How Toronto's Papers Covered Canada's Olympic Victories (and More Shirtless Trudeau, of Course)
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How Toronto’s Papers Covered Canada’s Olympic Victories (and More Shirtless Trudeau, of Course)

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

The 2016 Olympic Games are now well underway. Toronto’s daily papers are covering Canada’s winning achievements in these first few days of competition, providing coverage not only of our medals but also biographical portraits of some of the individual athletes who have made the nation proud. But which of Toronto’s papers will win Front Page Challenge gold this week, and make our city proud?

globe aug 9
The Globe and Mail

Canada’s National Newspaper™ is the only one of today’s papers that provides a daily overall medal tally on the front page, and Canadians are currently in eighth place in the overall count according to their chart, trailing the usual superpowers (the United States, China and Russia). The Globe divvies up their coverage between the Canadian women’s rugby sevens team’s bronze medal victory over Britain, and a portrait of 16-year-old swimming sensation Penny Oleksiak, who has already won two medals so far and showed great promise from an early age in Toronto’s swimming clubs. The Globe expands from the usual nationalist coverage of our athletes’ achievements to include a profile of a Brazilian judo athlete who won the host nation’s first gold medal of the games, and who has already defied long odds (an Afro-Brazilian athlete on a disproportionately white national team, who grew up in Rio’s notoriously violent favela Cidade de Deus (famously depicted in the film City of God). Beyond Olympic coverage, the Globe also reports on Donald Trump’s latest threats to leave NAFTA unless the trade deal is renegotiated (a position supported by some of the same Republicans in Washington who shepherded the agreement through Congress in the first place), and the revelation that over the last three Ontario elections, unions are behind nearly all of the third-party advertising buys (ads mostly targeting the Progressive Conservatives).

post aug 9
National Post

The Post plays down Canada’s Olympic performance on their front page this morning, relegating this info to a bucket below the fold, which gives equal space to the bronze won by the rugby sevens squad and Eugenie Bouchard getting “knocked out” of the singles competition. Their main Olympic story of the day is a feature on Muslim female athletes who are wearing the hijab and modest clothing even while competing in sports like women’s Volleyball where Western bathing attire is de rigeur (the International Volleyball Federation recently relaxed its standards to accommodate religious and cultural requirements). And speaking of baring flesh, the Post devotes the top of Page One to Canada’s “New National Obsession“, shirtless Justin Trudeau, including the bombshell revelation that he is not the first political figure to go topless at the beach. The Post tries to have it both ways here, devoting the front page and two columns on the second page to grumble about how this is yet another dumb non-story taking up space in the media during the dog days of August.

star aug 9
Toronto Star

The Star keeps today’s Olympic coverage simple and local, with a Rosie DiManno profile of young Penny Oleksiak “From Water Wings to Olympic Medals“, complete with a snapshot of young Penny who learned to swim in her neighbour’s pool in the Beach. Shirtless Trudeaumania is also featured on page one today, with a story on Justin’s recent tweet of his wife feeding their son Hadrien to promote World Breastfeeding Week. The Star also features a story on the accidental drowning death of a young Hamilton-area boy whose initial disappearance over the weekend set off an Amber Alert, and a disturbing feature on the conviction of Canada’s “biggest producer and distributor of child pornography“, which the Star reports to be a 10-year sentence.

metro aug 9
Metro Toronto

Metro also reports on the tragic drowning of young Finnigan Danne, but the majority of their content on the front page is devoted to Canada’s latest Olympic triumphs, including the victorious Rugby Sevens team, and the best pun of the morning, “Penny From The Block“, hailing Oleksiak as leading “a new wave of hope” for the nation’s up-and-coming Olympic athletes. Metro also features a small tally board of our team’s medal count thus far, but this infographic is not presented in relation to other nations achievements.

Toronto Sun

sun aug 9

The Sun has a somber, text-heavy cover this morning, eschewing a central photograph (or even an Andy Donato cartoon) for an expression of front-page headline outrage at the sentence handed down to convicted child pornographer Brian Way. The Sun reveals what the Star didn’t make clear in their coverage of the story—that the 10-year sentence handed down to May includes what the Sun refers to as a “discount” since the five years he has already spent in jail is part of the time served, meaning that May could be released in a mere 20 months. The Sun excerpts a quote from the article that an international customer caught with one of May’s videos would get a harsher sentence in their country than the one the purveyor of the videos has apparently received. However, the moral righteousness on display on page one this morning is somewhat undercut by the juxtaposition of “Pool Party!” up at the top, celebrating Penny Oleksiak’s double medal victory in Rio.

This week’s winner: Despite their not-particularly-nationalistic front page this morning, we are awarding this week’s gold medal to the National Post for their front page coverage of Islamic female athletes at the Olympics, which comes across as refreshingly positive and accepting compared to the paper’s typical coverage of the debate over the wearing of the hijab, which tends to err on the side of terror and mistrust. This victory further tightens the overall race in our weekly standings, and once again leaves the Globe all alone in last place.

Newspaper Number of Wins
Toronto Sun 11
Metro 10
Toronto Star 9
National Post 6
Globe and Mail 5

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