To be or not to be – Updated

Recent inactivity at In-Sights may be a prelude to discontinuation.

When I began eleven years ago, neoliberalism had ascended and mainstream public interest journalism had descended. Access to corporate media was carefully controlled by special interests but blogs were a method for individuals to add new voices to the domain of public discourse.

Corporate communicators in British Columbia had partnered unashamedly with right wing political representatives, working to protect vested interests. Postmedia, Glacier Media, Black Press, Bell, Shaw/Global, Rogers and others contributed huge sums to the cause and, more importantly, ensured the majority of reportage reflected private interests.

Industry groups spent millions of dollars to employ individual shills and astroturf groups to protect their financial interests. As one response to sites like this one revealing bothersome financial information, Stewart Muir’s Resource Works was established to protect the interests of corporations that preferred to minimize their contributions to the public purse.

Populist commentators like Rafe Mair had been replaced by compliant media poodles following the style of Bill Good. Political pundits Vaughn Palmer, Keith Baldrey and others earned appearance fees delivering comfortable messages to gatherings of special interests, mostly corporate, while assuring the public that partiality in news delivery was unaffected.

In 2009, Facebook was relatively new. Twitter—described by one founder as “a short burst of inconsequential information”—was an infant. Alternative media was developing but crippled by inadequate financial resources and dependant on generosity of a few dedicated journalists and concerned citizens.

For part of the last decade, blogs were an effective method for individuals to add voices to the domain of public commentary. The audience at In-Sights (nee Northern Insights) grew dramatically in early years and the site offered valuable commentary by thoughtful readers.

In 2020, perhaps Twitter has become the preferred platform for politically oriented conversations. According to Canadaland, it “has no shortage of the virtuous and the reprehensible, of the inspiring and the depressing.”

Are blogs viable in the future?

The effort and expense needed to sustain informed commentary is considerable for one person. Material that takes five minutes to read may have required days of research and considerable payments for information database subscriptions, internet access, website hosting, telephone, computer equipment, software subscriptions, travel, etc.

Expenses are material. Revenue is not.

I’ve had financial assistance from a handful of readers but that has only dealt with part of the direct expense. In the next short while, a number of the website costs, including site hosting, become due for another year, plus my favoured computer requires a $300 repair. I’m not convinced the site is sustainable.

Well into my fixed-income retirement years and bothered by inflation and one or two health issues common to boomers, I am feeling less capable of continuing In-Sights.

If you think this site is worth maintaining, please consider offering support by Interac e-Transfer directed to normanfarrell.ca@gmail.com or by

. . . . . . . . PAYPAL . . . . . . . . .

If the support is sufficient, In-Sights will continue in 2020. If it is not, I will return funds that readers offer.

January 22 update:

Thank you to readers who already provided financial support or have promised send it along by methods other than Paypal or Interac e-Transfer.

We have had a modest but satisfactory response so In-Sights will continue in 2020, our 12th year.

The struggle to cover basic expenses continues but I hope that I can fund personal access to Canadian Newsstream, a database of newspapers across the country. It holds content from as far back as the seventies and is particularly useful for understanding the background of issues that remain current today.

Categories: Uncategorized

25 replies »

  1. Norm, I hate to see this blog go. Simply put this blog is well researched and always well informed. If only certain segments of our mainstream media were as well informed our democracy and our society will be in much better. I admit that I have not been one of your biggest financial supporters but I hope to change, starting next week. Good journalism isn’t free and you shouldn’t expected to hear those costs alone.

    I hope you keep going with Insights.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Will. I have long appreciated your support and I know you to be a person primarily concerned for improvement in the lives of all BC residents. If more people were like you, working as partisans in pursuit of fairness and equality, I’d retire happily.

      Unfortunately, selflessness is rather uncommon.

      I can already say that reader response is encouraging.


  2. Not for publication I am in a boat similar to yours; I cannot simply cut a cheque or do an e-transfer, tho I may soon get a contract that will pay well and if I do I’ll send along some $. I love Twitter but alas it too has flaws, I’ve been blocked by both Gerry Butts and Warren Kinsella. The best way nowadays to disseminate info is to post something somewhere and Tweet a link to it. That’s my plan for 2020 and I’d suggest the same for you. I hope you’re able to keep writing stuff even though I don’t agree with all of your views. Best wishes John

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks John. It’s fine to agree or disagree because that often causes us to reexamine the evidence that led us to affirm our suppositions.

      Since you are a religious person, I expect you’ll recall the biblical assertion “You shall not defile the land in which you live” and soon join those of us who want to apply the precautionary principle in hopes of protecting earth from the disaster that nearly all climate scientists promise is underway.


  3. Norm, I’ve enjoyed the blog immensely over the years. The information you provide is invaluable. However, many bloggers, as they age are cutting back.
    Bloggers also start to wear out, fatigue.

