Posted October 18, 2014
On Friday, October 17, an article by futurist consultant Don Tapscott was reproduced in the electronic edition of the Toronto Star. The article, initiated by Mayor Karen Farbridge, painted a picture of her version of what Guelph should be like under her leadership.
In its glowing self-endorsement copy, the people of Guelph must think they are nothing but lab rats supporting the Mayor’s vision of a great socialist civic experiment. It is almost Stalinistic in its approach to fashioning a city in her own political idealism.
This article lacking substance and counterpoint would not have lasted five minutes on the Toronto Star copy desk. It defies any journalistic credibility or standards that are well established by the paper in its print editions.
Having been an editor at The Star, I know and understand the paper’s journalistic principles. The former great publisher of the Star, Beland Honderich, brought high standards to the editorial content of the paper. A key requirement was for reporters to obtain both sides of the story. Many a story was spiked for failing to meet that minimal standard.
This piece of pseudo journalism is known in the business as an advertorial, not editorial. As such the point of view expressed in the one-sided article was a bought piece of journalism.
The question citizens must now ask: Who paid for it? Did the Mayor’s campaign pay for the advertorial? Or were the costs paid by the City of Guelph? Was consultant Don Tapscott paid to write the piece and paid again as a freelance contributor by The Star’s electronic publishing department?
Ironically, in the electronic version there is an unrelated paid ad in the middle of the Tapscott copy. Have you ever seen that in the print additions of The Star?
Here are some samples of the Tapscott advertorial.
* “Imagine my surprise when an email from Mayor Karen Farbridge of Guelph arrived saying that her community is actually working hard to implement the transformation I outlined in (my) article.”
* “I have looked into her claims and have concluded that the elected officials, public servants and 120,000 citizens are well on their way to ‘reimagining’ the role of local government.”
Did consultant/reporter Tapscott go to Guelph and interview the citizen stakeholders? Did he question the managerial failures that the Farbridge administration has caused in its eight years of social engineering?
Was he not sensitive to the fact that there was a municipal election underway and the Farbridge administration was being heavily criticized for its managerial errors costing citizens millions of dollars? Did he question the excessive spending on projects that citizens never asked for or wanted?
Mayor Farbridge’s vision and Don Tapscott’s version of what is happening in Guelph is the product of a misguided and arrogant administration that, in desperation, is painting a woefully inaccurate picture of the real Guelph.
Citizens should be used to it by now. The Farbridge administration has operated mostly behind closed doors, shutting down debate and opposition to its policies.
The failure of Mr. Tapscott’s participation into journalism is making no attempt to get both sides of the story. The second failure lies with the Star’s electronic publishing department to adhere to the well-established editorial principles of the Toronto Star.
This apparent disregard of the editorial integrity of the Toronto Star will be brought to the attention of Kathy English, The Star’s public editor for adjudication.
Again, this smacks of a desperate move on the part of the Farbridge campaign to offset the legitimate criticism of her record as mayor. And they have good reason to be concerned.
Remember that quotation used in the 2008 U.S. presidential election?
You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.