While the Canwest media empire struggles to keep itself afloat amidst a huge load of debt, The Province continues to demonstrate why it was the newspaper I chose to mock back when I was studying journalism in college.
Today’s front page headline:
The story is about how Google Street Views has come to Vancouver (as I noted yesterday) and the front page tries to paint some scary picture of privacy being invaded. The Google images automatically blur license plates and faces, so the privacy concerns seem minimal at best. But that’s not something you put on the front page to evoke paranoia, is it? Anytime you get cash from an ATM, fill up your vehicle with gas, stroll though a mall, train station or airport, you are already being recorded, so the notion that you have any real privacy whilst out in public is unrealistic at best. It’s not news and hasn’t been for some time. Sure, there could be a thoughtful column pondering the increasing intrusion of cameras into public life but where’s the hysteria angle in that?
While grabbing a quick snack before attending a play last night, I picked up a copy of The Province that was handy and thumbed through it, finally landing on the op-ed pages. There was a signed editorial piece about how everyone loves Stephen Harper after his musical debut at a gala a few nights back. A pro-Harper editorial. Quite the shocker, it must be said. On the opposite page was the Letters to the Editor except it’s now called Backtalk (with the B cleverly reversed; alas, I cannot reproduce the effect here). Each letter, though given the brevity, it might be more accurate to call them letterettes, is presented under a sentence referencing the original story (ie. “Council plans to install nuclear warheads on city hall roof”) and is signed by, well, whatever the person wants. One letterling was signed by Joe the Plumber. There is no indication of location, so I’m not sure if Joe hails from Vancouver, Surrey or Madagascar.
In essence, The Province letters section, apparently culled from submissions to their website, amounts to anonymous soundbites of unknown origin. I remember some years ago I had several letters to The Vancouver Sun published, back when I was a regular reader. One of them was in response to a screed by their resident homophobe, Trevor Lautens. Lautens had written a typically despicable column and being full of youth and outrage, I penned an objection that they saw fit to put in the paper. They verified my name and address first. Yes, back then, The Sun not only put your name to what you wrote, but your actual street address (the last time I checked, they had modified that to simply your city). Today in The Province the reader comments are little more than worthless filler and even the page’s name — Backtalk — seems to acknowledge an expected tone of anger or dismissal because thoughtful responses that demonstrate an open mind and critical thinking are silly!
I am not hoping for a Canwest bailout that includes saving The Province.