Tag Archives: The Suburban

It’s not like anyone died

Community weeklies have a reputation for preferring fluff over substance. But after this weekend’s St. Patrick’s parade, in which a young man died, a rare intersection of fluff and news gave them a great opportunity to discuss a serious issue.

Haha, just kidding.

This week’s West Island Chronicle has a big cover photo from the downtown parade, whose caption includes this rather insensitive part: “The persistent rain thinned the crowds a little this year, but they couldn’t put a damper on the fun being had by many.”

Inside, more photos, but no mention of there being a fatality.

Similarly, The Suburban has a parade photo on its front page, a story about the parade on Page 2, and a photo gallery. But the death was buried on (depending on your edition) Page 13 or 22.

Quebec Press Council roundup: Police, Palestinians and the poor

The Quebec Press Council rejects most of the complaints it gets, judging them to be unfounded (usually because the complainants – which include no-hope politicians and conspiracy theorists – have no case and just want to punish a journalist whose facts or opinions they don’t like). You can read those cases on the QPC’s website or see summaries in their press release.

I will highlight one rejected complaint though:

  • Paul Chablo (SPVM) v. Radio-Canada: Chablo, who acts as a media representative for the Montreal police, complained that an Enquête report on Fredy Villanueva was unfair to the officers involved, used young photos of Villanueva to mislead viewers into thinking he was younger than he actually was when he was killed, and showed the faces and names of the two officers involved as if they were criminals. The Council rejected all of these complaints. ProjetJ also looks at this.

Among the complaints they upheld:

  • Dimitri Roussopoulos v. La Presse: Roussopoulos wrote a letter to La Presse to refute another letter that had factual errors concerning the Plateau’s participatory budget process. His letter was not published, and after months of delays (and pestering), he was eventually told it would never be published. The Council agreed that since there were factual errors in the letter that were not corrected, Roussopoulos had a right of reply that was denied to him.
  • Matthew Trowell v. The Suburban: Trowell complained about The Suburban’s biased views on anti-Israeli protesters, specifically a cover article from editor Beryl Wajsman which called them “purveyors of hate” after they took to the streets to denounce Israeli military action in Gaza. It also complained about articles in the next week’s issue from Wajsman, Joel Goldenberg and P.A. Sevigny that painted all Palestinians as child-killers and Jew-haters. The Council, taking pains to note that it isn’t taking a stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, upheld a complaint against Wajsman and Sevigny for having exaggerated in their pieces, pretending that the protest was made up mostly or exclusively of Hamas supporters. But it ruled that the Suburban did not incite violence, that quoting a rabbi who was in turn quoting inflamatory things at a public gathering was not inappropriate, and that an editorial cartoon in the paper did not cross the line.
  • Front commun des personnes assistées sociales du Québec v. Sylvain Bouchard and CJMF: Bouchard said on his radio show that people living on social assistance in Quebec were “quêteux” that get free food and lodging from the government (this, during a discussion about whether such people should be denied the right to vote). The Council ruled that Bouchard was disrespectful, prejudicial and discriminatory toward those on social assistance with his comments. This item got a brief in Le Devoir.

The Council has also rejected an appeal from The Gazette concerning a ruling it had made about the paper’s coverage of the Bouchard-Taylor reasonable accommodation report. Though the Council rejected most of the complaints against The Gazette (whose reporter Jeff Heinrich broke the news of the report’s final draft), it upheld one that the paper was misleading about the importance of certain parts of the report’s findings.

The Suburban reports on … The Suburban

I wish I could link to the stories directly, but The Suburban now distributes online in a rather link-unfriendly virtual newspaper format, so I’ll just have to link to the whole of this week’s issue, which includes praise for having picked up an award for Best Local Editorial from the Canadian Community Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Competition (there were actually nine winners in that category, three for each size group, but an award is an award, right?) as well as eight awards from the Quebec Community Newspaper Association.

