Articles Tagged ‘media’

POLITICS CHATTER: The blame game. Pondering news in an era when North American newspapers are scared of their own shadows

Ottawa Magazine contributing editor Mark Bourrie accuses North  North American newspapers of being scared of their own shadows. 

Imagine you worked with a guy – let’s call him Johnny – who took the blame for every mistake made by everyone in your business or office.

The business isn’t making any money? Don’t blame the CEO. Blame Johnny.

The staff’s become moribund and lazy? Blame Johnny. No one’s come up with a new marketing idea in three decades? Johnny will take the blame.

So your business jacks up its prices and makes a lousier product every year? No one gets fired. Just point your thumb over your shoulder at Johnny.

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Q&A with writer Linda Kay on being a female journalist and a local reporter’s impact on history

By Emma Paling

Writer and journalist Linda Kay was the first female sports reporter at the Chicago Tribune.

Linda Kay is the author of The Sweet Sixteen: The Journey that Inspired the Canadian Women’s Press Club. Her book recounts how a single train ride in 1904 ended with the creation of a club that would go on to count Nellie McClung and Lucy Maud Montgomery among its members. A young Ottawa reporter, Margaret Graham, asked a CP publicist for the same press pass her male colleagues were given to attend the St. Louis World Fair. He said if she could find 12 accredited female writers, he’d escort them to St. Louis himself. Well, she found 15. He named them the “Sweet Sixteen,” despite the fact that these were tough, tenacious women, working as journalists at a time when they weren’t even legally recognized as people.

Kay herself was the first female sports reporter at the Chicago Tribune, and is now chair of Concordia University’s journalism department. The Sweet Sixteen book launch will be held this Saturday at the Media Club of Ottawa, an offshoot of the Canadian Women’s Press Club.

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EVENT AFTERMATH: An amusingly snarky look at the National Gallery of Canada’s great art debate — and lots of party pix!

By Paul Gessell

These are the people Stephen Harper warned us about a few elections ago. They are the Gala Goers, the well-heeled crowd partying in grand public buildings and talking about art while all around them the economy sputters, public servants lose their jobs, and yachts will increasingly find locks shuttered on the Rideau Canal.

The event was the third annual debate at the National Gallery of Canada sponsored by Walrus Magazine and held May 2. This year’s topic was billed as Art in Daily Life: Essential or Irrelevant? Who decides? Who pays? Who cares?

Left to right: Sarah Milroy, curator and critic, declares art non-essential to our daily life; Marc Mayer, National Gallery director, says we can live without art while Kate Taylor, Globe and Mail arts writer, looks sceptical; Stephen Borys, director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, defends the relevance of art in our daily lives.

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THE END: Looking back on Kathleen Petty’s five years as Ottawa Morning host





Though initially skeptical when she arrived in 2006, Ottawa Morning listeners soon embraced Kathleen Petty as one of their own. Photography by Suzanne Bird


A look back at five years of Kathleen Petty as she vacates her post as host of CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning

September 4, 2006 to August 12, 2011


FEARLESS, STRAIGHT SHOOTER. COWBOY. The words colleagues use to describe Kathleen Petty allude to a fighting spirit. The departing host of Ottawa Morning and The House on CBC Radio has a reputation for cutting through the spin and getting to the crux of an interview. But as Petty sits down for this exit interview and reflects on her past five years in the capital, it’s the word outsider that frequently spills out of her mouth. Outsider — because that’s what she was initially labelled.

In 2006, Petty landed one of the most coveted broadcasting jobs at the CBC — hosting two shows with the power to set the agenda both locally and nationally. Many felt her credentials were lacking. She was from Calgary, yet she was hosting Ottawa Morning. She had no parliamentary reporting experience, yet she would interview federal politicians every week on The House. She was a television broadcaster who got hired for a plum radio gig.

“It’s easier to fail when you’re young than when you’re old,” says Petty. She took a big risk moving to Ottawa. “I had no friends, no family, and I took two jobs that a lot of people from here wanted.”

In those early days, Petty received a barrage of protest mail from listeners. they complained about her booming laugh, lashed out at her mispronunciation of local streets, railed against her references to Calgary. That was then. Petty is leaving her post at the end of August at the top of her game. More locals wake up to Ottawa Morning than to any other radio show.

CBC producer Karla Hilton attributes Petty’s success to her commitment to the audience: she wants to learn something from every interview. “Kathleen asks the questions they want asked but may not ask. And she does it without apologizing. It’s never ‘I hate to ask you this, but . . .”

The fact that Petty doesn’t pull punches has made for some gripping radio, but it’s not just the hard-hitting interviews that will be remembered. Those of us who wake up before dawn have been privy to some details of Petty’s personal life. During the opening chats with news reader Stu Mills, we have learned that she’s a sucker for infomercials. She loves the Magic Bullet, but a gym machine endorsed by Chuck Norris sits in her basement collecting dust. We were the first to hear about it when her beloved dog Greta got sprayed by a skunk right before Petty dropped her off at a friends’ house. Unable to change before work, that was the one day she literally “stunk” in the studio. And on her penultimate morning on the job, Petty confided to us that she had very recently received some worrying health news.

