For two months now, the Gauntlet has skirted around the city’s biggest story. Check that, the biggest story which no one is reporting on.
The Calgary Herald strike, an event which has decreased in prominence in the hearts and minds of Calgarians, continues to be quietly waged on cowtown streets.
The Gauntlet has skirted the issue for several reasons, the least of which being it’s in fairly bad taste to report on another publication. We’ve found, after years of trial and error, that the only people who care about newspaper politics are those in the trade. But this philosophy leads to a belief that only industry people should care about such things, and that’s wrong.
There comes a time when a newspaper is the news of the day. We’ve tried to focus coverage on campus according to our mandate from readers. Still there is nothing more that a newspaper man (or woman) should want than to get this story–assuming they ever want to get an industry job. So, we’re stuck in that strange place between having these newspaper ideals–get the story first, get the information out to the people and make sure it’s accurate–and being able to do something about them.
And so the silence continues. The Sun hasn’t run serious strike coverage since November. Bits and pieces appear in the Globe and Mail, but the length has wore upon their interest. Our interest, however, goes beyond the professional.
There are former Gauntleteers on both sides of the line. A former Sports editor crossed the line to write high school football, only to reconsider his decision and not return the next day. Several other alumni work inside. Many others, on both sides, volunteer their time and expertise to our yearly conference.
Some of us in the office have cancelled home delivery of the Herald. These are the people who anxiously crowd around the office copy. Some of this interest stems from a curiosity as to how the Herald is standing up. The consensus is, not very well, but more than that, it stems from a basic curiosity of what is happening in town. We, like many others, are news junkies.
The city section has shrunk and the ads have grown in size (as have the amount that are sponsored by the Herald itself).
It’s hard to gauge exactly how bad the coverage has become because there is no real benchmark–the other daily is just a good as ever. The monopoly of integrity which the Herald once wielded in this town is conspicuous in its absence, especially in regards to the strike.
As a news outlet, however, we have the benefit of receiving the unions press releases. A great thing about writing for a newspaper is that eventually you know how to spot press releases. You also gain a healthy disdain for them. And speaking of press releases, the Herald is the only paper in town that’s giving the strike coverage.
Peter Desbarats, author and former Dean of Journalism at the University of Western Ontario calls the Herald’s reporting "violently partisan." Mind you, in the same Globe and Mail article, he withholds his support from strikers because their idealism is not quite pure enough for him.
We’ve been to the picket line. We’ve talked to management. We feel it’s important that this city regains one of its most important institutions.