Front Page Challenge: January 12, 2016
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Front Page Challenge: January 12, 2016

In Front Page Challenge, Torontoist analyzes the best and worst of Toronto’s major dailies.

The news of David Bowie’s death came too late on Sunday evening to be included in Monday’s front pages, but today newspapers around the globe are paying tribute to the passing of a cultural giant, recognizing the magnitude of this moment and some editors figuring these cover pages could even be collector’s items. And most of Toronto’s daily papers are doing the same. I said “most”.

post jan 12
National Post

Of all the dailies, the Post devotes the most space on their front page to Bowie and is the only one to capture the full range of his career and various personas. Coverage includes a feature by Colby Cosh that acts as a Cassandra-esque warning to the Baby Boom generation that many British pop legends will die soon, and that the recent passings of Lemmy and Bowie is only the beginning of a coming deluge. I would expand this list to include aging pop legends from outside of the United Kingdom, but the point here is made. As the Post is a business paper, a Bowie article in the Financial section acknowledges Bowie’s genius as an investor. The “Why All Music Leads Back To Bowie” article may be of interest to fans of the zydeco and Franco-country genres.

star jan 12
Toronto Star

The Bowie commemorated on the top of the Star is the wild, glammy Bowie from the Pin-Ups/Diamond Dogs era, though why with so many variations of his persona available, the Star‘s decision to just use the same image twice is a mystery. The Bowie coverage is otherwise available in the Entertainment section within. The Star‘s front page is otherwise concerned with the Taliban release of a long-term Canadian hostage, and an outdoor practice by the Maple Leafs. The Star’s main pun of the day is “All Helvetica Breaks Loose In Typography Squabble,” which chastises the Liberal government for deploying a free typeface for the country’s impending sesquicentennial. To be fair, it could have been worse, as they could have used Papyrus (the font seen in the subtitling of Avatar) or the dreaded Comic Sans.

globe jan 12
The Globe and Mail

The Bowie commemorated on the cover of the Globe is the more genteel, upscale Bowie who crooned Nina Simone’s “Wild is The Wind” on the album Station To Station. Keywords deployed to describe Bowie here: “shape-shifting”, “otherworldly”, “enigma”. The Bowie tribute within is a folio in the main section. Elsewhere in the news, the Globe leads with news of a grim outlook for the economy, as commodities are slipping and recession is looming ahead of next week’s budget announcement. Also the Conservative opposition is pressing the Trudeau government for answers on how they can justify the impending arms deal to the Saudis that, uh, was brokered while the Conservatives were in power.

metro jan 12
Metro Toronto

Metro‘s Bowie cover is a shot from his Toronto Sound + Vision tour date in 1990 and plays up the growing sentiment that his final album Blackstar was planned as a farewell statement, released days before his death. In other news, cyber security experts say that Toronto’s colleges and universities are using outdated software that leave students vulnerable to malware installed by hackers such as Angelina Jolie in the movie Hackers, or could fall victim to identity theft like in the movie Identity Thief.

Toronto Sun

toronto sun jan 12

While 99 per cent of the world’s English-language newspapers feature Bowie in some way shape or form on the front page, the Toronto Sun bucks convention and even their daily instinct to commemorate immortal moments on their covers. They avoid any mention of the glam rocker, instead devoting this real estate to a story about a bakery that is giving away tickets for the American Powerball lottery (the jackpot of which is nearly $1.5 billion, which I would have assumed would be the odds that the Sun wouldn’t mention Bowie’s death on the front page—you’ll recall they found room on their front page a few weeks ago to mention that Rush might have broken up). Besides the “A Lot of Dough” cover story, the hoser-ish editorial voice of the Sun can also be heard up top with “It’s Cold Here, Eh”, about the buckling of a newly installed bridge resulting in a severing of the Trans-Canada highway. Christina Blizzard opines that this could be the fault of the Spanish engineers in charge of the project, presumably too busy enjoying tapas and sangria to understand the realities of a Canadian winter. Also one of the Maple Leafs is on the injuries list for six to eight weeks, all news more important than the death of one of the most famous people in the world.

This week’s winner: Of Toronto’s dailies, the National Post comes up with a cover most worthy of being clipped out and saved in a Bowie fan’s scrapbook, and wears this week’s crown.