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Marshall Jones: The Kelowna.com adventure comes to an end

Thursday, April 15th, 2010 | 1:00 pm

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By Marshall Jones

I called my assistant editor John McDonald to the Glenrosa fire a few minutes after it started. It was a little tough getting him in on a Saturday but it was nearly impossible to get him to leave. I sat in my van in a long line of evacuees watching fire grow from his general position, knowing he had long ago abandoned his own vehicle. On cell phone contact, over the sound of fire, wind and fire trucks, all I could hear was him swearing and yelling, mostly at me for telling him to get out of there.

It was easily the highlight of my time at Kelowna.com. Truth is I can’t find too many lowlights beyond, perhaps, daily reports of readership statistics. Yikes.

If anyone had more fun than I had over the past 10 months at Kelowna.com, it was John McDonald. John and I have worked together for years, mostly watching news pass us by at the Capital News while we waited two or three more days for a print deadline. Don’t get me wrong, we always did good work—as they do now—but it was often irrelevant by the time anyone read it.

Working on the web finally gave us a chance to compete and no one was more willing to race out to news than John was. We were like puppies who finally snuck through the fence of the yard.

On the way into this, I made much of the greater picture. I am passionate about journalism. It breaks my heart to see it failing and I wanted to find its future with this website and I failed. A friend of mine told me about another reduction in his newsroom and lamented the future of newspapers—and now he held little hope of it moving to the web either.

I wish it were that simple. I won’t go into details, but I have plenty of faith, largely due to the talent we had in our own office.

While Gary Moore, John and I patrolled for hard news, Kathy Michaels proved that there’s a place for business news and depth of coverage. Business is the toughest beat because the good stories don’t walk in the door, but she fought for it and her stories on real estate and business issues were often top reads. If you didn’t get a chance, I invite you to look over some of her columns. She is a crafty wordsmith, one of the best, and I hope she continues with it.

Chris Stanford is a master with his camera and no doubt he will soon find another good home for it, though the web was the best showcase for the breadth of his work. He did a great job in sports, and Pieter Uni filled in for him admirably.

Stories by Joe Fries were invariably the most read. He proved that hard news can get us by, but by digging in places few others know about and never letting a story die on Day One, you can provide insight and depth and yes, readers do crave that.

I was blessed with a great team and that includes former employees Holly Miyasaki, Gary Moore, Adrian Nieoczym and Mark Stone. I only wish we were able to connect with more readers who could have seen the full breadth of what we offered.

Shaun Pilfold and Rob Montgomery were great as owners. They largely stayed out of the newsroom, backed me when they needed to and pushed me when they had to. They included me in strategy, business, technology and philosophy. I learned so much it’s frightening what I didn’t know coming in.

And here’s where I point out my own lie. Today is without doubt the lowlight of my days at Kelowna.com. The reporters have gone, the newsroom is bare and I move on to find another adventure.

flyontheweb@mac.com

250-470-4102

Marshall Jones: The Kelowna.com adventure comes to an end3.8521

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25 Responses to “Marshall Jones: The Kelowna.com adventure comes to an end”

  1. steve-o says:
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    It’s unfortunate that a superior product is snubbed in favor of the old standby. On a positive note, maybe this is an opportunity for Castanet to replace some bodies…

  2. Phil says:
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    Oh man… Well so much for a fresh new news service in Kelowna… I hate to see ya guys go.

    I just am surprised that you are at this point after 10 months… the first year is always the hardest… You almost got past it.

  3. KVRNut says:
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    I’ll be sorry to see you go. Maybe this time wasn’t the right time for you even though you have provided a positive alternative to Castanet, sometimes beating them to the punch. I enjoyed your coverage of stories.
    Don’t give up on the news end of things and I hope to see you back doing the news again in the future. You’ll stay bookmarked.

  4. Buzzard says:
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    It’s a travesty – you and your team brought some refreshing intelligence and wit to web-based local news. Right idea, wrong town perhaps? Best of luck to you all.

  5. fred says:
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    This is really sad, I had heard there was an end coming but I hoped for a last minute reprieve. The sad thing is this was a superior news outlet on line. This site and AM1150 are the best for coverage I think there are a few things that could be done if you bring the site back. Advertising revenue is a must but I do think it could be done a little differently especially with fliers etc. I gave one of your reporters an idea yesterday and I think it could work for you. I would like to see you guys refocus and come back. A public relations drive ahead of time would help I believe.

    This site was excellent for a few reasons. One it was right on with news first, it provided interaction with those who followed stories and the people on your team were quality professionals. I know how hard it can be, I spent many years in the media business. It is sad to see it end when it was done right. Something this good should not die on the vine.

  6. Warren says:
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    Sorry to see this did not succeed. Hard to believe that readership was so difficult to move. Great reporting here and will be missed.
    Thank you.

  7. trace says:
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    What a shame… will miss my favorite site for localish news… good luck to you all in your future endeavours

  8. knewit says:
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    Apparently nobody here understands the REAL reason this site failed, it WAS NOT the lack of readership, poor reporting, bad articles or management.
    This site failed for one reason SOLELY, and that it’s because it had a WEAK ADVERTISING salesforce.
    Everyone knows that the ad’s pay the bills, not the readership, and with the crack team that was selling for this site, it was doomed before it got started.
    I am sorry to see this happen as i was a “switch” from the other local news site and preferred the story presentation here.
    Good luck to all who are displaced and be sure NOT to follow your SALES force to your next stop.

