Monday, March 4, 2013

March 4: How not to write a headline....

Headlines are normally written or, at least, approved by editors. The purpose of the headline is to give readers a sense of the main point of the story. This is important because many readers won't go past the headline. Below that is a sub head which enlarges slightly on the headline. Again, this is important because many of the readers who get past the headline will stop reading at the sub head.

So here's a header on p.1...
"EI changes not leading to spike in complaints thus far"

And the sub-head...

"Early numbers show changes haven't resulted in number of formal appeals rising, despite widespread criticisms" (well, of course it hasn't resulted in a rise in appeals yet. It's just coming into effect. Most of the months given for comparison are months in which the new system was not in effect.  Whoever wrote that sub head is either a fool or a liar).

So what's the point of the head and sub-head? Ain't nuthin' happenin'. Ain't no real criticism. Nothin to look at, folks. Just keep movin'.

Now read the story. That's not what it's about at all. I's a long story about  widespread criticism of the the tightening of EI, and of Alward's failure to make any response. A journalism student in first year (first week?) would be wearing a dunce's cap for writing a head and sub-head like that. What does this tell you about the quality of editors at the TandT?

P. 1 is the usual mix of trivia (wolf pup captured very quickly after taking a walk outside its enclosure) -                                                                repeats of stories in the last edition ("RV's still popular summer homes") - and the obsession with world fame (getting a CFL game in Moncton.)

I would rather expect the worsening American recession (and ours) will have a lot more effect on visitors, hotels and restaurants this summer that RVs and a football game will. But there's scarcely a word on that.

And I should think that rising energy prices, mass transit crises, and urban sprawl are going to be bigger problems in only a few years than a wolf pup going for a stroll. But I have yet to see a word in this miserable paper about our city's master plan for dealing with these - if there is such a plan.

The rest of Section A is just as silly. (There's to be a new Kent Building Supplies Store in Harrisville. Hold me back.)
In world news, a husband and his pregnant wife were killed in a car crash but their baby survived - in New York. That's the big news in a world in which at least tens of thousands of men, women, and children are bombed, starved, burned and shot to death every day. Of course, they aren't real people, not like us.

Catholics are thinking about choosing a new pope. Gee. Who would have guessed? Will the new pope make radical changes? Sure. That why the cardinals who will choose him were picked for their extremely conservative views - rather like our Senate.

In Syria, the big news is that the opposition leader visited areas held by his supporters. Gee. That tells us a lot. The story does mention that the US might now being supplying medical aid to Syria. Whoopie. This is largely a US made war supplied by allies of the US  (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France), with rebel training and intelligence supplied by the US with through charitable groups like the CIA. The US has been up to its ears in this war since day 1.

Meanwhile, the Syrian people hate most of the rebels because they are, in fact, foreign invaders, and they are extreme jihadists in a Syria that is largely secular. The rebels, who call themselves Free Syria, would in fact almost certainly lose any free election against Assad. Meanwhile,  a hundred coptic Christians who fled Syria to escape rape, murder and plunder by "Free Syria" have been imprisoned and are being tortured by our buddies whom we installed as the rulers of Libya in place of that terrible Ghaddaffi  who used to imprison and torture people.

Oh, and those silly little budget cuts in the US made necessary by the failure of politicians to come to agreement on a budget? Not to worry. Page C3 tells us "Republicans say spending cuts modest". That will come as a great comfort to hundreds of thousands of American civil servants who are getting their pink slips as you read this.  (So don't count on them to boost NB tourist figures this summer.)

The editorial page has a "must read" editorial. Maple sugar, it seems, is nice. And it will make Moncton "syrup central" to the world. (with the possible exception of those millions who are dying of starvation.)

Norbert Cunningham writes on the long road to a cancer cure. Hint - if you want to tell people about the long road to a cancer cure, then make it a news story based on interviews with people who actually cure cancer. This is not something to be expressed as an opinion by a person who once read an article about it.

Good column by Alec Bruce on Tom Flanagan of University of Calgary and former top advisor to Stephen Harper who expressed the view that viewers of child pornography are not committing any crime.     It's a crushing embarrassment to Harper who had earlier blessed Flanagan as a holy prophet of the far right. (University of Calgary is so far right, it makes U de Moncton look normal.)

Craig Babstock writes a sort of Miss Manners column for drug dealers. Well, that should solve that problem...

Allen Abel again shows his ability to take a topic which seems to have no meaning at all, and write it up as a column that has no meaning at all.

There are three, good letters to the editor which outclass everything in the paper with the exception of Alec Bruce. They are "Does history repeat itself?', "Premier should fight EI reform", and (unlikely as it sounds) "Use coal for energy, not gas".
_____________________________________________________________________________TThere were stories that could have interesting, but which missed the eagle eyes of our journalists at the Irving Press. One of them was the stunning gift of Alward to the man who will some day be his news master.

1. Exactly why was an organization headed by Jamie Irving given two and a half million dollars for his volunteer group on literacy?
2. If there was money to be given, why not give it to the schools which actually know something about teaching literacy?
3. Exactly what will our two and a half million be spent on?
4. How much authority will Jamie-boy now have to intervene in matters which normally are wholly controlled by the department of education or by the schools? How much will he and his buddies be interfering in curriculum?
5. How come parent's associations and DECs are not asking these questions?

Oh, and why on earth would the Irvings want to see a literate and thinking public in this province? Such a public would not long put up with them. That's why Jamie's newspapers are designed to keep people illiterate and  unthinking and trivial.

The current events group meets this Tuesday, March 5, at 7 p.m. in Moncton Library.
I have hopes that Jamie Irving will choose the occasion to name me Moncton Library Chair of Current Events, with a substantial donation to sustain those little comforts that any current events commentator needs.


  1. Hold the phone...........

    Cancer cure? This IS BIG NEWS! As far as I know there is NO cure for cancer, you may scare it into remission (by more than 1/2 killing the patient with radiation and chemo), but the actual NEWS is: there is no cure, never has been, and likely never will be.

  2. Graeme, I would like you to write a blog about police and totalitarian states someday...I don't want to sound paranoid or anything, and I am not an adept of conspiracy theories, but it seems to me like we are getting closer to a police state every day with Harper...