Andrew Snowdon

Archive for January, 2016|Monthly archive page

Postmedia Style Guide

In advice, Canada, media, Ottawa on Tuesday 19 January 2016 at 23:59

[TRIGGER WARNING: I don’t even know how to do one of these, but in this post I use language related to sexual violence and gender identity that may offend or trigger some people.  I have made the conscious, considered decision to do so to further my point, not merely for “comedic” effect.]

As you have no doubt already heard, Postmedia, having purchased SUN Media some time ago, has taken the not entirely unexpected step of merging newsrooms in several cities where it operates more than one print daily. We saw this coming when they moved, for example, the Ottawa SUN into the same building as the Ottawa Citizen (or maybe we saw it coming when the internet rendered print media all but obsolete?). Instead of folding papers, Postmedia has assured us that the same stories will just be re-edited for the respective audiences of the respective papers, saving an immense amount of money.  I am sure someone somewhere has prepared a spreadsheet showing how much money is saved cutting people (still the only resource that can produce content) but not, you know, ceasing to print tons of paper editions that are good for a day before they go straight into the recycling, garbage, or bird cage.  I am also sure this person prepared it on parchment with a quill pen.

I’m not sure, however, that there are enough people left at Postmedia to put together a style guide that will help their remaining editor(s?) gear generically-written articles to each of the three audiences they must address.  So I thought I’d take some of the pressure off!  Here are some common terms and phrases and how they should be modified to reach SUN readers, Citizen (or whatever the not-SUN paper is in any given city; as Paul Godfrey would probably tell you, all newspapers are pretty much the same anyways) readers, and National Post readers.

Term Citizen, etc. SUN National Post
Mayor of Toronto Mayor John Tory ex-CIBC bigwig John “Sorry” Tory Mayor John Tory, but if it’s a slow news day go with Mayor Rob Ford
Mayor of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi Naveed, Benji recast article so it is about Toronto
Mayor of Ottawa Mayor Jim Waterson Jimbo recast article so it is about Toronto
Mayor of Montréal Mayor Denis Coderre how do you do that little hat thing over the e? anyway, uh, Derriere I guess seriously, next you’re going to want to write about Vancouver
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Justin Trudeau Justy, That Upstart recast the article so it is about Sophie Grégoire
Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper Harper The Once And Future King Harper
Thomas Mulcair Tom Mulcair more like Tom MulDON’Tcare yeah, where is that guy? Curling in Montebello?
Former Senator Patrick Brazeau Senator Brazeau The Brazzer nice try, killing this
President Barack Obama President Obama President Osama President Obama
Donald Trump Donald Trump The Donald Former Mayor Rob Ford
The Arts The Arts? you mean the SUNshine Girl? you mean the Mirvish insert?
statutory rape sexual assault of a minor tryst on first reference, regular everyday sex on subsequent references sexual assault of a minor, but bury it as far as you can
rape sexual assault it’s really a tough call, so ask the guy what he called it bury it and set it in Dingbats
gay gay homo, deviant, prevert, not that there’s anything wrong with that oh honey, we know
transgender person transgender person? I think? tranny, unless the article is close to the automotive section, in which case he-she transgender person, I think, but just in case, bury it
The Ottawa Senators The Ottawa Senators The Sens can you not read red pen? and we don’t even have a sports section anymore. You’re fired.