Monday, July 07, 2008

The Toronto Star: Pandering to Oakville housewives since 1996

Does anyone think this story is important?

I suppose the girl was the youngest to do it, which, if I can remember what I was thought taught (I wasn't "thought" to spell apparently) in Intro to Journalism 1 might push the story ever so little into the newsworthy category. She’s from Kingston too, so there ya go. And “Barb” from The Star’s comments section seems to think that the inclusion of this feel gooder on A1 is awfully swell:

Isn't it wonderful to read a "good news" story on the front page? We have a lot of people doing wonderful things in this country and I love to read about them. It's the first thing I look for when I look at the newspaper in the morning, but too frequently don't find. It isn't that they aren't happening. It's just that they aren't reported, or they are hidden deep in the (sic) pare. Good for Natalie for having such amazing spirit and dedication to a good cause and to her own development. What a great role model she is for others! Thanks to the Star for reporting it. I hope to see more stories like this in the future. I do believe that great news DOES sell papers!

You tell ‘em Barb. Shame on The Star for informing the public about violence in troubled neighbourhoods, the plight of our soldiers in Afghanistan and shedding light on those that try to screw over new Canadians. Telling those stories is just negative.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can barely swim the length of a bathtub, so going all the way across Lake Erie is impressive to me. But I know it ain’t A1 important. It’s also pretty clear that Barb doesn’t have an ounce of news judgment.

Should Natalie Lambert’s story have been told? Sure, why not. But, The Star didn’t tell us her story. Instead it gave us the six-inch mail-it-in, just-who-can-I-talk-to-to-get-the-second-source-Torstar-requires-in-all-its-stories, treatment.

Barb’s only got it half right. By reporting on the swim as a news story, The Star sucked the soul of the thing out. Where this should have been placed was in the sports section. There, proper space could have been given to let us get to know Lambert. We could find out what makes her tick what it feels like to swim across a lake and what she gets from it. Stories like that win you Ontario Newspaper Awards. And, sports writers aren’t writing those types of stories near enough anymore.

By pandering to some sort of unwritten got-to-get-one-positive-story-a-day-on-the-front-page rule, everyone here loses. Something far more important gets pushed off the front of the paper and sports loses the chance to write a tare away piece that would add real value to the paper—and the type of article that can really only be written in a newspaper and that--if done well enough and enough, period—can start to make the daily sports section relevant again.

But, at least Barb is happy.


Robert C. said...

Surprised that story was on A1, but more importantly how short it was. Should've been given more space elsewhere in the paper.

I've met Natalie's sister Jenna a couple of times. They have one sentence on her swimming Lake Ontario with cerbral palsy? Wow.

But it is "The Star" so I'm not shocked. But someone there probably wanted ARod/Madonna on the front page so a small victory if they got bumped for a day. lol.

sager said...

A certain Kingston paper give it good play.

You Belleville guys, you all think you're the centre of the universe!
Everyone knows the centre of the universe is Vancouver!

Jordie Dwyer said...

Vancouver....sheesh Sager, how out of touch are you know, stuck way out there in the sucking hole they call - the Valley.
Alas, those of us in the real CENTRE of the universe (aka ALBERTA) will have to continue to educate youse peepells on this subject.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm over to do a feature for my sports section on (and no, I'm not making this up) Women's Roller Derby.

Anonymous said...

I'm no longer surprised the Star publishes stories like these on the front page. It's the kind of reporting from the Kent Brockman School of Journalism: "they tug at the heart and fog the mind!"

God, I can't imagine Sunny Freeman - the woman who reported the story - signed up for a summer internship with the Star to report on non-stories like these. Jagoda Pike and Fred Kuntz must have been sipping on Extra Fancy brandy with their mega-salaries while assigning this story.