostic machines, and open more clinics, you aren’t creating more healthcare space, you’re simply splitting it in two.

If you can’t make it out to the leadership debates, you can hit up videos on the Edmonton Journal’s website which will answer some frequently asked questions.

Meanwhile…outgoing PC leader and premier Ed Stelmach seems determined to find a way to throw in $100-million for Edmonton’s downtown arena. This, after PC leadership candidates asked him to stop announcing projects that are going to cost them money, or have to be pulled back off the table by them.

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The Alberta government is worried about environmentalists. Oh, did I say Alberta government? I mean oil and energy executives.

Do any of these designs for the new Royal Alberta Museum (to be built behind City Hall, beside the CN Tower) float your boat? I don’t mind the first one from EllisDon, but none are blowing me away.

Alberta won’t be getting its own police force for at least 20 years. The RCMP’s getting a contract renewal.

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Excellent commentary from Vue Weekly on suicide. Too often mental illness is hushed up, but we need more mental health and mental illness awareness, not less. It gets extra points for going after the news media and police policies of not reporting openly on suicides. If there’s a fear of others copying that, why do murders and violent crimes not get the same silence?

Spinning off that, PC leadership candidate Rick Orman wants to have more treatment of mental illness and addiction in our jail system.

*****

A dentist is offering free treatments to people without dental insurance.

We are falling very much in love with our smartphones and tablets. I wonder if the CRTC can stay relevant in the digital age.


August 18 Edmonton Headlines

Good morning, Edmonton. Let’s ignore that slight chill in the air and keep our minds focused on summer. Though, we can hear the gears grinding to life over at the Long John Index.

Edmonton’s streets have been safer this year (so far).

Building housing and neighbourhoods around LRT stations would go a long way toward densifying communities within the Henday’s boundaries, and increase transit usage. The City just has to get it right this time. (Though, to be fair, Clareview isn’t that bad.)

Edmonton’s got a little star power involved in the Boyle Renassaince project. Not sure yet if that means a higher contract price, but it could be worth the camera appeal that Mike Holmes will bring to affordable housing and the revitalization project.

Some days I have to take a deep breath before diving into the crime stories to see if there’s anything that speaks to trends, and information that might add more value to the Edmonton conversation. Most days it just seems like “…journalists believe that the world gets better if you remind people that the world is broken every day.”

We’re a terrible city – Crime can be frightening, but put it into context, tell people what they can do about, offer solutions.

Murder at the Max – an inmate at the Edmonton Institution (a prison at northeast city limits) is dead after a fight. Nobody’s been charged with murder, but it sounds like the headline writer here knows it’s coming.

Axe Attack” – Maybe.

Knives, shanks, and slashing throats with paper – I like to think this story is about how a crackdown on knives, and concealed weapons, cannot be the only measure taken to combat violent crime in Edmonton. (Prevention of crime, and the causes of crime – like homelessness, drugs, and gangs – are way more important. And court sentences are something the federal government may be asked to look at.) Though, I could be wrong and that story could just be about knives.

Are all the bleeding leads done? Good. (more…)


August 17 Edmonton Headlines


Good morning, Edmonton. It’s time for newsrooms to slow down.

We’ve been talking a lot more about news and content creation in the last few weeks. And I think everything we want to see; balanced crime stories, in-depth reporting, accurate stories can be achieved if newsrooms embrace the lack of deadlines the Internet provides and slow down.

Fearmongering crime stories could disappear if newsrooms worked the stats, thought about whether they were terrified to walk the streets (and if they aren’t, refused to let people sensationalize the stories), considered the causes of crime, sought prevention options, and demanded more of politicians and police than tough-on-crime announcements.

Then, a front page screaming about murder becomes a story about how homelessness has actually been one of issues behind Edmonton’s 2011 homicide rate, and perhaps looks at what’s been done to house more people (and improve their mental health or addictions), and the pressure on civic leaders is to improve the safety of Edmonton’s homeless, push harder for provincial dollars in housing, mental illness and healthcare, and addiction treatment. Then politicians cannot get away with telling the cameras they will “clean up the streets” (whatever that means).

The race to get the story into the news machine first damages everyone involved. It hurts the credibility of the media outlets who commonly treat factual inaccuracies as no big deal, and it fails the citizens who trust these outlets for information that shapes their reactions to the world around them. Reporting the news is a tremendous responsibility, and not just a game of  ‘who had what story first.’

Yesterday there was a story from CBC about a strip club opening in Old Strathcona. That’s not going to happen. It sounds like paperwork and City bureaucracy are to blame. But if the owners of X Bar (a strip club) didn’t want to apply for a new strip club, how did that become the story? By going too fast.

