29 October 2005

Saturday Night, 10:00 PM, Same ole Spindy

It's actually a great thing to be able to get the local hotbed of investigative reporting on Saturday night while most people wait until sometime Sunday to find out how far short of its own billing the Independent has fallen again this week.

A cuppa Tim's finest, some peace with the door locked and the Spindy.

The best thing about the Spindy - every single week, without fail - is Paul Daly's spectacular photography. It remains the only positive reason to read Brian Dobbin's rag. Check out the page one shot of Constable Stephen Knight. You just can't get that composition and clarity anywhere else in the province. Heck, I don't think you find Daly-quality shooting in most other papers in the country. (Photo: Paul Daly/The Independent - from last week)

On the front page there's a really puffy, flattering profile of PetroNewf boss Ed Martin. In a week where both Martin and his boss the Premier talked a bit about this whole idea of taking the Crown hydro corp and sticking it in the oil patch, the Spindy didn't see fit to dive into some detail. Poke and probe a bit. Maybe take a critical look. Nope. More butt-kissing fluff of the kind we got when Danny re-appointed his ole buddy Dean MacDonald to run the board over on the Crosstown Arterial.

Try and find anything substantive on the Abitibi subsidies and you are excrementally devoid of good fortune. The story that seems to mark a real turning point in the Premier's popularity and political life garners a tiny mention in managing editor Ryan Cleary's column. On the front page, there's instead a focus on a mill in New Brunswick with some references - unenlightening ones at that - to Stephenville. Cleary was in Stephenville for the announcement, too.

Cleary does bitch about other media outlets taking a couple of Spindy stories and covering them as well, without giving the Spindy any reference. That happens all the time, as Ryan well knows, especially when the stories he mentions have been covered and will be covered in any event by everyone else, anyway. The Spindy didn't break anything here of substance so he really can't complain. What he should do is thank his lucky stars other media outlets don't point to the number of times the old Spinner has cranked out stories based on a sole source that turned out to be completely lacking in any substance or foundation.

My fave front-pager this week is the result of an Access to Information Act request that netted a whole bunch of e-mails the Prime Minister got about the offshore oil deal. Wow. Like we needed the Spindy to tell us - for the umpteenth time - about Danny's Greatest Triumph.

There's a page two story on the Bouzan conviction that, like its Telegram counterpart demonstrates that the two reporters didn't actually sit in court for the decision or if they did, they missed the pretty straightforward reasoning of Judge Harold Porter. (More on that tomorrow, since I actually have a copy of the decision.)

There's a decent story on page 3 about the Royal Canadian Legion and the closure of 15 branches in the past year. There's also a little piece about the lack of information Canadian officials have on oil spills outside the 200 mile economic zone. Hint: The Spindy hates DFO for a whole bunch of reasons, so don't ever expect to see a balanced story on the federal fish department.

The Spindy decided this week to do yet another attendance poll of federal members of parliament from this province. Loyola Hearn and Norm Doyle top the list. But hey. If they spend so much time in Ottawa, why exactly do they claim really high amounts of travel from the taxpayers? For those who missed it, the most recent figures are here for Messers Hearn and Doyle. High attendance and high travel bills seem to contradict each other, but then again if the Spindy actually poked at these two former Peckford cabinet ministers, they wouldn't be able to rely on them for anti-DFO quotes every week or so.

Incidentally, given the rules under which those claims are filed, you and I can't get access to the receipts for the claims as we can for any other senior official of government. Heck, we can't even get the kind of detail available from the fed's Proactive Disclosure. It's worth taking a look at those sections of departmental websites sometimes to just how little actually does get spent for things like travel every quarter of the year.

Fight your way through to the editorial page and find that Brian Dobbin is back, this week spilling ink about the lack of capital in the province. He takes a smack at the fact Canadian investment money seems to sit in Toronto and then launches into a little story about his travels to places like Hong Kong and the United Kingdom looking for investors.

Don't expect any insights here; Dobbin neglects to point out that having a thriving and diverse private sector would actually give investment capital, as would creating jobs and wealth such that ordinary people could invest in strong local, free enterprise.

Problem with that approach is that it would lead to Dobbin doing two things he would never do: a. criticise the PetroNewf decision of his new patron on the Ireland thing and b. lead to questions about how much government capital it takes to actually run a local bastion of capitalism. I am thinking Gander and Brian's hatred of the CBC, in case one example isn't coming readily to your mind.

Oh. But wait, Brian doesn't buy shares in anything himself since he feels that the value is often hyped as opposed to being substantive. Hmmm. An interesting attitude. Not one I'd agree with in every case, but it is curious. I'd love to hear brian explian to his uncle, Craig, that shares in the second-largest helicopter company in the world are built on a mound of crap.

Well, the Tim's was good as usual. The Spindy was not, as usual, except for Paul's photography and Stephanie Porter's reporting. Take away the stuff they lift from the Toronto Star and some New Brunswick papers and the paper thins out quite a bit after the op-ed page.

What a way to spend Saturday night.

I need to check the guide.

Maybe there's a Golden Girls rerun on.