A Tale of Two Amazons

Skid Crease is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists, an author, an internationally renowned speaker, and a lifelong educator currently living in Caledon, Ontario.

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Sometimes I feel as if I am living in two separate Towns. I get that impression from the way the news is editorialized in the Caledon Enterprise and the way the news is reported in the Caledon Citizen. For example, let us look at the way that the news about the Town of Caledon getting Amazon to come to our community was reported in our two local newspapers. First, here is the W5 straight news story for those who missed it.

“WHO – Amazon; WHAT – new 1 million square foot fulfillment centre; WHEN -announced July 2018, built by the end of 2019; WHERE – Caledon Ontario; WHY -Town of Caledon officials negotiated a successful non disclosure agreement with Amazon.” Plain and simple.

However, when we look at the way it was headlined in our two newspapers, carefully note the difference. The Citizen reported: “Amazon to build massive centre in Caledon” whereas The Enterprise headlined in capitals NEWS OF AMAZON WAREHOUSE A SHOCK TO 2 COUNCILLORS.

The Citizen article, written by Editor Scott Taylor, spends time on the first page outlining the W5 of the story, correctly identifying the facility as a “fulfillment centre”, and highlights the 800 full time jobs coming to Caledon. He further reports on the praise that the Amazon Director of Operations in Canada, Glenn Sommerville. gave to the incredible workforce here. What is there not to like about “full time jobs with great pay and benefits to support the local economy.” Scott goes on to include a positive quote from Mayor Thompson, and a “great news” quote from Jim Wilson, our new Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade. If you read the Citizen article you are left with the impression that this is very positive news for the Town of Caledon.

Then there is Matthew Strader’s article in the Enterprise. The first thing you notice is that the centre is incorrectly identified as a “warehouse” and instead of a benefit to Caledon (all of Caledon) it is a SHOCK to two councillors. In the first paragraph, Strader writes about “others” expressing “shock and anger” on social media, claiming that they were “left out of the loop” on this announcement. He then raises the specter of the “freight village” sure to raise the hackles of the “we haven’t got over the Canadian Tire Distribution Centre crowd.” He goes on to give space to his two most reported councillors, Barb Shaughnessy and Annette Groves who expressed their surprise online. Shaughnessy claims she “knew nothing … zero” and again raises the specter of the “freight village” and a “warehouse”. “Freight village” is mentioned four times on the front page portion of this article, with nary a mention of anything positive.

Even when you go to page 4 to continue the article, the freight village theme continues with more reference to the councillors’ online anger. Only at the end of the article is it revealed that zoning on Coleraine “permits this type of development” Strader also reports on an asphalt plant application for Coleraine, before finally mentioning that the Town will receive over $3 million in development charges and $500,000 annually in taxes. Finally some good news.

In the Enterprise report, the W5 is WHO – Groves and Shaughnessy; WHAT – shock and anger; WHEN – July 2018; WHERE – Town of Caledon; WHY – the councillors know zero. One newspaper reports on the good news for the Town and spreads a positive message, one newspaper reports on the bad news and attempts to create a crisis.

When I was beginning my career in journalism, I asked a mentor at the Star why they didn’t report more good news stories. His response was, “Skid, it’s not our job to report every safe landing at Pearson International. It doesn’t sell newspapers.” Sensational headlines grab readers with their shock and awe – Murder, Rape, Conflict, Crisis!

Me, I’m happy to settle for 800 full time, good paying jobs with benefits in my community.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, journalist, Caledon

*Note: In speaking with Robyn Wilkinson, the Editor of the Enterprise, she indicated that they had published another article on the Amazon announcement. When I read that article, I found it to be a clean, clear news account of the story.

Which begs the question: Why was it necessary for Matthew Strader to write the second  “shock” story and give more undeserved air time to two of the most divisive and misinformed politicians in Caledon?

  • photo from shutterstock.com
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