Editorial Should Resolve, Not Polarize

By Mahesh P. Butani
Published July 23, 2010

Our local suburban newspaper editor has served Hamilton the biggest double whopper to date: "us suburbanites are just pieces of meat for the ravenous lords of downtown."

In his continuing attempts to further polarize our city, he brings to us his wisdom on city planning, by insulting the intelligence of both the urban and suburban residents alike in one sentence: "The victorious amalgamation generals seized dowries from their bastard cousins."

One can only assume that his self-deprecation here is an attempt to invoke mass hysteria among the people who have chosen to live in the suburbs for no particular political or ideological affiliations, but mostly to provide a safe[r] place to raise children and grow some equity.

By turning a site-selection process, already set to polarize the community in the way it was handled from the outset, into a community-baiting sport, our sprawl activist brings forth the idea of a battle: "the foot soldiers of another downtown revitalization house of cards are coming out in full force to prop up a losing proposal."

Rather than help resolve a bad situation, he splits Hamiltonians into two camps - the urban and the suburban - and boldly paints those on the side of sustainability as the ones with "disdain" for suburban life; yet many who support the downtown stadium location actually live in the suburbs.

In an attempt to be analytical, he chooses to dwell into the origins of word suburban. Raring to bring forth wisdom, he dives straight into surgery before he has even attempted to discover the roots. Hence the "double" size serving of the whopper!

Suburbs, he proclaims, were the place where people in old England who were considered to have a lesser status lived: "The serfs if you will".

History, however, very clearly tells us that suburbs even back then (not to be mistaken for our stick-frame sprawl or the suburbs of developing economies) were places where the wealthy in old England retreated to get away from the chaos and din of urban life.

It was and continues to be in the downtown of smaller old North American cities where the less privileged (the serfs if you will) spend their summers.

Our property seems to me the most beautiful in the world. It is so close to Babylon that we enjoy all the advantages of the city, and yet when we come home we stay away from all the noise and dust.

-- Letter from an early suburbanite to the king of Persia in 539 BCE, written in cuneiform on a clay tablet

The bar on Hamilton journalism just got lowered. Instead of attempting to place things in a historical context to diffuse the trauma this community is experiencing, our old media stalwart pushes the community to the brink of chaos.

Viva La Cripps! Viva La Sprawl!

Mahesh P. Butani is a non-architect, and a developer by default. He is involved in re-developing properties in downtown Hamilton; and has an MA in Arts Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, NYC (1986), and bachelors in Architecture from Bombay, India (1982). Currently he is not an architect in Ontario on account of not having enough Canadian Experience; and does not qualify to teach as he carries too much baggage to fit into the Canadian education system. He refuses to be re-trained to fit in, on a matter of principle, and is a passionate disbeliever of icons and self-regulation of professions in Canada - but still maintains his belief in collective self-organizing behavior; and feels that the large swath of intellectual brownfields across Ontario are far more harmful to the economy than the brownfields left over from deindustrialization - and in response has set up a social network called Metropolitan Hamilton.


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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 23, 2010 at 10:42:44


Within minutes of the delivery of my Stoney Creek News, I was working on an editorial in response, found here:

Mr. Cripps is... Well, let's just say that he's been building a reputation of late of...well, a curmudgeon; you should read what he had to say about the G8/G20 protesters...

Great commentary, Mahesh.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2010-07-23 09:43:08

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 23, 2010 at 10:56:09

As a post-script, I do have to point out that Mr. Cripps is not a 'suburban newspaper editor'; he's the Group Managing Editor for a large handful of Southern Ontarion community publications under the Metroland banner...including the Mountain News...which is a Hamilton rag.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 10:59:20

Suburbs to Hamilton: "GET OFF MY LAWN!"

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 15:49:37

Every week, I dread that 'Thing' coming into the house. There doesn't seem to be a way to stop it. It just arrives, unbidden & unwelcome with Fliers! Millions of Fliers! (wasn't the Age of Computers supposed to create a 'paperless society'?)

