Then and now
Paul Waldie’s story in The Globe and Mail today reminds me how lucky we Globe readers are to have such excellent coverage on the war in Ukraine as well as its impact elsewhere. The piece, a heart-wrenching story about abusive treatment of Ukrainian refugees by Russians living in the former East Germany was just one of many situations on which Globe journalists have recently reported. In addition, Waldie usually manages to write his weekly instalment about someone in Canada who has donated to a good cause.
I don’t mean to focus solely on Waldie because Globe coverage of Ukraine is also carried out by Mark MacKinnon, Nathan VanderKlippe, and Rome-based Eric Reguly who in December landed the “big get,” an interview with Sergii Marchenko, Ukraine’s finance minister. MacKinnon, for example, had a thoughtful piece earlier this week that interpreted how Putin, a former KBG agent, runs the military. When it’s helpful the Globe runs pieces by writers from Associated Press or the New York Times.
By contrast to such intensive coverage as the Globe provides, television networks all tend to sameness: footage of bombed-out buildings, rocket launchers firing at unseen targets, or men moving among walls on their way to who-knows-where. A good print journalist supplies context, information from knowledgeable sources, and depth.
Beyond the war in Ukraine, the Globe has other excellent reporters including justice writer Sean Fine as well as Robert Fife who breaks more stories in a week than most other Ottawa-based journalists produce in a year.
Maybe I’m focused more on the Globe’s coverage at the moment because I just finished reading Big Men Fear Me, Mark Bourrie’s excellent biography of George McCullagh, who owned the Globe from 1936-52 then died when he was only forty-seven.
In those days, newspaper owners were all-powerful, pulling strings at Queen’s Park and in Ottawa. Bourrie conducted extensive research and brings that era to life with vivid descriptions of everyone and everything from Ontario Premier Mitch Hepburn to the Klu Klux Klan. I’m happy that newspaper owners are more reticent these days, but happier still that in-depth coverage continues to keep us informed and involved.