Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tourism in Winnipeg

Tourism is always hit and miss in this province. Travel Manitoba came up with a little buzzworthy four TV ads that emphasized the three things they thought were important. Those things were: Churchill, northern tours, fishing (especially with use of a guide) and Winnipeg.

These ads were set up to present Manitoba to others but they were also shown on TV within the province to present the province to itself. In other words, the biggest tourists are people in the province visiting one another. Show someone in Winnipeg what Churchill is like and they will be the number 1 source of tourists generally.

There is a limited budget each year and past efforts have been mediocre. The government realizes the importance and sets out to support key industries such as fly-in fishing and tours of Churchill. Winnipeg has always been more difficult to capture because cultural images show a world mosaic. It is hard to show the Winnipeg ID, the character of the city, who we are. The television ad shows dragon boat racing on the Red River. Don't know how that says: Winnipeg.

Tourism Winnipeg is obviously focused more on Winnipeg which you'd expect. The City  of Winnipeg tour book is as good as it gets. Top notch all the way. The request page though needed a correction. It said "chok full" rather than "chock full" and I hope it is corrected soon.

There is no doubt the city is trying to position itself a lot better with limited resources. Quite a bit of research is being done. And yet the city has suffered tourism-wise because in the grand scheme of things there has to be compelling attractions for people to want to visit the city.

The Canadian Tourism Commission turned its eyes to Manitoba and brought a hundred plus travel writers to the province for about $300,000. The first articles from that visit are starting to appear in newspapers like the Toronto Star.

Some journalists think travel writing is fluffy or dishonest. Perhaps that's because payment is often involved from the party being reviewed.

Given the cuts to newspaper and magazine budgets, few seem willing to send their reporters off each week to far flung destinations. Yet every major metropolitan newspaper has a travel section. Very willing to accept travel ads, not willing to assign hard news reporters?

I guess the same could be said of home and auto sections of the newspapers. Lots of ads but is there any hard news reporting in there? Is all we see softball in terms of reporting?

That is a debate for another time. Let's just say for now that travel writing is popular and if we can believe the tourism departments, it works.

In the aftermath of the tour of travel writers, we will have see if the articles that result from it see an uptick in the number of visitors.

The Journey Churchill at Winnipeg Zoo, the Human Rights Museum and swimming with belugas in Churchill are new to the province. Manitobans will visit them first in big numbers but their long term future depends on visitors from all over to survive.

Most of Winnipeg's greatest tourism attractions are cultural. The mountains and the ocean don't exist in a river valley. While the natural attraction Winnipeg does have can be emphasized, they don't hold a candle to the city's people and culture. That is hard to capture in pictures compared to Vancouver by the mountains and sea or Toronto by the lake.

Ultimately what becomes a national and international tourist attractions in Winnipeg are things the people in the city have done for themselves. The examples abound from Folklorama, the Folk Festival, Rainbow Stage and The Forks. As good as those are, it is hard to capture iconic pictures of it to sell the masses beyond Manitoba's borders.

The travel writers who recently visited our city now have the iconic pictures of people inside a tube watching polar bears above them. They have the distinctive Human Rights Museum that looks different from most buildings on the planet and further afield, they have pictures of people swimming with belugas.

They say a picture says a thousand words...those pictures from this past trip of travel writers are probably worth at least $300,000.

Let's see if those pictures result in millions more being in Winnipeg and beyond.

Monday, August 18, 2014

TSN3 Equals Free Winnipeg Jets

If you already have TSN on your cable channel, get ready for good  news...TSN Jets is going to be free on a new TSN3 station. No more 10 bucks a month...free.

This year's coverage will for 65 games including some exhibition ones. The rest of the season will be seen on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, Rogers Sportsnet and City TV.

Expect viewership to spike this year. Not every family was willing to pay the extra but were indeed Jets fans. They were just fans with a budget.

TSN3 equals free will continue to have Dennis Beyak on play-by-play and colour will be handled by Shane Hnidy and Brian Engblom. The rest of the team fills in with Sara Orlesky and guesting from Gary Lawless.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Lindor Reynolds and the Free Press

Lindor Reynolds has produced what is likely her last column from the Free Press as she spends her last days at Riverview Health Centre in palliative care. This year my family made a contribution to the Riverview Health Centre Foundation for the care they have provided for us over the years.

The last column is terribly sad for her family, friends and readers.

I'll be the first to say that I read certain writers not because I love them but because they can be cathartic in the other emotions they can elicit. They can also make me look at other points of view that shed insight on things.

What I do love is newspapers. I generally read four different one on a weekend. Try my best to turn every page, scout online for other stuff local and farther afield and just expand my mind. No, I don't read every comic anymore. And no I don't read every story or column in every section. Try as I might, I just don't read humour columns no matter how gut bustingly funny people tell me they are. I like funny things but in life I don't really watch sit-coms or go to too many funny movies either. Why? I guess as we get more time pressed, it is harder to commit to a column, a show or a movie. You make choices.

I still don't really know how the newspaper industry works. I don't don't how the Free Press works in particular. I don't know who gets chosen to write a general interest column, what editorial direction or oversight is involved, how they measure success or failure or anything really. I often wish there were regular columns on papermaking. And by that I mean, how things get done and why.

