April 7, 2000
As my grandmother used to say, the nut doesn't fall far from
That why I take such strong exception to a new US survey that
says journalists are out of touch. It says that there is a gap
between "normal people and journalists."
I was so upset when I read it that I could barely finish my
champagne and caviar. I had to send the butler out to get me
a cold compress.
The study says journalists have these hoity-toity tastes and
hobbies, and really don't understand the things they're reporting
on. (If I was really hoity-toity, I'd write "the things
on which they are reporting.") That they don't like the
common man, and don't share his (or her) interests.
Even though these observations are about American journalists,
I still have to take it personally. You see, my family has ink
in its veins - newspaper ink.
It all started with my grandfather Joe. He worked the teletype
room at the Hamilton Spectator for fifty years. Before the Internet,
if anything of importance happened anywhere in the world, newspapers
learned about it by a long yellow ribbon of paper covered in
punched-out holes. My grandfather kept those teletype machines
To a young boy, it was like magic to watch him read the long
yellow ribbons as they told about floods in China or riots in
Joe was married to my grandmother Bertha, who also worked
for Canadian Press, but gave it up to raise two boys. One of
those boys was my uncle Trevor, who retired last year as an editor
of the Vancouver Sun. His columns infuriated his critics and
the trendy Lefties. He's part of a rare breed - a really smart
Along the way I have cousin who was in at the founding of
Cosmopolitan Magazine with Helen Gurley Brown. Cousin Morley
worked for Time Canada and People Magazine. His daughter Karen
produced the Jenny Jones Show, and now does documentaries.
Starting to get the picture?
My brother Richard is a news photographer for the Toronto
Star, and a darned good one. It means no one in my family ever
has to carry a camera to family events. He does great work, as
long as you don't mind waiting for the results. His home-made
Christmas cards usually arrive in April.
And then there was Dad.
Through his column at the Toronto Star, my father Gary was
best known for his common sense and gentle touch.
Unlike the 3,400 US journalists they studied for the survey,
Dad was as far from the Mercedes-driving, racquet-ball playing,
yacht-sailing newspaperman as you could get.
He drove a Chev, liked dinner at home, and had no time for
phonies. He'd rather spend time with his family than be out getting
an award. Unlike the journalists in the US survey, he didn't
own a hot tub, hang out in jazz clubs or play the stock market.
Maybe that's what made him so good at what he did.
When Dad died eight years ago, he left shoes no one could
fill. So much so, I was hesitant to get into the same field.
But, like Grandma said, the nut doesn't fall far from the tree,
so here I am.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to supervise the maid while
she polishes the silver.