By Frank Moher
Maclean’s keeps digging itself in deeper (and the you-know-what higher) on its Regina file. (See previous post or do a Google search.) On Tuesday, it published a full page ad in the Regina Leader-Post, reprinting a letter to the editor that had run in that paper on January 20th. It begins: “My name is Sabrina Cote. I have lived in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood most of my life. After reading the recent Maclean’s magazine article (“Canada’s worst neighbourhood,” National, Jan. 15), I was very emotional. Everything said in that article was the truth. It is about time it is said!”
In other words, rather than, say, admitting that the hed they put on the piece was maybe a bit hyperbolic (based as it was on a naive reporter’s speculation that “it’s easy to believe that this is the worst neighbourhood in Canada”), or, say, having a little editorial midnight-of-the soul and deciding that maybe the article wasn’t so balanced after all (using, as it did, pretty standard journalistic tricks to undermine what the mayor and police chief had to say), Maclean’s has decided to present itself as the voice of Regina’s poor — spending some of that good Rogers money to allow Sabrina Cote to speak the truth: there are problems in North Central Regina!
But nobody’s arguing about whether there are problems in North Central Regina. The mayor says there are, the police chief says there are — everybody agrees: There Are Problems In North Central Regina. The question for its citizens is how to fix them (and it’s pure chicanery for Maclean’s to act as though nobody was asking that question until Jonathon Gatehouse hit town). The question for Maclean’s is whether those problems are really any worse than in other western Canadian cities, and whether Maclean’s is in any position to know. Those are the questions that its editors, with their “best defense is a good offense” strategy, are not very deftly ducking.
If Maclean’s really cares about Regina and its economic well-being, maybe it would like to return some of the subscriber and newsstand revenue it squeezes out of the city by maintaining, as it once did, a “correspondent” there. Or better yet, re-opening somewhere, anywhere on the prairies the bureau that it once thought necessary to the job of covering Canada. That way, the next time it wants to publish some hard-hitting journalism about Saskatchewan or Alberta or Manitoba, it’ll start with someone who has a clue.