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Regional Business News
regarding the 2010 Olympics
in British Columbia, Canada


OlyBLOG is for businesses across Canada, especially in Vancouver / Whistler and throughout B.C. We also hope companies in Alberta and United States (i.e. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and California) will find OlyBLOG interesting and informative.






"Leverage Olympic Momentum"
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Originally published June 5, 2006

Mainstream Media
Trouble in Lotus Land

Kudos & Kvetches ran a piece on June 2, 2006, in The Courier complaining about the Vancouver Sun's shameless promotion of the local real estate market. (shameless promotion is my description. They call it "real estate obsession") Surprisingly, K&K, which normally rips a new one for anyone who even slightly agitates them, was reserved in its criticism, which surprised me considering that real estate values are the fulcrum for a community's economic health. K&K had reason to go crazy, but instead made their point in a completely rational manner. Hmm.

OlyBLOG.com is targeted at small and midsize business owners, while publications like "The Courier" and "The Sun" are published for general readership. I've reported frequently that Olympic frenzy and the real estate market go hand in hand in EVERY Olympic region in the free world. Not only have I sent this message to literally thousands and thousands of SMBs, but I also often copy media across Canada when it is appropriate. Interestingly, SMBs seem to get it, unlike some media.

Considering my unwavering position, it still surprises me that mainstream media can't, or won't connect the dots. What's wrong with you guys? Why do you want to even flirt with perpetuating that mainstream media ranks high on the list of the "most mistrusted" right down there with used car salespeople, realtors and politicians? Considering that newspapers find it increasingly difficult to maintain marketshare, don't you think it might be a good idea to rethink the way you do business? Music companies took the same position and look where it got them. MP3 and peer-to-peer cleaned their clocks. The internet is slowly doing the same to newspapers, television and radio. Your business model is outdated.

Here's the scoop. Newspapers sell billions of dollars of advertising to the real estate industry. When the Olympics come to town it temporarily boosts everyone's confidence and they go on buying sprees fueled by real estate sharks who know the window is narrow. Artificially inflating real estate values is unconscionable. I have no problem with newspapers selling as much space as they possibly can to developers and real estate firms, but in order to maintain journalistic integrity, it is also necessary for said media to also disperse an equal amount of information that clearly describes what happens when the market is artificially inflated. Staying silent, as you have for the most part up until recently is unethical. For every ad that Bob Rennie bought over-hyping the big "W", media should have presented an alternative view relating how ad campaigns supported by advertorials, and in conjunction with compliance selling techniques, undermine the social fabric of our community, but they didn't, for obvious reasons - money. Media won't tell a balanced story because if you do, developers won't buy ads from you.

It's now interesting to see on the front page of The Sun (06/06/06), a headline that reads, "B.C. real estate boom could cost us" (It's due to equalization shares being dropped.) What did developers, realtors, the media and the premier think was going to happen? It certainly seems to be a free lunch for anyone in the real estate and media industries, but now that the Feds want to punish us for obscenely high property values, the premier is surprised. I'm not, and you shouldn't be either because I've been warning you about the downside for months. It happens in almost all Olympic regions. The average home in B.C. now costs almost twice as much as in Quebec. Please explain how this is a good thing in a province that is struggling to grow.

Every developer, realtor, and news company who over-hyped property values in B.C. over the last three years should be held accountable for the government's recent announcement. Maybe they can make up the difference.

The Vancouver Sun flip flops all over the place. One day they run six inch headlines on the front page blaring that 22,000 B.C. homeowners are now millionaires on paper -- like it was a good thing, and a short while later they tell us, oops, that boom we were hyping last month, well, "it could cost us." Thanks. Thanks a bunch. Surely I cannot be the only one in this province that considers it irresponsible journalism.

OlyBLOG.com is in business to help SMBs profit, and not necessarily to improve or protect society, however, when mainstream media hurts the community it hurts all of our businesses, so by default it is in our best interest to protect our community. We are not in competition with mainstream media, and they would never hear a peep out of us if they reported more fairly. We don't need them to get our message out. We have direct access to our market, but it would be nice if they at least occasionally told both sides of the story. So far, in the last two years, I can only recall a couple of instances of mainstream media representing the real-world, everyday challenges of gold medal frenzy. (Bashing the Games doesn't count - that strategy is referred to as "necessary illusion" by Noam Chomsky.)

OlyBLOG.com is pro-Olympics and we criticize to improve, not tear down. If our community doesn't have the full picture, how can anyone possibly make 2010 work? It is naïve of Olympic organizations and media to think they can do this alone, without the support of everyone in the community, and I'm not referring to the "volunteer" system. That's another controversial and myth-laden story entirely.

Regardless of what VANOC currently thinks, they need small and midsize businesses, and they need to ensure that SMBs succeed at a hometown level, because if they don't, SMBs now hold the power to wreak absolute havoc on the Games like nothing the IOC has ever experienced at any stage in history. We are not asking the IOC, VANOC and mainstream media to treat our community with more respect. We are telling them to either do it or suffer the consequences.

In the past, Olympic organizations only had to keep mainstream media on their side, and in some cases they did so by buying their loyalty. Today, Olympic organizations have to worry about thousands of bloggers. Bloggers write new rules, and we update them constantly.