Slowing down, and getting reaction from the bar owners and City staff on the license applications, we could have a story about how the process to get a strip club works (if there was another level of paperwork involved), or – better yet in my opinion – how a bar location that keeps closing in failure keeps re-opening. That last one spins into a question for the City of Edmonton, Old Strathcona Business Association, and commercial property owners in the area; what are they doing to preserve the neighbourhood as heritage and boutique?

CTV strip club Google Alert(Side note on that strip club story: CTV followed – we’ve talked all about that lately too. Then changed the story when it turned out the southside strip club wasn’t happening. You can see a Google Alert above, since they changed the story on the same URL. Kudos to CBC for creating a new item on their website for the second story, ensuring an Internet trail. Newsrooms need to learn to deal with the mistakes, not wipe them out, or they won’t get better. It also helps folks, like me, find out what you’ve been up to beyond the last day or so.)

Update: Even if the City approved a strip club in the bar location, and the renovations happen to have been something extra the operators were thinking about seeking and the extra paperwork and delays dissuaded them, then the stories missed a step in confirming with the bar and building owners what was coming to Whyte. The permit would have just been the first step of working on the story, not the story itself.

The Journal had a story about a Fort McMurray man who went to Los Angeles to get brain surgery. Doctors told him to get the surgery and he went. Waiting an extra day would have taken one part of the story from “Another guy probably had the surgery covered by Alberta Health Services, I want it too.” to “Why the heck are Albertans forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a surgery they can’t have done in Canada?”

(Side note to that last link; not sure why the CBC felt they should leave in the Journal’s line about the other guy who might have received coverage. The Journal’s follow-up said he did, and the CBC story didn’t need to mention it, or could have included the chased-down fact.)

All of the slow down links above take you to an editorial from The Walrus, a fantastic Canadian magazine, that states speedy news is like a regular diet of fast food, and calls for a “slow news” movement. Similar to the slow food movement it would be a shift to deep, thorough, important information instead of churning out bits of information here and there. Just because there’s information in a story doesn’t mean it’s helping or is teaching us anything about the world we live in.

All that, and I’ve only given you a couple of today’s stories. More ahead. (more…)


August 12 Edmonton Headlines

Look, leaf, I don't know what kind of orders you're getting from the tree, but I demand you get back up there.

Welcome to the end of the week, Edmonton.

Edmonton Police are going to try and bust people for carrying knives and concealed weapons. This is one of the enforcement steps following a crime announcement from the chief and mayor. The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is also sending more officers into the five most violent neighbourhoods in each police division.

But you probably woke up as terrified as ever, just like the Edmonton Sun thought.

(While I agree a lot of long-term plans, especially if they involve buzzwordy task forces and work groups, are more political than practical, can we at least give the new police chief a week or two on the latest plans?)

By the way, Sun staff, our homicide rate is not “skyrocketing.” You can see here and here that our homicide rate is fairly steady, declining for the most part in the last few decades (as is the general trend across Canada). So, unless an increase of 0.4 homicides (per 100,000 people) in the most recent decade is a huge jump to you, things are not as terrifying as you may think.

Countering that claim like that I feel like a certain website that was set up to counter newsrooms’ fearmongering crime claims

Also, I prefer to call it a homicide rate, not murder rate, because not all of the deaths are going to result in murder charges (either 1st degree murder or 2nd degree murder) and some of them may result in no charges at all (self-defense, police shootings are two examples).

Alright, that’s enough media crime yammer, let’s see what else is going on in Edmonton. I don’t believe it’s just crime and death. (more…)


August 11 Edmonton Headlines

We sure are!

Good Thursday to you, Edmonton.

The police chief and mayor revealed a little more detail on where Edmonton is going in new crime-fighting and crime prevention programs. They’ll need help from the provincial government to fund some of the ideas. They could probably also use some help from the courts and parole systems to ensure the worst, and repeat, offenders don’t get out as often as they sometimes do. But crime prevention is really going to be the long-term key.

Among the items: more social workers and social assistance, more enforcement in high-risk neighbourhoods, trying to get tougher laws, or punishments, for knives and “edged weapons,” domestic violence awareness.

It all sounds good, but money and the actual projects and help will have to come through for anything to improve beyond our current state. (And, a reminder, we are currently seeing decreases in crime right across the country. Mack’s got a new look at some homicide numbers too.)

Just a quick, cynical, side note: If the mayor wants money, because that’s what help from the provincial government will be tied to, for programs both provincially and city-run, would he be willing to give up the downtown arena $100-million request? That kind of money could get a lot of people off the street, build-up mental health treatment, increase social assistance, and create crime prevention activities and programs.

A unanimous city council vote on a sports stadium? I guess that’s what happens when the city isn’t paying and the new stadium is privately financed.

Duncan Kinney has been crunching the numbers on Edmonton’s deal, because it doesn’t sound like anything is working or making lots of people happy with the current plan.

