Tuesday, September 02, 2003

2 + 2 = 5 (Orwell, not Yorke)

Three days ago, Edward Greenspon, the Editor-in-Chief of the Globe and Mail used up 1,126 words in explaining why there will soon be a Toronto Globe section every Saturday. He also noted that weekday T.O. coverage will improve. He could have saved himself 1,098 of those words by saying the following:

We are increasing our Toronto coverage to stay competitive, given that the Post publishes a Toronto section every Saturday and the Star has a Sunday supplement called Metropolis.

Instead, Greenspon informs his readership that:

As we examined our paper and talked to our readers, we discovered a void. Many told us they respect The Globe and value its reporting, but wished it would do for Toronto what it does for Canada. That is our goal.

Of course, we have always maintained a local presence. But as we grew in other areas, it's probably fair to say that we didn't keep pace in Toronto. The time has come to rectify that situation.

It would make me ill to quote more because the premise behind Greenspon’s Letter From the Editor (a weekly ink drain that Frank magazine long ago correctly ascertained is a complete waste of time) is that there is a dearth of Toronto coverage in the Globe.

This notion is so stupid I’d have to invent a new word to properly mock it.

Suffice to say, the Focus, Style and especially the Review section (which features Toronto-specific coverage the rest of the country never has to endure) are already dominated by T.O. chatter (e.g. Leah McLaren writing about Tim Hortons trying to open a franchise on Queen Street West). Why insert more of it? I live in the centre of the universe, and even I’m sick of hearing about what happens outside my apartment door.

On a somewhat related note, Greenspon strikes me as an incredibly dull human being – or, at least his Letters do. I cannot remember anything interesting I learned about him in his summer profile in the Ryerson Review of Journalism. The recent Globe "special examination" into Canadians under 30 was stunning in its lack of surprising and/or new info. (e.g. Mixed marriages? Here in Canada? No way? Get out of here.) One particular Saturday edition of the summer Globe was so bad a friend of mine declared it "a sack of crap." The woman at the convenience store who sold him the paper said (after informing him of the 50 cent price increase): "The kids today, they go on the Internet. They don’t read the newspaper. It’s not going to last." I cannot express how pleased it makes me to hear that a woman behind the counter of a Kwik-E-Mart thinks a newspaper founded in 1844 isn’t going to hobble about for much longer.

Final thought: most notes from the Editor are inherently lame. The only ones I like (e.g. Tony Keller’s monthly memo in National Post Business Magazine) are enjoyable because I’m familiar with the person writing it. It’s very difficult to strike the correct tone and topic in these things – trying to inform readers about behind-the-scenes gear-winding can too easily become lectures in The Importance of Journalism or nebbish tales of minutia gone wrong.