The year started off like huge. In January the number of visits went over 25,000 in the month. By March it had dropped to 14,000. For a while it climbed back over 20,000 hits a month but since then has leveled out to 17,000 and last months about 12,000 a month.
It has been hard writing consistently the last two months due to huge work weeks. New posts draw more visits for sure. Blog posts ending up on the Free Press site draw some traffic. I end up writing a lot about zoning developments, politics, retailing, social commentary and whatever. There were a few posts that drew hundreds of visits and still do.
Each time a blogger stopped blogging full time, there was usually a drop in traffic on this site. The truth is that people go from site to site and when a site goes down or is inactive traffic drops.
I have written here before how long form blogging is harder to find in the city and in general. Twitter has become the main way to engage for Winnipeggers in words. I do write there as well but truth be told, I don't own a cell phone. This means I don't have a constant connection to Twitter to be part of the ongoing conversation.
I am not a Luddite. I do have computers but I do find it hard to justify a cell phone based on my work, the costs and concerns about how it might prove a distraction.
I have never been overly concerned how many visits the website gets. I write mostly because I like to.
I continue to talk on Internet Pundits with some of the most interesting people and look forward to keeping that conversation going.
What will the future hold? Well, I am still of the mind that a central website for Winnipeg content would be good and that place would be a forum for long form writing in news, sports, politics, photographs, entertainment and the like. Stayed tuned for that.
The media is often accused on not reporting stories. Or they get accused of editorial bias as part of their ownership strategy or on the part of individual reporters.
In some cases reporters or their respective owners are being maligned but in other cases the criticism is bang on. I think it is no secret that political leanings of some newspaper groups is fairly obvious.
The blurring between news and editorial is what appears to be the most obvious point of frustration for reader of newspapers. The news section generally follows the formula of who, what, where, why, when and how.
It isn't that simple of course. What stories do you choose to put in the newspaper though that are simply reported? I suppose in the case of a local newspaper, you put in local news, weather, sports and entertainment.
For example, a crime story ought to be reported with the W5 formula. Who was the crime committed against, who committed it? What was the crime? When did it happen? Where did it happen? How did it happen? The why of it happening can lead to editorializing but it is okay to quote others in reporting.
"He was a target of opportunity on a dark street."
"The house was known to police for past violent episodes."
In some cases, the media has to push for a story or investigate. They gather information as part of an overall mandate to serve the greater community in the freedom of the press and freedom of information. Political scandal, consumer dangers, law enforcement operations, government departments and spending all present challenges to reporting.
Police are always a tough nut. They will often say the media never gets things right in reporting but then button up as a reflex or because of orders from higher up. And if one of their own is in trouble, it is near impossible to get any information.
But what about the media themselves? They will acknowledge that they need to dig for stories and that they face hostile responses in their efforts. They proceed anyway as many regard it their reporting as a calling. But what happens when the story is the media themselves or more specifically, a reporter?
I say this only because social media is linking to a story involving police and the press that no media inside Manitoba is covering. None. Zero. Nada.
How is this possible when a national news reporting organization is reporting it?
I won't mention the specifics but it is easy for anyone to find out.
You have to ask though: if the media expresses frustration with others for withholding information, what credibility do they have if they don't cover their own?
This isn't the first time this has happened and it probably won't be the last. It does seem curious the lack of reporting in Manitoba and if the story was spiked.
Basic principles of W5 and How should have prevailed despite the sympathies for the plight of the subject of a police matter.
No one is perfect. But ignoring a story that ultimately gets reported by other outside media is poor form.
It is easy to see why the Minnesota ad was a winner. It is visually engaging, the song is catchy, the slogan inviting, it is very funny and it captures everything the state offers. Totally a winner.
A North Dakota ad for Fargo caused controversy:
The controversy was: What does one have to do to become a legend at a Fargo bar.
They say that bad press is better than no press. North Dakota's slogan is catchy and their ad campaign pictures and video are pretty. Take away the captions though and it might be hard to make a distinction of what state (or province for that matter), it is advertising.
Sometimes you don't need words to tell your story:
However, look at Saskatchewan with two slogans Pure Saskatchewan and Embrace a New Place and a tourism video that looks like it was cut by the editor of the Bourne Movies.
There is nothing wrong with Manitoba's ads per se but if they were broadcast in North Dakota or Minnesota, what would attract those citizens to our province?
How do we keep from being lost in the crowd? How do you keep people from hitting the mute button, the fast forward button or worse, confusing the ad for another place?
On 2000, the car company BMW really researched who bought their cars and how they learned about the vehicles. After that, they commissioned several films featuring their cars and directed by some of the world's best directors featuring some star actors. It cost around $15 million.
The Manitoba ad campaign is a shade under $2.4 million. Obviously, it includes more than four 30 second videos. However, wouldn't it be interesting if we shot say...a car chase in Winnipeg past a few landmarks or a foot chase after someone in the MTS Centre just as the crowd shouts "True North."
Hmm, one wonders.
Or maybe it doesn't have to be that expensive. Maybe a Youtube competition by anyone with a cash prize for an ad campaign for Manitoba.
