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250News shutting down → 

September 15 2017 |

This is shame. 250News.com has been an important force in the world of media and politics in Prince George and beyond.
 
I remember when I had a short internship working in a government office there were some key websites political operatives monitored — the Vancouver Sun, The Victoria Times-Colonist, and 250News as a sole representative from the north. Over the past decade it’s probably the news site I’ve visited the most, and I’ve learned a lot as both a citizen and a journalist from reading it.
 
The dedication the Meisners showed to covering city hall is especially commendable, and the legacy is the number of of other organizations that now dedicate resources to council meetings and others– and one I hope carries on, because without 250 there everyone else is going to have to step up their game.
 
As Tyler Sabourin points out, they also were pioneers in digital news, from publishing news as it happens to fostering an online community of people engaged in local goings-ons.
 
Elaine Macdonald-Meisner apologizes to those who will miss the organization, but no apology is needed– she’s making the decision that’s best for her, and I’m glad of it.
 
Hats off to her, and to the late Ben Meisner, and to everyone who made a go of independent local news in the north.




I really like having a second Facebook profile for just work…

September 10 2017 |

…and I recommend it but also I’ve realized Facebook is kind of terrible.

Backstory:

Just over four months ago I decided to make a second Facebook profile to use on a professional level. You can read more about why here, but a quick summary is:

I also promised that I would follow-up with some thoughts and my first one is I cannot believe it took me this long to do it.

 

It is really nice to have work separated from home

The first thing I did after creating the professional profile was go to my personal profile and leave every group, unfollow every page and unfriend everyone that I was only connected with for work-related reasons.

And, oh man, is it great. There are a lot of ways you could solve the issues I was having like uninstalling Facebook from your phone or adjusting notifications or whatever but this worked for me. Also I feel WAAAAAAY better when I join a community group and start asking questions with the intention of using that information for reporting purposes — I still clarify it, but it just feels way more explicit now that my name is “Andrew Kurjata – Journalist” everywhere I post.

Also, the weekend comes and it is just like my work email — out of sight, out of mind. No more work related messages popping up while I’m supposed to be not working (for the most part, I am still working on work/life balance but this has definitely helped).

 

It also made it clear to me how awful some aspects of Facebook really are

The other thing that doing this has clarified for me is seeing just how bad Facebook is in some ways. For literally years I thought the reason I was constantly getting brand-related posts and missing updates from my sister was because the way I was using Facebook was wrong– all the pages and groups and stuff I liked was the reason my notifications and newsfeed felt so… stressful.

Turns out this isn’t true– Facebook is actually just kind of terrible.

After carefully culling my friends list and then making an even smaller group of family and close friends who I wanted to see turn up in my newsfeed, I *still* get a bunch of advertising and posts far disconnected from what I want, which is updates from friends and family.

Instead of notifications about random groups I now get them about so-and-so liking such-and-such a page and constant pestering to add new people to my friends list– people I’ve never met but they are a friend of a friend or whatever.

I had a vision that once I made my personal Facebook more ~personal~ that it would also feel more personal because it would just be nice notes and not a bunch of ads. If anything, the advertising is even *more* apparent now.

The result is I’m using Facebook on a personal level much less, because it has become very clear that the problems I have with it are not because I’m doing something wrong, but because Facebook is designed in a way that does not appeal to me.1

 

The downside

I should mention a couple of things that aren’t great. One is you can’t really be logged into messenger from two accounts at once except on separate devices. I often will get messages to my personal account during the day that are somewhat pertinent while I’m logged into my professional one. The solution, I guess, is to try and get people to chat with me elsewhere, but I’d also like it if less people were on Facebook, so.

Also some things I’m not super sure about where to post– like this write-up, for example. I’ll probably wind up putting it on both my accounts which sucks for people who are friends with both but idk whatcha gonna do ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Also I fear that one day Facebook will find my account and tell me it is a *brand* and I will have to convert it to a page and I will feel stupid about it, but until then here we are.

Conclusion

I mean I dunno it’s just me but I love it and I suspect if you’ve *considered* making a separate Facebook account for reasons at all similar to why I have you will probably love it, too.


  1. The thing that’s especially frustrating about this is some things Facebook does are actually really great. Events, for one. Messaging is pretty good, although I would like a better way to search. And their ‘memories’ feature is beautiful and surfaces stuff I do like to see- human connections. Unfortunately the day-to-day just feels broken. 




Saskatoon Berry Appreciation Thread

September 10 2017 |

Note: I keep reminding myself that although Twitter and Facebook are great I should remember to put stuff on here. It’s a heck of a lot easier to go back through a blog and find some old post or idea you were playing with. Anyways, here’s one from Twitter, July 23.




bridget moran

August 20 2017 |

So there’s been some talk about statues recently and I took a look at the ones we have in Prince George. The first is of Terry Fox, because before he did his famous cross-country trek he ran in a marathon here.

The other is of Bridget Moran, a social worker and author whose Wikipedia entry includes the following:

“In 1964 the provincial government suspended her, along with four other social workers, for their public criticisms of child welfare services, including an open letter to Premier W.A.C. Bennett (Social Credit party).”

And one of her books is described thusly on Amazon:

“An engrossing look at the investigation into the hit-and-run death of Coreen Thomas, a young Native woman in her ninth month of pregnancy, at the wheels of a car driven by a young white man in central BC. The resulting inquest into what might have been just another small-town tragedy turned into an inquiry of racial tensions, both implicit and explicit, that surfaced not only on country backroads but in the courtroom as well, revealing a dual system of justice that treated whites and aboriginals differently. First published in 1990, Judgement at Stoney Creek has been hailed for its moving and deeply personal depiction of a controversial subject that continues to make news today?how the justice system has failed Canada’s aboriginal people.”

Prince George has its problems but I’m pretty cool with the fact our statue honours a woman fired for standing up for children’s rights and then in retirement worked to expose racism in the justice system and society at large.




Downtown Prince George needs a viewing platform → 

August 9 2017 |

Last year I was interviewed by a really cool project called The Tale of A Town which consists of a small group of people dropping into a Canadian community, talking to a ton of people and then putting together a story about that community through a short-run interactive show (which I really wish could be replicated on a permanent basis) and a series of short audio clips on their website.

My clip has gone live, and they chose me talking about something I still feel is true: downtown Prince George needs a publicy-accessible building that gives people fifth-storey-or-higher views of the city, something that I realized when I visited someone’s office on the fifth floor of the Royal Bank building. As I said:

“You look out and you see this beautiful view of the Nechako River and the cutbanks, you see the downtown, you see the Crescents, you see how the city fits together… and that’s the first time in my life that I ever saw that view from downtown Prince George.

“And the thing that I realized is unless you are staying in one of these hotels, or happen to work beyond the second floor in one of these buildings, that is a view of the city you don’t have access to. So the vast majority of the people who live in Prince George don’t have this perspective.”

In just about any major city you visit, taking a trip up some sort of tower or another is on the list of quintessential tourist experiences. It gives us perspective on where we are and lets us see the character of the place in a way that you can’t quite capture on the ground.

I really do believe it would help alter people’s views on Prince George.




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There are messages everywhereIf you don't walk in random places you don't see stuff like thisOn the side of the old RCMP building in Prince George. #graffiti #cityofPGInteresting.#cityofPGMy office buddy is cuter than yours