Arena-free from here on out (today anyway). (more…)


August 10 Edmonton Headlines

This was the scene Tuesday at 9pm. So bright!

While this column spins its way around the downtown arena quite a bit, municipalities do get the worst deal when it comes to taxes. Provincial governments, which have power over municipalities like Edmonton, should think about changing the tax rules to allow cities and towns to tax more than property.

Police want you to be on the lookout for an older Chevy Suburban after a shooting in south Mill Woods. The two guys shot are known to police and aren’t talking. No crime should go unpunished, and no crime is more important than another to the victims. But this kind of crime, a shooting that happened in public, is one that justifiably leaves people upset and scared.

We should hear more from the police chief today on new plans to take on violent crime, but the largest way to solve such problems lies outside of policing with social agencies, housing, mental health, and addictions treatment, community groups, and school and recreation resources.

Here’s a good example of a couple of guys who used sports to get university educations.

While there’s going to be a need to involve all kinds of other groups in keeping our city as safe as possible, police budgets are not going to get smaller in the near future.

Five years after a man was shot by Edmonton police the case is still in the courts in appeals and reviews.

Alright, that’s where we’re starting today, but next we’re heading to Whyte Avenue. (more…)


August 9 Edmonton Headlines

Our saviour.

Let’s start Tuesday with the good old downtown arena, shall we.

The Mayor says the City of Edmonton is negotiating a downtown arena deal in good faith and would hope the other side – the Katz Group and Oilers – is doing the same. The question arises after a story last week about Enoch as a possible back-up location for the Oilers. The Mayor also wonders what impact the Katz Group’s PR offer to MLAs will have on a request for $100-million in provincial government money.

Daryl Katz might need a few “No Men” around these arena planning meetings.

Also, wouldn’t it be funny, at least a little, if the City of Edmonton just said “You know what, enjoy Enoch.”

Come on, it would be hilarious.

Not hilarious: that “revitalizing downtown” almost always includes mega-projects.

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I threw in an update to Monday’s Headlines shortly after posting, but the update from the chief of the Edmonton Police Service yesterday was to wait for Wednesday.

But, any plan will need help from everyone. I’d also like to see more 24-hour (or at least 18 or-so hours) opportunities for libraries, school and after school programs, recreation, community centres, and things that can generally occupy kid and teen minds and time. That, more police on the streets (on the actual street, not another 3oo officers or anything), increased police, social worker, and mental health treatment in schools, greater resources for mental illness and addiction, and housing-first plans for the homeless and I think we’d be on track for a city everybody could agree on as safe.

But I fear we might just see more police hired.

Monday afternoon in south Mill Woods didn’t pass by quietly. A drive-by shooting, in the Knottwood portion of the neighbourhood, has put two young men in hospital. This is not a random shooting, and the victims aren’t sharing any details about who might have opened fire on them with police.

As an update to some talk we had yesterday on a crime blog, here’s Adam’s follow-up.

The man convicted of beating Edmonton bus driver Tom Bregg is looking to appeal his “dangerous offender” status. That status puts him in prison without a set release date. Though, one story says he’s filed that appeal and another says it’s just in the works. That means we’ll likely be waiting some time before this gets to the Alberta Court of Appeal.

It might take some time to wind through the courts, but it’s going to have to get to that before we know if Edmonton Police made the right call on releasing the name and photo of an HIV-positive 17-year-old, accused of not disclosing her status to sexual partners – which is a crime in Canada. But we will have to wait for the court case before knowing who is a victim of what and if there are changes to how police may act in a future case.

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It’s long, long overdue to try some late-night transit on Whyte Avenue, and Edmonton in general. A bit strange that Southgate becomes this cab drop-off. We should just run 6-12 bus routes through the overnight that allow people to be transported to other busy hubs and neighbourhoods. Will this just shift problems to Southgate where bus-loads of people try to get cabs? Why is the Edmonton Transit System so scared of all-night transit?

A fatal fire at an Old Strathcona senior’s home will push back others waiting to get into seniors housing.

Edmonton, and Canadian, soldiers continue to come home as the military mission in Afghanistan winds down.

The University of Alberta is offering a new certificate in aboriginal sport and recreation.


August 8 Edmonton Headlines

Well, that might be going a bit too far.

Hello Monday! And hello Edmonton.

Just to check: the Edmonton Oilers still play in Edmonton.

And the Katz Group wants to help with your PR, you know, if you need it or anything.

Forget the murder hype, we’re all safe. While that headline may be an oversimplification, it’s great to see at least one newsroom trying to challenge the scary, headline-grabbing homicide count. Now, if the same sentiment could seep off the editorial page and onto the front page – where we usually see the homicide and violent crime stories themselves – we’d really be onto a more balanced view of Edmonton.

