Don’t call Jack Bennest a blogger. He will correct you.
“Websites are what they’re called, websites. Blogs, they become just another idiot on the internet,” he said from his home in Oliver Friday.
Bennest, a former broadcast journalist with CKNW in Vancouver and CBC in both Vancouver and Edmonton, founded his all-news website a decade ago. Due to his age and not being able to find a suitable purchaser, he’s closing the business end of ODN on Wednesday.
“The commercialized part of ODN is over.
Every day I will post a nice picture, a whole bunch of interesting links. Low stress, no business, no legalistics on my shoulders.”
He doesn’t plan on removing the link buttons to long-time advertisers and he won’t be billing them… “they’ve supported me for 10 years, I want to be able to show my support in return.”
In addition to a scaled-back Oliver Daily News site, he also has another for local photography: southokanaganphotos.today
Although he hired freelancers from time to time, Bennest was basically a one-man show, responding to house fires and car accidents at all hours of the day.
He was Oliver Daily News.
It all began a decade ago with posting photos online. A garden club appreciated what he was doing. “Those ladies then told a few other ladies, who told a few other ladies.”
Purely coincidental, his launch year in 2011 was one of the most newsworthy in decades for the tiny Town of Oliver.
The historic hotel burned down and firefighters heroically rescued kegs of beer — then relocated them to the fire hall. The newly-renovated high school burned down. There was a landslide where, by miracle, nobody was killed. (Four of The Herald’s Top 10 news stories of the year for 2011 were based in Oliver.)
At the time, nobody likely thought ODN would survive as a commercial venture.
Bennest credits Michael Newman, former owner of the Oliver Chronicle and a town councillor for his help in the early years.
Perhaps because of his background in broadcast news, Bennest believes shorter stories are better.
He also questions modern news judgment.
“I see these incredibly long articles online about a winery, with the wine they want to sell. That’s not news. Agencies need to devote resources to investigating stories, not just doing fluff pieces.”
He’s ruffled some feathers over the years, something he says comes with the territory.
“I was told years ago that if you don’t have a spicy little newspaper, nobody is going to read it.”
As for his immediate future, Bennest said it will be different.
“It shall be an adjustment,” he laughs. “I won’t have to wake up every morning and immediately check 15 websites so that I’m on top of things, or at least competitive.”
James Miller is a Penticton resident who writes on local people. Miller is the Managing Editor of the Penticton Herald and this article appears somewhere in all things “Herald”