The Toronto Star gets a cookie
I want to thank everyone who's given me positive feedback on this thing. I guess people are actually reading it, so that's cool. Also, keep posting comments, see if we can't get nore debates going on some of this stuff. Also, tell your friends about the site, I'd love for word to get around about this thing. But enough of the warm fuzzies, I've got cynicism to unload. Middle East Protests II: Return of the Syrians Remember those anti-Syria protests in Lebanon? Sure you do, they were the front page story on every major daily last week (several times for the Post). Still not ringing any bells? What about the columnists, who decreed that Bush's policies in the Middle East were a success, and that freedom was - undoubtedly - on the march. Well, there were more protests yesterday. Much bigger ones. You'd think that sort of thing would be on A1 again, right? Oh wait, they were pro-Syrian rallies. But... freedom... marching... Better bury that bad boy... how's A10, Post? Citizen, you run it on A11. You too, Globe and Mail. The Toronto Star is the only paper that gets a pat on the head, for running it on A3, which is pretty consistent with the play they gave last week's rallies. The Ottawa Sun, on the other hand, ran a tiny little brief at the end of the news section, opposite a health feature on breast feeding illustrated by a photo of a baby suckling his mother's tit. Oh, sorry, the Citizen has a little teaser photo on A1 too, wedged between Syndey Crosby wearing his shiny new Reebok hat and the story with "stripper" in the headline. True, the Post and Globe gave it some column space too, with Marcus Gee using the rally as justification for clamping down harder on Syria and Salim Mansur pointing out just how fractured Lebanon really is, but it doesn't begin to rival the orgy of coverage that the anti-Syrian rallies got. I'm not going to go so far as to suggest the rally shows that more Lebanese favour Syrian rule, especially given that there is pretty clear evidence that Hezbollah organized the rally and brought in supporters from all over the region, but there is a responsibility to give both sides of a story equal weight. When you spend a week trumpeting protests as the coming of democracy in the region, you have to give something close to equal coverage of the opposite side's rally. At LEAST put it on A1 today. I don't expect columnists to recant, but the "news" coverage has to be somewhat balanced. RCMP Redux Remember that poorly-played story about the RCMP commissioner's quasi-apology? Nowhere today. No followups in the CanWest papers, no stories in the Globe or Toronto Star. Clearly it would be admitting they got burned by CanWest, but for Jumpin' Jesus on a Pogo Stick, you have a responsibility to inform your readers. Both papers played up the grow-op angle and both papers failed to clarify that. At least the Sun papers referred to the admission by covering Conservative MP Peter MacKay's reponse to it. I went into greater detail on this yesterday, but this story as well as the pro-Syrian rally are just glaring examples of agenda-driven news coverage. The Globe and Star put more value on protecting their egos than informing their readers - and that's unacceptable. Missile Defence again? On Feb. 23, Pierre Pettigrew told Condoleeza Rice that Canada would not take part in the missile defence program. Yesterday, Speaker Peter Milliken ruled that the government did not make a decision until Feb. 24, when it was announced in the House of Commons, thus ruling that Paul Martin did not mislead the House of Commons. So, either Pettigrew spoke on a matter of national security without government approval or Milliken just lied to cover up for Martin and, possibly, prevent a new election. Why was the Toronto Star the only paper to give this a full story? The Citizen ran a one paragraph brief on A10 and the Ottawa Sun mentioned it in the Parliamentary Briefs section. Oh, wait, the Cape Breton Post got the full story too, didn't mean to exclude them. This is fucking insane. The mainstream major dailies spent the better part of a week creating stories, spinning meaningless quotes and over-hyping unimportant sources to generate controversy about Canada's missile defence decision, and here we have a legitimate story and it's skipped. Someone should be nailed to a wall for this. Was it because it was the NDP that asked Milliken to rule? Did it happen too late in the news cycle? Was the fear-mongering over Avian Flu more important? It'll be interesting to see how the opposition deals with this today, and how the subsequent coverage flows. Haiti, is that still going on? One year ago, Canada stood by and offered support for a U.S.-sponsored overthrow of a democratically-elected leader in Haiti. Canada helped an armed insurgency overthrow a democratically-elected leader in Haiti. And then the media moved on. The Toronto Star ran a guest column by an indie journalist who has worked in the country talking about the coup that happened a year ago last week. And that's it. That's all there was. Anywhere. True, there were a few news briefs about the anniversary rallies in Haiti, but they were mostly in smaller, regional dailies. Nothing looked at Canada's involvement in the coup or the actual situation on the ground. Funny story on that note, actually. As most megalomedia readers know, I also work at the Charlatan, the student paper at Carleton University. A writer pitched a story to us that she first wrote while interning at CanWest. It was an interview with a documentary filmmaker who worked in Haiti and a broader feature on the situation there. CanWest didn't want it, apparently the part that pointed out that the Canadian media in Haiti covered only embassy press conferences and ignored pro-Aristide rallies didn't appeal to them. We're running it this week, it'll be at http://www.charlatan.ca by the end of the week. Blast a columnist? Well, okay. Check out Barbara Kay in the Post's Issues and Ideas section. Apparently, she and her husband decided to forgo Hollywood Beach for their annual winter getaway and instead go to New York City. Her husband booked them into a discount hotel, and oh the humanity! Now, don't get Ms. Kay wrong, she's stayed in scuzzy hotels before, mostly travelling with her daughter to horse shows and triathalons in B.C.'s interior. But this was too much! Don't worry, they were able to get out of their New York nightmare and into the Marriott. Her conclusion? "A lesson learned? For me, yes. Money, lots of it, is what buys happiness in New York City." There's a lesson for the kids. Tune in next week for her "Beauty through science: Why you're not okay the way you are" piece.