In My Defence

For the most part, I believe journalists in this town try to do a good job. In terms of reporting on my workplace, rarely do they get all the facts right, but I don’t hold that against them. Nothing about the electrical business is straightforward, and as long as they do their best to understand, and as long as they try to be fair and balanced, I figure that’s the best you can expect. I have no problem with reporters writing critical stories about us: Lord knows with the recent flurry of power outages we deserve scrutiny. But these stories should be based on fact, and I think in general the local media tries to be factual. I also think I have a pretty good working relationship with reporters here. I was a journalist in a former life so I understand their deadlines, their needs, and I take pride in trying to meet those needs as best as I possibly can. I phone them back promptly and I answer their questions. And if I don’t know the answer I find out and call them back.

Then there is the Yukon News. I don’t know what it is about this thrice weekly paper, but they simply don’t seem interested in letting the facts get in the way of a good story. Over the years they have run stories about Yukon Energy that have been riddled with erroneous information and false assumptions. When I’ve called them to point out the factual errors my complaints have, for the most part, fallen on deaf ears.

A couple of months ago, they ran a news story and an editorial, both of which were about as far from any semblance of truth as you can get. Once again I called to ask for a correction, but they didn’t run one. That’s when I said ‘enough is enough’.  So I stopped returning their calls for information.

A while later, one of the reporters came to my work. I explained that I would no longer be giving interviews to the Yukon News and I took some time to explain why. I talked about the falsehoods, the refusal to print corrections, and I told the reporter I would be happy to talk further about this with his editor.  The reporter asked, “Do you think it’s fair to the public that you won’t provide them with information?” I said that it was rather presumptuous to assume that Yukoners only relied on the Yukon News for their information. What I should have said, but only thought to afterwards, was that what wasn’t fair to the public was masquerading assumptions and false information as the truth.

I never heard back from the editor. However on Friday, an editoral appeared. Copywrite laws don’t allow me to post it here but if you want to sign up (for free) with the paper you can read it online. You’ll note it once again doesn’t present the truth…it says I gave no explanation for not talking to the News. I also find it a bit amusing that of the long list of questions they ask, most have already been answered multiple times by other local media.

I know I’m never going to win this one. The Yukon News has a much bigger ink barrel than I ever will. But for once I wanted the Yukoners who read this blog to get the full story.

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5 thoughts on “In My Defence

  1. Thanks for posting another part of the story. The basic questions posed by the YN in the editorial, though, are the ones that every Yukoner has and which I’ve never seen YE answer in any meaningful way:

    “Why is the Yukon’s power supply so flaky?

    Why is our power so dirty — prone to spikes and circuit-damaging brownouts?”

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  2. Thanks Murray. The answer is complicated because there are two electrical companies involved, and I can only talk about one of them. However the short answer in Yukon Energy’s case is that the infrastructure is getting old and is starting to fail. For whatever reason, not enough money has been put into maintenance over the years. The recent outages have prompted Yukon Energy to beef up its maintence schedules/budgets and my hope is that this will lead to a more reliable power supply. I will make no excuses for Yukon Energy because I’m just as frustrated as most people, but I’m hoping things are going to get better.

    This same answer was given to various reporters and to the Yukon Legislature when YEC officials appeared there as witnesses recently, but I guess it didn’t get reported as widely as I perceived it did. Thanks for asking the question.

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  3. The infrastructure getting old and starting to fail is the reason I’ve heard, but that’s what I mean by the questions not being answered in any meaningful way. Letting the equipment needed to supply an important service get that old is just not reasonable.

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  4. Michael: our public blog is just about ready and when it is we will definitely be posting information such as you’ve suggested.

    Murray: think about it this way….you have a used car. You take it to the shop four times a year for its regular maintenance, just as the car’s manual says you should. You have the mechanic check everything, and the mechanic says everything looks fine. But then one year, in spite of your maintenance schedule, something breaks in between visits to the shop. You have it fixed and think you should be fine for awhile now, but then something else breaks. And then the thing you thought was fixed breaks again. You go to a different mechanic for a second option, but still there are poblems with your car. Your family at this point is angry because it seems every time they want to go on a trip something else goes wrong on this car. You think about going out and buying a whole new engine for the car, or maybe even a whole new car, but the family doesn’t like that idea because it means a drain on the family budget when they already think the car is costing them too much money. Your family is also upset that you went out and bought a new motorbike recently…they say the money should have been spent on the car instead. You try to explain that using the motor bike will actually save them gas and reduce the over-all family expenses but some of them don’t buy that.

    So you do what you think is best given the situation: you juggle the family budget and put off some plans so you can increase the number of times you take your vehicle to the shop and you start replacing parts that, although they are working perfectly fine at this point, are old and so will likely give you trouble soon. You start using the motorbike, and the gas money saved helps with your increased car maintenance bill. And you do whatever you can not to ask for a raise from your boss, even though your co-worker has just asked for a raise, because you know the money for a raise ultimately comes from your family and friends.

    I don’t know if this helps or not. Anyway, if you want to talk further about this give me a call at work.

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