A lot of the really Right Wing Reactionary Insanity started a few years ago when changes to the school system would supposedly promote education & tolerance. It became obvious that some wanted neither. A not-so-silent 'majority'?? Who's to say, but Loud, Nutz, & Adamant-Yes! When in doubt -Quote God! (or misquote God, & hope those heathens won't notice.) :(

It's quite obvious who the paper(s) pander to. If you find yourself wearing a bed sheet,& carrying a sign that says, "Repent! The End is Nigh!", you will probably get a letter published. (or maybe a sign that says. "Women & Gays are the cause of all our problems!"?)

I found this editorial offensive. I live in the 'Burbs. I find about 98% of the editorials offensive in that rag. (Yup, even the one where he wants to 'shoot the Wabbit'. It's obviously a Commie Pinko Wabbit. It demands a share of his produce.)

Pitting the City against the Burbs :{ that isn't done every day. With friends like this, who needs enemies? We already have enough animosity, gripes, & feelings of 'hard done by'. We don't need it stirred up more by Newspaper stories in wanker tabloids making it worse.
If ANYBODY was going to dissolve the Union that Mike Harris sanctified, it would have been done long ago, & it hasn't been. Anybody got any reasons Why? I'd like to know..

(None-consummation makes perfect sense to me, unless a whole lot of consummation has been going on behind our collective back?)

Maybe the editor will be running for Mayor, next election? Perhaps this is the beginning of a platform? "Crankiness, Regression, And Polarization." Be ready to read all about C.R.A.P.! (Coming sooner than you want; to a letter slot far too near to you.)

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 24, 2010 at 10:10:18

Usually I'm a fan of the mountain news, but this Cripps character is out of control. I read the article and was immediately filled with a "what the hell good will that do?" attitude. He's continuing to divide the city and pick on old amalgamation wounds.

By turning the stadium debate into a "sububrs versus city" issue he has divided the city along what are probably the most ridiculous and self-centered lines possible. What about "people who believe in urban renewal versus people who don't" or "ti-cat fans versus non-fans" I'm sick and tired that everything turns into a suburbs versus city issue.

BTW I'm totally dumbfounded that the downtown core with it's high poverty rates is the "ravenous overlord" of Ancaster and Dundas with their multi-million dollar homes. Go spend a weekend in the north east end and tell me who the Serfs are Mr. Cripps.

Maybe if council was running one "city" instead of the "serfs rebelling" against the "city" we'd have a city we could all be proud of?

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted July 24, 2010 at 17:34:13

I like getting the Dundas Star News. I hate reading the editorial bits - they are an embarrassment even to that pokey little community weekly.

My wife and I puzzled over "The victorious amalgamation generals seized dowries from their bastard cousins" for several minutes without ever figuring out what the various elements and the relationships were meant to represent.

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2010 at 13:02:30

Thank you Mahesh, for shining a light on a very dark & stinky place!

Everyone here seems to think that Mr. Cripps is 'out of control'. These are community news papers. Don't we get a say, esp. if we don't think that the editorial content, & the letters chosen for publishing reflect normal community values?

Cripps has asserted that he doesn't hate anybody. He doesn't have to. He has regular 'contributors'. This last editorial didn't sound so peaceful. However, there is always the old, 'Freedom of Speech" angle to consider.

However, since we are not given a choice in receiving this paper, I think the best place to start would be contacting the Advertisers who send the flyers. Also, would sending the papers back to Mountain News, postage due, might be an option. It's unsolicited material found in our mailboxes. Why not? We should check into that.

**Mystoneycreek -Can we all contact somebody @ Metroland or Mountain News to state our case(s)? There is a name of someone who appears to be in charge of Metroland in the Saturday Spec., 1st page.

It seems to me that handing somebody a kind of blank cheque, to say, select, & print whatever they want is a very dangerous thing, esp. if that is supposed to represent the views of many in several areas of the GHA. They clearly don't.

I have emailed copies of some of the letters to Ed. to people outside of this area, & they are aghast & sickened at what they are reading.
My fav. comment so far is , "Don't drink the Kool-Aid".

