How Toronto's Papers Covered The Assassination Of The Russian Ambassador To Turkey
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How Toronto’s Papers Covered The Assassination Of The Russian Ambassador To Turkey

Despite the same powerful photograph, there are still differences in how each publication covers the tragic news.

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

The attention of the world was directed to a shocking political assassination at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey on Monday. An off-duty police officer murdered the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, an act that was reportedly vengeance for Russia’s military role in the chaos plaguing Syria. This awfulness is featured on all five of Toronto’s newspapers this morning, with most publications using the powerful photos taken in the moment by Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici.

globe dec 20
The Globe and Mail

The Globe‘s coverage of the assassination centres on the effect this event may have on already fragile Russia-Turkish relations as a peaceful resolution to the Syrian conflict—which already highly unlikely—grows even more remote. The Globe says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly after the incident, and the two countries “have the determination not to fall for this provocation.” The Globe also reports on the other horrific terror attack of the day, a truck that rammed through a crowded Berlin Christmas market, killing and injuring scores of revellers. The big Canadian story of the day is the apparent collapse of a deal between the feds and the provinces to strike a new deal on health care funding.

post dec 20
National Post

The Post lets the picture say the thousand words this morning, putting the image of the defiant assassin front-and-centre and framing it with two large headlines shouting “Ankara” and “Berlin.” The Post‘s banner, normally yellow, is a stark black today.

star dec 20
Toronto Star

The Star‘s coverage of the “Horror In Ankara” includes a piece by the AP photographer Ozbilici describing what it was like to capture the awful moment. However, this is not the only story for the Star today: they give details on the penalty handed down by the Ontario College of Teachers to former TDSB head Chris Spence, stripped of his teaching licence after being found guilty of professional misconduct (plagiarism). The Star also provides an update on a Canadian and his American wife who have been held hostage by the Taliban since 2012—the couple has even had two children born in captivity. The two are pleading for U.S. President Obama to intervene before he leaves office. And on this depressing day of news, their sunny headline “When Jet Set Meets Jet Set“— a story on holiday travelling tips for dog owners—is a reminder that this is indeed supposed to be Christmas time, but it still seems out of place this morning.

metro dec 20
Metro Toronto

Metro‘s front page features a more disturbing view of the murder of the Russian ambassador than most other papers in the world have provided. Here, the horror is seen from the other side of the axis: the victim is front and centre in the shot and the assassin cornered in negative, sterile space while assembled witnesses cower in fear outside of the angle of attack. Metro’s layout gives equal space to the carnage in Berlin, framing their Metro Views columnist Vicky Mochama‘s article “The Problem We’re Not Talking About”—the article is currently an exclusive to the print edition, and not available online.

Toronto Sun

sun dec 20
Leave it to the Toronto Sun to have it both ways, joining the other Toronto papers by putting the Turkish assassin on the front page (“Shot Seen Round The World“). But Toronto’s tabloid also devoted most of page one to Prime Minister Justin TruDUH, looking goofy in a (possibly photoshopped) Santa hat. The Sun blasted Trudeau for giving a 5.5 per cent raise to government workers (aka “unions“) while the rest of the country is mired in ballooning debt. With no respect to meter, mustachioed Sun columnist Mark Bonokoski clumsily rewrites the lyrics to a Christmas standard in his apoplectic column on this latest slap in the face to hardworking Canadians:

Sing along now …

Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, (and) soon the bells will start.

And the thing that will make them ring is the song that Trudeau sings.

When he breaks more taxpayers’ hearts.

This week’s winner: Metro distinguishes itself in its coverage of the Ankara assassination, giving readers a depiction of the incident that is not identical to the other papers, despite the obvious power of the photograph, which is destined to win journalism awards at the end of the year.


The Front Page Challenge jury congratulates Metro on their dramatic come-from-behind push to overtake the Toronto Sun and claim first place on our weekly standings for 2016. It was a well-earned victory. The jury will reconvene on January 3, 2017.


Newspaper Number of Wins
Metro 18
Toronto Sun 14
Toronto Star 11
Globe and Mail 11
National Post 7


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