Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25: Att last...three cheers....

Brent Mazerolle and The Moncton Times and Transcript come through with a real news story and a real lead for p. 1. This is one is well worth having a coffee over. "Moncton spending full of contradictions".  Indeed, that seems to be the case. Mazerolle opens with the (sensible) decision to spend $72,000 on a rescue hovercraft. Then he notes the approval of $89,000 for six (count them, six) bicycle racks. (The high bid was almost $300,000).

Mazerolle notes that Fredericton spends $250,000 to build a roundabout for car traffic. Moncton plans to spend that much for the drawing. The mayor said that was too much. But he voted for it. Why?

Councillors don't have to vote for things they don't approve of. So why all these bizarre approvals? And remember, these are also the people who plan to spend a hundred million (and more) on an 'events centre', and who are remarkably shy about discussing Moncton High School. They are also the ones who have still not answered questions about the pollutants under Highfield Square. (Are you reading this, councillors Henderson  and Leger?)

This council story is a dynamite story, and a well-written one. Don't miss it. Good on Mazerolle.

The Editorial missed his story. It could have taken a look at the voting records of the councillors. It could have asked why the mayor changed his mind to vote for the roundabout at such a high price. It could have raised awareness what what appears to be a very serious problem. Instead, the editorial is a feel-good one about a useful initiative by a group of Monctonians. Those people certainly did a job to be  thanked for - but it pales in importance with comparison to the behaviour of city council. Nor are matters helped by the "commentaries" on the op ed page. Eric Lewis has the predictable babble that we need more rock fests. Brian Cormier discusses which is the nicest season of the year.

P. A2 has a picture of a farmer driving his tractor. There's no story. Just a picture. But it will be interesting for all those who have never seen a farmer driving his tractor. Order another coffee while you look over this one.

P. A12 carries a long report on the premier's summit in Halifax at which, it appears, nobody has yet said anything. But it does have a full colour photo of Alward. Another coffee, for sure, this one with a drop of whiskey.

Sports, p. B5, has a better report on the London Olympics than the rest of the TandT has had. And it's far superior to the Reuters report on p. C1.  Read the sports section story, even if you don't usually like sports.

Similarly, the Reuters report on Syria is a waste of time. Tell you what...

....if you really want news about what it's like in Syria, about what a mess the London Olympics are thanks to the incompetence of a private contractor; if you want to know how it's government that is having to step in; how the games will probably cost an already financially-troubled Britain, and cost it heavily...   If you really want to know how corrupt banks and newspapers can be - and how they can actually control governments....

Google The Guardian. The July 24 edition will be on the web (free) by this evening. Look for these stories "Inside Syria; rebels and regime trapped in cycle of destruction." It's actually about people, real people, and what is happening to them. And it's a compelling story.

"How phone-hacking scandal grew despite 'rogue reporter' claim". It's all about how the world's most powerful media baron used his power to corrupt government and law enforcement - at the highest levels. And don't kid yourself it happens only in Britain.

Read "London 2012 Olympics: G4s failures prompt further military deployment". Why should we care?  We should care because security companies like G4S are coming our way to privatize prisons and police forces. It's already happening in the US - and it's not working. The reality, despite what we read in TandT editorials, is that business is not generally more efficient than government. Frequently, it is less efficient and less effective. But privatizing prisons is being spoken of favorably in our government circles.

You might also want to check out the business section - if only to see what a real business section looks like. One interesting story is "How Finland keeps its head above eurozone crisis". Not only is Finland financially healthy but, in a crumbling Europe it maintains a system of pensions, health services, and regulation of business that is second to none.

There's also an important article "US politicians must regulate finance to tackle the drought and food-price crisis". So must Canadian politicians. But, perhaps because they rely on papers like the Times and Transcript for news, they don't seem to know that we are well into such a crisis.

Back to the TandT, there's an excellent column by Alec Bruce on early childhood education. It's an important one - especially in this province as governments push education of any sort in some very bad directions - and a province in which some business leaders see education of any sort only as a potential source of profit for themselves.

Finally, it's noticeable that we can get more and better local news from CBC (either on air or online) than we can from private radio or private TV or the Times and Transcript.

Usually, TV and radio in general rely heavily on newspapers for information - especially in local news. That's because newspapers, even in these days, can afford more local reporters than the other media can. In Moncton, in particular, the private radio and TV sources have little to nothing in the way of reporters.

 But the Times and Transcript, to judge from its ads, seems to be prosperous. And, of course, it has access for provincial news to all Irving reporters in the province. So why does it do such a stinking job on local and provincial news? And how come CBC beats the pants off it?

It's partly because the T and T seems to have a very high proportion of its news staff as editors - and not, so far as I can tell, editors of any distinction. And, more important, I would guess, CBC isn't owned by Irving.

But I'm sure Harper will fix that.


  1. Ah - but Mazerolle missed his lede. Why is the city paying for bicycle stands at schools? Shouldn't the province be paying for these? So why isn't the province paying for them?

  2. Hey! Be nice. By the standards of the Irving Press, this was Nobel Prize level.