OlyBLOG.com is unique, and the first such business (in the world) to take the stance we do, but guaranteed, we will not be the last. In fact, as we approach 2010 and the local and national community becomes more and more frustrated, everyone will want to know what to do to prevent the economic thrashing that Athens, Salt Lake City and Turn recently experienced. Unfortunately, based on the story mainstream media is telling so far, it could be too late. It's like cancer. It's best to be preventative by eating properly. Instead, media encourages gluttony.

Recently, The Courier and The Georgia Straight took shots at The Vancouver Sun. Thank you for finally recognizing what OlyBLOG has been telling our readers for the last two years. I have a request though - keep it up, because when one apple goes bad it eventually ruins the whole bushel, and whether The Courier and The Straight realize it, you guys are all baked into the same pie.

On June 2, 2006, "The Courier (K&K)" criticized "The Sun" for overstating the obvious regarding rising property values, but they still failed to connect the dots and attribute it, at least in part, to Olympic frenzy. Our research indicates that the "insane" rise in property values here is not a result of anything proactive our politicians have done. It's more about what they haven't done, which is to responsibly educate the public regarding impact of Olympic frenzy. All of North America experienced unprecedented hikes in property values. Unfortunately B.C.'s hike was "obscene," which is now translating into economic hardship. Considering that politicians took responsibility for the rise in property values, would they like to also take responsibility for the downside of their supposed actions?

The Georgia Straight (June 1-8 edition) ran a headline that read, "Error-riddled Sun irks editor" It's about time someone said what the rest of us have been thinking for years. The Sun is notorious for grammatical, spelling and sometimes factual errors. The Straight informed us that Sun managing editor, Kirk LaPointe, sent a message to all staff advising them to shape up or ship out. Charlie Smith, who wrote the article for The Straight, did a great job as usual, but it would have been truly helpful if he took it to the next level and also explored The Sun's "philosophy" for reporting the news. LaPointe is worried about spelling mistakes when he should really be worrying about bias. The great thing about the article in The Straight is that it reveals a lot about the atmosphere in the newsroom at The Sun. According to LaPointe, there exists a "pattern of preventable mistakes", and it seems he is blaming his staff. Funny, I always thought the quality of writing was excellent at the Sun. I do however have serious reservations about management.

Besides questionable management, here's what I think is happening at The Sun and why LaPointe is blaming the soldiers in the trenches. Four words -- capitalizing on Olympic frenzy. Based on our research, The Vancouver Sun is hands down the favorite to become an Olympic news sponsor. (In this era of transparency it's not necessarily a good thing, so the rest of you shouldn't feel snubbed. Do you really want to deal with me, and at least 100 others locally, plus who knows how many internationally, over the next four years?) I've not seen any official indication that The Sun is working towards this end, but unofficially, and based on how they relate stories regarding real estate values, they seem to be in "sucking up" mode.

It's also important to consider "why" Olympic organizations need official newspaper sponsors, and if you follow this blog, or have read my book, you would know why. Money is the only reason that news media unconditionally side with realtors and developers instead of the community. Olympic organizations love it when Olympic frenzy takes hold and everyone temporarily becomes a millionaire on paper. It makes it easier to manage the volunteer network. (If you read my book you will also know why managing the volunteer network is extremely difficult, and so important.)

The irony regarding LaPointe's missive to his staff is that NO WON REELY CAIRS THAT MUCH ABOUT SPELING AND GRAMER ANYMOR. R U 4 real krc? WEE DONT KARE. WE DO HOWEVER CARE ABOUT THE CONTENT. GET THE CONTENT RIGHT AND WE WILL LET EVERYTHING ELSE SLIDE. Spell it any way you want. We'll figure it out. Complaining about spelling at The Sun is like sanding rust off the hull of the Queen of the North. The ship doesn't need a paint job. It needs to be raised from the deep. In this era of text messaging and SMS, spell it as you see it, but make sure the message is right and that the information you share is complete. While you're at it, could you also beef up the Monday paper and add a Sunday edition?

One of the great things about the internet is that it makes it easy to keep an eye on mainstream media. In 2003, we kept track of errors we saw in the Sun. It started as a lark, but eventually we did it for a couple of business reasons. We did it partially as a legal strategy to demonstrate professionalism and accuracy on a national level (you never know when someone will want to launch a class action suit in 2011). The second reason was to demonstrate to SMBs today that what they read in mainstream media should not be trusted. Needless to say, after a short period it became apparent that minor spell check stuff was immaterial, so we focused solely on content. All you have to do is click through the links below to see some of the observations we've made over the last year or so.

A turning point for us came during a media presentation at SFU when a member of the audience called the Sun the worst paper in the country. Over the next forty minutes, not one person in the rather large audience of media professionals and followers challenged the statement. I thought it was just I who thought this way. Apparently I am not alone.

Before I wrap this up I want to clarify that journalists and the people on the front line are not the main culprits. It's their bosses and the owners of news companies that drive misinformation. Don't shoot the messenger, unless of course if he or she gets in the way.



Do you trust media?
Read what the Tyee.ca has to say about it.



OlyBLOG links regarding Media

Media Panders to Furlong
If you click only one link, click this one.


Media Missed the Mark - CBC Saved the Day

Eagleridge Sun Burned

Sun Shades of Truth

Billion Dollar Opportunity?

Business Costs "UP"

Mistrust of Newspapers Rises Sharply

Media Stacking Deck

Boddy Exposes Belly

Taxpayers Subsidize VANOC Digs

Media Let it Slide






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