local news

Despite spending so much time online, and despite our disdain of most of the mainstream media, Allan and I both like getting a physical newspaper every day. In New York, Allan liked going to the newsstand every morning to pick up the Times and peruse the tabloid headlines, and sometimes pick up other dailies or weeklies. "Going to get the papers" is a fine old urban ritual.

I knew in Mississauga we'd need home delivery. But of what? Long before I ever thought of moving to Canada, I used to like to read the Globe and Mail online for Canadian news. Once deciding to move, I started to look at the Star online for Toronto-area happenings.

Shortly after we got here, I happened upon an offer for home delivery of the Globe and Mail. It included a free map book, perfect for the glove box of our brand-new car, and I felt sorry for the sad-looking older man who was selling them. So we started getting home delivery of the Globe and Mail.

It's a very well-written paper, with solid features, and a thoughtful, if conservative, editorial board. The conservative slant of the paper doesn't bother me, because I think the reporting is as unbiased as it can be. Nothing is completely neutral, but for the most part I think opinions are saved for columns and editorials. I approached the G&M in much the same way one can read the Wall Street Journal or The Economist for hard news and mostly ignore or easily filter out the bias.

After a while, probably more than a year, I realized I missed reading - or at least scanning and skimming - local news. I wanted to know what was going on in the GTA, and "what's on" in Toronto. Even though I never do any of the things that are on, I like to know what's happening. Allan felt the G&M was just too conservative for us and was glad to switch.

So I cancelled the Globe and Mail and ordered home delivery of the Toronto Star.

After getting the Star for almost a year, I'm truly sick of it. I get lots of local news, but it seems too local: paraochial. I'm tired of their gushing boosterism of everything Toronto - every arts festival, every theatre production, all the sports teams, are all the greatest. I'm tired of seeing personal stories on the front page as if I live in East Podunk.

The features are bland and superficial, the departments - restaurant reviews, book reviews, travel - are a joke.

And I'm really tired of the blatant bias in their news reporting. I don't care that it's a moderately liberal bias, it doesn't belong in news stories. Word choice in both stories and headlines, the lame device of putting columnists on the front page adjacent to a news story, the unattributed opinions mixed in with news - all this strikes me as so small-town and unprofessional. Toronto deserves better.

The Star is not without its merits. I like many of the columnists, especially Jim Coyle, Antonia Zerbisias, Christopher Hume and Chantal Hebert, and I often like to read Haroon Siddiqui, Ian Urquhart and some others. But if I really want to, I can read them online. But I doubt I'll actually miss them if I don't.

What I really need is some combination of the two papers, with the quality of writing and reporting of the Globe and Mail and the GTA news of the Star. Short of that, the solution seems to be home delivery of the G&M and a quick glance through the GTA section of the Star online.

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