Year in Review - Part 1

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A look at media highs and lows during 2007

Welcome to my first annual media Year in Review, a far-from-comprehensive summary of the good, bad and downright foolish in the local media scene. It should be emphasized that this list is based strictly on personal opinion, and visitors are welcome to chime in with their own views in the comments section. There is more to come, so stay tuned for part 2 in the very near future. Happy new year!

Story of the Year:

Spending Scandal

Danny's election victory was enormous, but the story wasn't exactly a surprise. Either way, it was overshadowed by the spending scandal and all of its fallout, which continues to unfold with the excellent series of revelations in The Telegram about Tom Rideout's spending habits. For some excellent insight on this subject, read this editorial from The Telegram. The spending scandal promises to generate even more headlines in 2008, as criminal trials begin for Bill Murray and the MHA's implicated in this scandal.

Silliest Photo Opportunity:

Tom Rideout

In a politically-motivated moment of bad judgment, Tom Rideout jumped onto the back of a pick-up truck and attacked FPI, for the enjoyment of a crowd of union sympathizers. He pulled on an FFAW toque, creating an embarrassment that will live forever, especially on the Internet.

Worst Editorial Decisions:

Ryan Cleary

This one is a no-brainer, in more ways than none. For participating in a political rally and failing to disclose his publisher's stake in a lead story, whilst slagging other journalists and news outlets at every opportunity, Ryan Cleary of The Independent gets the nod for poorest editorial decisions.

Most Cynical Comment:

Ryan Cleary

In the issue of The Independent that contained the above-referenced story about Astraeus Airlines, Ryan Cleary also took a swipe at bloggers Ed Hollett, Simon Lono and yours truly. (He suggested we were secretly pushing a hidden agenda for clients, which is a nasty and in my case anyway baseless allegation.)

Cleary knew he would be criticized by these bloggers for the Astraeus story, which raises the question: was this a tactical pre-emptive strike? By swinging first, was he creating a diversion in which any subsequent criticism could be dismissed as tit for tat'?

I suspected as much but I called him on the Astraeus story anyway. So did Simon Lono. A week later, his response in Scrunchins' pretty much confirmed my suspicions. He prefaced by repeating the allegation that bloggers like myself were in conflict, then connected our criticism on the Astraeus story to his first smack at us. Here's a chunk of what he wrote:

"In response, at least two bloggers Lono and Meeker took The Independent to task (well, me specifically) for writing a front page story about Astraeus"

For the record, my comments on Astraeus were not "in response" to Cleary's slur. They related exclusively to his numbskull decision to take a freebie flight to England while not disclosing The Independent's stake in the story, and had nothing to do with petty comments made against me.

I did reply to Cleary's nastiness here. However, he still owes his readers an explanation for the gutless sell-out on the Astraeus article, which played on top of page one and turned to a two-page inside spread. His response has been to attack the messenger, not deal with the substance of the complaint, which is behavior we expect from politicians not journalists.

Most Mysterious Publisher:

Brian Dobbin

Ryan Cleary of The Independent makes frequent digs at The Telegram because it is owned by a "Quebec-based" company, as if local ownership is sacrosanct and mainland proprietorship is evil. As we have seen, that is not true at all. In fact, the publisher most enshrouded in mystery is Brian Dobbin, majority owner of The Independent. Dobbin's recent departure from the management group of Newfound NV is of little consequence here; what intrigues me more is the warning on the Newfound web site (click About Us, then Investor Relations) that it is illegal for browsers from Canada (or the USA, Australia, Japan, Ireland and more) to view investor information! What the heck is that about? For your reading enjoyment, I did photograph the warning so that you can see it for yourself (click to enlarge). Talk about mysterious

Quietest Media Honcho:

Geoff Stirling

We've not heard anything from media magnate Geoff Stirling in quite some time. In the old days, there were subtle ways to know when the owner of NTV, OZ FM and The Newfoundland Herald was in town (you could tell by the unusual programming that occasionally popped up on NTV). I've heard a rumour that Geoff's health is ailing, but that may be an assumption based simply on the fact that he has been so reclusive. I hope you are well, Geoff.

UPDATE: I received a note from a reader, informing me that Geoff Stirling attended the company Christmas party this year at the Delta and looked "as vibrant as ever for an 86 year old". That is fabulous news, and I am glad to receive the clarification. Keep on truckin', Geoff!

Best Johnny on the Spot Moment:

Peter Gullage

CBC national news reporter Peter Gullage was on location in the Bay of Islands, covering an elaborate emergency response exercise, when circumstances changed: a group of passengers on a lifeboat were apparently overcome by fumes and suddenly the response was for real. Peter was there and ready to file exclusive, live reports from the scene, with dramatic helicopter medevac footage.

Biggest Non-event:

Trust and Confidence Rally

According to VOCM's online Question of the Day poll, more than 20,000 people supported the Trust and Confidence Rally, to protest Stephen Harper's position on equalization. However, only about 1,500 people showed up. Hilarious! I parsed the situation in some detail in this post.

Most Raucous Call-In Show:

Crosstalk on Abortion

The rowdiest, most shocking and yet, most interesting, talk radio show of the last year was the Crosstalk on Abortion segment. My car radio practically exploded with the vitriol and venom from those who disagreed with the premise of the show, and it was made that much more interesting by the fact that no callers were anonymous. There is more background here. To hear the actual Crosstalk program for yourself, click here.

Most Unreliable Poll:

VOCM Question of the Day

This poll is routinely overwhelmed by political operatives, determined to distort results in their favour and thus manipulate public opinion. Click here for more information.

Best Theme Song:

Three way tie

I define a great theme song as one that makes me stop and listen as it plays right through, and this year there are three such numbers all on CBC that grab me. I like the jazzy-rock On the Go' theme, the funky intro to Zach Goudie's On The Scene segment on the Friday Morning Show, and the theme to Crosstalk' on Radio Noon, which defies categorization or easy description (is that a duck I hear in there?).

Coming soon: Part 2

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Recent comments

  • John
    July 27, 2010 - 14:53

    Hi Geoff -

    Re: The Tom Rideout bit.

    To be fair to Mr. Rideout, this did not happen in 2007. He made the speech at the FPI lot in March 2006.

    The pic you've used is from an image grab I took at the time for CBC.ca/nl; the original has the date embedded in its title. The one you have seems to have been resized and retitled.

    Cheers,

    John Gushue