Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dec. 15: The bottom of p. A5 tells you all you need to know.....

....about the quality of The Moncton Times and Transcript. For the fifth issue in a row, it's a "news story" plugging the autobiography of a former exec of the Irvings and their imitation newspapers. In case you missed it for the last four issues, it appends the usual column telling you how much the book costs, and exactly where you can get one. In return, you might want to send a  note to the editor of the Moncton TandT, telling him where he can shove it.

For the fifth time, it's written by the same reporter, often using the same sentences used four times earlier. I don't know how many times I've read that the autobiographer had "an iron hand", that he was kind-hearted, that he was a child of the depression, that he went from being paper boy to publish for the Irving papers in St. John. The repetitions suggest that the reporter has a limited vocabulary - and is still unfamiliar with the correcting meanings of gruff and guff. (He uses only gruff, even when he means guff.)

Gruff is an adjective. It refers to a tone of voice or manner. To say someone has a gruff voice, therefore, is quite correct. However, it  is not correct to say that someone took no  gruff - though the reporter says so at least three times in this compelling series.

Guff (note the missing r, is a noun. Loosely, it can refer to bluster or talking back or talking in circles. One cannot give or take gruff. There is no such object as a gruff.  What you give or take is guff.

The reporter can find the word guff and its history in Partridge's Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English.

Why spend so much time on a blatantly silly news story? Because nothing could show more clearly the contempt that the Irving papers have for the intelligence of their readers - and their use of the papers to spread whatever propaganda - and even lies - they want New Brunswickers to believe.

They largely ignore real news, and fill their pages with propganda, trivia, irrelevance. These are newspapers based on the assumption that we are stupid and ignorant - and it is the job of the newspaper to keep us that way. The leaves Mr. Irving free to suck the province dry - with the help of his Liberal and Conservative flunkies.

The result is a population in this province that is remarkably passive, remarkably accepting of abuse, has a series of governments whose only policies are buzzwords, and who freely give us and our futures away to corporations.

Brunswickmedia is contemptible by any standards I  have ever seen in the newspaper world. But, obviously, it works.

There's not much in the rest of the paper. If you're not interested in news, then this is the newspaper for you.

Reuters offers its usual half-story about the US pullout from Iraq. Actually, though Obama calls it a pullout, American forces are really just moving next door - to Kuwait. As well, American bases in Iraq remain, and will be maintained by thousands of "private contractors".

The full story of what's happening in Iraq and Syria and Iran is kind of important to New Brunswickers. That whole region could blow up at any time and, if it does, it is a sure thing that Harper will commit us to the war. It might be a good idea for us to learn what this is really all about, and whether we really need or want to send people there to die.

That would be so much better than just sending them, then putting medals and condolences personally signed by the prime minister in the mail for their family survivors.


  1. While I do agee the Costello series was huge overkill, you do realize the writer you are criticizing has won a Pulitzer Prize before, right?

    You do realize that your own blog posts are littered with spelling and grammatical mistakes? It's a bit hypocritical for you to pick at someone's typos when you don't even call the newspaper you are critizing by the right name half the time (It's not called the Times & Tribune or the Times & Traunscript, as is stated in your blog's header)

  2. 1. I really don't give a damn what awards he has won. Those articles are still pure gush.
    As a matter of fact, I have more than a vew national journalism awards of my own. But I know what such awards are worth. That's why I have never bothered even to keep a record of them. (I remember that one was for best radio editorial of the year in Canada.)
    2. He is not a pulitzer prize winner. He was a member of a TEAM that was Nominated - but did not win.
    3.To twice misuse the word gruff is not a typo. I criticized him for the misuse of a word.
    4. Yes. I sometimes make my own mistakes. I don't have editors to look over my stuff.

    5. The use of an ampersand is quite correct. Do you know what an ampersand is?
    6. I also sometimes call it the TandT. That's not the real name - but it's still an acceptable usage.
    7. Obviously, you have failed to understand what points I was making. I'm sorry. I can't help you.
    hint - the articles were gush and the repetition of them was bad journalism. If he has ten pultizers and can fart God Save the Queen, it's still gush and bad journalism.

  3. make that more than a few national awards.
    Or use the error to write another irrational comment.

  4. What are you talking about an ampersand for? That's not what is incorrect about the header of your blog. It reads Times & Traunscript... With a u. I'm sure we can both agree that's incorrect.

    Also, you call it the Times & Tribune all the time too. I'm not sure where you get this name either.

    We already agree that the Costello things were stupid, so it's irrelevant to bring that up again. My point was only that you are calling out a writer as if he's some sort of unaccomplished hack. Not everything everyone writes is gold or worthwhile, I'm sure in your award-winning career you have published some duds too.

  5. look, anon. This is a simple question of logic.
    I confess to being ignorant illiterate, boorish and crude. That is whaty you are trying to discuss. But that is not what the blog was about.

    It was about a series of stories that were gushy and, in journalistic terms, unethical.

    To discuss whether I, too, am gushing and unethical is a quite separate subject. I will happily admit that I am gushing and unethical, and anything else you might suggest.

    But that has nothing to do with what I said about those stories. My badness does not make those stories good.

    By your own logic, you have no right to criticize me. I, after all, have published and have won prizes. You haven't.

    See how silly that statement is?