wJeremiads
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wFriday, June 27, 2003


DEEP BREATH: Twenty-four posts in seven days, several of them quite long. My, that is a lot of blogging about one topic... When I started writing about the collapse of The Report last Friday, it was a small item -- only 14 words long --, but I scooped the Edmonton Journal on the news that Canada's oldest, and only, conservative newsmagazine had suspended publication.

Since then, this site (surprisingly, along with Reason's blog) has become the go-to place for former Reportsters (my coinage) to figure out what in the world is going on. Or, I should say, I think it has. I've never gone out of my way to promote this blog: I don't advertise it at the end of my reviews or columns; I rarely try to get people to link to an item; and, ever since I lost the hit counter in a freak accident, I've been happily flying without instruments. But if the increase in mail, links, and phone calls is any indication, quite a few readers are now checking back regularly to read about the new twists in this sordid saga.

And it is sordid. I've talked to quite a few people, for instance, who read either Marnie Ko's full article of her time on the job, or my abridged version. It's quite shocking to them, but it's only a small part of the story. In the interest of full disclosure (and I've said this in the past on this blog, but I doubt new readers will bother to scan the archives), I used to work at The Report.

I quit when Link Byfield installed his brother Mike as editor. In fact, the announced date of my resignation was planned to coincide with his installation as editor. I hesitate to call Mike insane, in a clinical sense, but that certainly wouldn't be far off the mark. He is rude, prone to rages, absorbed with countless crackpot racial, economic, journalistic, and other theories, all of which are as true as the hair on the back of your hand AND HOW CAN YOU DENY IT?!?!?!. He constantly contradicts himself, often in the same breath, and his editing is some of the worst I've ever experienced.

Scratch that: It takes the bloody prize for asinine editing. I wrote a piece on the Gospel Music Industry and, apropos of nothing, he inserted the following sentence near the end:

"Christ isn't for everyone."

The sentence had nothing -- zero -- to do with the thesis or reporting of the article. It made me sound like an arrogant Christer (plus, I think it's heresy, but I suppose that's neither here nor there) and it made absolutely no sense. Mike simply decided that that part of my article would be a good place to unburden himself of that particular... nugget of wisdom.

But this isn't primarily about Mike Byfield. The reason that The Report lasted as long as it did is that dedicated readers were willing to put up with the shell that the magazine had become was that they wanted an outlet that was willing to buck the powerful currents of Canadian opinion. The Byfields gladly took their money, first in the form of sky high prices and then in direct, solicited donations. The purpose of the Citizens Centre, in the minds of most donors, was to keep the mag afloat. But Link and company squandered the money in search of a legacy, and then they intentionally created a cash crisis by cutting the price and frequency of the mag in half. Link has recently taken to saying that there isn't a real conservative movement in Canada, and has expressed an almost Maoist enthusiasm for reeducating the ignorant proles.

Then, rather than trying to sell the magazine, Link abruptly shut it down. Too much of an annoyance, I suppose. Why go out there and learn about people's lives and at least wrestle with those messy details as you seek to tell a different version of the story than you're likely to read in most of the Canadian press when you can simply tell people what to believe?

Sigh. I'll have more to say but that's enough for tonight.

posted by Jeremy at 1:04 AM