The Globe And Mail: Ian Brown vs. Doug Saunders

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Society
March 14th, 2005 • 5:26 am

Canada’s national newspaper The Globe And Mail recently featured a series of articles by columnist Ian Brown on the current surge of Christian fundamentalism in the United States.

These were very long articles that were obviously supposed to be an illustration of the kind of in-depth reporting that can only be found in lengthy newspaper articles (as opposed to the superficial coverage that one usually gets on TV or in shorter articles). It was even supported by an editorial by The Globe And Mail‘s editor-in-chief Edward Greenspon in the February 26, 2005 issue that featured the first article in the series.

I tried my best to read the full articles — but must admit that I felt they were a total waste of time. Is this what passes for in-depth reporting these days? There was absolutely no substance in these articles. There was lots of self-centered pseudo-analysis and descriptions of people who appeared to be “sincere” in their beliefs, etc. But there was absolutely no effort to tackle the real issues. Instead, the reporter spent his time obliquely accusing the average Globe And Mail reader of having a condescending attitude towards such religious beliefs and implying that Christian fundamentalists are not scary people because they are obviously sincere in their beliefs… Isn’t that precisely why they are so scary?

These articles were an utter waste of ink and paper.

Fortunately, The Globe And Mail does have some redeeming features. In particular, I am consistently impressed with columnist Doug Saunders. He appears to be a fairly young fellow, but already writes like someone with a lot of journalistic experience; he seems to have been all over the world and amassed a wealth of insightful observations. He also has a pretty impressive theoretical background. And he has a knack for digging out unexpected topics that are always intriguing and somehow relevant.

His latest Saturday column was on “risk”-based urban planning. As usual, it was thought-provoking stuff. (He gives the example of a Dutch city that was plagued with traffic-related problems involving cars and pedestrians. The city decided to remove all signs, marking, traffic lights, etc. And it actually became safer!)

Strangely enough, if you go to The Globe And Mail‘s Columnists page, Doug Saunders is not even mentioned. A hidden gem, then!

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