The columns have come after Everybody in this city is armed?! was launched. So, keep up the pressure on newsrooms to dump the “If it bleeds, it leads” approach and talk to you like you know your own city. Which, we’re about to see in the next couple of stories, is still very much needed.

Stuff like saying “…rash of violent crimes in the city.” without including any stats or information on whether that’s true is what unnecessarily hurts the city’s image and leads to an ill-informed view of what’s going on and what may lead us to some solutions.

Or blaming crime on families with working parents and immigrants. That’s probably not helping any discussion on crime. Or football. Or whatever this iNews880 blog is about.

Balance those crime statements!

We should hear more on crime from the police chief today. (Update: He’s working on things.)

It’s Monday and we’re just getting this week going. More Edmonton news after the jump. (Which makes less sense if you’re reading this as a result of a direct link.) (more…)


August 5 Edmonton Headlines

Welcome to the end of our short August week, Edmonton.

Edmonton’s playing major catch-up on infrastructure – our roads, public buildings, LRT, etc… – some might even say we’ve got an infrasturcture debt that’s way past due. That’s an important factor to remember when talking about pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a downtown arena, without any clear plans on all of the exciting, truly revitazling buildings and infrastructure that is supposed to go around the arena.

And, even then, it might not be the best way to spend all that money. Other cities don’t seem to be getting ahead after dumping money into a new arena or stadium. Is a downtown arena truly going to change our city, or is Edmonton simply following the lure of big promises and the fear of upsetting a fan base?

Speaking of the fan base…sounds like the Oilers would look for close-to-home options if the downtown arena plans fell through.

Good for iNews/CHED for trying to balance a story about how newsrooms should try and tell a more honest, full story about life in Edmonton and drop the “If it bleeds it leads.” approach. Wait, no, I take that back. They “balanced” it with a story full of sensational quotes that says nothing about whether crime reporting is accurate.

They did not try to counter the claims that our homicide rate is “unacceptable” and our city unsafe. Probably because there’s nothing as quotable in that. (More on this story below, in the PC leadership race.) Here’s your balance: crime is dropping in Edmonton, and across Canada, and Edmonton is experiencing a 2011 jump in homicides for unclear reasons.

That doesn’t take anything away from the victims of crime and their families. It might even help catalyze people into more action on crime prevention if crime stories made up a more representative portion of news coverage. Right now it’s so prevalent you’d think very little else goes on. That is indeed the perception that makes it into newscasts and newspapers outside of Edmonton.

It’s nice to see a Journal columnist saying we’re safe in Edmonton. That, however, doesn’t make the front page as homicides routinely do.

We should hear from the chief of the Edmonton Police Service next week with some new plans and approaches to crime in Edmonton.

I really thought I could end the week with a little less on crime reporting. Especially with downtown arena in the Headlines. Shows what I know. (more…)


August 4 Edmonton Headlines

Good morning, Edmonton. How’s about we start with scary crime again?

I want to write a little more about a new website launched Wednesday later, but suffice to say Edmonton newsrooms are still going to for easy quotes on murder and crime.

Councillor Kim Krushell is paraphrased (not directly quoted in the story) as blaming northern Alberta workers getting out of hand for some of our troubles. Why would the CBC then try and back that up with stats?

Premier candidate Gary Mar wants to be the next leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives so he can tackle our “unacceptable” murder rate. Don’t worry, the story doesn’t get into details about whether or not we have an unacceptable murder rate, or how this year fits into Edmonton’s annual crime patterns, it’s just a tough-on-crime line from a politician served up to keep the newswheel spinning.

The interesting thing about that 630CHED/iNews880 Gary Mar story this morning is that it follows a Wednesday afternoon story talking about this new push to have a better conversation about crime in Edmonton. It took all of 14 hours to run one story talking about how easy, sensational quotes and a lack of research in stories is more fearmongering than reporting, and jumping right back to the short “objective” piece that doesn’t challenge what anyone says about how scary and violent Edmonton is.

This is where objectivity is crap.

If the reporters, editors, producers, and everyone else involved in getting a story out to Edmontonians aren’t walking around absolutely terrified of being killed why do they let people talk about our city like it’s a horrible place to live? I know they aren’t doing it on purpose; there are deadlines, and the people quoted answer the phone right away. But the irony of running a story about how a new premier will clean up our streets hours after one calling for better, more researched, fair stories better not be lost on every “journalist” in Edmonton newsrooms. This isn’t about your audience misinterpreting your stories, this isn’t about one or two people that are always quoted, this is about how the stories are put together and presented. The Chief can come out and tell us we’re in a fairly safe city every day, but if newsrooms sensationalize our crime what’s the point?

It’s also interesting to note a line like this in a Sun editorial: “…Alberta’s capital city has recently become known more for its violence than anything else.” How does that happen without the newsrooms pumping out story after story about how violent it is? News coverage has about the largest role to play in how a city is viewed from the outside. I challenge Edmonton’s newsrooms to tell a more balanced Edmonton story.

