The Walrus - - LETTERS -

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Read­ing Brett Pop­plewell’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the strug­gles of the Toronto Star (“Fi­nal Edi­tion,” June), it oc­curs to me that an im­por­tant part of what might save the news-me­dia in­dus­try can be found in the ar­ti­cle it­self: the work of true pro­fes­sion­als such as Daniel Dale at the Star. The suc­cess of the New York Times, which has ex­panded its cov­er­age in Aus­tralia and Canada, sug­gests that the fu­ture of me­dia lies in qual­ity work and pro­fes­sion­al­ism. In an in­ter­net age when ev­ery ama­teur claims to be a pro but isn’t, the truth still means some­thing, and the likes of ded­i­cated re­porters are there to prove that point.

Nigel Spencer

Mon­treal, QC

the story goes

Char­lotte Gray (“The Fu­ture of Bi­og­ra­phy,” June) sug­gests that the nar­ra­tive bi­o­graph­i­cal pod­cast is an emerg­ing genre that could re­place printed mem­oirs and oral his­to­ries. This might be true in some cases, but as a coach on mem­oir writ­ing who works in re­tire­ment com­mu­ni­ties, I’ve met many peo­ple who pre­fer ex­press­ing their world views and per­sonal ac­counts in print rather than the scat­tered-to-the-winds feel of speech. I also see the printed mem­oir as a form of resistance to the process de­scribed by Brett Pop­plewell in “Fi­nal Edi­tion”: news­pa­pers us­ing an­a­lyt­ics soft­ware to de­ter­mine what themes and at­ti­tudes will en­gage users. The bias to­ward pop­u­lar as op­posed to non-con­form­ing at­ti­tudes was also al­luded to by Gray: “Ex­pect to­mor­row’s bi­og­ra­phers to in­creas­ingly in­sert con­tem­po­rary pre­oc­cu­pa­tions into their re­con­struc­tions of past lives.” In­deed. Se­lec­tive his­tor­i­cal am­ne­sia is an in­gre­di­ent of to­day’s so­cial cli­mate; those who live long enough to write their own bi­ogra­phies might es­cape it. San­dra Bar­bara Ju­lian Vic­to­ria, BC get out Ad­mirable as his in­tent is, David Suzuki (“The Fu­ture of Na­ture,” June) is wrong to con­clude that city-dwelling Cana­di­ans “no longer feel con­nected to na­ture” and are there­fore eco­log­i­cally un­think­ing and favour money over planet. Ru­ral economies are com­monly built around in­dus­tries that de­grade and de­stroy na­ture, and liv­ing in an ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment can ac­tu­ally make one ap­pre­ci­ate the beauty and fragility of the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and the in­creas­ing rareness of space not dam­aged by hu­man ac­tiv­ity. David M. Bas­toli Mis­sis­sauga, ON While there was much to ad­mire in the fif­teenth-an­niver­sary is­sue of The Wal­rus (June), the mag­a­zine left some­thing out: Canada’s ru­ral per­spec­tive. It’s not sur­pris­ing, as most of your writ­ers are prob­a­bly liv­ing in ma­jor Cana­dian cities. We have been at a point for years where more peo­ple are liv­ing in cities than in the coun­try. This in it­self should raise con­cerns about how we see our fu­ture un­fold­ing. It’s easy for a city dweller to for­get that they im­port raw ma­te­ri­als, food, fuel, and other vi­tal prod­ucts. Where do ur­ban­ites think these prod­ucts come from? But even this ques­tion suc­cumbs to a stereo­type about ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties: that we’re all lit­tle more than cut­ters of wood, farm­ers of grain, and min­ers of coal. Many ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties have had to move with the times as re­sources are ex­hausted and di­ver­sify economies to in­clude not only tourism but also a strong arts sec­tor. Add to this the po­ten­tial for skilled pro­fes­sion­als— in­clud­ing writ­ers—to work from home and you have a whole other vi­brant com­po­nent of ru­ral economies. It’s a nat­u­ral hu­man ten­dency to see the world through the blink­ered vi­sion of our clique: we see what’s around us and project it onto the world. So it’s es­sen­tial that pub­li­ca­tions like The Wal­rus help us to widen our view to in­clude all Cana­di­ans, ur­ban and ru­ral. Arthur Joyce New Denver, BC “The time has come,” The Wal­rus said, “to talk of many things.” Send us a let­ter, email (let­ters@the­wal­rus.ca), or tweet, or post on our web­site or Face­book page. Com­ments may be pub­lished in any medium and edited for length, clar­ity, and ac­cu­racy. 411 Rich­mond Street East, Suite B15 Toronto, On­tario, Canada M5A 3S5

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