CBC Hamilton Sneak Preview

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 08, 2012

Fledgling digital service CBC Hamilton held a special "sneak preview" this morning of its new office on James Street North. The service, a website combining reporting and curated community content, is expected to go live by the end of the week.

CBC Hamilton storefront on James Street North, just north of Cannon Street.
CBC Hamilton storefront on James Street North, just north of Cannon Street

Kirstine Stewart, vice president of CBC English language services, was on hand to introduce CBC Hamilton producer Roger Gillespie to a group of media representatives and local politicians, including Mayor Bob Bratina and councillors Jason Farr and Brian McHattie.

Gillespie explained that CBC Hamilton is still a work in progress, but that innovation is "built into our DNA" and that the service hopes to grow and develop as it learns how to serve Hamilton.

"Our best ideas will make their way to the rest of the CBC," explained Gillespie. At the same time, a dedicated Hamilton presence means more Hamilton stories will make their way to the CBC's national services, raising Hamilton's profile across the country.

Gillespie hailed community bloggers like Stephanie Trendocher and Jacklyn Warmington, whose beautiful website Beaux Mondes highlights some of the hidden delights that Hamilton has to offer.

A beta version of the CBC Hamilton site, not yet live, was displayed on the wall. It featured news articles, blog entries, community blog content, and live traffic coverage.

The site also featured a map pinned with links to local stories with a geographic context, in a manner similar to OpenFile, a community-driven news media website where stories, or "files", are suggested by readers and assigned to journalists. (OpenFile had a Hamilton bureau that closed down last November due to lack of readership growth.)

The list of CBC Hamilton staffers includes veteran columnist Paul Wilson, who retired from the Hamilton Spectator last year, as well as reporter Julia Chapman, reporter Samantha Craggs, videographer Jessica Young, and researcher Adam Carter.

The inside of the CBC Hamilton office, with prominent stamped tin ceiling.
The inside of the CBC Hamilton office, with prominent stamped tin ceiling

CBC VP Kirstine Stewart introduces Roger Gillespie
CBC VP Kirstine Stewart introduces Roger Gillespie

CBC Hamilton producer Roger Gillespie introduces the team
CBC Hamilton producer Roger Gillespie introduces the team

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal.


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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted May 08, 2012 at 13:10:54


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By bloggersunite (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 13:29:38

Wow, contrast your blog coverage with the Spec, supposably Hamilton's "real" journalists as Paul berton keeps telling us. No wonder their worried.

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By Sawyer (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 13:36:55

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Susie (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 13:39:14

It will be nice to have local news without a paywall. I can't wait.

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By Intern Economy (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2012 at 22:56:15 in reply to Comment 76640

Yeah, paying for content is so yesterday.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 11, 2012 at 07:51:47 in reply to Comment 76763

People haven't paid for the content of newspapers since newspapers moved to an ad-supported business model a century ago. The newsstand and subscription costs were for printing and distribution, not for content.

On the internet, the cost of printing and distribution have collapsed, so it makes sense that readers should be able to access it for free. The problem is that advertising revenues have also fallen dramatically, which means newspapers are feeling pressure to start charging readers to produce the content.

The idea of charging for content is actually a throwback to the early days of newspapers, which were similar to websites and blogs in that they were extremely diverse in quality and viewpoint and publications wore their agendas and ideologies on their sleeves.

The professionalization of the news media followed the transition from subscription-supported content to ad-supported content, in large part because advertisers want content that is balanced and innocuous enough not to alienate large swaths of potential customers.

I don't know how the business of the news is going to shake out, but my hunch is that the people who figure out how to make money from online media won't be the people who figured out how to make money from print media.

Just as the proliferation of movable type destroyed some professions (scribes) and invented other professions (writers, publishers), the proliferation of the internet is also going to destroy some professions and create others.

One thing, though: I wouldn't bet against good writing over the long term.

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By Intern Economy (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2012 at 07:07:10 in reply to Comment 76772

Clay Shirky is a good egg, I agree.

Print ad revenue at newspapers is now about half what it was in 2005. Online revenue isn't making up for that loss. It's anywhere from 1:7 to 1:10 compared to print. However much the costs of printing and distribution have collapsed, there does not appear to be a ready solution. Torstar makes most of its money off Harlequin, and then maybe the community papers that are grossly ad-heavy, and then maybe auxiliary companies like WagJag. I'm sure there are other solutions and state-funded media is maybe one of them.

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By Ici (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2012 at 14:45:01 in reply to Comment 76838

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By Fishwrapt (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2012 at 21:07:51 in reply to Comment 76772

Or at least entertaining writing. Victorian tabloids were the TMZ of their day.

I don't have a problem paying for quality content. PR modules masquerading as news or paper-thin content, I do. 98% of the stuff I read online is borderline worthless, and doesn't even deserve linking (often wouldn't get that much except as riff for a morning show, grist for a blog post or status update). Standalone research and analysis is as rare as hen's teeth. Rarer still is the journalism visionary who doesn't draw his salary from the safe harbour of academe. Interesting times.

Question (if it's not indelicate): Do web designers ever design pro bono news CMS?

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By Curious (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 14:38:04

Anyone know if they hired a web developer yet? It was posted on the jobs website about a month ago.

