Home › Forums › Bulldog Forum: Ottawa, National And International Debate › Is The Bulldog Too Negative?
March 19, 2018 at 11:32 AM #746993
Bulldog reader EajD said in a recent comment that The Bulldog is too negative when it comes to Ottawa City Hall.
Your agent would argue that if everything is going just fine, that’s not news. That news is in its nature an exploration of the problems of society.
What do you think? Is The Bulldog too negative?March 19, 2018 at 12:35 PM #747006
My councillor has control of communications in the ward – his facebook page, weekly newsletter, etc.
Is anything controversial ever raised in these publications? No. He tries to create the perception he’s just a regular, friendly guy doing a great job.
Citizens need to have a place they can visit to express their concerns with the way the city is run, a central location rather than a blog here and a blog there.
If I want to see pretty pictures I can visit his Facebook page. When information those running the city would rather keep hidden becomes available, I want to know about it.
Is The Bulldog negative? No. Sarcastic at times? Sure, but ya gotta laugh at the mess within the walls on Laurier Street.March 19, 2018 at 6:58 PM #747027
Getting the right balance between supportive and negative is always a challenge, and as a columnist to and commentor on the Bulldog, I continue to struggle with trying to look past my inherent prejudices (which are many) to see if there is a glimmer of a positive that can be reinforced. With so many foolish errors and outright failures presenting themselves, it is difficult to find the gems. It is so much easier to focus on the obvious shortcomings we see every week than it is to roll up one’s sleeves and poke through the manure (no apologies offered for the metaphor) that the mayor’s office leaves on the front yard.
Having said that, too much of what passes for reporting on City Hall is little more than a copy and paste from a press release, or a quote from Mayor Jim Watson, or perhaps from a committee chairperson. The city’s position is invariably presented in as positive a light as possible. Joanne Chianello, at one time a city hall reporter for the Citizen now with the CBC, provides actual insight into what the city presents. That is more than can be said for much of what is presented in the Citizen these days. I don’t read the Sun, so I cannot comment on their content.March 19, 2018 at 7:26 PM #747031
You are a valuable part of The Bulldog and have been for a long time.
You’ve taken on an even bigger role now and you wear that mantle well. You will discover that it is a learning experience as I have over the past 40 years of journalism.
Add in the factor of the Internet and the possibilities, and problems, are endless. On the weekend, I spent much time looking into practical applications of artificial intelligence and how it can be used on The Bulldog.
For what it is worth, the experiment is on now. You’ll have to guess what it is but astute readers might have noticed a change on Saturday. So far, so good.
Back to writing.
One of the hardest things to do is balance getting information out there that is valuable and being entertaining enough that people will look forward to what you read. You have to keep people anticipating what you will do next because they like your writing, what it stands for and that it is fun.
In The Bulldog, we think humour is important. It is the hardest thing. There are few practices as excruciating as watching a stand-up comic fail. But humour is critical to get people to come back. Thus the Top 10 list on poop technology on Monday. In baseball, it is called a change up. Deliver a constant diet of fastballs and sooner or later your pitch ends up in the centrefield stands.
So it’s about short sentences and long sentences, short paragraphs and long paragraphs, subject and predicate, predicate and subject. One sentence paragraphs can be used for emphasis and making a point.
The key to good writing is intelligence and accessibility. One of the best practitioners was Hemingway who could win a Nobel Prize but sell his books like hell. Couldn’t tell a joke, though.
You’ve embarked, with your column, on a journey into learning. It’s subjective and never perfect for perfection in writing is unattainable. There’s no way to measure. Who was the best writer is like a beauty contest … no clear-cut winner.
In your comment above you’ve identified one of the reasons I started The Bulldog … the diminution of local journalism. It will get much worse before it gets better and its decline coincides with the increase in what politicians can get away with. Whether The Bulldog has slowed journalism’s decline is up for others to decide. And don’t forget it’s a beauty contest.
I never learned what constituted good writing until into my 50s … 30 years into my career. I didn’t understand the change-up, the structure, the information or the humour until then.
Whether I succeed in trying to do what I set out to do is, again, up to others.
You’ve embarked on a great journey, Ron.
kgrayApril 2, 2018 at 1:00 PM #747563
I don’t find The Bulldog negative – in fact, quite the contrary.
The easy thing to do would be to publish a recitation of all the bad that happens within the City. Much more difficult, and the path that you’ve taken, is to choose to cover the good, the bad and the ugly so that your readers can filter through and find a broad representation of municipal affairs. It’s hardly your fault that it’s getting harder and harder to find the pearls amidst the swill.
One thing that definitely happens here is that a bright light is being shone on the escapades of the mayor, councillors and staff. Sometimes it falls on their less-savoury activities and others on laudable ones. One of the difficulties we all face is that other media streams seem to be focussed on showing the goings-on at City Hall primarily in a positive light which means that what is a more balanced approach on your end appears as a negative one.
Yes, there’s a bit of vinegar sprinkled on your site but it’s infinitely better than the heavy diet of treacle one finds elsewhere.April 2, 2018 at 1:02 PM #747613