Lindor Reynolds was a content producer for the paper. In addition to the general interest column, she wrote travel stories. It was always from a personal level and often her family was part of the story. In many cases, based on years of her stories, you knew when she was going to be on her high horse, when she was going to be starstruck and what type of column was about to appear.

There were some excellent columns, a lot of clunkers, journeymen work and plenty to annoy me. Yes, I said annoyed. Plenty of times I would read and say to myself: here we go again. That's fine. Some issues deserve repeating. I read the late Tom Oleson not because I agreed with him. He was a curmudgeon, held opinions that were wrongheaded and liked to poke the bear.  I read Fred Cleverly and Frances Russell because they would fight the good fight every week.

It is okay to be disagreeable. Don't need dittoheads everywhere you go.

If hundreds of people say they don't like you, it probably means they read you. You need thick skin to write. Not everyone will like you but it doesn't matter if it sells newspapers.

I often want newspapers to better. I do get annoyed at some for having some for having a wide canvas to paint on but only choosing one small corner of it or using only a select amount of colours. I have been told by some inside the field that it might be a strategy of that writer or a chosen editorial direction for that type of writing.

It is hard not to think that some writers in the Sun are also actors. My inference here is that they chose a role to play and then strike up the band. I don't think too many people would disagree that it can be theatre.

Lindor Reynolds will be dearly missed by many of her readers. It is a giant beast that needs to be fed this thing called newspapers. Her last column reminded that there are people who put these stories out. True to her style, she delivered a personal note of where any of us can be when we least expect it.

They say newspapers are going out of style. I certainly hope that isn't true. I am not as journalist but I always hope we have a world full of them even when they say things we disagree with or are annoyed by, especially so.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Paul Edmonds New Voice of Jets

Some months ago, I mentioned how good it was of TSN 1290 in Winnipeg to hold on to Paul Edmonds after the Goldeyes radio broadcasts moved to a different radio station.

Paul Edmonds will become the new play by play guy for TSN Jets broadcasts. The long time voice of play by play hockey Brian Munz is changing to colour analyst and reporter for the Jets radio broadcast.

For the last while, Edmonds has helped anchor the The Big Show morning program with Troy Westwood and Matt Leibl on TSN 1290. Edmonds will be leaving that show at the end of August. No word yet on who will fill the morning spot that Edmonds was still very new to after replacing Jay Richardson who left the show.

This past year, Edmonds had a chance to fill in at play by play for hockey for the Jets and this obviously made program directors see him in a different light from his baseball broadcasts.

So what does this all mean? Well, according to the station TSN is expanding their Jets broadcasting to year round.  Dennis Beyak and Brian Munz were sharing radio broadcasts. It appears Beyak will only do TV now. Shane Hnidy will still cross between radio and TV broadcasts.

I liked Brian Munz's work as play by play guy. He was really good. I am not sure what led to the decision to make him colour guy and reporter.

A good pairing is worth its weight in gold. The old Jets were overseen by Curt Kielback and Ken Nicholson. From 1979 to 1982, Nicholson was play by play and Kielback was colour but then they switched in part due to Nicholson's health related to diabetes.

Could the pairing of Edmonds and Munz be the next legendary twosome of Jets radio? I'd like to think so.

The increase in Jets coverage year round for TSN is a good move. It is a way for the network to ensure the best people cover hockey and if there ever is a chance again at national broadcast of NHL hockey for TSN, it will because they have done the hard work at the local level.

It will be a real dogfight for radio ratings this fall.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg Moving to Kenaston

Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg, formerly Lone Star
The only Mercedes-Benz dealer in Winnipeg moved from Regent Avenue to Portage Avenue in 2000. Formerly known as Lone Star, it has been an independent in the luxury market with a fine product in their Mercedes car. They also do well with their Smart cars and a line of courier vans.

Their location on South Portage beside the Charleswood Bridge is quite packed with inventory. In 2000, dealerships along busy roads was the way to go. The big move to dealership parks was still somewhat of an exception.

In recent years, we have seen more and more car dealerships move to large car parks. We have also seen a lot of dealerships become part of massive multi -brand ownership groups. Just recently Landau Ford has been bought by one such group.

Some of the abandoned dealerships along main business streets have been taken over by independents with varying degrees of success and failure. Woodhaven Toyota was taken over by independent Winnipeg Hyundai. The old Birchwood GM dealership near the Charleswood bridge was taken over by Mercedes-Benz.

Given the marquee nature of the Mercedes brand, their dealership could be anywhere in the city and still attract Manitobans. However, the after sales service has become so important to any car dealer. Service and parts departments keep sales going and busy dealerships are profitable ones. It isn't always new and used car sales.

With this in mind, Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg is moving to Kenaston for a site that is larger, meets more of the demands of today's dealership and is closer to the people who often buy their cars.

Kitty corner-ish to the Goodlife Fitness on Kenaston
Construction is already taking place on the corner opposite Goodlife Fitness on Kenaston. An office building is likely to share the corner with Mercedes in the near future.

Empty now but soon an office and dealership
The building along Kenaston is just another example of how the street is becoming one of the biggest commercial roads in the city. Unlike Portage Avenue though, it has no was of accommodating ever increasing traffic.