Unless staff members of the newsrooms really are terrified to leave their house. Then I guess this is their story.

Sigh. I guess I’m just leaving my soapbox out all of the time now. (more…)


August 3 Edmonton Headlines

Some days you really aren't getting anywhere.

Good Wednesday to you, Edmonton. Yes, it’s already the middle of the week.

We were talking yesterday, and last week, and when annual crime statistics came out, about context in crime stories. Today there’s a story about a suspicious death investigation at a senior’s home fire in Old Strathcona. Some of the news stories are hinting at the fact police are looking at a suicide as the centre of the crime, which involves another’s death. This CBC story is a little more open about it.

While that wouldn’t make it anymore pleasant – it’s terrible to see people die and others forced out of their home by a fire – this little bit of context as to what might have happened helps people outside of the story know they’re safe. It’s that fear of random crime which is truly scary. And I think that’s where a lot of “tough on crime” talk comes from. Let’s put the context in EVERY crime story, not just as a smaller add-on somewhere else in the newspaper or newscast.

Unfortunately, in a lot of crime stories, without much detail as to what happened you can be left with a feeling that you’re in danger just being in Edmonton, or a certain neighbourhood. It shows how reporting right now (RIGHT NOW!) is fraught with the chances of fearmongering. Police have to be forthcoming with details, and they aren’t always. Sometimes, police are still investigating as newsrooms are working on their second, third, umpteenth version of the story.

We’re more likely to get details, information, and context, at a court case. But, by that point, people usually remember the first story or two about a crime as chosen by newsrooms (make no mistake, there’s no objectivity about selecting one crime over the dozens that happen each day). And, since not every newsroom has a constant presence at the courts, the initial stories usually get more play.

Working on a breaking news story for a day or more might be the best way newsrooms can get out information in a timely manner and avoid leaving any danger up to the imagination. It also means they have time to seek out good, reliable sources of information, challenge people who only seem to be trying to get into the news for a quote, be more careful with sidebar and spin-off stories, and truly be a part of the community they want to serve.

You don’t go around trying to frighten your friends and neighbours, nor would they talk to you a whole lot if you were vague about everything. Why do we allow our news coverage to be vague?

It’s time for you and me to ask newsrooms for a better level of crime coverage. We don’t need them to slap together a story, we need them to dig in and tell us why the stories are important, why the story matters, who and what is shaping our city. We need to demand a better discussion about crime in Edmonton.

Now, let’s see what’s happening in the rest of a pretty safe Edmonton. (more…)


Monday Headlines

It's a double rainbow dudes. (Photo: Deja Springfield)

Welcome to a new week, a sunnier week, Edmonton.

So, last week there was a bit in the Progressive Conservative leadership debate about not funding a new downtown arena in Edmonton. Now the wording is getting a little, let us say, tricky.

Now, for the second time in a week, a columnist who was in favour of a downtown arena is having second thoughts.

Chinatown is again at the centre of debate and discussion around the downtown LRT connnector.

There’s been a lot of talk about historic and heritage buildings in the news recently. Another way we could lose these great old gems is the same way we can lose any building; fire.

This is one of the worst summers for mosquitoes in recent memory, and Mike Jenkins is among those at the head of the battle against the bug.

Edmonton newsrooms need a new crime expert. The one always cited, Bill Pitt, doesn’t believe the crime rate is going down. I haven’t seen any studies or figures he might have to back that up though.

There was some sort of car race this weekend. I’ll find out what kind after the jump. (more…)


July 22 Edmonton Headlines

Welcome to a rainy Friday, Edmonton.

A bunch of new apartments to be built in Edmonton, and the region, will include homes available for less than market value.

The Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidates began a tour of debates last night in Vermilion. Nothing crazy or outlandish happened, so take a peek through the story to start getting a sense of the people that would be premier.

Strange that I would mention that here, right off the top, where I usually have Edmonton news. Maybe there’s something in this story about the downtown arena and its snowball’s chances of provincial money. Speaking of paying for fancy things

Police are trying to work with the Somali community to solve all of the homicides that population has suffered in recent years, including four this year.

Two Edmonton Police officers are under investigation after drunk driving charges were dismissed because a suspect was badly beaten during the arrest and police testimony left the judge feeling like there was a “circle of silence” from the arresting officers.

It’s the Indy weekend (I’m sure that you didn’t need a reminder), but what does the race say to the world about Edmonton? Does it say anything at all?

A man with Edmonton connections, and alleged tied to war crimes, is among the most wanted immigration fugitives in Canada.

Edmonton author Gloria Sawai – an award-winning author – has died.

*****

Are Ottawa and Alberta on the same page when it comes to environmental monitoring, particularly of the oil industry? Yes? Yes. Maybe?

