“Best” of Montreal? But seriously, thank you

Mirror readers offer their support

It’s a ridiculous popularity contest, and often it’s not even that, but more of an election, a contest of who can push more friends to fill out ballots for something whose prize is a bit of free marketing but more pride than anything else.

And yet, I’d be lying if I said I was untouched by seeing the name of my blog and Twitter feed listed among the Mirror’s Best of Montreal list yet again. Whatever my feelings about the survey, it’s clearly an indication that there are those of you out there who, when asked what their favourite local blog is, think of this one.

So let me take this opportunity to say thank you, for being fans, for subscribing, for reading some far-too-long posts, for adding insight in the comments, for following me on Twitter despite all the silly stuff I post there, and for justifying my existence and giving me the kind of audience that forces the people and organizations I cover to take me seriously.

Congratulations to my fellow honourees, whose readers also somehow thought of them when it came time to vote:

And, of course, a thought for those who didn’t quite make it, despite trying really hard, and for those who are inexplicably absent from this list, including some of my fellow journalists who were probably left out for not being alternative enough.

Seventh? That's ridiculous. I'm tweeting my outrage

Elsewhere in media categories…

The results of the survey always have to be taken with a grain of salt, despite all the efforts Mirror staff take to weed out duplicate votes and ballot stuffers. Nevertheless, some things of note in media categories beyond the brief analysis the paper itself provides:

  • Radio station: Kahnawake’s K103 (CKRK) isn’t featured in the Best Radio Station category, despite efforts and expense to increase its profile. (Ted Bird earns only an honourable mention in the radio host category). Similarly, CKBE is relegated to “honourable mention” after rebranding from The Q to 92.5 The Beat.
  • Radio show: CHOM’s Bilal Butt managed to leverage social media to push him and his show to top spots in the radio show and radio host categories. Aaron Rand, who was fourth with his Q morning show last year, disappears from the best radio show list with his move to CJAD, though he’s still on the best radio host list and the Beat morning show isn’t on the list at all either. Virgin’s morning show drops from first to 8th with the replacement of Lisa Player by Natasha Gargiulo. Daybreak is way up the list even though not much has changed there in the past year.
  • Radio host: Terry DiMonte unsurprisingly makes up for four years out of the city and quickly rockets up the radio host category, #2 behind Butt. Mike Finnerty is back in the radio host game, and it seems Lisa Player’s votes have shifted to Freeway Frank
  • Local newscaster: No surprises here. Every anglo anchor is on this list except Amanda Margison (CBC) and Richard Dagenais (Global).
  • Best newspaper: Mirror first, Gazette second, then French papers, free papers and student papers, as usual. Absent from the list this year is Hour, something Mirror didn’t note. (For that matter, nothing in the paper at all denotes the disappearance of its main competition.)
  • Elsewhere: Randy Tieman and Mitch Melnick make appearances on the best sports personality list, Mutsumi Takahashi and Orla Johannes are once again factors for most desirable woman, Richard Martineau’s anti-student rants have gotten him on the list for Montrealer closest to hell, and the tackiest personality list is headed by Mose Persico and features Ben Mulroney, Frank Cavallaro and Terry DiMonte.

7 thoughts on ““Best” of Montreal? But seriously, thank you

  1. Michael Black

    It’s always been about what’s loudest, most obvious. Which ends up being “ballot stuffing” in a different kind of a way.

    I remember writing the Mirror 20 years ago about it. “Best” that wasn’t qualified. There was the year Burger King or harvey’s made the list for “Best French Fy” and even got letters about that.

    People put what they know. Some may have some ability to qualify that answer, but most don’t. If I buy something at The Source, that may be the only “large” purchase I make in a given year, it’s an obvious answer but I have nothing to compare it to. If you check the lesser categories, Margie Gillis and O Vertigo made the best dance company (or whatever the exact category, it’s changed over the years), names that anyone would have seen. Amy Blackmore is on the list this year, but I don’t think she’s dancing or creating much, she was a few years ago, and it just seems a continuation of that. Alison Louder made the “best protester” or whatever the year she and others stopped the renaming of Park Avenue, but she’s stayed on the list even though I don’t hear much about her the rest of the year.

