How Toronto's Papers Covered Fort McMurray, Ghomeshi, and the Raptors Loss
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How Toronto’s Papers Covered Fort McMurray, Ghomeshi, and the Raptors Loss

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

The news that the second Ghomeshi trial has been called off due to a settlement offer that goes before the judge on Wednesday makes it to the front of four of Toronto’s five dailies today. There are other significant stories, too. Wildfires continue to ravage Northern Alberta, and last night’s the Raptors get roasted in overtime at the hands of the Miami Heat. But which of Toronto’s papers best reads the city’s temperature in this morning’s Front Page Challenge?

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The Globe and Mail

The wildfire in Fort McMurray gets prominent coverage on page one of the Globe, with a stark image of a scorched tree standing alone in a burned-up landscape. The Globe reviews the aftermath of the firestorm from several perspectives; the poignant tale of a firefighter who ironically fought to save other people’s homes while his childhood home and condo were reduced to ash, the armies of officials and insurance experts converging on the city to assess the damages, the efforts of airlines and railways to make evacuations easier, and the initial plans to restore critical infrastructure and allow people to safely return. This news, and stories on the Ontario Liberals cash-for-access fundraiser frenzy and a possible rethink from First Nations leaders concerning the residential schools settlement agreement squeezes the Ghomeshi story off the front page and limits the Raptors’s OT loss to a tiny mention below the fold.

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National Post

The National Post sees the Fort McMurray aftermath glass as being half full—pointing out that the “Ocean Of Fire” that flooded the community only damaged a fraction of the city’s buildings, with 90 per cent of the city intact thanks to the heroic effort by firefighters. The negative aspects of the inferno (the damage done to the oil sands sector and to one citizen’s hockey memorabilia collection) are relegated to below the fold. Blatchford is all over the Ghomeshi story, with the Post being the only paper to mention that a peace bond is expected to be the avenue of settlement to the “Called Off” trial. Andrew Coyne is not feeling it when it comes to the private member’s bill in the House of Commons to change the national anthem’s lyric “in all thy son’s command” to be gender neutral—he feels it’s a pointless gesture because no one is literal-minded about such terminology as pertaining only to men. And in a band of funereal black, the Post plainly states “Raptors Lose” game 4 in the series against Miami.

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Toronto Star

The Star holds out a scintilla of hope that there will indeed be a second Ghomeshi trial, stressing it “may not” happen in their headline, unlike the more definitive headlines in the other Toronto dailies. Despite these Ghomeshi court cases being resolved in favour of the defence, the Star includes an inset featuring their original front page from back in October 2014 when Ghomeshi was fired from the CBC, a self-serving reminder that the Star first broke the story. Their coverage of the Fort McMurray wildfires centres on the human element, with one of the city’s firefighters hugging his son after returning from the front lines of the blaze. The Star also features a photo of a hedgehog who was spirited away to safety along with a menagerie of animals thanks to the efforts of a heroic Calgary airline pilot. And the Star commits a double pun concerning last night’s defeat of the Raptors in Miami; not only did Toronto get “scalded” by Miami, we are now also suffering from “Heat Rash.”

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Metro Toronto

Metro, often the Toronto paper that keeps it local during national and international news, devotes front-page coverage to the situation in Northern Alberta, also noting the city was consumed in an “ocean of fire” and playing up the heroism of firefighters and pilots. The main news story on page one is Ghomeshi avoiding his future workplace sexual assault trial. The Raptors share space on the top of the page with Gloria Steinem, whose new documentary appears incongruously on the Viceland channel, which may be a way of atoning for their longtime sponsorship of the photography of notorious hipster sexist Terry Richardson.

Toronto Sun

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The Sun has taken the Raptors loss very badly, in fact they are in a “Foul Mood” this morning. They describe the Raptors overtime loss as blowing the game, and speak of the bench banishment of star player Kyle Lowry. Can the Raps win back the hearts of Sun readers everywhere? Find out in Game 5! Despite the Star‘s refusal to rule out the possible continuation of the Ghomeshi trial, the Sun is more definitive in their headline, stating plainly that it “Won’t Happen.”

This week’s winner: Canada’s National Newspaper™ wins this week’s challenge with an image that recalls Tom Thomson’s iconic painting The West Wind, a tree alone in its solitude, symbolic of Canada’s national character; our perseverance in the middle of an unforgiving landscape. A solid metaphor for those who fought to preserve the city from the encroachment of the sweeping fires. The Globe‘s victory brings them a little closer to the Post in the fight to escape last place in our weekly standings.

Newspaper Number of Wins
Toronto Star 8
Toronto Sun 7
Metro 7
National Post 3
Globe and Mail 2

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