As the newest Alberta oil spill is being cleaned up, National Geographic is setting its sites on pipelines that will run from the capital region to the B.C. coast. (I got the link to the National Geographic story after seeing a story in the Journal.)

A legal case about Metis and Status Indian registration, and living on a Metis settlement, went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Basically, you can only register for benefits once.

All of this rain has meant a rise in river and lake levels across Alberta.

A Sherwood Park man is fighting hundreds of millions of dollars in fraud allegations. Here’s a quote that stood out to me: “…his latest business was legal.”

*****

As mentioned yesterday, crime is down. In Edmonton. In Alberta. In Canada (there are some crimes that saw an increase last year though, but overall things are getting better). So, I’m sure you’re glad the federal Conservative government is getting tough on crime.

And I’m sure tonight’s news will have lotsa crime stories. But crime is down.

Hold on a second…I know my soapbox is around here somewhere…Ah, here it is.

This story and at least one more has begun with lines like “You might not believe it…” but crime stories in the news is THE reason people wouldn’t believe it. So, aren’t you saying you’re getting it wrong?

Here’s a better opening: “It might contradict everything we put in the news every day, but crime is continually dropping…”

This is the biggest reason I don’t link out to a lot of crime stories. They lack context. Homicides are about the only story that include references to how many have happened overall, if that’s up or down for this time of year, or over a period of years. That doesn’t happen with sex crimes, robberies, or many other crimes. That lack of context is what leaves people with a feeling things aren’t safe.

That’s not to say everything is perfect and I’d feel perfectly happy counting stacks of money out on every street corner or wandering around every neighbourhood at 3am, but without context people in charge – in neighbourhoods, in community groups, in government, in policing – don’t get to focus on real problems and prevention because they’re reacting to front pages and 6 o’clock news reports.

Jumps off soapbox.

Let’s end on an up-note: dinosaurs and celebrities!

 


July 21 Northlands Headlines

Not yet.

Good morning, Edmonton. You know a day with downtown arena stories is going to be a busy day. So, dig in.

Among the news and notes from City administration’s answers to Councillor Ed Gibbons:

  • Daryl Katz’s $100-million for the arena is more like $80 or $90-million, with the rest covering management over decades
  • The City (you and me) will likely have to put up the money, probably borrowed, to cover the $125-million that will eventually be paid back through a ticket tax (that’s you again, if you go to anything at the arena)
  • Katz Group and Oilers financials are yet to be fully opened up to City Council
  • There’s nothing binding Daryl Katz to spend $100-million in development around the arena
  • A community rink would be fully paid for by the City (why don’t we just build a couple of community rinks on the parking lot and call it a day?)
  • The arena will cost more than $450-million when you factor in “soft costs” like design, street lights, LRT, transit, that community rink, sewers, and a bunch of other stuff I’m not smart enough to think of.

Northlands isn’t backing down. The non-profit agency wants to keep running Rexall Place if there’s a downtown arena. That likely doesn’t bode well for you and I making back any of the tax money council wants to throw into the downtown arena. There could be too much competition for arena events in a city Edmonton’s size.

On Northlands: They wanted council approval of $770,000 for new seats at Rexall Place. They got that. It’s money already in the Northlands budget, but anything over $750,000 needs a look by city council.

There were questions about Northlands’ finances (sure, councillors, I just happened to bring our audited statements with us to a meeting for a seat rubber-stamp…) and I suspect councillors will have an easier time to see the money details of Northlands than the Katz Group. Also, with council members sitting on the Northlands board, at least a few folks in City Hall yesterday should know how the non-profit is doing with cash.

Even a downtown arena fan thinks Daryl Katz could be the guy making all the wrong moves, and asking for too much money, on the deal.

Whew. That’s a lot of Northlands and arena talk. How about we shift gears for the rest of today’s Headlines? (more…)


May 12 Edmonton Headlines

There’s a lot to get to today, so let’s get to it, Edmonton.

Building a better city, one without “crap” architecture, takes time, but Edmonton is making moves to be that city.

Building a better city will also mean taking bold steps, including those of the environmental persuasion.

The City of Edmonton is trying to figure out what to do about the many electronic billboards (essentially giant video screens) popping up. Do they distract drivers? Do they cause crashes? Should they be regulated?

Daycare operations at the Edmonton Public School Board won’t be handed over to a large private company.

It’s dry. It’s windy. It’s time for fire bans.

EPCOR is looking at getting into the oilsands.

The City is looking for its next Poet Laureate (they will be replacing our current PL, Cadence Weapon).

The Edmonton Police Service is thanking apartment and multi-residential development managers who try to keep things safe for tenants.

An Edmonton river valley park is open again, after Project KARE investigated a tip on a missing person for most of this week. (Project KARE investigates the disappearance, and homicides, of dozens of “high-risk” individuals in the Edmonton area.)

