Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mountain Ave. typewriting school strikes again

In the Free Press's continued misguided tinkering with its format, it recently removed all stories from the front page in favour of a collection of ADD-inspired coloured boxes "teasing" readers to their highlighted stories. Front-page story: RIP.

One of the many problem with these little boxes, even more so than with headlines, is their job is to entice -- sometimes at the risk of being wildly inaccurate.

Take today's example -- not too different from yesterday's sloppy piece of work over at the Mother Corp -- "Tuition Plan Gets an F", referring to the anticipated announcement in today's throne speech about a major post secondary rebate program for grads who stay in Manitoba.

An F? And the headline writer on the actual story wasn't much kinder with "Tuition rebate plan panned".

OK, let's actually read the story, largely made up of selected quotes, such as: "From our point of view it looks like a great thing," says BU's Scott Lamont; "It's a real policy winner," says RRC's Jeff Zabudsky.

Huh? An F? Two homerun comments get you an F?

Here are a selection of the other quotes: "What it clearly won't do is make education more accessible," says CCPA's Shauna Mackinnon; "It's really just a bandaid," says Chamber pres Dave Angus; "Up-front grants and measures are a lot more effective," says CFS's Amanda Aziz.

All these comments merely imply "more needs to be done". Agreed. But an F grade? A pan? Hardly.

Oh, the two commentors who actually slam the idea: Hugh McFadyen and Jon Gerrard. We're shocked. The opposition criticises the government. Who knew?

Just as the CBC did the day before, the Freep is participating in headline hatchet jobs.

Maybe the desk staff who made the headline and front page decisions should apply for posts in the editorial side of the operation if they want to get their opinion ya-yas out. Or maybe they should take a walk during lunch to drop off their resumes on Church Avenue.

Otherwise, stick to the news and the facts, guys.