By Robert Delaney
“The Globe thinks it’s above the news.”
One of the paper’s editors said that to me just a few months into my tenure there. The comment resonated with me for weeks.
The echo of that comment swelled up in the wake of the news today that The Globe and Mail’s Editor-in-Chief John Stackhouse was replaced.
Elena Cherney, Managing Editor
Derek DeCloet, Editor, Report on Business
John Stackhouse, Editor-in-Chief
All of them, strong intellectually and emotionally, and gone in just a little over two months.
I didn’t work for The Globe and Mail for very long. They hauled me into a conference room just five months after they hired me to do whatever was necessary to bring a “Bloomberg orientation” to a newsroom swathed in union rhetoric, but also to respect the authority that “T-GAM” (as it’s known inside the walls) has among the general Canadian readership.
It was a balance I never managed to find. And so I went. … or so I tell myself even though the official line was that the decision was purely monetary. (Perhaps it was. It’s just difficult not to suspect other factors.)
“We’re not a newswire,” I occasionally heard.
And so I slunk back to my desk and did the best I could to make yesterday’s news seem somehow relevant for the next day’s readers.
“Look, can you have the story to me in one hour instead of taking the time to work it into something that will look great on A1 or A3 or B1 tomorrow? Because no one is going to care then.”
Most of the reporters I worked with understand the urgency and push themselves to publish in accordance with the new reality. But I was wrong. One hour is too much time in the new reality.
The Globe and Mail has played a crucial role in the formation of a nation. It held North America’s torch when it came to social justice, while it strove to provide the news of the day to the farthest reaches of a far-flung population. And to this day, amid a bewildering period of revolving-door management, many of its reporters and editors still produce some of the world’s best journalism. Anyone who doubts this should look at TGAM’s coverage of what caused the Lac Megantic disaster or the account of Blackberry’s downfall.
But those journalists producing the best that “T-GAM” has to offer are fighting against the news organization’s own mythology.
For every one Canadian looking for a good feature story from the country’s most trusted source, there are 10 others in their purchasing power prime, who – because of social media – want to know what’s happened in the last 30 seconds.
It’s an awful reality for those of us who want to put the day’s events into perspective. Because perspectives have changed. If the story doesn’t make sense to a twenty-something who’s juggling an Instagram romance with a divorced parent planning a wedding in Puerto Vallarta and wondering whether to apply for a university program in computer science or the liberal arts – within the first 140 characters –it’s just not a story.
Best of luck T-GAM. May you prevail. Canada needs you.