May 24, 2010
Re: Low Fidelity

In her piece about the supposed decline of Canadian music criticism, Jessica Lewis writes that my Globe and Mail review of a concert by the Handsome Furs “politely skirts the issue of whether the group’s music is, well, any good… [Everett-Green] is one of many skilled music journalists who rarely dish out negative opinions.” The implication is that I secretly believed the Handsome Furs to be no good, but was unwilling to say so.

On the contrary, my review described the Furs’ music as “excellent.” I reviewed their album Face Control in The Globe a few weeks earlier, and gave the record 3 ½ stars out of 4.

If Lewis were to say, “Everett-Green thinks the Furs are excellent, but I know they suck; therefore he’s a lousy critic,” I would accept that as her opinion. What she in fact does is to blatantly misrepresent my published views, and to offer her distortion as evidence that my motives are suspect.

I know nothing of Lewis’s motives, but her methods follow a familiar recipe from the Crap Journalism Cookbook:

1) Choose an attention-grabbing premise – eg.: “Music critics lose their nerve and become boosters!”
2) Gather quotations that can be manipulated to support the premise – eg.: find a way to get Toronto Star critic Ben Rayner to appear to say that his enthusiasm for The Constantines was stoked by “record label friends”; quote me in such a way that I seem to admit that my critical writing is uncritical.
3) Avoid direct contact with the subject under investigation – eg.: in a piece about the decline of criticism, minimize discussion of anyone’s actual critical writing — or just misrepresent it.

Lewis seems to think that the proof of real criticism is a negative review. I can easily meet her criterion this time. Her piece is ignorantly conceived, badly reasoned and poorly researched. I give it no stars, two thumbs down and a big bowl of moldy raspberries.

Robert Everett-Green
Music Critic
The Globe and Mail

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May 21, 2010
Re: There’s Something about Kerry

I can’t begin to detail the many fictions you published about Kerry Mitchell in your pointless and sexist article.

In cherry-picking sources, the authors seem to have forgotten to contact several key editors who have worked with Kerry, including me, a former editor-in-chief of Chatelaine. Had anyone bothered to call, I would have told you all about Kerry’s intelligence, skill and sensitivity.

Maryam Sanati

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April 20, 2010
Re: On the Eve of Destruction

Matthew Halliday’s profile of John Stackhouse and the “new” Globe and Mail is a a well-drawn and informative piece. Too bad, though, that he felt compelled to use two anonymous criticisms of Stackhouse’s editorial style. This is lazy short-cut journalism. Surely he could have found somebody brave enough to put his name behind his words. As a reader, when I read a quote impugning somebody, I dismiss it out of hand when the quote is anonymous. Especially when I’m not given a reason why the writer felt compelled to protect the source from the consequences of his or her opinions.

As a former journalism teacher and a long-time journalist, I’ve always maintained that the only time a reporter should use anonymous sources is a) when the direct quote is absolutely vital to the story, and no other source was available, or b) when the consequences of self-revelation would be dire to the source. And in both these cases, the writer needs to tell me in the very clearest way WHY the source cannot be named. These standards should be enforced even more stringently when you have news people talking about news people, in an industry where transparency is the basis of credibility.

Claude Adams
Freelance journalist
Surrey, BC

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April 6, 2010
Re: There’s Something about Kerry

Ken said it all.

A story based on rumor is no story at all – and your faculty should know that.

Further, to suggest that a publisher has no talent – and worse, no right – to contribute to the editorial product is just plain silly. The publisher is accountable for a magazine’s success – and a magazine’s success depends on a quality product in which advertisers wish to place ads, and which readers want to purchase.

I had the privilege of working with Kerry when I was editor-in-chief of Canadian Living – she was my boss, but we worked as partners. Kerry is bright, funny, committed, compassionate – and a point missed entirely in this overwrought piece – an editor’s publisher, who demonstrated day in and day out, enormous respect for, and support of, editorial staff and their ability to create compelling magazines.

Sincerely,

Charlotte Empey
Editor-in chief
Metro English Canada

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April 5, 2010
Re: There’s Something about Kerry

Why is it that when a woman in leadership is written about, so much importance is placed on whether or not she is well liked? Kerry Mitchell is a publisher. Her job is not to hold the best slumber parties, it is to increase readership and profits. If she can do that, fair play to her. Revolving doors and disgruntled rivals don’t deserve much weight. In this story, a legitimate concern about the merge of advertisement and editorial in her magazines was completely overshadowed by the ink given to how Ms Mitchell carries herself, gets along with her staff and socializes. Using the photo of her in a sexy red dress, a headline that obliquely references a Cameron Diaz RomCom, and the quip about reaching new heights in her pumps were all nice added touches. I guess inter-industry pettiness moves more magazines than honest criticism and analysis. Maybe, as a professional publisher, Ms Mitchell will be able to appreciate it.

Jen Gerson
Ryerson Journalism graduate 2006

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April 1, 2010
Re: There’s Something About Kerry

I am disappointed that the official publication of a leading Canadian journalism school would publish an article about a senior publishing figure based on “rumours,” “whispers,” unsourced allegations and the testimony of disgruntled former employees.

The supposed criticisms of my Rogers Publishing colleague Kerry Mitchell are ridiculous. It is not a “transgression” for a publisher to be involved in the cover and contents of her magazine; it is a duty. A “hands-on” management style is not a flaw or a problem but something Kerry has in common with the founder of our company, Ted Rogers (whose name, incidentally, is on the wall at the Ryerson School of Management).

I can say from first-hand knowledge over the last several months that Kerry’s relations with the staff at Chatelaine were exemplary. She was of enormous help to me as I became involved in the magazine.

I am mystified by your unsupported assertion that Kerry somehow “crossed” me. It’s true that I always end up paying for lunch, even when she invites me—even on my birthday—but we have been good friends and close colleagues since I arrived at Rogers. I think she is an excellent publisher and leader, and Rogers is lucky to have her.

One final point: I have been five years at Rogers Publishing and not once has the ground “trembled with ferocity.” I’m surprised your fact-checkers missed that one.

Sincerely,

Ken Whyte, Rogers Publishing Limited