In Front Page Challenge, Torontoist analyzes the best and worst of Toronto’s major dailies.
This week’s Front Page Challenge is the first hard-fought showdown of 2017, with all five papers clearly trying to win this weekly competition, using specific in-house tactics, ranging from high-minded journalistic endeavours to flat-out Page One audacity.
The Globe and Mail
The Globe‘s top story concerns the paper’s high-profile special investigation by Robyn Doolittle into how police institutions in this country handle victims of sexual assault. This story has already had a big impact, with the RCMP, national police services, and even the Prime Minister promising to do more, up to and including a complete overhaul of practices. The alarming feature photo this morning is of a mural in Belgrade of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the man he is rumoured to have helped install as the new American president, Donald Trump. There is a fear in the Balkans and throughout Europe that Putin may be planning an expansion of Russia’s domain, considered less likely to be countered by the West with a new president who defends Putin at every opportunity.
The Post is still processing their feelings over the election of Trump. You would think the election of a hardline conservative in the Oval Office would thrill a newspaper that has editorially longed for more privatization, strict border controls, and tax cuts, but there is an insecurity about Canada being powerless in Trump’s shadow that is creeping on to their front page today. On the top of the page they ask a silly question: “Is A Prime Minister As Powerful As A President?” (the article itself posits that Trump would be a dictator—their words—if he had the power he has as president were he the Canadian PM). In the face of the contrast developing between Canada’s refugee policy and America putting a temporary ban on all such immigration, the Post reports on a new study that says Canadians are “not especially tolerant” of these newcomers, indicating the potential for intolerance to flourish in this country. But the most curious front-page feature this morning is one of the Post‘s occasional forays into mocking high-brow art, with their report on the premiere of an aggressively weird-sounding dance performance at the Place des Arts in Montreal: “many in the audience were dumbfounded as ear-splitting machine noise took the place of music, a dog barked at the dancers and a character with his hand stuck in a Pepsi machine repeated ad nauseam, ‘My hand is stuck in the vending machine.'”
The Star trumpets yesterday’s launch by the paper of a legal challenge they’ve filed against the Ontario tribunal system that, as a matter of course, shields public records from public view: “Tribunals have been appointed custodians of important public records at the taxpayers’ pleasure. We, all of us, own those records. We bought and paid for them in the collective interest of Ontarians. When the public asks to see them, the default answer has to be ‘yes.'” The Star also syndicates the bombshell story the New York Times broke during halftime of Sunday’s Super Bowl game about the chaos inside Trump’s West Wing, a portrait of a neophyte President who may be watching TV in his bathrobe while his advisors are coming up with untested executive orders for him to sign without being informed what they entail. Trump is in Rage Mode over this report.
Metro continues to advocate on behalf of the integrity of Toronto this morning, reporting on a study revealing high levels of carcinogens detected in the diesel exhaust of GO trains that puts riders at risk; on the threat to the city’s music scene with long-time venues closing down due to gentrification (the latest being the impending closure of the venerable Silver Dollar Room); and Matt Elliott continuing to play the angel on John Tory’s shoulder, urging the mayor to take a very strong stance on Toronto’s sanctuary city status in the wake of “the politics of division and racism” taking root. Metro is the only paper covering the interesting development of the tumult in the White House over Saturday Night Live‘s skit where Melissa McCarthy skewered Trump’s hapless press secretary Sean Spicer; apparently Spicer is now in trouble with Trump over being parodied by a woman, with Trump worried this makes his presidency seem “weak,” which should give his critics new inspiration on how easy it is to get under the president’s skin.
Sometimes the Toronto Sun‘s front page zigs while the other papers in the competition zag, and today is a perfect example. “Can Wynne Pull A Brady?” is the latest column from alleged humourist Mike Strobel (who once tastelessly imagined a friendly chat between Rob Ford and St. Peter at the Gates of Heaven, written mere days after Ford’s death). Today Strobel sees parallels between Premier Kathleen Wynne and Patriots QB Tom Brady, both way behind at halftime (with Wynne polling in “single digits” in the middle of her term, according to Strobel); can Wynne take a page from Brady’s playbook and lead her team to sudden victory against impossible odds? An example of Strobel’s finely-honed wit: “Wynne’s Liberals have more scandals in their past than a 50-something hooker, yet they keep scoring at the polls.” For some reason this column (and the crude Photoshop illustration of a neckless Wynne holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy aloft) is the Sun‘s top story of the day, along with an inset about “Trudeau’s Financial Flubs.” Can this editorial gamble pay off? Can The Sun Pull A Brady?
This week’s winner: The Toronto Sun gets on this column’s scoreboard with their first victory of 2017 through sheer audacity and desperate attention-seeking. The jury feels this front page is so wrong that it’s right.
|Newspaper||Number of Wins|
|Globe and Mail||1|
Did you like this article? Do you love Torontoist? Support articles like this by becoming one of the first Torontoist subscribers—join Raccoon Nation now.