This week’s issue also includes what I can only assume are April Fool’s Day stories about Beryl Wajsman running for mayor and Andrew Carter being appointed to the Canadian Senate.

Why is CBC Montreal’s News at Six sucking a bit less?

The Suburban crunches some numbers in the evening TV news race here, and theorizes that Frank Cavallaro’s move from CTV to CBC had something to do with the latter’s 25% jump in viewership over last year, prompting Inside the CBC to wonder if weathermen are the magic ticket to success.

I think we should take a step back here. 25% seems large, but only represents about 6,000 actual viewers. CBC Montreal’s news audience is still an order of magnitude smaller than CTV, which has dominated the race since CBC gutted Newswatch.

Though I’m sure Cavallaro has a loyal audience, the numbers probably have more to do with people slowly trickling back to CBC after the network decided to bring back a local one-hour newscast. And the station still has plenty of ground to make up. It needs a new studio (well, actually, it needs its own studio), a graphics department, and other things that only money can buy.

Meanwhile, The Suburban notices that Paul Graif, a victim of Global Quebec’s job cuts, is now at CTV. Another example of why we have one local news program here and two pretend local news programs.

Think about it

Why does this ad for a “special projects coordinator” for The Suburban’s advertising department have a picture of a woman leaning on something in it?

  1. The woman runs the advertising department at The Suburban
  2. The woman is what a typical advertising salesperson looks like
  3. The woman is a stock image designed to attract the attention of readers
  4. This ad is directed specifically at the woman in the photo, whom they can’t identify or locate by other means
  5. Who cares? She’s hot. Can I get her number if I sell ads for the Suburban?
  6. Holy shit! That’s me!

Newspaper editors can never please everyone

I love it when the radical pundits of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict complain to the news media about their coverage.

A letter last week in the Gazette complains about a headline used on a story about two Israelis and two Palestinians dying: “Two Israelis, two Palestinians killed in West Bank clash.” You’ll note the article was published more than three weeks before the letter from Mike Fegelman of Honest Reporting Canada, an organization whose name sounds like they value fairness, but concentrates its efforts solely on trying to influence news coverage to make it more favourable to Israel.

The complaint in this particular case was that the headline did not make clear that the Palestinians instigated the attack and were killed in self-defence by the Israeli soldiers.

The idea that headlines should tell the whole story is a common complaint against newspapers. But headlines can’t tell the whole story by virtue of the lack of space available. If they could tell the whole story, there wouldn’t be articles underneath them.

But still, how about I suggest a headline The Gazette should have used for this brief article:

Two hero Israeli soldiers massacred by evil satanic terrorist Palestinian homicide killers in unprovoked cowardly attack, return fire in self-defence before tragically succumbing to their injuries; attackers also die in the fighting, ridding the world of two useless pieces of enemy scum

Now, that headline is a bit longer than the previous one, but it would more honestly tell the story, no?

Screw the court of law

The other complaint about The Gazette’s editing comes from both Honest Reporting and The Suburban, “Quebec’s largest English newspaper” (huh?). Both take issue with the paper’s removal of the adjective “terrorist” to describe attacks in a CanWest News Service news article.

The reason this “heavy-handed editing” (the removal of two words) happened is obvious: Despite its very public support of Israel, CanWest secretly employs Palestinian terrorist-sympathizing editors at The Gazette, who sneak into articles and try their best to skew the news against Israel.

The alternative explanation, that describing something as “terrorist” is a moral judgment and not a journalistic one (and if all Palestinian attacks are somehow by definition terrorist attacks, why do we need to add the word in the first place?) is too ludicrous to consider.

What gets me most about this argument is that it’s entirely academic in nature. Nobody seriously suggests that Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians are not terrorist in nature. Whether or not you believe the attacks are justified, or whether new Israeli settlements are justified, the nature of the attacks are very clear. It’s like arguing over whether we should call it murder when we say that a man shot his wife.

But the fact that people get so worked up over the use or non-use of a single word shows just how seriously people take this conflict and its most important front: the battle for public opinion.