Cornish Engineering

Cornish Engineering (2007)


November 8, 2006 at 10 PM

As Pretentious an Article as One Can Write…

Jonathan Kay perfectly nails why Canadians who don’t live in Toronto learn to loathe it. Kay refers to this article and the special section it appeared in which was published in The Globe and Mail last weekend.

Despite living in Montreal, I used to subscribe to the firmly Toronto-centric Globe because most of the paper was so much better written than the local rag. Good coverage of foreign affairs, and a pleasant lack of myopia on broader issues. Nevertheless, reading the Globe’s Style section every weekend was — and apparently continues to be — the driving-by-a-car-wreck equivalent of newspaper consumption. It’s so tragic, but you can’t help but read it anyway.

I’ve had similar feelings reading the Saturday Guardian here in England. It’s a very well-written paper, but it’s a staunchly London paper, and I don’t live in London. And I could understand if many English people who also don’t live in London thought those capital-city dwellers were snot-nosed, spoiled elitists. Sometimes journalists who work at prestigious newspapers simply don’t realize how much of their own upper-middle class lifestyle they take for granted, and how little of the population shares that lifestyle.

In general, it seems like the relationship between London and England is similar to Toronto and Canada, only way more so. That is, everything really does happen in London, at least as far as the media are concerned, and the rest of England is treated like some muddy backwater from another time and place. London is the political capital, the media capital, the cultural capital, the cool capital. At least Canada has Montreal and Vancouver as some form of counter-weights, and, mercifully, Toronto isn’t the capital city.

Perhaps a better analogy is that Toronto is to Ontario as London is to England. Living in Nottingham, I’m starting to understand how people in Windsor, Sudbury or North Bay feel.

Previously: A Sweep!
Subsequently: Gravity Waves


Maybe part of the problem is that we don't bothers to read and support our local papers anymore. I'm sure Nottingham and/or London, Ontario would have well-rounded and broadminded local papers if we locals were actually subscribers and if we actually demanded quality journalism. We might even be blameworthy by failing to contribute to the "letters" section from time-to-time. We used to support several quality papers in our regional towns and cities - what happened? We've given up on deminding quality from local papers ... and instead we buy-in to the centralised snobbery of our "capital" sheets. We don't bother to spend the time write our local editors with well-reasoned letters and insightful comments. Rather, if we do write, we sound like blathering fools arguing about traffic lights and stop signs. TV probably is partially to blame. With even larger populations than over a few decades ago, we still have fewer and fewer papers. Nobody is reading anymore - we're too busy watching "Extra" so as to get our latest news fix. Considering all of this, we should proably resist the temptation to blame the Murdochs and the Barclays for the state of our papers - the fact is that we just don't read anymore. And when we do read, we read stuff that isn't in printed form. Or if we do read in print, we read from the only centres that can support the quality of journalism that we'd like to see. The solution? Let's start writing thoughtful letters to our local editors. Let's encourage our thoughtful friends to do the same. Grassroots action can re-energise our local papers, if we put in the effort. Besides, being part of the solution will feel a lot better than whinging about "capital" city. And besides, at least the snobs of capital city are supporting quality publications in their towns...

— Chris, November 23, 2006

I get the Saturday Globe... there are some columnists I really like (Doug Saunders) and others... less (Margaret Wente). Overall, the paper is well balanced. It's audience is definitely rich Torontonians. There's the style section with Russel Smith, Leah McLaren and others which portray a shallow elite (but can't help reading it anyways.) One of the sections which gets me most worked up is the "Financial Facelift" column in the Business section which gives financial advice to real people making a combined 300K+ a year. Yeah, I can totally relate to that! But still, The Globe is my favorite Canadian paper... just not for fashion or financial advice.

Francis, December 13, 2006

It's not just the Guardian - The Times, Torygraph, Independent etc are ALL London-centric. All except the Daily Mail - which has a target audience of Middle England bigots, but at least occasionally looks outside of Surrey, or Kent. The problem is, you have to make a choice over what kind of paper you want to read. If you want international news, broadminded columnists, reviews etc, a local paper hasn't got the space (or the remit) to deliver that - if it's news about your local area you want, depending on where you live and how exciting it is, you may or may not be able to buy a paper that is a good read. If you're in a quiet area, the paper invariably ends up getting bogged down in locals complaining about potholes in their driveway or teenagers boozing on the corner of their street to fill pages - and that's when, as Chris said, a local paper becomes worthless. But is it possible to find interesting local news everywhere? A huge proportion of the stuff you want to read happens in London - we can't get away from that. Russian spies aren't poisoned in Milton Keynes or Kirkcaldy... In column inches, 50,000 killed in Timbuctoo equals 500 dead in the USA, equals 5 murdered in London, equals the man next door to you breaking his leg. Is that true?

— Jane, December 19, 2006

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