    The paper has worried about “ballot stuffing” their meaning a business or something repeatedly filling out a ballot. So they dropped the paper ballot, they’ve required a minimum number of categories must be answered (I think that’s been upped, initially it may have been fewer than 25). But as I wrote in 2008, when I declared in a latter to the Mirror that I was no longer going to fill out a ballot, it makes nonsense entries even more likely, since if you want to vote on something that matters to you, you have to fill out categories that don’t matter to you. There are a few categories where I actually am paying attention, but to fill them out I have to fill out 25 categories. I don’t buy much, there goes the consumer stuff (even if I wasn’t just voting on where I bought rather than a best place), I don’t eat meat, there goes a bunch of the food categories.

    I could start filling out categories based on people I know, but that would be because I know them, not because I have made a judgement on the value of their art. Meanwhile, categories that might get a better representation of “best” don’t get votes from me, because I won’t stuff the other categories.

    The final straw was the campaigning. Either something is worth voting for, or it’s not. Campaigning shouldn’t change the results if you are doing things right, better to be a best so people will vote for you, than to campaign. It’s as bad as “ballot stuffing”.

    It’s also made worse, since the blog or festival or whatever that wants the votes try to make it easier for them to vote, so they point to last year’s BOM. Which is likely why Alison Louder and Amy Blackmore and a host of others, stay on repeatedly.

    If the winners in each category remain relatively constant, chances are good nobody is voting for the Best, they are voting what they know, or what was in the category last year.


  2. Neil K.

    I just think the poll results indicate a lot of people in this city have really bad taste. Some of my friends really do think McDonald’s fries are the best, even when presented with what I’d consider much better options. They are voting honestly, they just don’t know any better.

    I remember a few years ago I ordered from Boustan. The food came with a letter printed up asking me to vote for them in BOM, and even the delivery driver mentioned it and reminded me to vote. Some establishments have less shame about begging for votes.

    If I remember correctly, the entire concept was invented as a sales tool. The Mirror’s sales team would go to the owner of a Chinese restaurant I know (in Chinatown) and badger him for weeks to buy a “Thank You Montreal” ad for voting them best Chinese resto. He never bought any ads; his restaurant is full from lunch to 4 a.m. each day. But other businesses do indeed fill up the paper’s next couple of issues with ads.

    I also used to wonder if only advertisers were “eligible” to win but my Chinese restaurant owner assured me that wasn’t the case, or else he wouldn’t keep winning. And he doesn’t beg his customers to vote either.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      I also used to wonder if only advertisers were “eligible” to win

      Considering many of the categories have nothing to do with business I’m guessing this isn’t the case. Unless you expect Mose Persico to place an ad thanking Montreal for voting him the city’s tackiest personality.

  3. Louise Burns

    It is not always about being the loudest. CKUT hit #1 this year toppling the very loud commercial stations. We have zero promotion budget and have never really campaigned. We put a request to vote for for us on our facebook page and in our newsletter – that’s about it. We have been #1, or #2 for the past 10 plus years – consistently. I think it is because we have over 200 volunteers at any given time – actively involved. We have worked hard at going out into the various communities of Montreal and touch a whole lot of bases in a small way. I think it is evidence of the benefits of keeping your doors open instead of closed.

  4. Amy Blackmore

    Amy here. I stumbled upon this blog post while searching google for archiving purposes. I’m happy to see I’ve been mentioned:

    “Amy Blackmore is on the list this year, but I don’t think she’s dancing or creating much, she was a few years ago, and it just seems a continuation of that.”

    I thought I would clarify. I’ve actually been quite busy with choreography these past few years. I choreographed “The Mid-Life Crisis of Dionysus” (2010) and “Sexy Dirty Bloody Scary” (2011) for MainLine Theatre. I also choreographed Titus Andronicus (2011) and Macbeth (2012) for The Montreal Shakespeare Theatre Company. My dance film “So There’s This Girl” was completed in late 2011 and has been screened at the Bouge d’ici Dance Festival, The Rail City Media Roadshow and the Toronto Queer Arts Festival. Finally, I’ve been busy teaching and creating choreography for dancers as a part of the Canadian Competitive Dance Circuit.

    If you read this post in time, I invite you to come to MainLine Theatre for “Richard O’Brien’s Rochy Horror Show”! Its a ton of fun. I choreographed Time Warp and Hot Patootie :)

    It was fun to be on the Best of Montreal list two years in a row for choreography! I wonder if someone else will continue this tradition now that the Mirror no more…


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