On Campus

Spotting the sensational

When the headlines are irrelevant

I’m forever irked by what I see in print, and usually for the wrong reasons.

The other day, it was the cover story of the Toronto Star:

“T.O’s first black police chief?”

Ah yes, there it was; first page and proud. But strangely enough, I kept seeing a different headline:

“T.O paper uses buzz words in an irrelevant attempt to sell more copies?”

Hm. I guess my eyes were playing tricks on me. Maybe I need more sleep.

The article was about Peter Sloly of the Toronto Police Service, a man about to take on the rank of deputy chief. Sloly’s ascension is a special one; at 43 and with just 21 years with the force, he is believed to be the youngest officer in the country to reach such a rank. The article goes on to describe some of Sloly’s personal achievements, and how some believe he is bound to become the next police chief.

Then it ends. If it weren’t for the headline and picture, I’d have no idea he was black.

I don’t blame the writer. This was probably the case of an editor stepping in and deciding Toronto needed some sensationalism that day. And with the struggling state of printed news, I almost can’t blame him/her. Almost.

Why make mention of Sloly’s colour at all? The outstanding detail of his story is that he’s ascended the ranks so quickly. But oh, silly me, I’m forgetting that detail alone doesn’t have the same sort of “underdog appeal.” Gosh, I’ll never make it to editor!

If discerning physical or sexual characteristics are actually relevant and noteworthy when talking of someone’s personal achievements (and I find they rarely are) then so be it. Otherwise, can we leave the race/gender/religion/ethnicity/status/class (I could go on) card out of it?

Now, enough on that; I have another read calling my name. I’m seeing “Only self-indulgent bigots still drink bottled water.”

This should be fun.

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