Monday, October 18, 2004

Toronto Marathon Day

Today was the Toronto Marathon. A route that started at the North York Civic Centre and ended up at Queen's Park, downtown.

I headed down to Yonge & St.Clair and walked down the hill towards Rosedale to meet R and her sister. The weather at last is autumnally cool but overcast with showers, which is unusual.

At 10.30A.M on a Sunday morning, the Toronto subways and streets are devoid of people. At Yonge & Summerhill, the renovated railway station which is now an LCBO liquor outlet (in Ontario, alcoholic beverages are sold only through government owned LCBO outlets) stands very impressively with a fountain front court and a continental style Timothy's cafe. I think it is just about the most (or maybe even the only) architecturally attractive spot on the whole 15 mile length of Yonge Street. Further down the hill, on the left hand side, is an oasis of civilization: a delicatessen shop selling superb croissants, pastries and breads. I had an almond croissant, and complimented them profusely on their shop.

We met at Rosedale, near where the Marathon route crossed Yonge Street into Rosedale Valley road. We had a good time: it was cold, but R and her sis were having a riot cheering on the runners by their names, (which were emblazoned under their Numbers).

Afterward we repaired to a Starbucks at nearby Summerhill, and I overheard some dissipated sixty-something-year-old Canadian intellectuals lavishing praise on the Guardian Unlimited website, the quality of its journalism and all, and how it was preferable to buying real newspapers. Yet being far away from the country where the Guardian is spawned, do they have any understanding of how it is slanted?

Their attitude seemed consistent with an alarming ignorance and apathy that surrounds Canadian print journalism. Nobody here seems to ever challenge or demand much from their newspapers. There is the Globe and Mail, and the Toronto Star. The Globe and Mail is national, and thin.

The Toronto Star is sentimentalist-liberal: it skews news towards the lowest common denominators of sentimentality. For example, on Friday they headlined their newspaper with yet another article on the submarine Chicoutimi. This time about how the sub was running with the hatches open. The press have relentlessly covered the tragic death of the submariner for weeks. By contrast, the Boeing jet crash at Halifax Airport the day before, which killed all seven crew, was quietly reported on an inside page. This was a commercial cargo flight for an airline registered in Ghana and operated from Sussex, England, carrying a load of seafood to Spain. Although seven people died in Canada because of a runway error at Halifax airport, they weren't Canadian. Presumably because they induce less sentimentality than the submariner on the Chicoutimi.

I can't even think when last I saw a newspaper article in Britain commemorating a British soldier who died in Iraq. (Editorial slant comes in many angles?)

The saintly glorification that the Guardian seems to earn internationally, just because it emanates from the home country of the English Language, is worthy of my suspicious concern. And so it should be, because it's vital to keep all journalists on their toes.

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