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Friday, October 03, 2008

"Maybe you should be a little more honest with your intentions"

Reader-submitted complaint: Your attacks on our that paper are biased and ignorant. You have no knowledge of the process and work involved in publishing six papers on a weekly basis. Your actions reflect a hidden agenda stemming from your personal disdain for the newspaper. It is widely known your sentiments are brought on by your bad working relationship with members of the paper's staff. And calling it Name of Paper Withheld is idiotic irony, because you posted a photo of the front page. You're just another disgruntled person who feels wronged by the paper. This blog is one-sided and I have to point out the negative bias.

So let me get this straight. I have a legitimate criticism of your work, and you respond with charges of bias and personal insults, without responding to the original observation?

You don't work for the Republican National Committee, do you?

Biased and ignorant:
Biased, no, except maybe in the sense that I believe journalism is an honourable profession that deserves to be carried out with awe and reverence. I suppose that's a bias.

Ignorant, no. I was pointing out YOUR errors. Maybe you mean that my original post was rude. You might see it that way, but based on the way you've presented yourself, I'm confident in saying that you're much ruder than I am.

No knowledge of publishing six papers a week:
You are correct. I have only worked for one daily paper, and it published 14 papers a week (two editions each day). I've also worked for radio stations and online news organisations, but do not have any experience publishing six papers a week. Your assessment is technically accurate.

Hidden agenda:
My agenda is far from hidden. My goal is to restore integrity to Canadian journalism, from the way stories are assigned to the care that is taken with details like facts and grammar. I have posted about this many times. No individual post fully reflects my agenda; you need to read the full body of my work to see my style.

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: Traditionally, members of the media have collectively called out the worst offenders in their midst. Media critics, ombudsmen and senior journalists are responsible for informally policing their industry. Sadly, this is not common in Canada. This may be why my columns provoke such a reaction from some working journalists: they know I'm right, but they can't believe I'm saying it.

Personal disdain for the newspaper:

Not even close. In fact, I am profoundly discouraged by your errors, because I think you can be so much better. I believe strongly in the importance of the press. That respect for journalism is at the core of every single post I have ever written on the topic.

Bad working relationship with the paper's staff:
This is news to me. Over the past few years, I've received a number of personal e-mails and phone calls from your staff. I've hung out with them and had them over for dinner. In fact, I've been accused of being TOO chummy with them. Your staff are lovely people and I'm always pleased to hear from them. You personally may not like me, and that's OK. But don't bring your staff into this.

Idiotic irony because of the photo:

Ah, I see what you mean. You only read one post and thought this was a pathetic attempt at a joke. Actually, that's the name I use for your paper. I don't use the name of our town on the blog, either. It's not irony, but I understand why you might think it was stupid if you had never been here before. In the same way, I ought to mention that the beheading reference is yet another running bit here on the blog. You personally are in no danger. It's a joke from long ago. My long-time readers understood what I meant.

Disgruntled person who feels wronged by the paper:

If you mean that I as a reader feel that I deserve more than you're providing, you are correct. I don't think you have ever "wronged" me personally, though. As I said before, your staff are amazing people. I really like dealing with them and I always go out of my way to help them. I've been in their position before, and I understand how they feel. No, I'm not disgruntled. You seem disgruntled.

One-sided and negative bias:

I think you only read one post before you accused me of this. It's good to know that you do your research. This blog is not one-sided: it includes participants who are current and former journalists, and they always make their opinions known. I write about many different journalism issues, and I'm far from one-sided. In fact, I have often written about the challenges you face every day. I've defended you when you've done a good job. The only bias here is my general hope that journalism will get better. I'll willingly admit to that.

Thanks for your complaints.


Cindy said...

Excellent response, Megan.

Oh, and to the poster who accused me basically of having never worked for NNSL: My name is Cindy MacDougall, and I worked for the company from September 1999 to March 2000. I left to become a radio reporter at CBC North. I was there seven years, and I covered health. During that time, I won a national health reporting award from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, beating both Maureen Taylor and Andre Picard for first place (2004).

I have a reputation in the North as someone who does original work, and as someone who has changed government policy with my stories (ask Jake Ootes).

