Popular City Caucus blog retired 0
CityCaucus.com co-founders Daniel Fontaine, left, and Mike Klassen have closed down their popular citizen's blog after 3.5 years and nearly 2,400 posts. (PHOTO BY CLINTON HUSSEY)
The NPA has lost one of its strongest online voices after the City Caucus blog - a lively source of commentary, political scandal and breaking news - was retired Tuesday, after three and a half years.
Co-founders Daniel Fontaine and Mike Klassen decided to call it quits after 1,304 days, due to the long volunteer hours without the financial reward.
"It is with a heavy heart that we are announcing the end of the City Caucus blog," said Klassen, who was a 24 hours columnist prior to becoming an NPA council candidate in the 2011 elections.
CityCaucus.com was one of a few B.C. political blogs with obvious party allegiances, and has been compared to the more left-leaning online publication Vancouver Observer.
Klassen and Fontaine - both longtime politicians and supporters of the NPA - brought a fat rolodex and "the x-ray specs you need to see through some of the politics of the issues," said Klassen, who served as vice-chairman of the Vancouver City Planning Commission from 2007 to 2009 when the NPA last governed the city, while Fontaine was the former chief of staff to former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan.
The duo was eventually dubbed the "unofficial opposition" to Vision Vancouver and became a chief thorn in Mayor Gregor Robertson's side.
"In any democracy you want a variety of voices, be it right, left or centre, the more voices there are, the better so when one of those voices goes silent it's a bit of a shame," said Peter Walton, who runs SFU's New Media Journalism certificate program.
While their platform couldn't secure Klassen a council seat, nor help NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton usurp Robertson, Walton said political blogs have an impact, and in some ways are taking the role of newspapers.
"In the old days, the 19th century, newspapers had a very political slant and supported a political party or a political ideology. Blogs are sort of the modern version of that," Walton said. "They've stepped into the role of newspapers of the old days when newspapers traditionally broke stories. There's less of that happening and more and more online world because that's where the consumers of news have migrated."
One of Klassen's many thrills was breaking a story after an internal June 2010 memo leaked to him showed city staff unhappy and fearful of Vision Vancouver's aggressive implementation of its agenda.
"I recall getting a brown envelope with an internal memo . it showed the morale of Vancouver city staff was going into the dumper," he reminisced. "When we got that story and featured it, it was front-page news everywhere. It was the kind of story that rocked city hall and got them to start to get very concerned about the changes they were making, how it was affecting staff."
Since launching the City Caucus blog in 2008, the website - which also included commentary from contributors - had almost 2,400 posts, generating nearly 26,500 comments.
But after surpassing five million page views over the long weekend, the pair decided to call it quits on a high note.
"While we both have enjoyed creating a venue for so many unique and diverse points of view, I know the amount of time Mike has put into the blog uncompensated over the years and respect his decision to move on," said Fontaine, who continues to write a weekly civic affairs column for 24 hours.
Klassen and Fontaine said they would still comment on politics and news of the day through other platforms. The CityCaucus Twitter account and Facebook fan page will remain active for news links and other updates.