Blog by John Miller

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Let's boycott THIS

May 1st, 2019

When I worked for newspapers, publishers would turn purple if anyone suggested they ought to accept money from the government for anything other than a paid ad. And there were certainly plenty of those back in the day.

We need to be independent from those we cover, they used to say. We will never compromise our journalistic principles or let anyone tell us what to cover or how to cover it.


We expect better

February 17th, 2019
Plagiarism derives from the Latin word plagiarius, which literally means “kidnapped” and figuratively means “literary thief.”

The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as the theft of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas or expressions” and presenting them as your own original work.

A journalist caught plagiarizing loses his or her reputation and has a good chance of losing their job. ...

No news here?

October 28th, 2018

Nearly a week after Ontario’s municipal elections, no newspaper or television station in the Greater Toronto Area has reported on the shocking lack of progress in making municipal councils more reflective of the population.

For example, 57 percent of Mississauga’s residents identified as visible minorities in the 2016 census. However, not one of them was elected to the city's 11 council seat ...

Caricature assassination?

October 1st, 2018

Bruce Mackinnon and Duncan Macpherson share the distinction of being two of the best editorial cartoonists in Canadian history. MacKinnon, who still draws for the Halifax Chronicle Herald, has won seven National Newspaper Awards, and Macpherson, who died in 1993, won six for his excellent work for the Toronto Star.

Although much of their work depicts politicians and others in the public eye ...

Art of the denial

September 7th, 2018

Mike Pence didn't write it. If he did, his office said, he'd want a byline. 

It wasn’t Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, either.

It wasn’t anything Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, did and he has no idea who did.

Nor was it  Defence Secretary James Mattis, even though his nickname is Mad Dog.

It wasn’t Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of homeland security. Nor Mick Mulvaney, di ...

The Timson rule

September 6th, 2018

For many years I was a senior editor of Canada’s largest newspaper, and my direct boss was a legendary newsman named Ray Timson.

He drove himself to be the best as a reporter, and he drove the Toronto Star to be the best as its longtime managing editor. He personified Holy Joe Atkinson’s credo for covering the news: "Get it first; sew it up; pursue every detail; and play it big."

You can st ...

The real fake news

August 23rd, 2018

Besides seeking the truth and verifying it, the most important function of journalism is independence.

Journalists must maintain an independence from those they cover. Why? Because freedom of the press, which is guaranteed in the U.S. and Canadian constitutions, exists primarily so that journalists can serve as independent monitors of power. Their scrutiny ensures that our leaders are always ...

Purveyor of fear

July 27th, 2018

Truth is a fragile commodity, especially when our perceptions get clouded by strong emotions.

A good example is the fear and anger that most Torontonians felt last Sunday night when we learned that a lone gunman had shot his way along the bustling Danforth, killing two and critically injuring more than a dozen others.

Many of us traditionally turn to journalism to sort out the truth of imp ...

Road to oblivion

December 2nd, 2017

When the history of Canadian newspapers (or, more likely, their obituary) is written, this may go down as the week we heard the first death rattles.

It started with the largest mass closure of newspapers in Canada’s history. Staff at 11 Ontario community newspapers and two free dailies in Toronto and Vancouver arrived for work Monday morning to find the doors locked. Their jobs were gone jus ...

Step up to plate

October 28th, 2017
The Toronto Star welcomed news that a majority of its city's population now identifies as non-white by issuing a challenge to what it called the leading civic institutions: It's time to step up to the plate and reflect this diversity.

In an editorial, the paper said "there's still a yawning gap between Toronto's demographic reality and the makeup of its leadership in almost all sectors -- ...
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