A blog

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Planet Wong has been officially nudged a little more off its wonky axis.

Jan Wong's Dawson College news story, which bizarrely let fact and fiction intermingle, has finally been labelled wrong by the journalist's employer, Edward Greenspon, editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail.

Hmmm... It took Ed one week and one hundred thousand denouncements to come out with it? What's up with that?

That's something to broach another time -- I won't look a gift horse in the mouth. Although an explanation from the author herself is absolutely compulsory now that her editors have had their say, this smackdown of Jan Wong is good for what ails me, many Montrealers, and anyone at all interested in news that's fit to print.
Everyone has a headache; imprecise, and hard to cure / Gotta shake it, what ails you -- the lines are blurred
- "The Neutral"
Five days of profound sadness in Montreal last week were topped by another five of seething choler when Wong's version of the events in the Dawson rampage made big waves. Those waves came crashing in courtesy of journalism's worst nightmare: a reporter who plays fast and loose with the truth in order to get her own viewpoints printed.

Reporters can have opinions, to be sure. I would never discourage Wong from airing her hypotheses but I certainly hope she would know at this stage of her career that she's got to be on the Op-Ed page to do what she tried to do in her report, a kind of as-it-happens play by play of the shootings. In the end, she compromised a front-page report and sent lies and conjecture to A1. Lies about what was really witnessed in the school atrium that afternoon and conjecture masquerading on the record as fact. I'm sure I'm not alone in being bothered by this god-complex reflex present in big-britches reporters like Wong.

An opinion piece offers Wong the freedom and space she needs to do her thing. But at this point, how can we all not realize what a horrible thing her thing is: to use her tenure at the Globe to shout out the truths of Planet Wong, which are the truths of a strange and distant world, where trees are made from newsprint and dead gunmen whisper their psyches into the ears of reporters.

Thanks to Ed, "Get Under the Desk" is now a choice relic of Planet Wong, relegated to history as a mistake. While it doesn't persist to me irk me with its gall, its mishmash journalism, tainted but now put behind us, will surely not be forgotten all of the sudden. Will anyone be ready to wrestle with Wong's unique feelings on the cause of Montreal's massacres or the nature of Quebec society? Her readers have had a rude awakening. We've all seen the journalistic standards by which she signs her byline. All of us, that is, except those who have for so very long recognized that Wong is a known quantity who operates with questionable methods. These people make a habit of ignoring Wong, 24/7.

As of this post, am I one of those people who recognizes Wong as a key voice to ignore in the Canadian media (though I can only pray her editors will be a tad more alert next time). Copy editors aside, Jan Wong is worth the same amount of attention as a slogan on an infomercial, which is to say, pay no heed. Nothing more than an indication that the channel needs changing.

Wong-free living starts now! I feel better already.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


More than once. And in big ways.

I'm wrong a lot. But that part is not so bad because usually I'm wrong in my assumptions like "No, I don't need to buy eggs" (whoops, fridge eggkeeper is bare) or "Yes, I do believe the Globe and Mail reports accurately" (double whoops, Soundgarden is actually one word, not two).

Jan Wong, who wrote "Sound Garden" in Saturday's paper, doesn't stubbornly contend that the seminal Seattle grunge band should be spelled the way she thinks the band should be spelled. Or at least I doubt she does. The fact is we all make little mistakes -- I'm sure she realizes that -- and maybe that was the copy editor's fault anyway. What she does contend in the article is an entirely different mistake. It's one that's not nearly as forgiveable as the little fuck-ups like forgetting to buy eggs or misspelling someone's name. Jan's got much more than that on her hands. She authors a huge conceit about the mind of a killer she's never met! Fiction much? And she fills up the mind of a killer -- someone whom she doesn't know any better than the book behind a cover that she vaguely recognizes -- with ideas based entirely on coincidence. Give her a glimmer of recognition of her long-past episodes in Montreal and she'll tie it to recent tragic events and then ride it for all it's worth. I'd expect more from the palm reader I offered 50 cents to. And this is the crap she stands behind in a "front-page report" with her name on it.

Not good. Very very wrong.


I think her hypothesis is wrong, but I absolutely know for sure that her methods are. How about you?