Farhan Mohamed, editor-in-chief of Vancity Buzz, talks to Joseph Planta about the prominent website, its growth and readership, recent controversies, including the Pacific Centre incident, and more.
Text of introduction by Joseph Planta:
I am Planta: On the Line, in Vancouver, at TheCommentary.ca.
About a month ago, Trevor Melanson at Vancouver Magazine had a piece whose title asked the question, “Could Vancity Buzz ever dethrone the Vancouver Sun?” A couple of weeks after, Crystal Kwon, the lifestyle editor at Vancity Buzz was named one of BC Business magazine’s 35 most influential women in the province. That Vancity Buzz is ubiquitous online, whether in one’s Twitter or Facebook feeds is without question, but the website has been getting a lot of criticism about what it publishes, how it goes about gathering the content on the site, as well as what the site actually is. Joining me now to shed some light and respond to the growing concerns of readers and non readers is Vancity Buzz’s editor-in-chief and one of its partners Farhan Mohamed. On 14 January 2016, Vancity Buzz published a story that went viral. The site had obtained an internal memo from the Vancouver Police Department seeking information on some so-called “Middle Eastern” men taking photographs at the Pacific Centre Mall here in Downtown Vancouver. I remember getting a text from a friend who’s not online at all, who had gotten it from someone who had seen it on Facebook. I looked elsewhere online and couldn’t find anything. It seemed that Vancity Buzz had scooped the media in this town. I’ll ask Mr. Mohamed to shed some light as to what happened that night and the days after. Hours after this scoop, there were more questions about how Vancity Buzz went about publishing news about that internal memo. A lot of that criticism came from journalists who have for the most part discounted Vancity Buzz. As a news consumer I thought it was important to find out more about this site that’s a part of a lot of people’s day online. The night of 14 January 2016, I wondered aloud on Twitter about the possibilities with perhaps a more substantial news team. This began a conversation online that night between me and Farhan, and my extending an invitation to appear, which he’s graciously accepted. I’ll get him to tell us about the people around him, the numbers, and where they intend to go from here. Do they want to dethrone the Vancouver Sun? www.vancitybuzz.com  is the address. Please welcome to the Planta: On the Line program, in person today, Farhan Mohamed; Mr. Mohamed, good morning.