Posted January 27, 2014
The Hamilton Spectator and Guelph Mercury have the same corporate ownership. In a recent commentary, the Spectator’s editor-in-chief, Paul Berton, enlightened readers of the newspapers’ role in covering the next municipal election.
His piece outlined the policy of the Spectator in which the paper wants to ensure that voters are well informed about their community.
“Voters who know their community make good political choices, and good political choices make for healthy, prosperous and progressive communities.
“This is the true raison d’etre of newspapers such as the Spectator. It is the most important thing we do. We want people, whatever their political stripes, to understand the issues and from as many sides as possible,” Mr. Berton stated.
Now that seems crystal clear.
Compare that statement with the deathly silence on the subject from the Guelph Mercury’s editor-in-chief, Lynn Haddrell. She’s also editor-in-chief of the Record in Kitchener/Waterloo.
In fact, the Mercury has adopted an editorial policy that supports Mayor Farbridge’s administration right down the line. Can you image the paper examining the issues from all sides?
When was the last time that happened in the pages of the Mercury?
Is it possible that there is a great divide about fair and complete editorial coverage between the Hamilton Spectator and Guelph Mercury?
While the two papers are corporate twins, guess which one is compared to Schwarzenegger and the other Davito (with apologies to Mr. Davito)?
The Mercury is dependent on city hall press releases and discussions with staff and elected officials. Despite an open policy of letters to the editor, it rarely challenges the administration statements in the news or opinion pages. The paper’s community editorial board is dominated by supporters of the Farbridge regime.
For example why hasn’t the Mercury investigated the costs of the Waste Innovation Resource Centre? There are a number of questions that should be asked about this huge citizens’ investment. Instead we get a six-part series on waste management that pandered to the governing party’s agenda.
The laughable part was Mayor Farbridge being quoted in the first installment that she “didn’t believe waste management would be an issue in the 2014 elections.”
So when a citizens group in the city requests an audit of the city’s finances and operation by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Mercury waits five days before asking for an interview with the organization’s spokesperson.
Then in a fit of fair play, the resulting story also included the mayor’s comments denying the audit details. Subsequently, the Ministry officials confirmed the accuracy of the petition numbers. Yet the Mercury failed to report these facts.
Since last October, the Mercury has not written one word about the citizen’s organization, it membership, its goals or its plans. As far as the Mercury is concerned, GrassRoots Guelph doesn’t exist.
Ah, but coverage of the Guelph Civic League is friendly and frequent. There a number of questions the paper should be asking the GCL about its goals, purpose, finances, membership and, most importantly, its history.
Mr. Berton summed it up quite nicely: “It’s simply not true that you can’t fight city hall.”
How about you? Join the growing chorus of citizens who seek a more balanced city council where business is conducted in public. GrassRoots Guelph is a non-partisan cooperative that includes all citizens and not just the chosen few. Drop into GrassRootsGuelph.com and participate. Be an informed citizen working with neighbours and friends to create a new direction for our city.