When elephants die

The news that yesterday was Canada AM’s final day came as a shock. Then, my next thought was: When was the last time I actually watched the morning show? I couldn’t remember. It was reminiscent of the announcement in 2012 that Newsweek would stop publishing its print edition. Again, on reflection, I realized I hadn’t read it in years. There was a day when both Time and Newsweek were must-reads. According to Globe writer Simon Houpt, the average Canada AM audience had fallen to 300,000 with only about one-quarter in the 25-54 age group most desired by advertisers. So three-quarters of the...

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The future may (or may not) have arrived

The year’s not yet over but I believe the 2016 award can be given for The Most Pretentious Seven-Paragraph Story in any newspaper. It appeared here in my morning paper. I’m providing translations for those who can’t read pretentious. Paragraph one sets the tone. “The Globe and Mail has forged a deal that will make it the largest North American news organization to adopt the Washington Post’s custom-built publishing platform.” (Translation: We gave up trying to figure this out and bought something off the shelf. It’s American; it must be good.) Called Arc, “the suite of publishing and storytelling tools [were] crafted...

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The morgue is dead

Postmedia, Canada’s largest newspaper publisher, is on a cost-cutting binge. Assuming Postmedia completes its current $80 million plan, the company will have slashed expenditures by more than $200 million since 2012. With debt still close to $800 million, it’s hard to see progress. But for all the jobs gone, lives disrupted and communities poorly served, there is one disappearance that Postmedia has not announced – The Financial Post library – with its newspaper clippings dating back to 1912. Maintained by librarians and journalists alike for decades, the library – AKA “the morgue” – was tossed into the garbage. During my time at The Financial Post...

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Fuddle-duddle Part II

Who was that unmasked man who beat up on MPs in Ottawa this week? Why it was none other than our own prime minister, a legend in his own mind, with his mind gone AWOL. What was he thinking, people ask as he frogmarched Conservative Whip Gord Brown and caused collateral damage to NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brousseau. Safe to say, Justin Trudeau wasn’t thinking at all. Images from the floor of the House of Commons have been aired on every major newscast in every major country around the world. The scene was reminiscent of fisticuffs in other legislative bodies that until...

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Homeless in Toronto

This week, for a few days in a row, I took a different route than usual. I found myself noticing the panhandlers and realized the folks with their Tim Hortons cups that I normally pass had become such a part of the urban wallpaper that I no longer paid any attention to them. Shame on me. Some among the members of this new group seemed more creative than most. One had a hand-lettered sign on a battered piece of cardboard saying, “Not a bad person.” Another had written, “I’m trying.” In my neighbourhood there are two regulars I walk by all the time, a...

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Hope and, ah, hard work

He was the only global leader mentioned by Barack Obama in his speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He pals around with Prince Harry. The host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah, says he is “completely in love” with him. I’m talking, of course, about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the best thing to happen to Ottawa since they let people skate on the Rideau Canal. Like a lot of Canadians, I liked the new tone in Ottawa. And I have freely admitted to voting Liberal for the first time in years. But something has developed that’s driving me crazy....

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Barbarians at the gate

I first met Peggy (as she was called in those days) Wente thirty years ago when she was editor of Canadian Business. To be young, female and a magazine editor, particularly one that covered business, was unusual to say the least. Wente was an excellent editor who had been spotted by the legendary Sandy Ross after he’d turned the former official publication of the Chamber of Commerce into an exciting product. I had just left Maclean’s, was freelancing, and Canadian Business became one of my main outlets. I’d do four or five 5,000-word pieces annually for them. Those were the days of long-form journalism and...

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Uneasy lies the head

If I were the Attorney General of Ontario, I would personally be investigating the qualifications of all Crown Attorneys under my jurisdiction. Crown Attorneys are responsible for prosecuting most of the criminal offences in the province, and if recent high-profile cases are are any example, they are doing a poor job of it. Time and again in his 308-page decision on the 31 charges against Senator Mike Duffy, Justice Charles Vaillancourt repeated the phrase, “I am not satisfied that the Crown has proven the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.” Duffy’s vindication will most likely mean the end of any...

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