    Harvey Overfeld takes several long vacations each year.
    Laila Yuile has cut back
    Dennis Watson, no long accepts comments and to defray costs takes ads.
    RossK writes much less frequently. Perhaps once, every week or two.

    Please take care of yourself. You’ve made a valuable contribution to our province.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Special thanks are due Ray because he’s been a long time supporter of In-Sights. Without him, the site would not have a 10+ year library of commentary.


  4. I’m encouraged that you’re encouraged, Norm. And interestingly as you bring up Twitter and Stewart Muir, he is involved this very afternoon on Twitter arguing with Sandy Garossino. Some quotes from their exchange:

    Stewart Muir:
    “As anyone in the Vancouver-based protest industry will admit privately, there is ample money available, for the asking, from American funders. If it creates economic pain for us, they’ll write a cheque on the spot.”

    “The money flows through anonymized donations from local foundations, as well as directly. I’ll grant you it’s not same day service: you must fly to SF and dance a little jig to claim the cheque. The effect is the same.”

    Sandy Garossino:
    “Back this up, please.

    I’ve spent the better part of a year researching billions of dollars in grants, talking to funders, talking to recipients, and have not encountered a shred of evidence of this.

    Name one single person familiar with large funders who supports this claim.”

    “Read the article below, where I tabulate $2 BILLION in foreign funding to Canadian organizations (in all subject areas) from 2009-20.

    It took me 9 months.

    Do the work Stewart, & find the errors. Don’t just sit on Twitter & spout insults.


    “Name names and back this up.

    You have done nothing but make false accusations and slurs all afternoon.”

    “Stewart, is there some need you have to insult people on Twitter that you’re nice to in public?

    A $2M public prize to Berman is hardly secretive Dark Money.

    None of this undermines my research or article.

    AB at best is mere collateral damage in a global climate struggle.”

    Norm, I recall Mr. Muir trying you on for size with similar results. Wouldn’t you miss the fun?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Will, like you, I always look forward to Lew’s contributions. He’s had a tenacious dedication to revealing truths on misconduct and frauds that have cost BC citizens billions of dollars – theft of BC Rail, for example.

      Instead of arguing with Lew’s well informed conclusions, public officials, both Liberal and NDP, as well as mainstream journalists, preferred to ignore him. They knew that entering debate with him was dangerous because he had a boatload of facts and they had no real answers.


  5. It is huge loss if your blog is discontinued. Your meticulous research is needed and extremely welcome and compared to the bumf that passes for news today, Insights makes the Vancouver Sun and Province mere fish wrap.

    Even the Tyee is coming tiresome, though still superior to what passes as our mainstream media.

    What the non blogger does not realize, is the time consumed to put out a post.

    Rail for the Valley is a niche blog about local transit issues (especially, the reinstatement of the Vancouver to Chilliwack passenger service) and comments on local and international news. Even this simple comment and posted story takes a great deal of time and for RftV, no income stream at all.

    Metro Vancouver’s blogging community are the unsung heroes of truth and honest discourse, as the mainstream media have devolved into a Pravda style Ministry of Propaganda machine complete with very yellow journalism.

    Truth and honest reporting has become a rare commodity in this age of “fake news” and “alternative facts”.

    Illegitimi non carborundum – don’t let the bastards grind you down!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What everyone else said. Your readership does very well at articulating my thoughts. Your blog aids in educating my (often above average intelligence) peers of all the facts they did not know they did not know.

    Unionwill says “If only certain segments of our mainstream media were as well informed ….”. He is too kind. It should read “If most segments of our mainstream media made any effort at all to be well informed….”. Stewart Muir’s quote “I’m not an accountant so I can’t be expected to understand the numbers they provide me” can be extrapolated to one of the biggest problems we face…….a media that can’t be expected to understand the information they are given. They seem more intent on securing personal fame and future political aspirations (and who knows what other perks) by not rocking the boat.

    I recently wrote to a media person about a “just in new story” that had been reported in places like this 10 years ago…..long before the damage became irreversible. I mentioned I currently spend way more in support of bloggers and independent on-line news sources than I ever did paying for a Vancouver Sun subscription. They (and their advertisers) brought their woes upon themselves by alienating the people most likely to support them.

    I am very fortunate to still be in very good health and able to use my days off to get out and about this great province I was born and raised in. “They” manage to keep most people too busy to “write letters to the editor”. I guess that is why we are labelled as ranters in our underpants, by the time we can sit down to write it is very late in the evening, we are weary and ready for bed.

    People like me really appreciate people like you who should be spending their time enjoying well earned days after a career of adding value to goods and services….not dedicating hundreds of hours collating information and communicating it in a clear manner. I don’t think a blog needs to be a regular thing, but when there is a posting I always rush to read it and regularly search the archives. Where will we get the graphs from?

