by Paul Nguyen
March 10, 2005
Jane and Finch is unfairly slammed by the news media. I created Jane-Finch.com to improve our community’s rep and I wanted to show what the real Jane-Finch was like. We needed a place where our voices could be heard. Using the World Wide Web and video production, Jane-Finch.com caught the attention of people everywhere. The website has grown from a small grassroots effort into an internationally visited destination and resource. A year later, the website has been featured in a plethora of print publications and TV. But it wasn’t all that easy putting Jane-Finch.com on the map. There were many trials and tribulations. This is the inside story.
Jane ‘hyphen’ Finch dot com
I started the website last year because of the total lack of information about this community. Using my limited web-programming skills, I created a simple webpage and called it ‘Jane-Finch.com’. I actually wanted ‘JaneFinch.com’ (without the hyphen), but a real estate agent by the name of Jane Finch already owned that domain. I even contacted her and offered to buy the domain name back from her, but she wouldn’t sell it to me because her business was already established. But now Jane-Finch.com is up there in the Google search engine, so everything’s A-okay.
The website was never advertised or publicized, yet the site attracted 20-30 visitors each day. I think that whoever visited the website had the same curiosity I had, and they were probably hunting for info about our notoriously famous neighborhood. But today, the website is satisfying that need to thousands of visitors daily.
Rival websites and watermarked logos
Back in the early days, I felt threatened by a rival Jane and Finch website. I knew the website creator personally and I thought the potential for confusion would just kill off what I was trying to accomplish. For a short time, he hosted my videos and even helped me with my own website, but we had a big disagreement in the direction of where I wanted to go. I was struggling to gather useful things to post online and having my first two rap videos posted on another website was not a good idea to get started. That is when I started adding the Jane-Finch.com watermark to all the videos.
Hitting the National stage
Global National television producer Brian Liu contacted me back in July 2004. He was actually all the way from Vancouver, BC and he discovered Jane-Finch.com when a friend of his passed along an interesting video by the name of “You Got Beef?”. Apparently, our video was being shared all over the web. Brian was an Asian-Canadian himself, and he saw the “surging success” of the website and the potential in our “great story” so he wanted to help me share it with the world. In reality, it took nearly 6 months to get our story to air. My first contact happened last summer with Global TV’s Don Mills bureau. Brian sent local TV reporter Graham Richardson to call me and arrange the shoot. He was a nice man, and he called my cell to gather some background information on the site and about myself. A few days passed and I never heard from him again. Brian emailed me back and told me that Graham Richardson actually left Global TV, so the story fell through. Weeks later, another reporter contacted me to do the story and we came close but due to the unfortunate events surrounding Cecilia Zhang at the time, our story was pushed on backburner again.
“The problem is that we are featuring you... as in a feature story so it’s not breaking news.” – Brian Liu
I keep in steady contact with Brian over the months. Another Global reporter actually contacted me and we tried to arrange things, but it never came to fruition. With the coming U.S. elections in November 2004, our story was forgotten for quite some time.
Getting into the news was actually a difficult task. Even Brian told me stories of how hard it was for him to convince his editors to run our story. He was Chinese, so I think his background helped him understand the importance of getting “You Got Beef” and Jane-Finch.com out to the world.
Finally, a new reporter from Global’s Washington, DC bureau relocated here in Toronto. Allison Vuchnich had just arrived back from reporting on the devastating effects of the Tsunami in India. She contacted me and set a date for the interview on a Wednesday. I finally thought the wait was over. But on Tuesday night, Allison phoned me and said she might have to hop on a plane to Rome if the Pope’s conditioned worsened. It always seemed that bigger news prevented us from getting out. But fortunately, everything was okay, and the story went as planned.
There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes work that go into advancing the website. Especially dealing with the media- we need to be in control. I carefully helped in designing the right kind of story that Jane-Finch needs. Today, we still face many obstacles. Although we have improved our image, I think there’s much more the community can do and I look forward to being a part of it. Despite all the controversy you may have heard, I believe the new generation of Jane-Fincher’s must use the power of popular culture and entertainment to reach the youth of today. We are the new school and we are now trying to bridge the gap between the old-school.
If you ever catch me or Mark Simms on the streets of Jane-Finch, we have a lot more interesting musings to tell you about. And if you want to contribute or help out in anyway, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would like to thank York West Advocate editor Errol Young for his part in helping Jane-Finch.com grow to what it is today.