Mediocre Media: My Entry

Among other things, the non-partisan blogger Centrerion runs an interesting carnival called the Mediocre Media, which highlights the flaws and apparent hypocrises of the reporting of the mainstream media.

Now, I’m not an individual who believes that the media, as a group, are biased. But there’s certainly a few examples where the media decided that grabbing the viewer’s interest was more important than informing the viewer.

For instance, earlier today CablePulse 24 had a segment which talked about Toronto officials going down to New York to study how that city had slashed its crime rate. Now, it is true that New York has seen an almost miraculous reduction in its crime since the early 1990s, and good for it. There is certainly things for Toronto to learn, here. But the tone of the article was very much about big bad Toronto, rife with crime, turning desperately to the newly safe and secure New York for guidance.

Except that Toronto’s crime rate is still half that of New York City.

Was this mentioned in the article? Nope.

Then I come upon this story in Saturday’s National Post. Here’s an excerpt:

Workers skilled but jobs scarce: 9.4% unemployment rate
National Post April 15, 2006 Saturday FINANCIAL POST; Pg. FP7
By Vera Ovanin, Financial Post

Four years ago, the Burger King on Tecumseh Road West in Windsor, Ont., might have received one or two applications every few months from college students looking to help pay their way through school. Today, of the 80 or so total job applications the outlet gets in a month, 10 are from young people with post-secondary education.

“[Ten] may not seem like a lot, but it is,” said a restaurant manager who has been working at the Burger King for 14 years, but who did not want her name used. “These are educated people, looking to flip burgers.”

While Calgary and Vancouver employers are scrambling to attract workers, Ontario cities, such as Windsor, face the opposite problem: long lists of unemployed workers and a shortage of available jobs.

Windsor’s unemployment rate hit 9.4% last month, its highest point in the past 12 months, compared with the national rate of 6.4%, Calgary’s 3.4% and Victoria’s 3.8%.

You can read the full article here

Now, Windsor has its problems, largely due to the fact that it’s almost a single-industry economy, a high recipient of immigrants, sitting on a border that’s become tighter, next to an American city that’s also economically struggling. The solultions offered for Windsor in this article are sound (diversify your economy).

The problem is, the reporter specifically cites Windsor as a typical case within Ontario, but does she mention any other Ontario city? Actually, she mentions one: Cambridge, which her source admits is doing great:

“We are certainly worse off than Ontario towns dependent on Japanese automotive assembly lines, such as Cambridge. Toyota and Honda actually increased their output,” said Mr. Hall.

Nowhere does she mention the many other Ontario cities that are doing well. Ottawa’s unemployment rate? 6.3%. Mississauga’s unemployment rate? 5.2% Waterloo Region’s unemployment rate? 5.3%, all below the national average. Waterloo itself has hundreds of high tech positions open, begging for workers.

What confuses me the most about this story on Windsor is why the reporter felt the need to erroniously expand its case to cover the rest of Ontario, and then make sloppy comparisons with the hottest market in the nation (Calgary) and a provincial capital (Victoria), both cities being significantly larger than Windsor, incidentally.

It’s almost as if the reporter was directed to find some way to make Ontario look bad compared to the happening jurisdictions of Alberta and British Columbia. But again, I’m not one to believe in conspiracies. It wouldn’t be the first time that somebody tried comparing apples to oranges, even if it is the first time I’ve seen somebody try to first create that apple out of a pear.

Windsor’s problems are real and deserve to be reported on. It’s a shame that this piece brings in this sloppy piece of newsmaking in order to make the story into something that it’s not. And it is for this reason that I enter this as my most recent example of mediocre media.

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