1 OSAMA WHO? Unless it serves the U.S. government's anti-terrorism agenda, CNN isn't interested in running Osama bin Laden's videotaped rants. As NOW reported in November, CNN declined to run bin Laden's second tape and imposed all sorts of rules on correspondents reporting on civilian casualties in Afghanistan. Strangely, CBC had its own milder muzzle.
2 STARGAZING The fact that a dead guy runs the Toronto Star -- a reference to the paper's late owner, Joseph Atkinson, and his enduring (and binding) liberal principles -- is the least of the paper's, er, eccentricities. There was the 3-D Saturday edition, which was kind of spacey. The Star also pummelled its carriers shortly after they unionized, choosing to contract out.
3 ROGERS NOT@HOME Irate subscribers to Rogers@Home cable Internet service revolted over bad connections and shoddy customer service. NOW published the e-mail correspondence between the company and one irate customer. "Hello? Anyone there?! Does anyone work here? Can anyone actually put two sentences together that are not already written for them in a manual? Are there only the three of you in the whole of this company?' This is how we learned how Byzantine Rogers' internal workings really are. Subscribers got so fed up that they started a Web site devoted to bitching at the cable giant.
4 PRIME TIME WHITE Two years ago, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission wanted TV broadcasters to commit to more on-air presence for racial minorities and aboriginal peoples. But -- surprise! -- when CTV and Global's broadcast licences were renewed this summer, the CRTC discovered they had no action plans in place to address cultural diversity.
5 DOG OF WAR Computer-programmer-turned-roving-alternative-journalist Ken Hechtman snuck into Afghanistan and got captured by the Taliban. He's supposedly a freelancer covering the war for the Quebecor-owned Montreal Mirror, a weekly alternative paper, but his career as a "war correspondent" ended up being an international embarrassment and a blow to the credibility of the rest of the alt press.
6 POST MORTEM To stop the financial hemorrhaging after free-spending Conrad Black's retreat, the Winnipeg-based, Asper family-owned National Post slashed sections and killed Saturday Night magazine, leaving little more than the dreaded Alliance-loving, Liberal-bashing front section and the business pages. And NOW got Don Wanagas. Months later, after alienating loyal readers, the Post poobahs finally realized the error of their ways and started reviving the sections. No, you can't have him back.
7 BAD HEAD Rogers fired the publisher of Marketing Magazine after it ran a promo for the 2002 Marketing Awards depicting a woman who appears to be bored by the sex act that's being performed on her. Advertising firms boycotted the contest and, once again, the humourless cable giant became a glaring example of everything that's wrong with media convergence.
8 FLOW FLUNKS After six months of FLOW 93.5, NOW delivered its report card, revealing that the radio station isn't honouring its promise to be a voice for the local black community. Instead of intelligent discourse on the community, a lot of U.S. commercial rap fills the airwaves.
9 FANTINO FREAKS In January, police chief Julian Fantino sniffed that NOW had "crossed the line of decency" when we published a photo of his Woodbridge home, trying to make the point that Toronto's alpha law enforcement officer doesn't even live in the city. The rest of the local news media piled on Fantino's anti-NOW rant, and the story about the chief's $36-million budget grab got buried in the hoopla. He should have thanked us.
10 DEATH AS ART The Toronto Sun, evidently looking for an edge in their coverage days after 9/11, published a special pullout section that included as its centrespread an artist's rendering of a passenger jet about to slam into the World Trade Center. Considering the graphic video images replayed endlessly on television and appearing everywhere in print, it's hard to understand why the Sun thought it had something special to sell. Bad business and bad taste.
Then there's Torstar CEO Bob Prichard, who wrote to NOW asking for our moral support so they can establish new TV stations in southwestern Ontario -- the tweedy former U of T campus prez evidently doesn't understand how these media wars work.
And finally there's the matter of the offending Mel quote about Mombasa (remember the snakes and boiling pot?) that became an international embarrassment as Toronto went into the final sprint for the 2008 Olympics. The story is that a rookie reporter didn't actually file the offending quote until two weeks after Mel made it in Barcelona. When it was finally filed, the Star buried it in the sports section the next day. Apparently, it's all just a comedy of errors at the Olympic-boosting, Mel-lovin' Star.