Media Watch January 9, 2012


Stuff happens

Having been an editor on the news desk of the biggest paper in Canada, I cringe when I spot an error in the copy. In this case the Mercury’s Scott Tracey reported on a report about ambulance deployment to be delivered to a city committee .

It was interesting to read about how the EMS ambulance service is having a tough time covering the city and Wellington County. The story introduces EMS chief Stephen Dewar, and Erin Mayor, Lou Maieron. But then someone named Armstrong pops up in the story without attribution.

That’s an OOPs! And you think editing a newspaper is easy. I commiserate with the writer.

*            *            *            *

At what point does an activist become a terrorist?

Recently, the Mercury ran a lengthy piece about a convicted G20 urban terrorist Amanda Hiscocks. To describe this unrepentant woman as a “Guelph activist” is an insult to everyone in the city. She bragged in the interview that these criminal convictions are not her first and they won’t be her last. I don’t know what your definition of a terrorist is, but anyone who counsels people to riot and wreck stores and create mayhem in the name of condemning capitalism is a terrorist. In fact, she is no different than the Al Qaeda leadership that planned and executed the destruction of the World Trade Centre.

The Mercury piece went on to say that while she pleaded guilty to counseling persons to commit property damage and obstructing police, it was never proven. So why did she plead guilty? Justice moves in mysterious ways. Hiscocks’ guilty plea was tied to charges being dropped involving her friend, Monica , and 10 other defendants.

Are Mercury readers that interested in an interview with a pair of urban terrorists who happen to live in Guelph? We have a history of arson of homes under construction and the Cuttin Club pro shop; major streets being blocked and ruthless harassment of civic officials attending the official opening of the Hanlon Business Park. One would believe that running a pity piece about the alleged perpetrators is unwarranted.

This was a case of bad editorial judgment. Here’s hoping Amanda Hiscocks and her friends find a new home in which to practise their violent political action.

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Is our heritage preservation out of control?

Susan Ratcliffe, who comes by her socialism honestly, chastises Mercury reporter Scott Tracey for his “thoughtless words” in his December 22 column. Scott writes a weekly column as well as covering City Hall and matters municipal. In my former newspaper days, reporters were never allowed to write columns. It was viewed as a conflict of interest. Reporters cover and write about events and reaction. Columnists write opinion pieces based on news stories. Regardless, I find his weekly columns more interesting than his reporting pieces.

What got Susan’s dander up was the destruction of alleged heritage buildings, usually abandoned, by both city and private owners. She demonizes Mike Lackowicz because he dared to say “this city has gone heritage crazy.”

Well the biggy heritage project this city has undertaken is in its fifth year of restoration. I refer to the $16 million restoration of the Loretto Convent to become a civic museum.  That was launched in 2007 and since then, there have been cases of heritage preservation by City Council. Of course, at the taxpayers’ expense.

The column describes the heritage policies of this council as avoiding the Mississaugafication of Guelph. Whatever that means.

Those who came before us chose to create an urban community and developed a modern society in Guelph. Heritage preservation was part of our growth as a city, but not at the expense of other important projects.













Filed under Between the Lines

4 responses to “Media Watch January 9, 2012

  1. dstm

    I am hoping that you can explain why the Merc is so consumed and enthralled with the Hiscocks, the Ichims and the GUTS of the world/city. Whilst there are innumerable local issue of much more local concern and gravity the Merc forces their editor’s proclivities on a readership that craves substantial coverage of important local issues. Why?

    • The Guelph Mercury and Tribune are owned by publishing empire TorStar. The Mercury has no publisher listed only a general manager and managing editor. The two report to the KW Record’s group publisher and editor in chief. For whatever reason, the Mercury has chosen to give unilateral support to the Farbridge administration. It rarely offers critical comment on the management of the city. This of course, weakens objectivity, the life blood of a good community news organization. There are dedicated newspaper people at both newspapers but the direction and tone of the papers is dictated elsewhere. Hopefully this will change if the parent corporation realizes that local management and control will allow fair and balanced coverage of the news in the community.

  2. Scott Tracey

    The second paragraph begins with the words, “Shawn Armstrong, the city’s general manager of emergency services,” which I trust would have been enough attribution even in your newspapering days.–wellington-county-could-become-home-to-new-ambulance-base

    Thanks for reading,

    • Thanks Scott:
      I was reading the electronic version of the piece. Read it twice and failed to see the Armstrong set-up. Keep up the good work. Best, Gerry B

      Addendum: Just re-read the electronic version of the piece on the Mercury website and it omitted the Armstrong set-up as printed in the in the paper.

      Scott, it’s now a new challenge for writers: Does my stuff translate onto the website intact?

      As if there aren’t enough problems in writing for the public. GB

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