And so her plans have temporarily been put on hold. Kathleen Petty will remain in Ottawa to undergo medical treatment before resuming her plan — to return to Calgary to host Calgary Eyeopener. The new radio gig will be her homecoming, allowing her to spend more time with her 83-year-old father.

On announcing her departure from Ottawa Morning, Petty said that Ottawa had made her a better broadcaster. We, in turn, thank her for making the airwaves better — and wish her all the best.

SOCIETY: Randall Denley takes on the opposition — and his own boss

By Paul Gessell









Illustration by Alan King

Ottawa Citizen columnist Randall Denley has, for almost two decades, relentlessly hounded Bob Chiarelli during the latter’s various jobs (MPP, regional chair of Ottawa-Carleton, mayor, lobbyist), with more than 300 columns mentioning the Liberal politician since 1994. Most were critical, but in one, on July 16, 2001, Denley actually praised Chiarelli for being a “surprisingly artful politician.”

Chiarelli has, at least four times, responded to Denley’s attacks in letters to the editor or op-ed columns in the Citizen. On March 2, 2005, Chiarelli discreetly noted that a Denley column on the light rail plan was “one of the dumbest articles Randall Denley has ever written.’’



This fall’s provincial election sees the boxer and the punching bag face off again in the campaign for Ottawa West-Nepean. It will be a fight to the finish. If neophyte Conservative candidate Denley loses, he is to return to the Citizen and will undoubtedly find a new politician to pillory. If Denley wins, he surely would not use his Queen’s Park post to ridicule an unemployed senior citizen: Liberal Chiarelli turns 70 just before the election.

But Denley didn’t save his barbs only for Chiarelli. Before deciding to run, he also wrote a few dozen columns about his current boss, Conservative leader Tim Hudak. Though a few were complimentary, most were — well let’s just say we hope the new boss doesn’t take his candidate’s words too personally.

Here, a roundup of memorable Denley quotes on Bob Chiarelli:

Contemplating democracy: “You can forgive Mayor Bob Chiarelli for thinking that the voters are stupid.After all, they have elected him three times.” — Sept. 8, 2005

On a ho-hum mayoralty speech: “Over the past eight years, Mayor Bob Chiarelli has certainly conditioned us not toexpect lively oratory, but this week’s state of the city address was a wooly rambler even by his standards.” — Jan. 14, 2006

On Chiarelli’s comment that mayoralty rival Alex Munter is gay: “If the mayor thinks his heterosexuality is one of his strong selling points, he’s in even worse trouble than the polls indicate.” — July 8, 2006

Assessing Chiarelli’s mayoralty campaign: “Pinocchio on speed is the image that comes to mind.” — Oct. 28, 2006

Pondering Chiarelli’s return to Queen’s Park: “As a politician, Chiarelli’s future is clearly behind him.” — Jan. 19, 2010

On Chiarelli’s elevation to cabinet: “Bob Chiarelli’s appointment to provincial cabinet this week will be good for Bob Chiarelli, but it’s less clear why it will be good for the rest of us.”— Aug. 21, 2010

And here, a few barbs Denley directed at Tim Hudak before (natch!) he decided to run for office under the Tory banner. Denley is now being described as one of Hudak’s “star candidates.” Evidently, all is forgiven:


Urging John Tory to remain as Ontario Conservative leader: “Who else have the PCs got? Tim Hudak? Frank Klees? Give me a break.”— Feb. 26, 2008






Assessing Hudak’s debut: “New Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak managed to grab some media attention in his first couple of days on the job, which is pretty important considering that most people have probably never heard of him. Too bad what he had to say was the predictable, kneejerk stuff one has come to expect from opposition leaders.”— June 30, 2009

On the HST: “Premier Dalton McGuinty’s plan to stick consumers with an ill-timed sales tax increase is deeply flawed, but Opposition leader Tim Hudak’s tactics in opposing the plan have been juvenile and ineffective. Hudak plays politics like the Ottawa Senators’ Chris Neil plays hockey. There’s lots of banging and crashing, but not much to show on the scoreboard.”— Dec. 7, 2009


POLITICS CHATTER: When you’re short of enemies, there’s always the press to kick around

POLITICS CHATTER: Contributing editor Mark Bourrie reports that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has decided to declare war on the press. Will the party faithful buy in?

When you’re short of enemies, there’s always the press to kick around.

On August 13, 1941, Canada’s chief press censor sat down at his desk and typed a memo to the head of military intelligence.

The two men had just come from a rancorous meeting. The military wanted a tougher censorship system. The censors, backed by the federal government of William Lyon Mackenzie King, were opposed.

This was a time of total war.

France had fallen. The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Yugoslavia, Albania, and Greece were under the Nazi jackboot. Most of the rest of mainland Europe was in the hands of Nazi puppet rulers. The Panzers were fighting on the plains of the Ukraine, encircling entire Soviet armies.

The United States was still sitting out the war, smug in its isolation.

Any betting person would have put their money on the Nazis.

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