I guess we'll never know. I have no doubt the good intentions of anyone who puts together tourism ads. It seems a longshot to break away from the crowd unless you really do something different.
There are hidden retail gems all over the city. Sometimes you have to look beyond the expected places to find them. All too often you have to rely on word of mouth to even know about such places.
As Christmas is coming, I will mentioned two places in one mall that could be helpful in filling a few stockings. First, let's identify the mall: It is Grant Park Shopping Centre.
Yes, that mall.
I have written about the renovations that have been happening over the last number of years to the mall. It seems like the place has been under constant construction. This was to accommodate three different stores making very large expansions. The Liquor Mart, Shopper's Drug Mart and Target all have made huge additions inside the mall.
The arrival of Target in particular boosted mall management's need to re-configure stores inside. Some stores like Hangers closed not only at Grant Park but all over the city. It could not have been an easy time knowing that at least three years of work to the 1962 built mall was forecast and somehow business still needed to be done.
With Target's opening, it looks very much like the bulk of the mall has reached completion. However, aside from the amazing McNally-Robinson, what is at Grant Park that you couldn't find anywhere else? This is not to dis the big stores but truly, you don't drive across town to a new Liquor Mart.
Well, for those still looking for gifts from Christmas, look to Grant Park for Entertainment Exchange and Pylon.
The Entertainment Exchange is a used CD and DVD place that has seen a few locations in the mall and at one time had four location across the city. The owner, former Record Baron proprietor, has kept the shop going since the very late 1990s. The demise of Rogers and Blockbuster video stores has only increased the need for a specialty store like this.
Despite what people say, DVD and CD players did not completely die in favour of digital downloads and Netflix.
I am not going to argue with those that suggest it is a waste to buy used CDs and DVDs though. Like vinyl records, the medium attracts a following. And to be honest, not everyone has access to high speed Internet or the devices to download. A cheap DVD player and a cheap DVD attached to a cheap TV is a lot cheaper than paying or even having available...high speed Internet access.
This is where Entertainment Exchange is amazing. There are older and more recent CDs and DVDs selling for very affordable prices. On a recent visit, I saw a very inexpensive copy of second season of Homeland which just came out this year. Want the whole Star Wars Clone Wars series? It is here. Filling out your Billy Joel CD collection, find it here.
Not surprisingly, the word exchange in the name is accurate. If you are in fact a guy who has gone all digital and have a huge collection of DVDs you are looking to sell, I expect you will find a buyer at the store. Or perhaps you are angry at Family Guy for killing off the dog Brian and want to dump all seasons of the show as a show of solidarity with the dearly departed, I am sure you will find solace with Entertainment Exchange.
There are so many older TV series on DVD, music CDs of every genre and hard to find stuff that it is difficult to do it justice. Suffice to say, bring your stuff in and find stuff at one of the few stores in the city that changes every time you go in.
The other store in Grant Park that is a real treasure is Pylon. Yes, I know that they have a location in The Forks but not everyone has been there or seen it. It is highly likely that Pylon in Grant Park is set the take off now that mall renovations are done.
What is Pylon? Well, if you love pop culture, you will love Pylon. They sell Marilyn Monroe items, they have everything Doctor Who, Dexter, Halloween, Star Wars and beyond. Belt buckles, bobbleheads and baubles are in every corner of the store. It is pop culture mana from heaven.
If you are looking for a quirky clock, it is here. Want a stuffed Doctor Who toy. Here. Something to hang on the wall? They have it.
I expect those people who love the trinkets of Comic Con will love Pylon.
Okay folks, here's the best part. The stores I mention are locally run. If you want to run a triple header of Winnipeg stores then McNally, Entertainment Exchange and Pylon fits the bill. But walk around a bit more in the newly renovated mall, there are a few new stores, a few more local and a few old but trusted stores.
And pass word about hidden treasures because without that word, they could simply just disappear.
Back in March of this year, two Kelsey's suddenly closed on Empress and Kenaston. Presumably they had the same franchise owner. The locations immediately went up for lease and it in the last month, new tenants have moved in.
The Kelsey's at Kenaston is now a Perkin's Restaurant. By Perkins standards, the location on Kenaston appears smaller than what we have seen in this city. However, aside from the morning coffee places like Tim Horton's or Ikea breakfast or McDonald's, the Kenaston area has been crying for a casual dining place that serves a variety of breakfasts. IHOP politely said they were not coming to Seasons of Tuxedo despite the plans strongly indicating that they were.
I have no idea why Kelsey's closed two locations. Suffice to say that the restaurant style was junior to Montana's and Milestones, their flashier and larger siblings. Other Kelsey's remain in the city so whatever happened was localized.
While Kenaston's old Kelsey's landed another restaurant franchise in Perkin's, the Empress location for Kelsey's saw a local outfit move in. A craft brew pub but the name of Barley Brother's has opened next to Montana's across from Polo Park.
By all accounts, they are landing some good publicity and hopefully their timing of open just before Christmas will endear them to a large audience.
One wonders how they might have done if the stadium or alas, the arena had remained in the area.
Still, Polo Park is a target rich environment for customers and where Kelsey's eventually fell out of favour, Barley Brothers might have a long and fulfilling run on Empress.