Metro column: Writing was no Short Turn for Cox

02 March 2009 05:26

It has been an extraordinary two months for Michael Cox, the Coast Mountain Bus Company driver from East Vancouver who was fired in January because of his blog, Short Turns.

As first reported in Metro, Cox received his walking papers from Coast Mountain — a TransLink subsidiary — because of a complaint lodged about the online publication, which described his experiences driving a bus.

Cox, who was still a probationary employee, had also written about the bus service’s shortcomings during this winter’s brutal snow storms. It would prove to be his undoing.

Since then, his story has become a small-scale cause célèbre locally. He has been interviewed for radio and television programs, and his termination has become a popular, but sometimes contentious, talking point with other bloggers.

His name is now included on an international list of blogging employees who have been fired in recent years — which also includes Chez Pazienza, a television producer who was fired from CNN, and Llewellyn Kriel, a South African journalist who suffered a similar fate with The Sowetan newspaper.

Cox admits the attention has made for an eye-opening experience.

Still, it’s too bad his stint as blogging bus driver had to end. Short Turns shed some light on the important role that drivers play in our communities.

I remember being moved by the blog’s account of one bus operator who quite heroically helped an injured woman get medical help at a busy bus exchange on New Year’s Eve.

Apparently I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm. The blog enjoyed a growing local readership. Even TransLink’s official blog, The Buzzer, linked to it. And, according to Cox, the site’s editor had actually approached him to write for the publication.

All of this was for not, however, when Cox received a phone call from his union telling him that he was being called before management to explain himself — and his blog. Fearing for his job, he erased it the morning before his fateful meeting.

It’s a decision he now regrets.

But there’s new life for Short Turns after all. Last week, he reinstated his blog at shortturnsredux.word
press.com. He is also taking his story to academia — talking to journalism and public relations students at local colleges.

Cox may have had a short turn as a bus driver, but his career as a writer and free speech advocate has apparently only just begun.

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Filed under Commuting, Education, Journalism, Politics, Transportation

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