Front Page Challenge: Service Above Selfie
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Front Page Challenge: Service Above Selfie

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

Front Page Challenge is a generally solemn occasion this morning, with most papers covering Rob Ford lying in state at City Hall, with the leitmotif of a trend in questionable political fundraising that threatens to leave ordinary Canadians left out in the cold, like a forgotten dog on the balcony of a Toronto condo. Which of the city’s dailies best captures this sad state of affairs this week?

globe march 29
The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail conspicuously omits any coverage of the Ford visitation at City Hall from Page One this morning. At the risk of being branded “elitist” by Ford Nation, the Globe’s featured image of the day is of Canadian figure skaters Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje practising for the World Championships in Boston this week. Of course, the photo is nothing like the 2013 Katelyn Osmond figure skating image that caused a minor stir. The issue of reforms to the practice of solitary confinement in Canada’s prison system continues to hit roadblocks as several provinces have been dragging their heels in providing actual statistics on aggregate numbers of inmates in solitary, which is threatening to derail the efforts of policy makers to understand what needs to be addressed. The Globe features a story about the B.C. Liberals’ recent reliance on small, unadvertised fundraisers with Premier Christy Clark in advance of next year’s Provincial election; critics say these kinds of events, though legal, tilt access to power in favour of those with money.

post march 29
National Post

The National Post features a centrepiece triptych image of moments from the first day of Rob Ford lying in repose at City Hall, including the grieving widow and children, and a solemn gathering of athletes from Mr Ford’s days coaching the Don Bosco football team. “City Says Farewell To Ford” says the headline. The Post also highlights a gossipy, not particularly scientific poll they’ve conducted with NHL players and fans to find out who is the “most overrated”, “dirtiest” and “biggest pain in the butt” of all hockey players, presumably in advance of the upcoming playoffs. This bitter angle to the coverage can’t have anything to do with no Canadian teams making the playoffs, could it?

star march 29
Toronto Star

The Star acknowledges the Rob Ford ceremonial event at City Hall at the top of the front page, specifically identifying the mourning procession as “Ford Nation” lining up to say goodbye, not the entire city of Toronto, and minimizing the crowd as numbering “hundreds.” The Star‘s main story this morning: “Revealed: The Secret Price of Admission To Power“; with a stark photograph of a high-powered provincial Liberal fundraiser accompanying the paper’s investigation into cabinet members being tasked to meet massive annual fundraising targets for the party, a recipe for conflict-of-interest accusations and more grist for the mill for those who say corporate access to power is a threat to the democratic process.

march 29 metro
Metro Toronto

In a clear break from the solemn coverage of Rob Ford in repose at City Hall, Metro coverage focuses on one of the eyebrow-raising sights of the day, that of Doug Ford milling through the grieving crowd posing for photographs. “Good Grief” exclaims Metro, and of the Toronto papers they are the only one to express anything approaching distaste at some of the optics of the day’s events; they also poll readers for their opinion on posing for selfies amidst grief and solemnity, which results in such quotes as “I feel like Doug Ford is running for office on his brother’s corpse.” Metro‘s main article of the day features a growing movement to make it illegal for Toronto condo owners to allow their dogs (curiously referred to as “K9″s in the headline) to be out on their balconies for longer than an hour.

Toronto Sun

sun march 29
The Sun wears black this morning in solidarity with the Ford family and the grieving Ford Nation, with a photograph of Renata Ford and their children in the early morning light during the arrival of Rob Ford’s honour guard. Headline: “T.O. Sends Love — City turns out for Rob Ford and his family.” This morning’s Sun tries to have it both ways; it insists the city has come together in grief, but a somewhat thin-skinned Mike Strobel piece contradicts this consensus by expending much column space spitting venom at the “effete elites” at City Hall for the temerity to express public grief at Ford’s passing. Joe Warmington, who notoriously criticized Justin Trudeau for the unforgivable sin of posing for selfies in the middle of the grieving in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, curiously spares Doug Ford any similar righteous criticism this morning.

This week’s winner: The Toronto Star is the winner of today’s challenge for being most accurate in their portrayal of the Ford ceremony at City Hall as being aimed at Ford Nation, not the entire city, and for their stark investigation into the more troubling direction political fundraising in this country might be taking us.

Newspaper Number of Wins
Metro 6
Toronto Star 6
Toronto Sun 6
National Post 3
Globe and Mail 0

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