I was the first journalist at the Vancouver Province to be assigned digital-only duties. I’ve been immersed in online news ever since, leading the transformation of our print newsroom into a digital-first operation. I oversee the team that edits our web, mobile and social media content, which includes breaking news, enterprise features and special projects. I also collaborate with senior management and other corporate departments on new product development and strategic planning. Mostly, I think about what news coverage is going to look like three years from now and try to act like we’re already there.
He also engaged in a little Q and A with some faithful readers. In case you missed it, here's what Mr. Rolfsen had to say.
If you had been paying attention two weeks ago when every media outlet in town was scrambling to post a gallery of this phony house, you might have noticed that The Province was the one outlet that had it right. That's because I personally picked up the phone and questioned the agent representing this property about the suspicious images. He graciously explained that they were indeed artist's renderings. We included this information on the photo gallery we published on our site at the time (we were the only ones to do so), but we later suppressed it altogether because it seems pointless to show people photos of a house that doesn't exist.
The story you reference above is a wire story from Canadian Press that was packaged by CP on Monday and appeared on our site via an automated feed to which we subscribe. Clearly they searched the archives for a recent listing to accompany their story and grabbed one of the renderings. I see that somebody has since brought the error to their attention and the photo no longer accompanies their package.
Thanks for the attention, though.
Erik Rolfsen (Province News Editor)
Erik, I'm genuinely happy to hear you folks are sniffing around this corner of the web. What about this gallery? It also appears to have made the rounds in other papers, though there's no AP byline I can spot. It pretty clearly mistakes the virtual mansion for an actual one.
That's not ours, it's a Calgary Herald copy of a gallery originally compiled by the Vancouver Sun. It's a long story, but try replacing "theprovince" with "montrealgazette" in that URL and see what happens. Did the Gazette just get fooled, too?
Erik, I'm not qualified to tell you how your business runs, but are you saying The Province is not responsible for the news content that shows up under its own domain name? I understand that the content is compiled from a lot of sources, but it's tenuous to claim that the Province "had it right" while that gallery, which is clearly incorrect, is still active under your domain name and banner. I actually think the Vancouver Sun did fairly well in making up for their own journalistic lapse by being the only outlet that I've seen to actually publish a correction or retraction.
The reasons that gallery is able to appear under our name are highly technical, far beyond our control and extremely frustrating to us, so yes, that is what I'm saying. I could not edit that gallery right now if I wanted to, because it is the Calgary Herald's and I do not have access to it.
I'd love to show you the gallery we compiled and posted on Feb. 18 with the correct information, but we made a decision to suppress it and it's going to stay that way.
When realtor Laura McLaren was quoted in the Feb. 28 post that the "media that we did speak to got the story right," she was referring to The Province, possibly among others.
That does sound frustrating. As News Editor you've done your homework, but nonetheless the paper you represent is running content that is clearly incorrect. To the reader, the distinction between editorial and technical failure is invisible (if not immaterial); at least the "Vancouver Home Sales Plunge" story had a CP byline to indicate its source.
Fascinating that theprovince, calgaryherald, montrealgazette, and who knows how many more are completely interchangeable. Just the headers change to make it look like it's your news. Probably all the more reason to make sure these types of country-wide articles are fact checked. I agree with Many Franks, this shouldn't exempt you from responsibility for posting it, however. Not to mention, you know the story is false, and you have no way to disconnect your feed of this article from the group. Laughable
(Rolfsen) doesn't seem to be bringing anything to this conversation except excuses. It's time to get the "highly technical" team together for this shared URL manipulation scheme they have going and add three more requirements:
1. Ability to edit the source's post in case of emergency
2. Ability to delete/suspend an article from Canada-wide circulation if it's found to be misrepresented.
3. Ability to disconnect a single article from the group, stopping local dissemination at the local Editor's choice.Am I really the only person to think of these?
No. 2 is certainly possibly under our existing system. I've just sent the request to Calgary.
- How did the news story originally come to the attention of The Province causing Mr. Rolfsen to personally pick up the phone and question the agent representing the property about the suspicious images?
- The Province, after originally publishing the photos, later suppressed it altogether because it seemed pointless to show people photos of a house that doesn't exist. What prompted The Province to even bother running the photos in the first place if they knew they were fake?
We do live in interesting times.
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