Saturday 29 December 2012

Year end fluff with the Premier

The Winnipeg Free Press has published a year-end interview (of sorts) with the Premier Greg Selinger.

It hasn't been a stellar year for the Premier. Among the more problematic developments of the year: serious systemic problems with Manitoba's child welfare safety net have come to light as a result of the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry, Hydro's multi-billion dollar expansion plans have come under increasing scrutiny, and the government was forced to admit that it lied to Manitobans before the last election about balancing it's books by 2014-15 (although they don't take any responsibility for it, but rather blame the "fitful and uncertain" global economy).

With all these serious problems, the year-end conversation ought to be an interesting and provocative one. Unfortunately it was the exact opposite. Free Press reporter Larry Kusch doesn't even lead off with any of these issues, but rather allows the Premier to throw Winnipeg Jets pixie dust in our faces to obscure everything else.

He's beginning to beat the drum for a hockey extravaganza that would see the Winnipeg Jets suit up for a regular-season contest against the Minnesota Wild -- at the 33,422-seat Investors Group Field. 

Selinger said the prospect of an outdoor Winter Classic-style event would generate a lot of excitement for local hockey fans who have been down in the dumps because of the lockout.

"I think it would be a lot of fun," said Selinger
This fantasy of Greg's is the headliner for this interview, which proclaims in bold 40-point font in the Saturday paper that "Selinger's GOT GAME".


I don't even know where to go with this. Selinger has no control over whether this game ever happens. It has nothing to do with 2012 and certainly will not happen in 2013, if ever. It has no relevance to anything. Let me make this clear by pressing my Caps Lock key: THE ONLY PURPOSE OF THIS WINNIPEG JETS NON-SEQUITUR IS TO DIVERT ATTENTION FROM THE IMPORTANT ISSUES.

Nothing is more popular than the Winnipeg Jets, and everybody is pumped about the new stadium. Put those two things together and you've got magic! With that combination, maybe you can even turn a negative story about a province where everything is going wrong into a warm and fuzzy feel good piece!

When Larry gets around to covering the actual issues, he does not pose direct questions to challenge the Premier, but instead sets up topics and allows the Premier to deliver the message that he wants to deliver. For example -- and I didn't know this until today -- but one of the main reasons for the hundreds of millions of dollars of deficit spending is to save children. "If a child needs to be protected, that has to be done." Ergo, if we were to balance the budget children would die.

The story also includes a sidebar with frivolous little questions about Taylor Swift and stuff like that. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact this is exactly where Greg Selinger's idea about the Winnipeg Jets winter classic belongs -- in the side bar, not the head line.


WMW said...

Given Bruce and Larry's continuous and egregious display that they are afraid to challenge the NDP government and truly comprehend the issues facing the people of this province, it's no wonder they're two of the weakest reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press.

Christ, just read Bruce's 2012 "reflections" from Friday's paper -- the man has been the Leg now for how many years, and he needs a UM law prof to tell him there are tunnels beneath the building. This became, as Bruce put it, "a project to fill my extra time and still produce something for the paper" for the summer's slow news cycle. Again as Bruce puts it, it became "an almost full-time beat."

Now he's working on historic plane crashes.

"It's a rare day when anyone takes the time to make an earnest comment about something I've done."

Gee, I wonder why Bruce.

It's a damn shame they moved Bartley to "reporter at large" instead of throwing him into provincial politics (if he is even interested).

Readers only get what the Free Press pays for. And we unfortunately get a lot of bullshit. Tunnels are cool, plane crashes are cool, history is cool. But that is general assignment fodder that need not be a distraction to high paid political reporters.


Anonymous said...

Agreed on your take of Bruce Brown-nose. He is more a spokesperson for Selinger and Manitoba Hydro (more or less the same thing these days) than an actual reporter. It is unfortunate that he was not included among the FP's recent staff layoffs.

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