Saturday, February 5, 2011

Feb. 5: Big News in The Moncton Times and Transcript.

Big, big, big. The lead on the front page, once again, is the local hockey team which didn't do anything except lose a game. But top, left side of the page appears to be a permanent spot for what is really an ad to draw fans.  In fact, the Rivalty Cup for which the two teams were contending counts number of fans in attendance as one of its measures of who get to win the cup. Can anybody beat that for a hokey hockey rule?

Under the circumstances, then, it was curious the column didn't mention the turnout. As well as the importance of the number of attending fans in the decision of who gets the cup, but this is the city which wants to borrow 84 million dollars to build a bigger stadium. I can only wonder at that on the basis of the one game I have seen. The stadium was, at most, three quarters full - but only because almost half of the audience was non-paying. And this was a much hyped game, also for the Rivalry Cup.

But that sort of hyping and covering up is pretty standard stuff for The Moncton Times and Transcript. Much more distasteful is a "news story" on p. A3. It pumps up the adrenalin over a competition between five schools to see which can read the most books within five weeks. Each school sets its own goal.

This is the old business belief that competition really gets kids going; and if only schools were run like businesses, kids would really learn.
1. Big businesses don't compete. When did you last see Irving fighting to hold on to its share of NB oil business or NB forests?
2. Competition produces one winner and thousands of losers. Some incentive. That sort of thing works for students who already do well in school. It doesn't for most of the others. That emphasis on competition is a major reason why American schools have been dropping so far in world standing over the last several decades.
3. Learning reading means to learn to love and understand it. Competition does nothing for either of those. Some children, probably many children, simply get turned off at being forced into a game they know they can't win. I know their feeling. It happened to me in high school.

But the T&T report on the contest is written in the breathless, gaga style used for local hockey games (or like another free ad on p. 1, the opening of a dating service in town.)

So, why would a newspaper run a story on a reading contest that probably does more damage than good? And why is it so lavish in its praise?
1. The Moncton Times and Transcript is the sponsor of the contest. This is a free ad for the paper, telling us how public-spirited it is. Frankly, I would prefer it they would restrict their activity to just one thing they don't know how to do. Stick with reporting.
2. It supports the campaign by big business across North America that our schools are in terrible trouble, and can be saved onlyby adopting business methods (as in competition), and by degrees of privatization.

The owners of the Moncton Times can be happy their newspapers don't have competition. (Hey! If they think competition is such a cure-all, why don't the owners of the Moncton Times encourage other newspapers to start up in NB?)

Question for the day - Why does the front page have a free ad for a dating service disguised as a news story? I understand it for the hockey team The owners of The Moncton Times and the Moncton Hockey team are pretty close. Is it one of their buddies who opened the dating service?

1 comment:

  1. Competition??? There were a couple of would-be newspapers (fled;ing weeklies) in Dieppe and Riverview that the comopetition-loving T&T put out of business by undercutting on ad prices etc etc.
    Competition????? Thats a dirty word to a certain N.B. family. But, thank God for the Rivalry keeps the front page of the rag in business...................