Metro is emerging as the wokest paper in town.
In Front Page Challenge, Torontoist analyzes the best and worst of Toronto’s major dailies.
Toronto’s five daily newspapers continue to hone and develop their editorial identities this morning, in another hard-fought contest to win this week’s competition. But this column’s jury has noticed two examples of stylistic clichés this week amongst the competitors that cannot go unmentioned.
The Globe and Mail
Canada’s National Newspaper™ is all about national concerns this morning: their top story provides details on an initiative between the banks and law enforcement that tracks suspicious transactions that may be linked to human trafficking. But the main image on page one concerns one of this country’s national shames: the lack of safe drinking water on First Nations reserves across the country. People are living under boil water advisories and a federal government that promised to address the issue head on, but has not taken nearly enough action thus far.
The Post features a human interest tale as its main front page feature, the story of a one-time Blue Jays prospect, adopted from a Ukraine orphanage as a baby, whose promising career was derailed by mental illness and finally suicide. But this feature is flanked by the Post‘s usual front page concerns: Canada’s refugee policy (the paper begrudgingly admits a recent poll says a majority of Canadians approve of the government’s approach but their headline warns the policy may be “testing the limits” of how many migrants should be admitted). On the Trump/Putin relationship, the Post reports the Kremlin might already be getting fed up with Trump after his associates proposed an “absurd” peace plan for Ukraine and Crimea. But, unfortunately, the jury has to bust The World’s Best Designed Newspaper™ for recycling their use of a stock photo of fluffy pancakes with a one-word headline comparing syrup to a similar oily substance. This motif was used in November of 2015, and featured in this very column.
The Post is therefore disqualified from this week’s competition!
The Star features an original Banksy on their front page this morning, in a story about a condo that has acquired a work believed to be by the notorious guerrilla street artist, created in 2010, now being showcased as an asset for a new development on York Street. “But would Banksy approve?” asks the subhed. The Star also reports on the impending wrap-up of a five-year investigation into a probe of ORNGE, the air ambulance agency plagued by allegations of kickbacks. And the Star returns to one of their evergreen subjects: a story on “Digital Detox,” social media users beginning to wean themselves off their online dependencies and discovering the joys of IRL. It seems the Star does this story every few months, and the first one of 2017 is now officially in the books. The jury won’t disqualify the Star for this repetition as it did the Post as it’s not a straight-up example of lazy recycling, but it is issuing the Star a mild warning.
Metro‘s really turning on the jets today in terms of their tubthumping for civic activism; the wokest paper in town is all about fighting back! The city versus Islamophobia, Americans versus President Trump (a surge in the use of the hashtag #NotMyPresident on the American “Presidents’ Day” holiday), Matt Elliott versus the “daily injustice” of the traffic-clogged King Street, and a Toronto lawyer versus Air Canada over the lack of in-flight movies equipped with features for the deaf or hearing-impaired.
The Sun always finds itself in a conundrum of editorial coherence when it comes to covering news about pot dispensaries. As the paper most likely to espouse less state intrusion into the private lives of its libertarian readers, you would think the Sun would ultimately espouse a live-and-let-live approach to the legalization/decriminalization of marijuana. But they are also the paper that regularly backs up the city’s police force, an “Our Cops Are Tops” position when it comes to criticism of those that maintain The Thin Blue Line between order and chaos. And they hate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the man promising to confirm a national legalization plan for recreational marijuana use in a matter of weeks. So here we are this morning with their cover story “Pot Shot,” an interview with the owner of the pot dispensary chain whose very name is practically begging for a police raid, “Weed The North.” He says the cops went overboard while executing a police warrant on his admittedly illegal operation, causing thousands of dollars in property damage, including cleaning out a third-party ATM on the premises. The Sun gives both sides a chance to air their grievances in this feature report, an indicator they have some sympathies for the plight of the shop owners operating in this prolonged legal grey area. And Michele Mandel’s well-meaning report on teenage suicides, and the use of the internet to broadcast these attempts (or for people to intervene), is undercut somewhat by a melodramatic stock photo of a glowing blank computer screen with an alarmist headline playing up “livestreamed suicides,” which is, in fact, only one aspect of the article’s coverage.
This week’s winner: In light of the penalty handed down to the Post and the yellow card issued to the Star, this has cleared the path for Metro to claim an easy victory this week; their continuing work to transform the citizens of Toronto into being agents of change is more a ambitious editorial agenda compared to the other papers in the city, and has propelled them to an early lead in this column’s leaderboard.
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This article originally said the Banksy piece on the cover of the Star was created during the G20 in 2010. It actually went up in the spring of that year. Torontoist regrets the error.