Most small city and regional newspapers have pretty bland news about their own region. The don't want to offend advertisers (or protential advertisers like be developers). So they play it safe by concentrating on news that won't offend anybody important - which means anybody who has lots of money or is friends with Mr. Irving. Fires are usually safe features, and make great pictures. Car accidents are good. Photos of children are excellent.
Local volunteers are good. So are pictures of employees (company name prominently displayed) holding up a cheque for the money they have raised for a local, worthy cause (not the anti-shale gas movement or the La Presse Libre de Moncton Free Press.)
If this is what you look for, you'll love today's Section A.
The Irving papers are not different from other small papers in this respect. They're just worse.
The Life and Times section is at the average level for a small, third-rate paper. that's because they're all packaged in the same place, and sent around.
The News Today Section? This is stuff chosen, seemingly, at random with no thought to whether it's important to readers. (a teen-age boy was shot at a drug party - in Edmonton. So?)
The lead story, that a pop singer seems to be recovering from an illness could as well have been in Life and Times. I'm glad to hear he's getting better. But this is not a major piece of world news. Nor is it likely to have any effect on our world.
The story of a quarter-million strong Earth Day march in Montreal is so big it couldn't be ignored - but almost entirely lacking in meaning to us since the TandT has ignored other events surrounding it. Here is the setting.
For months, Montreal university and college students have been on a strike, an often violent strike with riot police and tear gas and batons a regular feaure. Yes, yes, I know. Norbert will write a granny column on how the students are all spoiled brats. Maybe so. But it has an importance beyond that -an importance to us.
Across the western world, we are seeing movements that express disillusionment with governments. They may be concerned with student fees or shale gas or northern development or the wage spread. But they have in common a profound distrust of government, and a sense that democracy has been betrayed by politicans and by the weealthy, that we are being cheated. (and they're not wrong. It's quite obvious, despite the reporting of the TandT, that the very wealthy and their corporations are quite brazenly putting democracy in the dumpster.)
These movements are spread across North America and Europe, and, though their concerns are varied, they feel a bond with each other. In short, the western world has thousands of packages of dynamite just waiting for the moment - the riot, the police attack,the accident - the match that will set them all off.
You wouldn't think that from reading the TandT. But serious newspapers around the world are watching it. I've seen almost nothing about the Montreal student strikes - or about the natural alliances they are forming with environmentalists (including the 250.000 for Earth Day) and other groups. I didn't read it in the Times and Transcript. But I did find the Full story about Montreal and what it means in Saturday's Times of India.
Now, you know, If India thinks this is important enough to people in India to know - wouldn't you think it might possibly have some impact on New Brunswick? Even on Moncton?
National and foreign news in the TandT is brief, scattered, with no sense of how this might affect us. The news editors seem to simply take whatever piece from Reuters or Postmeida (both highly prejudiced sources) and run them. This is worse than no news at all.
Skip the paper. If you want better foreign and even national news, it's as easy as going to news on Google. If you want a harder edge, go to International Clearing House of the web.
Then there are the editorial and op ed pages.
Read the editorial. It is about the shortage of help for students with special needs in New Brunswick. For a start, one has to wonder why being an editor gives a person any qualification to write on education. What next? An opinion on how doctors should perform brain surgery?
Then read the last sentence. It says that parents of children with special needs should not expect extra help in school. They "...should understand there are only so many dollars to go around."
Can you, for even a moment, believe that an editor for the Times and Transcript would have written that line if Mr. Irving had made a demand for 300 million for a shipyard?
This is also from the editor urging us to borrow a hundred million, primarily to satisfy a wealthy hockey team owner.
Norbert? What can I say? He thinks the big issues in the civic election are noisy cars and pesticides. I yield to none in my concern for those issues. But there are some even more important.
Craig Babcock thrills us with the information that the police have to tackle both major and minor crimes. I look forward to his next revelation - that they also work on medium crimes.
Allen Abel has his usual pointless story - this time about going to a baseball game in Washington.
Good cartoon by de Adder.
Brilliant column by Alec Bruce. He shines like a star in that paper. He is, in the words of an old song, "...a lonely little petunia in an onion patch."
Oh, as I read the rules for their web subsecription, it seems you have to take all the Irving papers to get a cheap rate. Well, gee! Surely getting one of them is punishment enough.