A St. Alberta man is behind a new kind of bulletproof vest.

This news train is just getting rolling! (more…)


Bleeding Lead Headlines

The news don’t stop!

The English-language leaders debate went down last night. Leaders of the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, and Bloc debated and grandstanded in the hopes of winning over voters with their party’s ideas and platforms. Green Party leader Elizabeth May was relegated to an online chat because the “media consortium” running the debates couldn’t be bothered to include a national party with a million supporters.

Jumping off that Green Party snub (and noting the consortium has no problem including a regional party like the Bloc) New Democrat leader Jack Layton talked about bringing in proportional representation, which, looking at the map of blue Alberta will likely turn in on election day, is overdue.

There was a candidate’s debate over at the U of A for the hottest riding in Alberta – Edmonton-Strathcona. For two hours candidates (except the Liberal) answered questions on all the topics of the federal election, a few more on education (they were at the university), and took question after question from the audience.

It’s sometimes tough to know who the winner and losers are in a debate, but let’s just say Conservative Ryan Hastman did get taken to task by the widow of an Edmonton mayor.

Watch the debate over and over thanks to the power of the Internet.

And don’t forget about the losers in the election. There will be plenty of people running, and a lot of them know they won’t win.

Outside of the election, and around Edmonton… (more…)


December 13 Edmonton Headlines

Good morning, Edmonton.

Here’s a radical prescription for the healthcare system: more doctors and more illness prevention (good food, exercise, etc…).

Remember when I said (on Friday I think) that all this new healthcare spending from the governing Tories smelled like election spending? That election smell is drifting to Sherwood Park.

A couple has earned a hard-fought tax rebate on a home they built to accommodate wheelchair. There are some interesting points in this story about people choosing to live at home and the costs to the taxpayer (vs. costs of putting people into care centres).

The Alberta government is looking at 911 fee from cellphones. Quick cell sidenote: While I’m locked into a contract right now, I’m really happy to see more companies offering cell service.

—–

Edmonton is going to toss its hat into the ring to host some games in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup – though the Mayor’s not a fan.

Northlands was at City Hall Friday, talking about the downtown arena with city council. I don’t really feel like talking a whole lot of about the downtown arena this morning, call it arena fatigue. So, here’s another item on the arena you should read: Northlands needs to offer funding.

Now, an apology. (more…)


Like “Cheers.” But with guns.

This party is now cancelled.

By Janine Edwards

So, the City of Edmonton and the Public Safety Compliance Team are closing the Gingur Sky Lounge for two weeks. First of all, who is this “Public Safety Compliance Team” and why did they never find out what happened to the three-pawed bear menace that was stalking children in downtown Edmonton?

The second thing…  why does the PSCT want to shut it down? This bunch of professional party poopers think that Gingur Sky is dangerous. Really? Just because there’s been a string of violent incidents at a nightclub… you think it’s dangerous? Wow, you guys don’t know how to party.

Okay, so there are fights, and shootings, and stabbings… but have you BEEN to Gingur Sky? The bar is filled with wanna-be thugs.  I don’t think closing down Gingur Sky is the answer. Oh no. In fact, I think it’s the OPPOSITE of the answer.

Let’s keep the bar open. It’s in a shady, uninhabited part of Edmonton, right? So keep the nightclub around – and start using the violence as a selling point! Let’s make this bar into a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.  Anything can happen at Gingur Sky! Bring your weapons – bring your drug money… Settle your scores on Saturday nights at Gingur Sky!

This benefits three main groups:

  1. The Police. Is it the weekend? Then you know that shit is going down at the club tonight! You know that come 2a.m., you need to get down there and bust someone for dealing, weapons charges, or a shooting.  The Police should build a station nearby for just such an occasion.
  2. Journalists. Forget chasing that stupid peahen! Instead, you know that something is going to happen at Gingur Sky. Infiltrate the scene. Meet the locals. Stand with your camera crew across the street – ready to strike. The news will pretty much write itself.
  3. The Public! That’s right… you, yourself will benefit.  You’ll know which bar to avoid, and hopefully, the bad guys will start taking each other out. The ones left standing will be arrested by police, and the cycle will continue until Edmonton is pretty much crime free.  Chief Boyd should run on this platform. Wait – do they even run? Maybe he can run against Mandel.

Keeping Gingur Sky open is a benefit to EVERYONE. It will make our city streets safer, and give the criminals a place to call their own. Until they’re sent to jail.

Or, they’ll all team up and become Super Villians. But I think you need a doctorate for that.


Help a fellow citizen, a public servant

(Reprinted with permission from Adam at The Unknown Studio.)

