Media Watch

Manipulating the print media

‘Political Journalism Sucks’ stated a recent headline in the Toronto Star addressing the issue of churnalism, – the practice of publicists revealing a story just before a newspaper deadline. The result often there is no time to question the content so the reporter is forced to do a fast rewrite of the handout in order to meet the deadline.

In some circles, that is described as managing the news. Does it happen in Guelph?

You betcha! The city’s squad of communications staff uses this tactic frequently. The result, in the case of the Mercury that has firm deadlines for copy, is a lot of city administration generated puffery gets into the paper. The worst offender is the weekly Tribune that is the chief cheerleader for the Farbridge Administration.

The city of Guelph is probably the Tribs largest advertising client spending more than $500,000 a year.

Is it no wonder that Internet blogs are filling the vacuum of hard news and are increasingly performing the job of newspapers on questioning the city’s management of the community?

Two columns racing to the bottom of the barrel

Two Mercury columnists caught Media Watch’s eye recently. Farbridge troll, Brian Holstein, chastises Coun. Cam Guthrie for continuing to hold council and committee meetings in August to do the city’s business. He accused the councillor of “grandstanding” and “grabbing the headlines.” The Farbridge voting bloc killed that suggestion. Brian, this is 2012, not 1912.

On the other side of the political spectrum is Matt Bondy who extols the virtues of the new Republicanism in the U.S. He sees vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan as “substantive, temperamentally moderate.” As chairman of the House of Representatives Finance committee, Ryan presented a budget that would cut Medicare, Medicaid, criminalize abortion, kill Planned Parenthood and privatize Social Security. He would also revoke the Affordable Healthcare Act and increase defense spending. Yeah, he’s the right Romney choice all right. Matt, where were you five years ago when the Bush Republicans almost buried the world with their crazy economic policies?

Is Mitt Romney Bush II?

Mangling communications at City Hall

The recent scoop of the Mercury’s Scott Tracy regarding the five-week campaign to clean up the downtown bar scene, was tut-tutted by a Tribune columnist. It is a typical case of how the media is not the message.  One sometimes wonders, when the Farbridge administration is so controlling of the news emanating from City Hall, how this major announcement was so mangled by the communications department. Guess this can be an unintended rationalized of the decision not to hold council or committee meetings during August.

This was no spaghetti western

The hilarious and bizarre spectacle of Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair preceeding Willard Mitt Romney’s scene-setting speech at the Republican National Convention, took on a life of its own in Twitterland. If the Democrats needed a break from the GOP rhetoric to restore America’s values ad nauseam, Dirty Harry delivered. Talking to an empty chair, hmmm, it has promise in Guelph.

As usual, your comments are welcome. Invite your friends to drop into guelphspeaks.ca for accurate information and entertainment.

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3 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

3 responses to “Media Watch

  1. paul phelan

    Empty chair….I can think of one seat in particular I would love to see empty at City Hall….and even 7 more

  2. tonyt

    Two fluff pieces that really stuck out in the last week and a bit.
    1st the tribunes piece on the day in the life of a bylaw officer. The fluff on this piece was unbelievable. With all the money we the tax payers lose because of this department it was quite laughable to read that piece. The tax payers will tell you they don’t do parking only at night when there is no one around. Shared rental housing? Enough said on that. Garbage. My pet peeve. It is every where. Those white bags sit on curbs all week long all over the city in plain site. There is a bylaw/fine for leaving it there yet it sits. And on and on .
    How about following them when they are not aware and see how things actually work.

    The 2nd.
    The mercury reporting shutting down downtown was a success on this last Thursday night.
    One night and you report it a success. Based on what comparison? What stats? 10 cars were towed. Were any of those cars damaged while towed? Is that a success. How many tickets were handed out? How many arrested? Back up your reporting with some evidence.

    • Tonyt: I’m waiting for the profile on the guys that inspect the manhole covers on the streets. I’m told there is a crew that rides around all city street weekly to check for problems. My take is they see no potholes, hear no crashing suspensions and say nothing. Let’s give this downtown test a chance. I see it as a first step to correcting a problem.

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