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By Gamble (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2012 at 13:51:04 in reply to Comment 76644

No, they have not, as of writing this.

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By Hart (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 17:56:18

Excited to finally see this broken open. Is it Thursday yet?

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 19:07:37

Susie wrote: "It will be nice to have local news without a paywall. I can't wait."

Exactly! The irony of the Hamilton Spectator's award winning Code Red series is that their online paywall prevents Code Red area residents from accessing important information about their neighbourhoods.

Good luck to CBC Hamilton on the launch of their digital service.

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-05-08 19:12:40

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By Wayne MacPhail (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 21:35:27

Is CBC Hamilton actually paying for content? Folks I've spoken with are saying, no. Just scraping and exposure. Experiences to the contrary? Would be very sad if this is true.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted May 26, 2012 at 14:31:58 in reply to Comment 76668

The map interface is flawed but at least the monthly view shows, at a glance, how much of the city they're actually covering. At this point, they're blanketing Ward 2 -- looks like 45 stories in all -- and working Beasley and Central closest. The map shows 14 stories within a block of their office, which I gather is the radius of a smoke break.

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By Ici (anonymous) | Posted May 13, 2012 at 11:39:29 in reply to Comment 76668

2. Do you pay the bloggers that you link to?
No. All of the bloggers have given us permission to link to them, and when you click on that link on CBC Hamilton we send you directly to their originating site. We hope that increases their readership and allows Hamiltonians to find out about a broad variety of sites that may interest them. We do not ask the bloggers to create anything new or do anything different than what they produce on a regular basis. In the event that we do ask for something unique specifically for us, then the CBC would pay for that. (See question six on freelancing for more.)

6. Does CBC Hamilton accept freelance pitches?
Yes, we do. We want to hear from freelancers in this city. We are looking for stories or photos or video that tell an original story or have a unique or original treatment. The keys to making a successful pitch are originality and quality. To pitch us a story, please email Freelancers whose work is accepted for publication will be paid.

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By Incline (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2012 at 22:09:28 in reply to Comment 76668

Dunno about this, one way or the other.

A city is a place of creative possibility. What it is is constantly being negotiated.

As the T-shirt says, you can do anything in Hamilton. Strike out in bold new directions, truly reinvent the wheel, take life-altering chances and reach for a dream. Or succumb to popular pressure, create safe, marketable creative work. Maybe make your fortune. Or maybe still end up struggling to make ends meet at the end of the day. Heaven knows there are enough creative people who commute to jobs east of the city every day, because the economy here is still walking on fawn legs.

This city’s frontier moment will soon pass. It will be interesting to see what history will record of it.

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By Samuel (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2012 at 11:49:16 in reply to Comment 76668

File alongside “crowdsourcing,” unpaid spec work, “creative internships” and other dodgy workarounds.

The “exposure is its own reward” model may be hailed by some as victory for democratic access.

Some will feel gratified to have a larger audience, or to be seen on the arm of a marketable brand such as the CBC.

But it can lower the bar. It can set a standard that other local media players will feel inclined to emulate, in the name of the “innovation” status quo.

It also stands to undermine the market value of content and the viability of content creators. It puts a premium on the eyeballs, on the audience for content, but not the content itself. It may elevate the self-esteem of a few but not without consequence.

Maybe you won’t choose to call it exploitation if you’re flattered by the attention.

Maybe being told that this is “your CBC” and that it’s “a forum for the local community to exchange and upload their own happenings” muddies the equation.

But if it’s legit, if it’s about valuing and honouring our “distinct culture and community,” there should be total transparency around this relationship. Any good experiment involves disclosure.

The current state of affairs is not the kind of creative thinking we should be encouraging.

It is not the kind of national legacy we would want to spin off to the rest of Canada.

Especially in light of our city’s principled labour history.

No amount of cupcakes can sweeten that deal.

Early days. Let's hope, and work, for better.

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By Hugs (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2012 at 20:38:56 in reply to Comment 76668

If so, we're in for hyperlocal HuffPo cyber-serf churn, perpetuated with public rather than private capital, CBC instead of AOL. What you said: Sad if true.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 09, 2012 at 03:44:42

It would've been nice for this to have been open for Doors Open on the weekend. We walked by and tried to look in but the floor to ceiling window wrap provented it. Oh well, maybe next time.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2012 at 19:32:08 in reply to Comment 76674

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 09, 2012 at 21:56:24 in reply to Comment 76718

Too bad I'll be out of town then. Well, hopefully it'll be open for Open Streets in June.

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2012 at 18:23:33

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By Vanguard (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2012 at 18:48:30 in reply to Comment 76716

Interesting feature on the BoE demo. Wish it had a byline!

Traffic app is smooth. Long life the green wave!

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By ORiTvOnline (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2012 at 08:04:23

I just checked out and I for one think competition is a good thing! Very clean and easy to navigate. Looking forward to quality stories and information instead of some of the garbage we are sometimes shoved (obviously RTH excluded). Great addition and perfect fit for James St. N. Looking forward to the open house during tomorrow art crawl!

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By Funny (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2012 at 18:31:54

"Writing PR for Canon and Economic Development is thirsty work. Time for a coffee. Will take a picture. ‪#hamont‬"

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