[Headline from today’s Huffington Post]
I am not as happy to report this story as I could be. For those who have been regularly reading my coverage of the dying days of the Toronto Star and attempts to create sensational stories surrounding the City of Brampton and more particularly, the Mayor ( Mayor Fennell), today’s news of a massive layoff of Star reporting and advertising staff is really not much of a surprise.
It is ironic that the Star management decision to make massive staff cuts came on Labor Day. That saddens me because I recognize that among those hurt by this choice were some good writers. Yesterday, the Star’s publisher John Cruickshank sent an email to staff informing them that immediately at least 44 of the paper’s reporters would be terminated. Star editor-in-chief, Michael Cooke, the paper’s slide in advertising revenue “is currently more dramatic and increasing at a speed none of us foresaw.” Further cuts to staff in “other specific classifications in the newsroom,” as well as in the advertising department will also follow.
I first began reading the Star as a youngster many years ago and recall regularly reading the paper while I was still in elementary school. I still have fond memories of the Star Weekly that came into our home each weekend.
Watching the antics of the present day “Star” were a discredit to the reputation and legacy of a once fine source of news and information. The attempts to promote newspaper sales by way of sensationalism and biased reporting have apparently failed badly leaving the Star with no choice but to cut jobs.
Here in Brampton, more than any other municipality the Star’s reporting work has slid into the world of biased journalism. It has failed. And, today as we turn the corner of an important municipal election campaign, the demise of the Star and whatever vendetta existed are a breath of fresh air.
I will not dwell on the fact that one particular writer has launched a single handed campaign to discredit Mayor Fennell. Hardly a day passed without another sensational story appearing under his by-line. They are hopefully coming to a blessed end.
They often say that the hardest allegation to rebut is one that has some element of truth. This particular writer has systematically pulverized the City of Brampton with a nauseating string of Access to Information Requests and then “cherry-picked” the results to craft stories solely intended to discredit the Mayor. His personal motivation now appears to be much clearer. Perhaps it was a last ditch effort to save his own job and avert the layoffs announced last night. Those repeated demands for information had to have had a serious financial effect on productivity at City Hall. As such, we as municipal rate payers were picking up the tab.
They say that it is difficult to totally rebut any allegation that has an element of accuracy to it. The recent forensic audit reported a number of transgressions in its 96 pages. For that reporter to have sensationalized the forensic report by claiming that the Mayor had breached trust to such an extent as would warrant police investigation was just that: sensationalism.
It turns out that the 167 alleged violations were (in reality) reiterations of the same issue on a number of times. None of the Audit conclusions would lead anyone to believe that Mayor Fennell had benefitted financially by way of using bulk purchased airline tickets. From my own experience in the private sector, I would NEVER have considered the purchase of bulk airline tickets as a wise choice. In any event, there was no evidence of Fennell putting money into her pocket as alluded to by the Star’s writer.
Apparently, the efforts to sensationalize have failed to save the Star. I am saddened to watch the Star pass through these times BUT have less than no sympathy. I will continue to force public attention on issues contained in the Forensic Audit involving situations where other members of Brampton City Council have misused public funds for their own financial gain.
We start the final stages of an election campaign with (FINALLY) a level playing field as apparently the Star will no longer be in a position to choose who should win or lose the upcoming October 27th election. At the same time, my aim has always been to work towards the creation of a fully independent Brampton newspaper. In the short term let’s hope that the other major media outlets (Sun; Globe and Post) step up and provide unbiased reporting of events in Brampton. That would be a refreshing change.
You can follow me on TWITTER @LloydFournier1 to stay up to date.