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Saturday, December 23, 2006

8 Things Torontoist Didn't Report on this Year

It's been eating at me. The unrealized potential of all these semi-interesting, but not-really-that-edgy, local city blogs. Toronto's a cool place in my book (hey, I've lived here for 20 years and have become attached). But if you aggregated 10-20 of the better lesser-known blogs from around here, you'd get more interesting coverage (and photos) than what's churned out by the relatively friendly and informative crew at Torontoist. Are they just too alike in their vision? Lazy? Have full time jobs? Don't actually get invited anyplace interesting? All of the above?

Among other things, this crew did not report on:
  • The big warehouse fire at St. Clair and Ossington. And the second fire that happened in the same spot the next day. The blaze still burned up to 48 hours later, and traffic was completely snarled for the first 24. I wish I'd had my camera. In pouring rain, under a roof overhang attached to the Portuguese restaurant across the street, a crowd of laborers stood watching the last of the fire. They had nowhere else to be.
  • The coat check girl at Acqua. Enough said.
  • The absurd parking spots you wind up getting if you're dumb enough (like me) to rent a spot from some well-meaning but ultimately self-serving tool on Craigslist. The first spot I got was on level P5 of a condo and took me an extra ten minutes to get in and out every day (20 mins added to a total commute time of maybe 28 mins). The second was backed up against a giant hole in the ground (condo project) and frequently hijacked by construction workers.
  • No fascinating coverage of graduation ceremonies at U of T, with lengthy speeches in Convocation Hall. (OK, maybe that's not going to make the final cut here.)
  • Despite massive coverage of bicycle and other methods of green transport, no available downloads of "head cams" chronicling lengthy bicycle or rollerblade trips through the city. Maybe too shaky to be as soothing for sleep-deprived viewers as those old slow-motion "city drive" films used to be (remember the ones that they showed at 2 a.m.? Was it on Global or CityTV?).
  • Annex-area bias? Excessive coverage of Tony Ianno and Olivia Chow; no mention of the dirty tricks campaign in a High Park - Parkdale provincial byelection, where Sylvia Watson's group tried to spread innuendo about a Cheri di Novo sermone that was "supportive of murderer Karla Homolka". Also no coverage of the absurd Watson "handlers" and "security" swarming around her pedestrian photo op at a local Bloor West bakery. di Novo won. Hate to be so pre-post-modern about things, but salacious political coverage has to be a must for any city blog.
  • Not enough real-world restaurant reviews. What's overhyped, what's better than expected, even in one area - say Kensington? I don't think you have to be Yelp or Insiderpages to keep adding to the pool of reviews available online. There are dozens of great places to eat in 70 areas of the city. Joanne Kates can't try all of them.
  • What about gonzo retail journalism? Speaking of Kensington... how about meet a shopkeeper at some place that sells tons of lobsters, as opposed to just grabbing someone's generic lobster snaps from Flickr?
The bottom line is, blogs matter. They matter because people are still searching for tons of things that show zero results. I'm convinced that insofar as citizen journalism fills in these empty spaces, on the whole it will enrich our lives, and provide a knowledge base that could lead to new forms of community, and faster decisions on matters of importance to all.

Lately, I sense they've been picking up steam at Torontoist. As mentioned, they're experimenting with a daily photo drawn from the pool of available ones at Flickr. They've begun profiling major intersections, which is leading to interesting chatter in the comments. If they keep this up, there'll be no need to start a rival blog!

I certainly don't have time to start one, but I'd be interested in co-starting one. :) Drop me a line if you have any ideas. Don't worry, I've already got a great domain name for it! Way better than Torontoist. (There is no such thing as a Torontoist.)

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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