In conversation among journalists—okay, bar talk—I’ve often heard “What does it mean to Metro?” cited as a news-defining mantra of the Toronto Star. The purpose was usually to lampoon the parochialism that tended, back in the day, to produce coverage along the lines of “Etobicoke couple survives as quake toll tops 4,000.” Brian Gorman says he meant it as a compliment. In this instance I misinterpreted him, and I welcome the correction.
Unfortunately, the passage in question invites misinterpretation, especially given the preceding sentence: “In Canada, the voices of dissent are so quiet that they are practically inaudible.” Following this, it was surely legitimate to read as limiting, or even dismissive, Gorman’s characterization of the Star as “regionalized.” If his goal was to praise the paper—well, fine, but he can’t have it both ways. The Star is Canada’s largest-circulation newspaper. It employs more journalists than any other. It has a robust Ottawa bureau and a young, aggressive Washington correspondent. It is an industrial news-breaking machine whose content is widely available online. To laud it as progressive while at the same time pining for the failure of Big Media is monumentally inconsistent.
Readers approaching the end of Gorman’s book will find a series of potshots directed at journalism schools. They may judge the fairness of my selective quotation in the light of these. To Marc Edge, my thanks for pointing out that Greatly Exaggerated includes data and analysis on Canadian as well as American newspapers, and apologies for suggesting otherwise.