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Toronto Life Just Doesn't Get It


John Macfarlane doesn't get the internet. Not sure if Robert Fulford does either. In the current issue of Toronto Life - which I was interviewed for back in April - the magazine finally mentions the word blog, and then proceeds to infer, "what's the point?"

The point is that the Toronto Life editorial team should finish their croissants and head on over to catch the final two days of the Mcluhan International Festival of the Future to be reminded that the medium is the message. While there they might learn where all their readership has disappeared to, and think of hiring someone to manage their afterthought of a web site.

In Fulford's article, Blog's Age, the author waxes on about the relevance (or lack thereof) of blogs and doesn't hold back in criticizing the me-too editorial on blogs like this one and Torontoist.

And you know what? He's right. He's right that blogTO hasn't quite yet found a "voice of its own". We're working on it. He's right that we sometimes cover stuff that can be spotted in the pages of NOW, EYE, the four "local" newspapers, insane amount of free dailies or even the recycling plant full of local and international magazines that inundate us all.

But in one critical respect, he just doesn't get it. He doesn't get that he's comparing a growing medium to a declining one. He doesn't get that all the outfits that cover the "cool stuff down at the Distillery District" spread their gospel on dead trees. He doesn't get that blogs are about a completely different way to engage with a readership. Where exactly in the pages (heck, even the web sites) of Toronto Life, NOW, EYE, Dose (the list goes on) can readers further the conversation and post comments in real-time?

Of course, I tried to explain all this to Robert Fulford when he interviewed me for this article five months ago (why it took them so long to publish it is another story). I explained that the difference is not just in the content, it's in the medium. I painstakingly described what an RSS feed is and how kids these days are consuming media. I shot down his (and apparently John MacFarlane's) assertion that nobody has time to read blogs. I detailed what blogTO is all about and that we're not simply, as he puts it, an online magazine.

We talked for, like, an hour; 5 minutes of which was him advising me on how we should cover City Hall.

But where is all this in the article? Instead, Fulford quotes me from an ancient expose in Eye Weekly. He makes fun of a Torontoist post about racoons.

The sad fact is that Fulford, MacFarlane and the rest of my parent's generation that works at Toronto Life made their minds up about how they would portray the emerging Toronto blog scene before they wrote the piece. And who can blame them? How else could they grasp on to the final moments before their magazine loses its relevancy.


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