Personal Attacks and Cats

I don’t ever look at for entertainment news. So I cannot confirm if this story from the Edmonton Journal is just par for the course, or a departure into tabloidy personal attacks.

Needless to say I would hope Edmonton’s “paper of record” would hold itself, even in the entertainment section, to a high standard of journalism. News reports need to inform and educate. Sure, they can entertain, but they can still do so with an eye to informing and educating. Or, they can at least keep from stooping to low levels of discourse.

I’ll be honest, I clicked through to the story because I like making fun of So You Think You Can Dance (Canada). It was a go-to joke of mine during the municipal election because CTV Edmonton ran it election night. I also have concerns about the amount of original programming produced in Canada. So, I could have accepted criticism of that sort, even criticism that simply said it was a waste of airtime.

(The actual paper version of the story did not include the trashsy attacks. I’m not sure what that says about the web editing or what the Journal thinks about its web audience.)

An audience needs to get something from you: information, ideas of where to find more details, how to engage and act on the issues at hand. When a newsroom just throws around trashy zingers it’s not helping the community conversation.

In other news…

Now, I was originally going to end this post right there. But Karen Unland’s Pecha Kucha presentation last night touched upon trumpeting good journalism in this changing time for news.


Vue Weekly’s Samantha Power has a good story on oil protests happening at Southern Alberta’s Bloood Reserve.

The CBC did some good digging last week on a sort of secret email address used by former Alberta Conservative cabinet minister (and current candidate to be our next premier) Ted Morton. That launched an immediate investigation by the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

CJSR’s Terra Informa is doing awarding-winning environmental journalism.

The Journal’s summer series Living on the Edge was a great example of in-depth coverage.

We do need to praise good journalism. And we, as the audience, should demand the best kind of storytelling.

That can not only push journalists (of the traditional and new varieties) to create better content, it can push people to create their own journalism if nothing else is getting the job done. Those are important points for folks trying to convince us they deserve to be paid, or have businesses advertise with them.

21 thoughts on “Personal Attacks and Cats”

  1. I sort of get what they were going for with the cat thing, but, y’know – maybe slow your roll until all 60 minutes of your news is local content. Then you can get cutesy.

  2. I dunno, the Leia Miller zingers, while not particularly clever, still gave me a good chuckle. It’s probably a little bit of a stretch to equate that kind of thing to what Jon Stewart does, but personally, I appreciate some comedy with my news…
    Besides, Leia Miller totally deserves it for having a plastic-sugeried-up old botox face!

  3. Really? A story about the show being cancelled called for shots at the host’s plastic surgery? Hardly. It’s just lowest common denominator junk.

    As for being comedy, I think it’s the equivalent of inserting a few f-bombs in the story. Doesn’t make it comedy. Certainly doesn’t make it clever.

    Also, I don’t know if I should approve your comments until you get back on Twitter.

  4. i think the question we should really be asking here is, how does canada take a pre-existing, successful american franchise and make it a money-losing pile of garbage? WHAT’S YOUR SECRET, CANADIAN TV INDUSTRY?!

  5. And, I guess, if that’s how wants to roll they can do so. My issue is with the Journal saying this is their new standard.

    1. “with the Journal saying this is their new standard.” – Wait, what? It looks like they’re just picking up a story from Dose. Aren’t you overreacting just a teeny bit? Seriously, if this was happening in all their stories, you’d have a point. But one? Get over it.

      1. I think larger chains need to recognize their columnists, their editorials, their stories, entertainment, sports, and wire copy (selected or posted by HQ on their behalf) all reflects their brand.

        If it’s on your site it’s your standard. Then, you either defend it or take it down. New styles of publishing and communication don’t allow for excuses. Audiences are smarter than that and won’t buy excuses much longer.

        p.s. Overreacting is what the Internet was made for. 🙂

  6. It’s a pretty nonsensical choice for the Journal to make, borrowing items from the “Dose” style, given that dose crapped out as a print publication some time ago.

  7. You had me at that headline!

    In conclusion: Dose still stinks, commuter papers waste most everyone’s time with their 75 word stories (tablets may change that, since I bet people read longer items on those bad boys), and the Journal thinks Botox jokes are high journalism.

    Also, this feels like old Headlines times.

