Friday, September 2, 2011

Sept 2: The disorderly order of The Moncton Times &Transcript

TheMondton T&;T is the only daily I have seen with no clear system to its presentation.
It is routine, for example, to have a sports story on the front page. Why? They have a sports section for sports stories.

Yes, other papers will sometimes have sports on Page 1, as when a team wins a world championship. But today, there's just big photo of workers asssembling the grandstand for a football game. It has a caption to remind us that tickets are still on sale. This isn't even a story. Nothing has happened.

Also front page - some (2?  50? 3000?) parents are upset about changes in school bus routes. It happens every year in every city that has school busses. So why is this front page news? Why the big picture of a school bus? Does it tell us anything? Do most people not know what a school bus looks like? And the story goes on for most of page 4 - with another big picture of a school bus for those who forgot it from p. 1..

People in the Miramichi are waiting for results of a DNA test on some human remains that were discovered on August 16. that's not a story. A story, several weeks ago, is that remains were discovered. The next story will be what the DNA results are. Until then, there is no story. This is a space-filler.

A10 has a "feel-good" story. A man lost eighty dollars. Somebody found it, and returned it. There's a big picture of a man holding up eighty dollars for those who don't know what a man and eighty dollars look like.

Finally, there's a story on A10 that a blusgrass band is reuniting. I'm happy to hear it. But that should be in the entertainment section.

Over half of section A is ads, obituaries, trivia, non-stories and misplaced stories. That's what happens when you have monopoly ownership, and when the owndership doesn't want us to know anything about anything.

The Sports Section, though mostly ads, is the only section that looks as though it has an editor of some competence.

NewsToday? It's had a story almost every day for six months on Libya. It still  hasn't told us what the rebellion is about or who the rebels are. Nor has it explained why we are there when we have ignored similar rebellions as in Bahrain.

There's a report on an inane statement by Jean Chretien that the world has a new kind of warfare called terrorism; and it's practiced by extremists. Come off it. Just about every country in the world has been practicing terrorism since the beginning of time. Apparently, Chretien has never heard of the bombing of Cambodia or the slaughter of Guatemalans. Nor has he heard of the French Revolution, the Sons of Liberty in the American Revolution, or the Society of Hunters in Canada. Nor has he read The Bible.

The ultimate terrorism is genocide, the killing of an entire people because of their "race". The first recorded genocide was by the Israelites who massacred the Canaanites to take their land (now Israel).. They killed everybody right down to babies. That's what the battle of Jericho was about. Check, for example, Deuteronomy 7 and 20, and Joshua 6. Check your local fundamentalist clergyman for excuses.

Barely a word on the terrible situation in Somalia. Nothing on how the promised aid to Haiti and Iraq has never been delivered. Nothing on Saudi Arabia helping the government of Bahrain to kill its protesters.

The editorials, as usual, are ignorant and trivial. The second one -kiss, kiss, Mr. Irving - is propaganda that an overpriced hockey rink will boost the NB  economy. It will,  in a way, with low paid jobs that will last a couple of years - followed by fifty yeas of taxes to pay it off. We have never been given evidence of any other signicant financial benefit - except for the owner of the hockey team. A newspaper is supposed to give us that evidence.

Alec Bruce has a brief by profoundly disturbing column on the general retreat of democracy, and its failure to deal with serious problems. I'm not sure I agree with his optimism that things will get better some day. But his picture of where we are is bang on.

Gwynne Dyer's column has me puzzled. I knew Dyer fairly well in my early radio days. I had, and have, enormous respect for him his insight and his honesty, Alas, I cannot at all agree with this day's column about Liby a. But I do know Dyer to be honest and capable - so I'll try to keep an open mind on this.

1 comment:

  1. In both big and small cities there is a silly news season when nothing happens. And the editors are rarely prepared with a contingency plan when there is no local news to report.

    Two summers ago, LaPresse, the largest French-language daily in North America, was in the same situation during the quiet July construction holiday when it reported the Subway Sandwich franchises ran out of meat for one of their specialties. Incredible!

    But in the case of this edition of the Times & Transcript, the unmotivated staff have taken to filling the newspaper with anything that fits the space. And even if there is an unwritten list of untouchable stories, the staff are without excuses as they produce a boring newspaper.

    Let me help with the stories already appearing. Headline: “Is your child safe on the school bus?” – it could end up as puff piece, but will attract every parent, and maybe we learn who does maintenance. There is more than the driver that makes sure there is a school bus safety factor.

    For world news, a talented writer could take all the internet stories, without fear of copyright, and combine them to make for an original piece with an angle that might have been buried. Easiest story in the world, and for local content get an informed view of the events in motion. Headline: Libya: What next? Kicker headline: Some Moncton residents weigh in on country’s future.

    For sports – what kind of an insurance policy, if any, is available for youngsters playing amateur sports. Headline: Young athletes’ insurance payouts are miserly.

    How will some coaches keep the games civil when the kids see sport professionals murder each other with impunity? What do some of the kids think about this. Headline: How pro-sports violence is affecting our young Moncton players

    Next headline: “Can We Afford This Arena?” and all the boosters will say yes. But at least they’ll be in print on the record, and unable to run away from the comment in the future when the project puts the city into debt default.

    I encourage the journalists at the Times & Transcript to do their best job. This is because one day their job resumé will land on my desk, and I’ll be less inclined to look at it based on the newspaper’s reputation.

    David Leonardo

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