Toronto Star Editor-in-Chief retires

by nobugsonme on December 21, 2008 · 2 comments

in bed bugs, bed bugs in the media, canada, Joe Fiorito, ontario, toronto

J. Fred Kuntz has been The Star’s Editor-in-Chief for 26 months and he writes in this article that he is retiring this week.

How is this bed bug news?

Easy: The Star has had the most persistent coverage of bed bugs in any single media publication (outside of a bed bug blog, or pest control industry journal), period. As Kuntz says,

We wrote powerful stories about poverty – and helped to spur increases in the minimum wage, close loopholes in the Employment Standards Act, improve dental care for the poor and stir action against bedbugs in public housing.

The bulk of The Star’s bed bug articles were written by Joe Fiorito.

I do not doubt for a minute that this coverage has helped make things happen in Toronto.

I hope the incoming Editor-in-Chief continues along these lines.

Because if you don’t talk about your city’s bed bug problem, no one is going to do anything about it.

1 charles dolwin December 22, 2008 at 7:17 pm

I am disappointed in perspective on the Toronto Star coverage of bed bugs in Toronto.. Some benefit? yes, some but mostly these have been sensationalized stories designed to draw attention with not much real journalistic research.. Stories scratching the surface and emphasizing the obvious rather than truly addressing solutions. For all the words and lines written almost on a weekly basis, the useful content in the stories was very very limited. The Star could have done much better had they had fewer of those sensational stories and devoted some time to having research on the subject and contacted some of the local and international experts and put together a proper two page spread with information and suggestions and key points. All that content is here and on a lot of other good websites, so what did Fiorito accomplish? Make himself look like he is the champion of the downtrodden by talking to tenants and to some of the management? He could have accomplished more, a lot more, by spending some time researching the subject and then using the journalistic resources available in the largest paper in Canada to put together a story that couild have been used by all… Instead, what we have is lazy tabloid journalism…. stories designed to create horror and sensationalism with the writer portraying himself as the champion of the downtrodden. The usefulness of the stories is very shortlived and mostly useful to the Star.. Helping two or three or even five individual tenants does not help the bigger picture. And some of the stories he reported were “old new” “Toronto Public Health now has a bed bug action committee”…- that was about six months old when Joe reported it. Joe does his thing but does not go out of his way.. does not attend Town Hall Meetings on Bedbugs and the Star could not afford to send him to a workshop put on by Ontario Non Profit Housing Association conference in Ottawa..
Let’s not be fooled by tabloid journalism. The journalism that gets things done really takes hard work, not a brief byline drafted in an hour or two as part of keeping up the profile. When Pierre Berton did a story on a key subject, by God he worked at it and researched it and when it came out, it had Pierre out front leading against the bad things when it was not “fashionable” to do so. And Pierre’s stories were carefully researched so he knew what he was talking about.. His revealing the horrors of anti-semitism in Ontario in the late 50’s and early 60’s was journalism at its best.
The Star has some great writers who know how to research a key subject and learn the nuances so they can do public service.
Some may not agree with this view, but it is not enough to just do the sensational thing every few weeks… Seems like Joe got tired of the subject of late. Perhaps he is waiting for another horror story to tell from the comfort of his chair.

2 nobugsonme December 22, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Hi charles dolwin,

I appreciate your comments.

I do think that stories about bed bugs in the news, in and of themselves, are helpful to changing the situation vis a vis bed bugs.

But I do take your point that the amount of effect they may have had on the situation in Toronto may be limited. (We don’t really know.)

And that it could be even better.

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