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Yukon Journalists Demand News

[ HOME ]   |   Previous Story   |   Next Story   |   Issue 38 Feb 12 - Feb 22, 2003  

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Yukon Journalists Demand News

The front page of yesterday's Beaver Creek Bore is symptomatic of just how bad the Yukon news crisis has become.

Tired of having nothing to do, an organization representing journalists in the Yukon is begging for news in the territory.

"We're used to it being slow up here, but our members are bored out of their gourds," said Yukon Media Alliance (YAM) shop steward Wendy Gravelle, a reporter with the CBC television affiliate in Old Crow. "It would be really nice if we had…..something to do, y,know?

"For God's sake, our website hasn't been updated since the Gold Rush."

In a full-page advertisement published in all of the Yukon's skinny little newspapers full of wire stories and tacked to each of the Territory's 17 telephone polls, YAM begs the 31,000 residents of the Yukon to "work together to ensure the viability of media in Yukon.

"We're asking people to let us know----it doesn't matter what it is-a pickup hockey game, quilting bee, you won five bucks at bingo, drinking beer on the couch with your buddies, give us a call so we can send one of our trained media professionals to give your event the coverage it deserves," reads an excerpt from the ad.


The Yukon's dearth of news has been a long-standing problem for journalists in the remote Territory, according to Snag College Journalism Professor Harvey Pivner. "A quantitative analysis of news coverage in the Yukon over the last five years indicates that….there has been no news to analyze."


Click here to listen to the latest newscast from CBC-Yukon, and you'll understand what we're talking about

Pivner said that there is a long-standing tradition of media unrest in the Yukon due to its sedentary news environment. "The great 'we've got nothing to do' newspaper strikes of 1924 were quite paradoxical, as the Territory's journalists succeeded in creating some news, but were unable to cover it, as they were on strike," said the noted expert on the Yukon's media history.

"God, I wish I had cable," moaned Pivner as he stared out his office window at the barren landscape.

A survey of several 'working' journalists in the Yukon indicates that there are a lot of reporters with a lot of time on their hands. "Can I do a story on you phoning me?" asked Bernie May, CTV's Whitehorse bureau chief. "I wish there was a protest about something outside the legislature that I could go to……

"I don't want to encourage vandalism or anything, but can't a kid go and paint some graffiti under a bridge or something? Not like anyone's gonna see it, save maybe for a few caribou….I promise kids, I won't reveal your identity."

Tracey Twiddlethumb, the editor of the Dawson Daily Express, is equally flummoxed with the lack of current events in her territory. "It'd be nice to run a real story in the paper that we actually wrote. Sure, there's (the Yukon's) Mount Logan, which is the highest point in Canada, but you can't really put that on the front page every bloody day…'Mount Logan-Still in the Yukon.'

"Actually, I kinda like that headline," said the life-long Yukoner. "Got something for tomorrow now!

"OUR TOP STORY-THE YUKON-STILL ONLY 5,000 KILOMETERS AWAY FROM YOU:" CBC Yukon's Broadcast Centre, in downtown Watson Lake

"And in sports, we can always rely on the occasional article on how our teams get the bejeezus kicked out of them at national curling tournaments, but that only happens a couple of times a year."

Even if YAM is unsuccessful in finding news, Twiddlethumb took solace in the fact that there'll be something to put in the paper tomorrow: "If nothing else, I guess we can talk about the fact that we're asking for news, but that only fills half a page usually."

However, not all members of YAM agree with their union's official company line: "Shit, what are they complaining about? I haven't been to the office for six months, and I love it!" said news anchor Arthur Pooch from South-West Yukon Newsline, the number one television newscast in the greater Haines Junction area.

"If it wasn't minus 67 outside, I'd go do some skiing or dog-sledding or something."