Is it possible that people have become so disgusted or fearful under this print barrage, to not write letters themselves, in case they are targeted for reprisal?

I have not written any letters to Ed. recently because you might as well write to a stone. These people "Know what they know" & no logic in the world is going to change their entrenched views.

I posted some material here not that long ago that was critical of both editorial & letter content & selection, & right afterward had a few 'problems' driving around the 'Hood.
That tells me that there are 2 kinds of people here. People in the Loop(y) who agree with this stuff & the vast majority people outside of that area of influence who don't.
That sure doesn't sound 'Community' oriented to me. It sounds like a small clique running local media (into the ground) for their own benefit. :{

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By Suburban (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2010 at 13:21:08

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By no_larry (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2010 at 13:41:06

Mark Cripps is an idiot--and he gets paid to stir up this as if it adds to Metroland readership. But it's also the Hamilton thing to publish wacko letters and let the insult fall wherever it does. The Spec Sat July 24/10 ran a letter that meant that all Indians are freeloaders re CPP etc. It's just factually wrong, as a letter from Six Nations pointed out, but the Spec and Community News don't give a shit. Cripps' paper "outed" a Ticat football player by printing a letter from the local Catholic anti-queer crackpot. Hamilton is the only media dead place in Ontario that would run this crap-o.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 25, 2010 at 21:24:24

Cityjoe: Just to clarify...

-The paper is not delivered by Canada Post, so it's not a 'piece of mail'. It's delivered by Metroland contractors; mine is carefully placed on my front landing by neighbour kids. If you don't want to have it delivered, contact Metroland. Ask for it not to be delivered. I bet they'll comply; over the past year, I've been in touch with them over delivery problems...and there are some very competent, very nice people working in that company.

-What the Group Managing Editor (Cripps) decides to publish in terms of his own column is up to him. And I would defend his right to do so. (Just as I would defend my right to slag him off when he's behaving like a knob.) What the Editor chooses to publish as far as reader letters is that person's decision. These functions are aspects of editorial purview and I have no desire to go down the road that has pressure being applied to 'conform' or 'reflect community standards'. Again, this is not a paper you purchase, so really, in that sense, you don't have a 'vote'...other than writing here, or to Cripps, or just getting Metroland to stop delivering your local paper.

-As far as getting in touch with advertisers... Yes, you could. But to me, there's something just not kosher about taking pro-active measures to shut someone up. I don't want to live in that kind of a world. I want all voices to have a chance to be heard...and in turn slag them off in my own inimitable way...and if Metroland feels comfortable with the editorial slant of its community editorial teams' output, then they're comfortable with it. (Maybe someone should forward them all appropriate articles? I'm just sayin'...)

-I had more than my share of Letters to the Editor published over the past year. And I know that I raised the bar discussion-wise quite a bit and ruffled some feathers in the process, and for that I have to doff my hat to the Stoney Creek News. However, I doubt I'll ever have any more printed...mostly because we seem to be at loggerheads on several issues...and I do not believe that the SC News takes the right stance in terms of what news it delivers and how it delivers it...and they know it. This, however, is an ideological wrasslin' match, and I have an advantage: I'm a blogger, and nobody tells me what I can and cannot write, nor how I write it. (Ask Al Merlo.)

-The Metroland community newspapers have a mandate, an agenda, and it's certainly their right to tell their stories the way they want. Do I agree with what they produce, is it something I'd want to be associated with as a writer? No. But that doesn't mean I want to change them, or get them to realign themselves. I want a publication to be what it is, what its owners and editorial staff wants it to be. If that's not what I want...well, I can always read something else...and self-publish. As can anyone. Look; we're talking about newspapers that are distributed with grocery fliers (as well as having ads in the papers themselves), publications that are most definitely not in the 21st century as far as online presence. Web-savvy. (And why would you need to publish a hard-copy newspaper anyway? Unless you were generating most of your revenue by piggybacking your delivery with the revenue-stream known as 'flyers'. Which, I have to say, is about as credible as the Ti-Cats 'needing' the revenue from parking in order to survive as a business.)