  8. Adam, I hope that if you ever apply for journalism jobs, you do nothing but send them that article with your phone number scrawled at the top in crayon. Because I would hire you for any job, any time. That was pure gold.

    Also, I had forgotten about the visual calamity that was ED. You FTW.

  9. Haha…more like I’m trying to be an actual audience member and didn’t have a subscription to threaten cancelling, so took to the blogosphere.

  10. Hey, Jeff. Thanks for the link and for putting my words in action. That is a high compliment indeed.

    It’s not my place to defend my former employer, but I feel compelled to clarify something on the SYTYCDC story. As far as I can tell, that Dose story would have been automatically published on, as it would have been on all of the Postmedia sites, and no local editor would have been able to remove it or alter the text. A local editor may have decided to put that link in a more prominent place, say on the home page or the Entertainment page — I didn’t see it on the site, so I don’t know. But that’s the extent of the local editorial control over that story.

    This brings up many interesting points about shared content and the importance of context. Dose is meant to be snarky, as far as I can tell; sort of a Canadian TMZ maybe? I’m not a fan, but I believe that’s the intention. If you go to, you know what you’re getting, or at least there are clues to indicate what you’re getting. But when Dose stories appear in an Edmonton Journal template, there is no context other than the teeny, tiny byline that this is an irreverent take on celebrity news. So I agree with you that it reflects poorly on The Journal. I just wanted you to know that there’s not a whole lot anyone at The Journal can do about it, other than try to convince Postmedia not to share content across the sites in that way.

  11. Thanks, Karen, really interesting points on content sharing across larger media site(s) such as the Journal-Postmedia.

    Almost creates the need for a position just to monitor and edit (I assume one can go into the back-end and edit items) the stuff being automatically generated. Which is a strange requirement indeed, when you could just have someone curating content that does meet the newsroom’s usual standards.

    Now I’m off to comment on your blog about your Pecha Kucha talk!

  12. Whatever happened to the days when you could pull something off the wire if you wanted to. Forcing content across all properties seems ridiculous to me, and seems to suggest that the owners don’t trust their own editors to, you know, edit a newspaper/website.

  13. Thanks for the invitation to comment, Jeff. Like much of the content on, the SYTYCD story was not written or edited by our staff. Would we like to have a local TV writer again? Sure. Do we have enough staff to make copies of and line-edit every piece of non-local content available from our network before posting it online? No. And, as Karen points out, a good deal of the content on our site is automatically posted there, as it is across all Postmedia websites.
    To quote Karen’s Pecha Kucha presentation, newsrooms are never going to get bigger, right? So, we’ll do our best to deliver, or serve as a venue for, non-local news, information and entertaiment online while focusing most of our limited resources on our primary concern: local news, information and entertainment.
    And for the record, I French-kissed change. And I liked it.

  14. Thanks for the follow-up Kerry. The idea that a newsroom can’t control what’s posted to its site is pretty wild.

    Though, working at Corus radio, I know their websites’ national wire sections do something similar. I hadn’t thought about that until right now. Too bad, in Postmedia’s case, that chain-wide stuff can get filtered into sections with items the newsrooms actually want to promote, especially if it’s something below the usual journalistic standard.

  15. But isn’t it SOMEONE’s call, somewhere what gets posted? And if so, is there someone locally who calls this person and says, “Sooo…we got terrible response to that dose item. People said it’s kind of de-valueing everything else we do and making us look like garbage monsters. So maybe we shouldn’t run that sort of stuff in the future.”

    I ask because in my own industry experiences, I have seen time and time again a complete diffusion of responsibility, where people tend to just blame “head office”, and no problem can ever be solved, because everyone just dismisses it as “not my fault, I’m doing the best I can.” Which has always really scared me when it comes to journalism, because theoretically, shouldn’t journalists be fighting to protect their integrity? Even if it means risking their job?

  16. I get what you guys are saying, and agree with your points regarding accountability and taking responsibility for what ends up on YOUR website, regardless of where that content originates — for the most part. That being said, I think it would be hypocritical of me to condemn Dose for tossing in a few arguably inappropriate zingers when I myself am known for throwing out the occasional inappropriate one-liners… I am certainly no stranger to jokes about Leia Miller’s face.

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