Food & Drink

So Long. Farewell. Auf wiedersehen. Goodbye.

This is my last post for Spectator, as I am moving onward and upward, or backward and downward, depending on your point of view. I’ve gotten a real kick out of the past 16 months, first blogging about the Conrad Black trial, then more broadly on whatever it was I’ve spent the past five months mouthing off about.

I want to thank, in no particular order, the lawyer (Howard Winkler), the researcher (the essential Veronica Maddocks), the editors (Kelly Pullen, Carley Fortune and Matthew Fox—patience personified) and the copy editor (Amy Harkness, with an able assist from Lisa Fielding), whose life I’m sure I made a living hell. They all did exemplary work, and this blog would have been a good deal less than it was without them. Thanks also to the guy who hired me, John Macfarlane, who’s taking over on an interim basis at The Walrus. John is that rare editor who elevates the job. He creates a graceful, exciting work environment. He cares about developing his writers’ voices and reportorial skills, and assists them in communicating with the reader. He metes out, kicks in the ass and pats on the back with equal care. And he’s honest. In short, a gent.

And, of course, thanks to the readers and participants of both Spectator and The Trial of Conrad Black. You have been at once incisive, funny, brawling, mad, bad and dangerous to know. I’m quite certain we’ll meet again.

In closing, an observation on the general media climate hereabouts: At every level—from the Prime Minister’s Office to the courts to the halls of government and business—we need greater transparency and candour from our public officials and elites. While covering Conrad Black’s trial in Chicago, I was astonished at the relative congeniality of the lawyers and court officials (high and low) in seeking to clarify or at least promulgate their side of the story. This as opposed to the superior courts in Toronto, where public disclosure is treated as a sort of lewd and furtive act of indulgence. As one of my fellow scribblers on the Livent beat pointed out, if you ask a clerk at the superior court in Toronto for a peek at an exhibit in what is meant to be a public trial, he or she will regard you as if you’ve requested pornography.

Open expression isn’t about what the statutes allow, it’s what we as free people can bear. The more candid and self-aware we are, the better. And that goes most especially for the chattering classes who, from time to time, take themselves rather too seriously (including, from time to time, yours truly).

À bientôt.

Save the Press [New York Times]


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