  9. Jan says:
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    A sad day for local media. I enjoyed your news service and hope that we see you pop up somewhere in the industry soon.

  10. Gypsy says:
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    It’s the Castanet forums and classifieds that killed you. They are hard to mimic.

    I wish all of you the best. There’s not many jobs out there for die-hard journalists – and I am one of them. We’re almost a dead breed now.

  11. mikeyp says:
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    You had me converted. . . I was amazed at the depth of talent and staff you were able to pull together, but I know the cost of that as well. Excellent site, sad to see it go. Maybe goes to show how difficult it is to break people of their habits.

  12. Steve says:
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    Sad to see you guys go. You were the less tabloid alternative to Castanet news. However, may I suggest you re-think your jab at the other local media outlets in the conclusion of this article. It seems quite rude and probably won’t do you well if you ever want a job in Kelowna again.

  13. Marshall says:
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    Hey Steve,

    No worries. I think all my colleagues know I am kidding and would forgive me a parting shot. We all thrive with competition.

    Marshall

  14. brad w says:
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    the bone it breaks
    but the bone it mends with
    a little bit of time
    the heart cracks
    but glue can’t hide that
    jagged little line
    now what i think don’t really matter
    you’ve got to set your course
    grab a rope
    slap off the dust
    get back up on the horse

    you should all be very proud of what you have accomplished
    this is the future of news media

  15. Dan M says:
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    sorry to see you go, I hate to think I have to get my local news only from Castanet now; this was a much better site and the reporters were much more about the whole story and not just the headline. Actually, I guess I am left with CTV and and CBC. Good luck to all of you.

  16. Thermoguy says:
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    You may love journalism but you weren’t one in this case. You were more of a reporter working for the Capital News. You were the only news authority called me in regards to seeing the interface fire through the smoke in 2003. The premier’s office edited the public inquiry into the fires. As a result, in 2009 Kelowna was blind again and fought the fires blind.

    Last year you took some basic imaging from me for your news but you didn’t follow through and see the images of them using retardents on one side of the fire while the other side was clearly building towards the highway. There we were with people running for their lives and now we are onto a new fire season that will be more intense except they will not give the fire fighters sight through the smoke again.

    I followed that when we found the cause of global warming and that solar radiated buildings were generating heat close to boiling temperature while we react to the the symptoms with massive emissions. As a result of you not reporting Kelowna residents have buildings exceeding building code because of a paint job. The heat contributes to forest fires and droughts.

    The toxins associated with the emissions are toxic so we brought you the fact we developed an imaging application that allows doctors to see cancers and inflammation. I lecture medical academia in the US and Canada where doctors get education credits they need for licensing.

    Not reporting has further compounded the real issues for Kelowna residents and industry. I am not looking for anything except to report to media so the public can be represented. We consult for industry, their insurers and on national security, lecture academia which is blind to temperature.

    I think of you when I lecture and people ask me about their sick children or autism from the mercury emissions, sick buildings or why I haven’t brought this information forward. I did my job as an objective professional, collectively you didn’t do yours.

  17. Kim says:
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    Sorry to see this website come to an end. I thought it stood a good shot as it often targeted news that wasn’t on Castanet! I was just getting used to being my main news site. Don’t think of it as failure. Failure is only when you don’t try! It appears to me that you’re creative, and energetic on top of all the other attributes you display! There’s always other ways to get to the top! Good luck in your future endeavors, I believe this won’t be the last time we see your name!

  18. jean says:
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    This wasn’t a failure in anyway. the coverage was thorough, interesting and well rounded. Far better than the mess that is on Castanet. More timely than the Capital News and cheaper and more in depth than the daily courier.
    it is a shame that the business owners threw in the towel without a real effort. 10 months?

  19. Carrie says:
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    Aww, crap. Now I have to go back to Castanet. :o(

  20. stan says:
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    Best of luck, Marshall. It was very good while it lasted.

  21. Leslie says:
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    Farewell…..this website did a great job in getting the local news out to the public on a daily basis. We found your reporting news alot quicker and more indepth than castanet. I do have to say it wasn’t easy to navigate around the website, which we hoped in time would get easier. We are sorry to see Kelowna.com leave.

  22. Bill C. says:
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    Truly, I am saddened by the news as I became a loyal reader. The writing was excellent and you were more current than any other source.

    Good luck in future endeavours, I hope there is a return one day in a more viable form.

    Take care.

  23. GD Star Rating
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    As always, fantastic article Marshall!
    I think if the company had done more marketing and given it more time kelowna.com would have done exceedingly well. With all the talent you had on staff, it’s a real shame that the majority of Kelowna residents didn’t have time to discover your site and make it their home page. I’ll miss you guys, I know lots of other people will too.

  24. Terry Tsurugi says:
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    @ Thermoguy

    “You may love journalism
    but you weren’t one in this
    case. You were more of a
    reporter working for the
    Capital News.”

    Isn’t that kind of like saying a policeman isn’t a policeman, that he’s more of a man working for the police department doing police-like things?

    A love of journalism takes form in many avenues of media. Your statement is erroneous.

  25. mel wilde says:
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    I wish you all the best of good fortune in the years ahead.

    The pundits will, of course, disect every little nuance to define what they think are the reasons for Kelowna.com ending. I suggest that they be totally ignored.

    What I hope is that you always remember that Kelowna was better informed by your efforts. Thank you all and good luck in your future endevours.

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link