I left CBC in July 2007 because my husband joined the Canadian Navy, and we moved to Victoria. I'm currently working in PR and writing a novel.

I don't think you're Mike now, because Mike knows me and my work. I apologize for the confusion; I consider Mike a friend and intended to be friendly by using his name. But I do think you're an editor at the paper, and if you are so offended by me getting your identity wrong, I invite you to do me the same courtesy I've just done you, and introduce yourself.

Curtis Groom said...

Wonderful response Megan,
It's a little like swatting flies with a Buick though. When even I can detect the errors in the publication then there are some serious errors. I still think the best one was the cover page with the couple from the ferry and the STD headline, that was a classic.
Take Care

Anonymous said...

You're right. Since I can't actually tell you what is wrong with the paper without losing my job, I will concede defeat. I can't afford the time and energy I have devoted to this anyway.
Seing this site for the first time on a day when I was already pissed off was unfortunate.

Megan said...

I'm sorry that my editing caused you so much stress. Give me a call and I'll buy you a coffee. You know my number.

It's unfortunate that you feel you can't be open about the things you'd like to improve in your paper. That makes me sad. I'm just a reader who cares about your product and wants you to be better. I write about journalism because I know you can improve.

A concerned journalist said...

There is no room for mistakes in a paper, but every paper makes them and sometimes they are big. I've read mistakes all over the CBC website, Globe and Mail, Edmonton Sun, The Province, NY Times, BBC News...we all make mistakes in the business. It happens.

It's people like you that think they are doing a service to the business, but all you are really doing in making mountains out of molehills and focusing on a spelling mistake and not actually engaging in relevant conversation about what news was in the paper.

"I'm just a reader who cares about your product and wants you to be better. I write about journalism because I know you can improve."

By ripping the paper apart and making a mockery of it, how is that supposed to help improve the paper?

I understand the importance of recognizing mistakes in a newspaper. It shouldn't happen, but we don't live in the perfect world and they are going to happen. You don't think when mistakes are in the paper that reporters and editors aren't upset about it?

I don't think you give credit to the paper for the work it does. There are some excellent writers and reporters working for the Yellowknifer that one day will be on the national and international level. If you knew these people, you'd see it in their eyes, hear it in their voice and see it when they go to work early and they leave the office late.

I'm challenging you to write a blog entry about what you like about the paper. I'd like to know if you can even find the good things the paper has done and the good things the paper does on a regular basis.

Megan said...

You are doing the same thing you accuse me of. You say I focus on small details without regard for the larger picture. And yet here you are, focusing on a single post that hurt your feelings.

I almost never rip your paper apart. I've barely written about local media in the last year or so. My editors and producers used to rip my work apart, though. That's the only way to improve as a journalist. A true concerned journalist would see this.

But I'll take you up on your challenge. Look for a post about what I like about Name of Paper Withheld this weekend. It will be very similar to things I've written in the past, so if you don't like waiting, you could just continue to browse the archives.

Anonymous said...


The concerned journalist is right. You should write something positive. If you're looking for ideas, I can tell you with a great degree of certainty that the horoscopes are pretty accurate.

The Lady Across the Street

Megan said...

I'm on it. I promise.

Torq said...

Unfortunately, I am pretty sure that this is a problem for every area of life in which there are differing opinions expressed. It is much easier to focus on the one thing which is wrong with another person's post, or point of view, without acknowledging those things which are correct, and then gleefully presume that the post has been "debunked" or proven incorrect.

I happen to lack Megan's tolerance for the media, to tip my own bias to the room. Having someone make a bit of a mockery of your work is discouraging and certainly can be irritating (most especially when the person doing the mockery is right) but it seems to me that the best path forward (for both writer and the people reading) would be to accept that there are errors and try to do better. Getting mad that someone has noticed is certainly not the way to go.

At the very least you are attacking someone who is a regular reader!

The Capitalist said...

Torq, you sound like you have some experience in this topic?!

Torq said...

Who me? Attacked for offering my opinion on something? NEVER!!!

Oh... Wait... there was that one time in Mexico.