That damn Toronto Star is at it again
When I was about 11, I had a decent sized Toronto Star newspaper route. 30 daily deliveries in all, maybe 55 on Saturday. At the time, I had no idea just how politically active a paper it was. Not that it mattered; other than washing cars and babysitting it was the only way to be able to save for a Nikon FM.
The Sunoco on Bloor Street wouldn’t hire you ’till you were 16, so the Star was the best steady work there was at the time. (And it’s a shame that the current generation can’t enjoy the same experience. How does one gain a work ethic if there’s no suitable work to be had?)
Fast forward to September 11, 2007, and the Ontario provincial campaign kickoff. It is no secret that the Star leans to Liberal politicians, and politics. Sometimes it might even be justified, I suppose, but their recent approach seems almost subversive to me.
It is pretty clear that they’re not fans of John Tory’s faith-based funding idea, and lots of us might even agree with them. But watch how they try to influence the election over the next 17 days or so.
On the front page of the Sept. 11th paper, there was a photograph of five turban wearing fellows waiting for John Tory to show up at the campaign office of Nina Tangri, the P.C. candidate in Mississauga-Streetsville. Now, as a former professional photographer myself, I can assure you that the shot wasn’t front-page worthy. The lighting was quite basic, there was no movement, and the wide angle lens meant that you couldn’t really get a sense of the expressions of the five fellows that were the “subjects” of the shot.
But, of course, the five fellows weren’t really the subjects of the picture: the photo ran solely to remind Star readers and those who might see the cover of a paper in a newspaper box of John Tory’s faith-based funding promise, and who better to do that than a bunch of retired men in turbans?
I can truly imagine them cackling in the Star newsroom as they laid out that page. Ah, cynical you say?
What about yesterday’s cover photo? Under the sub-head “Uneasy Mosaic” The Star’s honchos ran a photo of 9 Islamic girls running in a circle. The article’s headline? “School girls ‘equal’ but segregated”. This is part of a multi-day series being prepared by three different Star journalists. Quite the commitment of resources.
Thanks to the Star, no one was able to move beyond the faith-based school funding issue again yesterday. And the photo was just the icing on the cake.
Now, my sister was “segregated” when she attended Bishop Strachan School from grades 9-13. In fact, that school is entirely female after grade one. Single gender? So is U.C.C., Havergal, etc. But mentioning that might not have fit with the Star’s direction.
If Ontario P.C. leader John Tory was planning on “changing the channel” and talking about Mr. McGuinty’s $1 million cricket club waste and the loss of 50,000 Ontario manufacturing jobs in 2007 alone, the damn Star ain’t gonna let him. Pages and pages of the front section will be dedicated daily to the faith-based funding topic for the balance of the campaign. Keep track for yourself.
Now, the Star has looked into different election topics over the past week. Take Tuesday, September 18th, for example.
The front page story headline was “The 905 ailment”. The theme of the piece was that the 905-region of Ontario gets dramatically less health care funding than its population numbers would warrant. No mention of the Grits on page one, however. Now, had a Conservative premier been running for re-election this month, the headline might have read something like: “PWC Report: Tories starve 905 region of health care dollars”. But, with Dalton McGuinty responsible for the past four years – and therefore the funding levels of the 905 region – The Star doesn’t even mention the word “government” or “Liberal” until the story makes it way inside, on page A15. In fact, the entire piece is quite clinical. Nary a critical interview or nasty word could be found about a government that spends only $287 per capital for children’s services in 905, while other regions receive $693 per capita on average.
Now, you might wonder why I subscribe to the paper if it comes off so slanted, and that’s a good question; with a two-part answer. My wife likes to receive it on the weekends, so we subscribe on that basis. My affinity for a few people there (and on the Torstar board) makes it less of a bitter pill to swallow. The other five days a week, an adult carrier loyally throws a free weekday edition out his car window onto the vicinity of our front step. I guess they are hopeful down at One Yonge Street that we’ll start to pay for the full 7 day subscription out of guilt.
I’ll sign up only when they follow the basic media credos of balance and fairness. I don’t expect that day to come too soon. Next week, I’ll have “The editorial the Toronto Star should – but won’t – write” for your consumption.