    You do a great job of showing how it is not left or right but right or wrong……non-partisan to a tee. I think Alice’s Restaurant should be your theme music…….

    “and three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in, singing a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin’ a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends, they may thinks it’s a movement! And that’s what it is……..”.


  7. Norm
    You have supplied us with more detailed and proven information than anyone else that I read on a daily basis. You deal with facts while giving little opinion, as the facts are so self evident, opinion is not needed. What I would like from you is to be honest with yourself. If enough contributions come in to keep you going that is great but only if that is what you are capable of and wanting to do. You only go around once! Everything today seems to be chaos and anything you try and do about it appears frivolous. Blog on or spend time with your grand children and teach them what the world should be like. Make yourself and family happy!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hey Norm,
    Please keep going as long as you can. You are methodical, logical and sincere.
    Doggedly committed to truth in the best sense.
    I have sent a (small) contribution, as in the past…
    Don’t stop.


  9. What a lot of people do not realize, is the huge cost of obtaining information. Freedom of information is nothing more than an oxymoron.

    I am sure that Norm will concur.

    Rail for the Valley only has very little income; the Leewood Study, pertaining to the viability of reinstating the interurban, using 21st century technology was paid for out of mine and John Buker’s pockets! These studies do not come cheaply, I can tell you!

    In the transportation industry, as well as other industries, the quality studies (the ones people actually use) are proprietary and it costs a lot of money obtaining them. In some instances, tens of thousands of dollars.

    RftV has been lucky because we are advised by several professionals, who have access to the studies and can give up to date comments on such things as finance, ridership, costs, etc., etc. What they cannot not do is give us the actual study until it is released by the owning company and many are never released to the public. In fact, they can’t even release some information as it would contravene their contract! Evidently Bombardier Inc. and SNC Lavalin are very good at it.

    I have been told that professional engineers in the transportation business may pay $100,000 annually or more to receive information. I have been told, that some of the studies may cost into the millions to produce.

    Government knows this well and for the likes of the bloggers it becomes an financially onerous affair assembling the information then reducing it for public consumption.

    So I understand very well the problems facing Insights and Norm, and his wife would rather go on a holiday than pay for stats on LNG, or the Site C dam or what ever topic he is writing about.

    All I can say is that I strongly urge you to continue and hold governments feet to the fire because the yellow journalism of the mainstream media is only offering government news releases as genuine news and nothing more.


  10. Norm, from one whistle-blower to another: I have e-transferred my proceeds from reffing an adult co-ed soccer game in Chilliwack.

    It was cold and wet… but I was warmed by knowing that my donation will give you a bit more air in YOUR whistle.

    Keep calling the fouls, whenever you see them. Maybe show a few red cards!


  11. Hi Norm,

    Having ran a number of websites/blogs over the past 20 years your request for donations is most understandable. Unless someone has been in the business of publishing online or offline they can find it quite difficult to realize just how much work it really is, both time wise and financially.

    You posed the question “Are blogs viable in the future?”. My opinion, based upon my own experiences, is that if you want to speak openly and frankly and honestly and publish your thoughts and viewpoints in the interest of adding to the general public discourse then you will soon find yourself at odds with the power structure as it now exists and will be forced to keep your mouth shut or else pay a price that most people just aren’t willing to pay. The courts, as our good friend Robin Mathews has shown again and again, are controlled. Laws are in place to protect the guilty. To question those laws is to open oneself up to attack from every quarter where third party self-interest demands that only political correct discourse will be allowed.

    We’re living in an Orwellian world Norm and unless a blogger has vast amounts of money to fend off the Beast, which will inevitably result from speaking freely, then one would best resign them self to the reality that now exists and accept the parameters imposed upon writers, researchers and even artists.


    • I agree with much of what you wrote. This is an almost 11 year-old site and its existence has been enabled by a few generous readers. We’ve developed a community of what one emailer today called, “very knowledgable readers.”

      This is not a profitable effort but each time I look at my seven grandchildren, I’m compelled to continue. They’re entering a world that does not offer the opportunities that existed when I was young, whether stable employment, affordable housing or clean air and water.

      One other thing that has changed over the years is the quality of mainstream media. Most journalists employed there used to be advocates for citizens. Today, many advocate for corporations and right-wing causes. We’ve seen great alternative news providers develop but they are limited in resources and struggle to do all of the work they could be doing. One of those, The Narwhal, was recently smeared by Global TV reporter/anchor Jordan Armstrong. He painted them radicals, lurking on the opposite fringe to Rebel Media.

      I suppose Global dislikes anyone who reports truths they ignore. They, along with every other corporate media property in BC, ignore the evidence presented here that BC natural gas producers have been recipients of $9.5 billion in royalty credits taken and accrued. That’s just not news they wish to circulate.


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