Newspapers are falling on hard times. Kevin O'Leary of CBC's Dragon's Den program claims they're dead men walking in a digital age. I hope he's wrong, however. We need good reportage from the MSM for the sake of our civil society.
The Globe sexes up Gregor Robertson's image
Widely considered Canada's "best" newspaper, the Globe and Mail is fundamentally a Torontonian publication, but it makes an effort with a BC Edition, a 3-page thick assortment of articles relating to the country's third largest metropolitan region. It can be a great read most of the time, but even for a media-consuming glutton like me it's an afterthought when it comes to local coverage.
This weekend the Globe decided to blow out the doors with a feature profile about Vancouver's Mayor Gregor Robertson. It's oddly devoid of any criticism of the Mayor's performance in office, and reads a bit like a corporate brochure. I'm not sure if the Globe's readers are the last people in Metro Vancouver who haven't heard the Robertson story, but we get it all again in today's puff profile.
- Child of privilege raised in North Vancouver
- Mom remarried, lived in states with rich step-dad
- Went to US college, met Amy
- Bailed on med school, sailed to south Pacific
- Got exposed to toxic fertilizers, became an organic gardener
- Moved back to BC
- Met Joel Solomon on Cortes
- Political operative Mike Magee persuades him to run as NDP MLA
- Solomon and Magee scheme for Robertson's run for Vancouver mayor, Gregor moves here
- Gregor promises to end homelessness by 2015, and make Vancouver world's greenest city
What makes today's Globe piece is the sexxed up descriptions of Vancouver's farmboy mayor. Here are a few quotes:
"His brown hair slightly mussed, coloured by sprigs of grey, Mr. Robertson leads officials and reporters on the line's inaugural run. "Smooth," the smiling mayor comments, "a sweet ride."
He is perfect on camera: His good looks are described as "Hollywood movie star handsome"
Is it getting hot in here? Do I smell a hunka-hunka burning mayor? We even learn how the Mayor outfits himself:
...on a warm January day, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson tucks his grey suit pants into his blue dress socks, dons a helmet and sets off from his two-storey home near City Hall. in a business suit and bike helmet, never mind the regular rain, Mr. Robertson puts 80 kilometres a week on his two-decade-old mountain bike.
On arrival, there's not a bead of sweat on him.
Very "smooth" indeed. Then there is this quote, which suggests that he could play not one, but ALL the roles of the Village People:
From work as a cowboy in rural British Columbia and sailing the Pacific Ocean in a small boat, to starting an organic farm and then Happy Planet, Mr. Robertson is no standard-issue staid politician.
The writers both have significant experience as journalists, and Ian Bailey has done some great coverage in Vancouver. Why then, does it sound like they've never been to City Hall before?
"People complain and moan and groan about the inconvenience or the cost or the potential debts, and pressures on the city," Mr. Robertson said in an interview in his modest City Hall office. "We're getting through all that..."
There is only one "office" for the Mayor of Vancouver, and while it is not garrishly appointed, the 1200 square foot, wood-panelled room that overlooks downtown Vancouver is hardly modest.
This quote from the story also sounds a little detached from reality:
On homelessness, Mr. Robertson faced down middle-class residents' anger last year over emergency shelters. The city has opened additional facilities this winter to little protest.
Faced down middle-class residents? Is that what you call slinking in at midnight so the public won't see you is called?
The rest of the article is a collage of factoids about Robertson. He plays tuba, so they spend a few column inches on that topic. The always tactful Jimmy Pattison describes Robertson as "a good listener," which is a kind way to explain the blank expression.
The article's sidebar tries to make a comparison to other Olympic mayors, such as Montreal's Jean Drapeau or Calgary's Ralph Klein. The reality though is that there is no comparison to these two titans of Canadian politics and Gregor Robertson, and to make the connection is a stretch. A paper of the Globe's calibre should attempt to point this out to their readers.
- post by Mike