I’m sure many Edmontonians heard and were disgusted by the vicious, unprovoked attack on a City bus driver this week. According to passenger accounts, someone boarded the bus, got miffed that the driver wouldn’t allow him to ride unless he paid, and even when passengers fronted this guy the change to ride, he started punching the driver, dragging him off the bus and mercilessly beating him.

When I heard this story, I felt sick to my stomach. Of course it was a random act of violence. That’s what made it so terrifying.

Thankfully, as City Councilor Don Iveson pointed out in a recent tweet, the alleged perpetrator was apprehended:

“An ETS bus operator was assaulted very seriously this morning. Police caught the guy. Assholes beware, buses have cameras http://is.gd/5bMXA

But now an Edmonton-area family has to worry about a father and brother who did nothing but his job. I asked the City of Edmonton on Twitter if there was somewhere people could donate money to help the family out. Hey, it’s the season of giving, and I don’t know about you but if my dad were in a condition like that I would be so grateful to have the community rally behind me and help out.

That’s what it means to be part of a society. Helping others.

The City responded this afternoon:

“Trust fund has been established @ River City Credit Union (any branch) for ppl who wish to donate to driver Tom Bregg’s recovery.”

I know it’s not a whole pile of cash, but I’m going to be donating $50 to this fund, and hopefully Tom Bregg’s family will have one or two less things to worry about this holiday season.

I challenge each and everyone of you readers out there to throw some money toward the Bregg family as well. Pledge your donation in the comments, and get to any River City Credit Union branch and donate to the fund.

And stay safe out there, everyone.

Adam Rozenhart

ETS bus


Letter from the Editor – Jeff – August 4/09

Skyline - 8

You have to make a lot of tough calls in a regular, 24-hour, newsroom. I don’t envy people making those calls.

Newsrooms are under constant pressure to churn things out in the 24-hour news world, and that means they’re bound to get things wrong (as a former reporter for radio stations across the country, I’ve been there). There’s also the ongoing case of stories running without all the facts, perhaps to be added later.

Last week it was clear how tough things can be for the 24-hour newsrooms.

The recent story of police officers being swarmed by a group of teens is the kind of thing that grabs headlines, nay, creates headlines, and makes people want to watch and listen. It’s the sort of story that will fill talk radio with middle aged folks wagging their fingers, and saying it’s time to “teach young punks” some respect.

I mean, it’s not every day a police officer is assaulted (thankfully) and it touches a nerve that even those who protect us can still be vulnerable. But how do you tell this story in an even-handed way?

Because, as we all know, news isn’t a movie or television plot; in real life, things are rarely as black and white as we’d like. It’s incredibly difficult to get these stories across to the greater public in a fair way. It’s tough for a lot of crime stories, actually.

I bring this up because the accused in this swarming case is telling the Edmonton Journal police have it wrong. It’s easy to dismiss this as someone trying to defend their name. But sometimes the story does end up being very different from the initial version.

Days before this story of violence, a case of assaulting a police officer was thrown out of court by a judge. Here, the judge says the police officer went too far. It took the trial process to get more on the case. The information wasn’t readily available or provided at the headline-grabbing stage.

(Notes: The case could always be appealed and there are still other legal avenues being pursued. I’m also not linking the two stories to say this latest one will be thrown out.)

So what do you do? Do you just put up a little blurb mentioning the charges and wait for details at court?

The fear there would be that your competition will have a front page or top story all about the charges and people will wonder why you didn’t do anything more than a brief update.

Though, the days following the Journal story with the accused show that not everyone went full-out on that story. Even the Journal went from the front page with the assault allegations to page B4, with the story from the accused teen.

Another example of why newsrooms should ease up on the crime headlines (or work on the story thoroughly before publishing) is right here; this story was all about how four teens beat a man to death on an ETS bus. Turned out that’s not at all what happened. Again, things had to go to court before all the facts could be learned.

I think limiting sensational headlines (and possibly, most of the sensational story), especially when details are coming from one side, would be a start.

It would take bold newsroom decisions though. You might have to work on the story for a couple of days, watching the other guys produce stories one fact at a time, before you could give a full and/or fair balance.

It might also take some feature and in-depth reporting to make up for the lack of easy-to-cover stories. But wouldn’t it be better to have the story correct, all the way through?


Walk This Way

Whyte Avenue on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Whyte Avenue on a busy Saturday afternoon.

This is the first in a series of community profiles looking at Edmonton’s “walkable neighbourhoods.” Searching online, it appears the condition of sidewalks, street lighting and other infrastructure stuff makes up the “walkable neighbourhood” criteria. I think instead we’ll look at what makes you want to live in the neighbourhood ,and how close the important stuff is; a grocery store(s), shops, businesses, restaurants, workplaces, transit and other amenities. Let’s say within a 10-15 minute walk. Agree or disagree, let us know what you think. Tell us about your experiences in these neighbourhoods and others we might not have walked yet.


WALKABLE WHYTE

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