Friday, February 3, 2012

February 3:

First, some word for you. Gwynn Dyer has an commentary on the editorial page. I don't agree with it. But I have way too much respect for Gwynn to dismiss it out of hand. I've worked with him, and I've followed his writing for most of his career. He's one of the best in the business. Anything he writes is worth reading - agree with it or not. (In this case, I'm surprised at his failure to mention the degree of Turkish, Arab, and western involvement in enouraging the fighting in Syria - and the reasons we are giving for an excuse to intervene. The US is worried about mass killing? Really? Is this the same US that killed a quarter million native people in Guatemala? Still, Dyer has to be taken seriously.)

The oped page has a commentary worth reading by Craig Mazerolle, a student at St. Thomas University. It's about the crisis of high fees, big debts and lack of jobs for this university generation. It's a crisis caused, to a considerable degree, by the universities themselves.

I learned what indebtedness meant when I finished my education with a debt that took me twenty years go pay off. I also learned why universities are much to blame for their own high cost. I learned it by watching university administrators and professors who were obsessed with research because research is the way to gain prestige. They were so obsessed that teaching was almost irrelevant. And research is very, very expensive in time, in library and in equipment. That's a major reason why so many university students are getting very bad teaching at very high cost - and ending up with very high debts.

For lighter reading, there's the usual free ad appearing as a news story on p. 1. It's about new stores at the Mapleton shopping centre; and it's just full of exciting details about them. Next to it is a brilliant example of The Times and Transcript's capacity for a news story of pure gush. This one is about an article on Moncton. The tone is set by the first sentence. "We know our city is marvellous, and now the entire country knows it too". (The puncutation errors are not mine.)

It seems a nice article appeared in a magazine that just everybody reads cover to cover - Canadian Real Estate Magazine.  Yessir. Across Canada, Sure. You read every copy, cover to cover.  Moncton is the word on everybody's lips. Right across Canada.

1. serious newspapers don't publish this kind of boosterism drivel.
2. serious newspapers don't run a front page story whenever a new store opens in the neighbourhood.

Section A also has a groundhog day story.  And,  in a real feast for groundhog day aficionados, there's another one on p.C1. Enjoy.

The whole NewsToday section has its usual scattergun approach with stories ranging from Syria to sex education for older lovers to Alward visiting for a photo op. Nothing is explored to any meaningful degree. Nor is there any sign of a pattern to the arrangement of topics.  The quality of the whole NewsToday section is summed up by an item on C 11.

It is a fuzzy photo of a man wearing a helmet and a visor. The caption says he is a Chilean policeman throwing a tear gas bamb at students during a protest in Santiago.

Why were the students protesting? How violent was the protest? Who started it? Who knows? All the TandT has is a fuzzy picture with a one-sentence caption that tells us nothing. And that sums up the general quality of the NewsToday section.

The editorial writer, as usual, has chosen a topic he or she doesn't know all that much about. It has a statement that provincial liquor stores were established to control the sale of liquor, to keep sales down so as to appease prohibitionists.

Not quite. that was the excuse that was given for establishing them. The real reason was to raise government money (mostly to build roads) without raising taxes. They were never established to control liquor. They were established to push it, to encourage drinking.

(If the editor would like information on  how. I know that, I'd be delighted to pass it on - or he or she could look up 'Temperance Movement' in The Canadian Encyclopedia.)

What the editor really wants is for New Brunswickers to soak up more booze. In effect, it becomes a tax on the poor and the middle class - rather like the lottery. Now, I'm not in favour of prohibition. But I'm not sure that a logical alternative is encouraging the who province to get sauced to keep down taxes for the rich. Want to think about that ed.?

Surprisingly, and despite yesterday's big story about how the shale gas industry really, really wants us to get more information about it - there's no story today. Nothing from the shale gas industry. Nothing from the government. Nothing from the Times and Transcript.

The message is clear. the shale gas industry intends to go ahead no matter what. They know the government won't do much but put inadequate (and probably unenforced rules) up for them. They know the Irving Press isn't going to lay a finger on them. They know that because they know big brother is in their corner.

They know very well what it's going to do to this province. And they don't give a damn.


  1. Irving news is not real newsFebruary 3, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Nice to read someone who has the balls to trash an Irving paper with rational analysis.

  2. I'm from England. My city there is Bristol. A much bigger city than Moncton, with one daily paper and one evening paper.

    A new store and a new shopping centre most certainly was something to receive enormous coverage. That's what a local newspaper does.

    There's a nationwide forum I'm on and every time there's a "survey" about cities in Canada - best place to retire; good place for real estate investment; politeness; whatever, someone from the cities that come out well in the "league table" make a thread about it.

    They know about it precisely because their local paper has featured the survey because their city has come out well. This happens all across Canada.

    The T&T is just doing what other local papers do.

    If no serious newspaper would do it then presumably you don't consider local newspapers as being serious.

    That's fine. I don't either when there are more suitable sources.

    But I tink you're being unfair in ridiculing them for it.