The symptoms have been cropping up for some time now but this past weekend the Toronto Star seemed to be particularly afflicted with tabloidism and it is unclear if they will ever recover. The symptoms of this including a focus on micro scandals (with correspondingly large headlines), anti-tax rants, grainy photos, a generally good sports section and women and men in swimsuits. Not pretty. Well maybe some of it is pretty.

And yes the newspaper business if failing so the Star is depressed and maybe indulging in some poor behavior that is affecting its health. Still, the journalist doctors should have been called in on the weekend for sure.

Saturday’s Star featured as the lead story a long article (with requisite large photo) of a single set of “Tenants from hell” who seem to bilk rich apartment owners out of money. I doubt there is an outbreak of this across the city, but you know those nasty tenants. Sunday had a front page follow-up on how these same people “are involved in a dog dispute“. News tip for the Star: I think someone in my neighborhood fed a feral cat last week. 

Then there was the article Sunday on climate change that claims that “climate change is a controversial science” and capitulates to the notion that there is a scientific debate by stating ” whatever the cause [of climate change]. . . ”  I think what the writer meant to say is that there are a total of zero major scientific bodies/organizations in the world that deny the anthropogenic view of climate change. Let’s add “weak on climate change” as a tabloidism symptom too. Read this twice a day for relief. 

The weekend clincher though had to be the anti-tax piece, “Ontario slaps new ‘green’ tax on electricity bills” carried in section A  with the smaller subtitle “levy will cover liberal conservation program”. The first paragraph alerts readers to this tax “slap” the Star has uncovered, and it is fifty-three million dollars! Then a single anonymous “industry insider” describes this tax as part of a “perfect storm” of taxes (this anonymously sourced quote is repeated at the end of the article as well just to make sure we get it). Time to really tighten our belts. The following paragraph points out this newly discovered tax is in a bill that is “innocuously” named. How nefarious! In case we missed it, the next paragraph reports again that the tax is 53 million dollars. We are cowering now. Until we get to paragraph five where we learn the tax is $4 a year. Yes, $4 per year. $4 a year and the Star quotes PC leader Hudak calling it a “sneaky tax grab” for the next two paragraphs. Then we learn, for $4 a year, about that conservation program for promoting solar energy, wind and other initiatives. If there is a story here it is clearly not about a “perfect storm” of taxes, secretly slapped on consumers but rather about spending for conservation (is it enough? too much?).

The article would have been improved by pointing out that you could almost save that $4 a year by skipping one weekend of the Star. And speaking of solar power I know if I wanted to read articles like this I could always turn to the Sun.

Matthew Adams

Matt moved to Toronto from the U.S just in time for Mike Harris to take power in Ontario and has been stunned ever since. Matthew Adams is a co-founder of the Catalyst Centre (a social justice popular...