Saturday, 22 August 2009

Pembroke -Kelly

Paul Kelly, a Pembroke Observer columnist since 2003, says he will no longer write for the Sun Media newspaper after a second piece on Wal-mart was "silenced."

"For the second time in two weeks the Pembroke Observer has silenced one of its own local columnists," Kelly writes on his blog.

"I have written a locally focused column on-and-off since 2003 - over 250 published columns - and have decided to leave the paper permanently due to censorship."

Kelly says previously, only one column had been pulled and that was in 2005, "ironically over a column condemning Wall-mart's service. And now twice in a row in 2 weeks - but no more."

"This week's and last week's column dealt with Pembroke's opposition to the Wal-mart expansion in Laurentian Valley. Both were stopped."

Kelly said no official reason was given for the refusal to publish either column.


  1. Heaven forbid someone criticize the advertiser, let along the heavenly organization of Walmart.

    Yet another publisher or managing editor with no backbone.

  2. "Advertising revenue pays your salary and you lowly 'writers' won't jeopardize that!"

    --signed, Sales dork turned publisher who got my job because I was a sales dork.

  3. Dear former sales dork:

    Readers won't buy a newspaper that fears offending its advertisers, and if readers won't buy it, then advertisers won't advertise.

    There's always a tradeoff.


    The future for our industry?

  5. Thanks to the previous anonymous poster - couldn't have said it any better myself.
    Sales dorks and publishers should stick to what they know and let the senior editorial management deal with the stories. That's what they get paid for, and if reporters like me do their jobs, then there shouldn't be a problem. Columnists are another issue and if you are publisher that doesn't like controversy at times - then don't use them.

  6. When I first read this, the (former) crusading journalist in me reacted in knee-jerk fashion – I decried the lack of courage on the part of the Pembroke Observer for refusing to print Mr. Kelly’s Wal-mart columns. But then I read this again: “Kelly says previously, only one column had been pulled and that was in 2005, ‘ironically over a column condemning Wall-mart's service.’”
    Ding-ding-ding. That’s when the alarm bells went off. I’ve never read Paul Kelly’s column, but I can tell you right now that our paper in Alberta rarely printed columns criticizing customer service or company products. Why? Well, I suppose that, yeah, it was out of fear of angering some of our advertisers but I think it was also more pragmatic than that. If we ran a full-on opinion column criticizing the service at one place, it would open the floodgates to every person who got ripped off by a furnace repairman, bought a crappy TV stand at Zellers or didn’t like the brake job they got at Canadian Tire. In a small newsroom, you just don’t have time to write consumer advocacy pieces … or deal with the flood of requests you’d get.
    Mr. Kelly’s columns sound like something more than “consumer advocacy” pieces, however. I have no idea what specific Wal-mart angle Mr. Kelly was choosing to espouse for two weeks in a row, but because they were opinion columns and not straight-up balanced news stories, I think I can take a stab at what his slant might have been. Wal-mart is ruthless. Wal-mart destroys small business. Wal-mart treats its employees like dirt. “We” don’t want Wal-mart here and “you” shouldn’t either. That’s the Wal-mart myth. Then there’s the Wal-mart reality: When it sets up shop in a new town, one-eighth of the population hates it, one-quarter doesn’t care about it and all the rest are glad there’s finally a place where they can pick up a jug of Tide for less than nine bucks.
    I’ve got news for the person who told the Former Sales Dork that “Readers won’t buy a newspaper that fears offending its advertisers ...” Yeah, right. The readers won’t care what stories are written or aren’t written about Wal-mart. That’s because, as consumers, they have the trump card – they can express their feelings against Wal-mart simply by not shopping there. On the other hand, those who choose to shop at Wal-mart will look to their newspaper for one thing and one thing only: The Wal-mart flyer. If it isn’t there, that hurts the newspaper worse than a lack of columns making the same Wal-mart allegations that newspaper columnists have been making since 1997.

  7. To the last poster - go read Mr. Kelly's blog before you take a stab at what you think he was going to write. You may be surprised

  8. Hello:

    Certainly I want to save you all the time of reading 3,000 words with a few here:

    The issue is not Walmart - I hate Walmart and they know that. I also don't gave a damn about the expansion. A non-issue to me.

    The orginal column killed way back was over fear that Walmart would cancel their ads with the paper - I wrote another.

    NOW: my city - town, village, blot on the map, is appealing a Walmart expansion in another township - 200 metres outside of its boundary - to the tune of $500,000.

    Initially I wanted to know who was paying. It is "private business interests" and I would only guess it must be a competitor.

    That column ran. Then I had more questions but mostly: who "bought" our name and why is Pembroke shilling for them and not citizens who WANT the expansion - of which I am not.

    Those columns were killed outright for simply asking questions - questions that many people have and represents fair comment and opinion.

    No reason was given.

    Its offensive and censorship - so I left. The End.

  9. I couldn't finish the thing, cause I had no idea what he was mad about. Maybe that's why it was spiked.

  10. Hey...maybe it got the axe because it didn't meet Sun Media's new 'shortened' length for columns....

  11. Local reader's knew what I was upset about - as did the paper. Outsiders don't know the issues and wouldn't care. But it is THE issue in this town.

    It met the length requires of 1,000 words - which has always been the length.

    It got killed in the interests of advertising revenue - I have been told this by staff there.


  12. To the poster that wrote the following nonsense:
    "Readers won't buy a newspaper that fears offending its advertisers, and if readers won't buy it, then advertisers won't advertise."
    Readers don't care if the papers advertisers are offended by the comments within. Like anyone won't buy a paper thinking "their columnists may offend Wal-Mart. Oh no!" Get a grip.