05.09.2016 07:35 AM

The New York Times and the times in Fort Mac

NYT May8

Front page of yesterday’s Times.

I am a devoted reader of the New York Times.  It was via the Times, in fact, that I first learned of the Carville-Clinton war room in 1992, contacted them, and basically copied their concept in Canada.  It is the best English-language newspaper in the world, and it is the only newspaper we subscribe to anymore.

Their coverage of The Beast – the fire that has ravaged Fort McMurray and beyond – has surprised me, a bit.  On the one hand, they have accorded it prominent, daily coverage, as seen above.  Good.

On the other hand, however, they (like Slate) have published some extraordinarily ignorant things about what they themselves, just this morning, rightly called the most expensive natural disaster in Canadian history. Like this.  People were lured there by “a fat paycheque?” Really, guys? The ones now sleeping on the floor of an arena, and who only escaped with the clothes on their backs? Pretty classless, Times folks.  Not good.

Anyway. I’m like most Canadians, in recent days: Fort McMurray has left me acutely aware, and wondering, what people outside of Canada think about it all, and if they in fact care.  (It also perhaps explains why I, and many others, want to see the NBA and Dwyane Wade censured for the disrespect they’ve shown towards Canada.  We’re a bit touchy, these days.)

So, while we are appreciative that the Times is giving the story the attention it deserves – and while it is amazing that the likes of CNN are assisting in the rebuild, as seen here – a bit more sensitivity towards the nearly 90,000 victims of the fire would also be welcome, please and thanks.

(That’s the subject of this week’s Hill Times column, too, which I will post here tomorrow.)




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    Peter says:

    A lot of climate change opinion and advocacy has come to resemble medieval millennialism. The millenialists saw harbingers of Divine wrath over sin in every calamity and we see nature’s revenge for our cavalier misuse of the planet. Of course we insist over and over that our opinions are based entirely on a science few of us are qualified to understand or critique, but many of us just can’t avoid going all mystical, to the point of believing that an anthropomorphized Mother Nature is particularly pissed at those who make money out of her distress.

    It’s a terrible tragedy, but (so far) it’s not even close to record numbers.

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    davie says:

    I have known, and still know people who went to McMurray for the jobs and wages. Anyone can be sensitive toward their plight.

    That doesn’t mean we do not mention the context.

    Here is one way I see it:
    Burning fossil fuels into the atmosphere is causing climate change with adverse weather.
    When unusually dry weather catches the forest between snow and green up, and raging wildfire threatens Fort Mac’s people.
    The only way they can flee is by burning lots of fossil fuels in their vehicles.
    Strikes me that this is the fix that all of us are in. We have built our civilization around fossil fuel energy, individually owned fossil fuel burning transport, and asphalt…lots of asphalt. We just do not have viable alternatives when a disaster like the Fort Mac fire happens.

    On a smaller scale, good to see a bit of rain in the BC Peace. About 1000 were evacuated and many others were on alert. Those alerts have been lifted.
    However, we are not even to mid May yet.

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