here’s a description of this blog:

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg who break stories ahead of MSM. We analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight flawed logic, bias, missed angles and serve as the only overall monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.)

and here’s a portion of a recent post. It high lights how small and interconnect the powers that run this province really are.

Weakest Link, Part Two

There’s a reason the Tories have set their sights on Industry Minister Scott Smith. He’s been their best friend this session.

It was Smith who revitalized the P.C.’s by letting slip how little support there has been from the private sector for the Spirited Energy rebranding excercise so far.

Stage One of the rebranding was to sell Spirited Energy to Manitobans.
Stage Two, which started this week, was to take the sell to the rest of the country.

The government said Stage One cost about $2.4 million, of which $1 million came from the private sector. In an unguarded moment Smith revealed that some of the “private sector” support was really from Crown corporations. That got the Opposition hounds baying.

Smith tried to quelch the criticism by naming names of some of the private sector supporters of Spirited Energy and how much they contributed. The total fell more than half a million dollars short of the $1 million he originally said had come from the private sector.

Tory leader McFadyen worked this bone Monday, but dropped it the rest of the week. We can’t say whether it was because he lost interest in where the NDP spent advertising dollars, or whether he decided it was better not to alienate the Winnipeg Free Press, which has editorially supported the Tories, and which may have a conflict-of-interest when it comes to Spirited Energy ad monies.

The FP ignored Scott Smith’s revelations as long as it possibly could, hoping they would go away. Then, four days later, a strange story appeared on Page A6 of Tuesday’s paper.

It’s a lesson for any journalism student on ” How to read the newspaper and separate flim flam from news”.

A. There was no byline. Now how unusual is that? It was the only story in the entire paper without a hint of who wrote it. Don’t you wonder why?

B. The story undoubtedly started as a legitimate story from the Legislature bureau, probably about Hugh McFadyen’s questions on Monday. We bet an editor immediately flagged it for the attention of editor Bob Cox. Cox blanched, and took it to publisher Andy Ritchie. Ritchie wasn’t going to carry the can; he dialed the paper’s Spirited Energy expert, co-owner Bob Silver, who sat on the committee that recommended the branding in the first place.

Silver made some suggestions. Ritchie and Cox added their own touches. And the story was rewritten beyond recognition. A group effort, nobody wanted the credit of a byline.

C. A story about an alleged lack of support from the private sector for Spirited Energy morphed into a story about the great support of the private sector. Except that the only source quoted was Dave Angus, in his role as the president of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. Not one real business owner can be found in the story. The only other person quoted is Free Press publisher Andy Ritchie who gives his boss’s branding campaign a rave review.

D. The writer(s) get around to the numbers in the bottom third of the story, the part that only diehard readers get to.

He/she/they wrote that
“private sector and community contributions to the Spirited Energy campaign include $300,000 donated by the Broadcaster’s Association of Manitoba for on-air advertising space, as well as $165,000 of advertising space provided by Canwest Global. Manitoba Public Insurance gave $60,000 for this summer’s travelling Spirited Energy street teams. Free Press Publications donated $53,000 of advertising space.”

E. We guess MPI falls under designation”community contributions.” We also noted what was missing from the list.

The Winnipeg Sun.

Scott Smith said last Friday that the Sun’s contribution was $15,000.

In the cheapest of cheap shots, the FP refused to even print the name of other newspaper in town.

F. They did however mention Free Press Publications. You see, there’s some question about whether the advertising in the Winnipeg Free Press is donated, or if the government is buying it.

Which raises the question of whether the co-owner of the newspaper has a conflict of interest in promoting Spirited Energy to the government through his committee work and collecting hefty ad revenue from the government at the other end.

The question isn’t answered by the reference to Free Press Publications. This term just raises more questions.

Did the newspaper intend the reader to understand that the Winnipeg Free Press donated $53,000 worth of ad space for the Spirited Energy campaign? Then why not say it in so many words?

If the story had referred to Free Press publications (small p), we would understand that to mean the community weeklies and Uptown, which are sister publications to the FP.

But that would leave us wondering whether the Free Press made any contribution of its own.

In fact, we are wondering that. A newspaper story is supposed to clear up questions that readers have, not make things murkier.

And they do get murky.

– Free Press Publications shows up on a list of Spirited Energy “partners” on the SE website.

– But the Ottawa Press Gallery carries a listing for “Free Press Publications and Winnipeg Free Press” under ‘affiliations’, the “and” suggesting they are two entities.

It’s obviously going to take a lot more energy to get to the bottom of this story. Maybe that’s why we need Wuskwatim and Conawapa so badly.