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Juxtaposition and Necessary Illusion

How incredible is this picture on the front page
of the Vancouver Sun on December 22, 2005!!





From the Globe and Mail - October 21, 2006 - "City newspapers across the continent have witnessed their traditional readership being eroded by the Internet, a phenomenon that has thrown parts of the industry into crisis mode."

Juxtaposition is the news media art of situating news information on a page in a way that focuses attention on where the news publisher wants you to look.

News media companies decide what you see, and how you interpret it. It doesn't happen by accident, and Vancouver Sun editors are masters at this manipulative art form. I would say they are better than most I've seen, but their sister publication, The Province, comes in at a close second. They both know how to manage their readers with impeccable expertise.

The picture above has to be placed in the right context in order to understand how the manipulation works. First, consider that the newspaper is in a metal sales box on the street. When you walk by, the shining faces of our Olympic hopefuls jump out and attract your attention. Who could resist such a display? For most Canadians this picture and headline are absolutely impossible to resist. It is huge news for hockey fans.

On its own, there is absolutely nothing wrong with how this story is presented, but on Thursday, December 22, 2005, is this really the Olympic story of the day?

Considering that we live in an Olympic region, is this the most important Olympic story we should be focusing on? And considering that the healthy economic balance of our region is dependent on hosting a successful Games in 2010 is this the best story today that will help our community understand how we fit into the big picture?

On first inspection nothing seems out of place, but if you look closely at the date of the newspaper, December 22, 2005, and then read below the headline that all these hockey players were picked six days earlier on December 16, isn't this story a little late to warrant a big headline on the front page? After all, to hockey fans, this is big news, so what took so long? Surely it can't be because it took a professional news company like CanWest Global almost a week to source all the pictures. Keep in mind this is the front page of the Vancouver Sun. It is not the front page of the "sports" section. According to the Vancouver Sun, this is BIG NEWS. Strike up the band. (BTW, if you follow Olympic hockey you already know that in retrospect the only people deserving of being on the front page are the women, but that's another story for someone else's blog.

Why would The Vancouver Sun wait so long to run this story?

What would warrant that they sit on it for almost a week?

Remember, this is the news headline peering out at you from the newspaper box on the street or the headline that's stacked in the corner store facing up. The juxtaposition is carefully planned and there is much more happening here than meets the eye.

What if I told you that the real Olympic story of not only the day, but of the month was also on this page, and that it holds tremendously more value for local taxpayers than the picture of all these hockey hopefuls?

What if I told you that somewhere on this page there is a story that illustrates how mismanaged VANOC really is?

How would you feel then knowing that the real story was downplayed and presented to you in a way that took the sting out of knowing that VANOC was already on a slippery slope way back in December of 2005?

Remember too that it was a time when VANOC could do no wrong and when CEO John Furlong was still a local hero.

The Olympic business model is outdated and broken. It is why communities like Athens fell into $12 billion in debt over their Games and why Salt Lake City had a deficit of $1.2 billion.

You can't fix it if you don't know it is broke.

OK. Enough mystery. Flip over the front page to see what lies beneath the fold and discover the real Olympic story of the day. Flip over the newspaper to see what the Sun doesn't want you to see, but what that damned pesky journalistic integrity thingy keeps insisting they show you. flip past the fold





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