-Mark Cripps does what he does because right's what he does. Given is somewhat-notable past, I suspect he's a little frustrated with his lot journalistically these days, and his columns don't disguise this frustration.

-I believe the best thing we can all do is to keep discussions like this going. Engagement is always preferable to anything akin to silencing, at least from my vantage point.

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By Raise the IQ (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 06:53:45

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 12:01:51

Well, let's just say that he's been building a reputation of late of...well, a curmudgeon - mystoneycreek

People's grandfathers are curmudgeons. Mr. Cripps is an entirely different (and more damaging) beast.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 26, 2010 at 15:57:04

Very well said, Mahesh, and great comments mystoneycreek.

Although I agree with the freedom of expression, the last thing we need right now, is for this city to be any more divided than we currently are.

I don't think this is an 'east vs west' 'core vs burbs' (man vs man) thing really. I think both sides of the camp have strong 'campaigns' and good points to be considered.

The problem is, neither plan works for what the other's vision is. That is really the bottom line here.

The 'City of many Communities' is a wonderful vision, one that makes us a beautifully diverse community. I don't think people are against the stadium being in the 'burb's (which I have always thought of Stoney Creek as Hamilton personally even before amagalmation), more than they simply believe a downtown location works better for the cities vision.

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 03:00:30

This is an interesting interview
July 26, 2010, "Journalists with Opinions"
This interview covers objective responsible journalism, & sports owners who want to 'select the place for a new stadium' & demand public funds to support it.

No, I don't want to muzzle M.C., but I think there is a responsibility to the communities when you say that yours is a community paper. He doesn't seem to see that.
I cannot believe that the sentiments & opinions often exhibited (yes, like a freak show) are representative of these communities @ large.

FYI. It's Not that easy to cancel these papers. I tried several times, & gave up. That's the only reason that it's still showing up.

The Community papers did print a small story about the large number of 'Hate Crimes' in Hamilton/GHA. GREAT! - but I'm surprised that nobody drew any conclusions about why this happens, considering some of the letters that are printed.

I have written to M.C., in private to voice my concerns. I did not get a reply. I really didn't expect one either,so wrapped up is he in telling us,"what's good for us."

(We don't all just whine here RaiseTIQ. Some of speak directly. Too bad more don't, but I doubt if they would get replies either.)

If you cannot do your job to a reasonable degree, & to most of your reader's satisfaction then, 'He is not doing his job at all.' Who's job is it to point that out?

If it's not the readers who have the final say, then who do these 'community papers' exist for? Metroland? The Advertisers? ...Probably. :( What a waste of trees & ink!
(It is available on line, why do we need to have a paper version at all? The flyers are also available on line via 'Flyerland', so we don't need those either.)

If he is unhappy in his work... he is part of a very large club! My heart does not bleed for him. He probably is better paid than most to be unhappy @ work + he has a greater degree of power than most of us.

It seems to be shaping up as a 'Burbs vs. City battle for the stadium, thanks to this kind of take on the situation. Every issue that comes along before & after this election will be another long tedious battle if this kind of mentality takes over. No progress, no innovation, plenty of divide & conquer, & plenty of $cams to go with it.

Hamilton, however you care to define it, deserves BETTER!

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 03:31:34

To no_larry
I agree with you 100%! I've never seen the likes of it anywhere.

If the quality of journalism reflects the values of a city....We are in DEEP DOO DOO!

Is this really the image that media wishes to promote to the world?
"Move Your Head Office to Hamilton! No more political correctness! Hate whom you will. You can join a cult & marry your 1st cousin!" ????

It's one thing to censor opinion, it's another to intentionally run material that is untrue, biased, racist, sexist, & depicts entire segments of society in a false & negative way. It's bush league, & cowardly. It does Not promote discussion & understanding.

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By Henry and joe (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 15:40:19

This guy Cripps caters to the lowest common denominator. I find many of his editorials offensive. Most notably of late his rant about wanting the World Cup to be done. Add to that his "anyone can win buy ITALY" campaign is pretty sad. Its just petty jealousy in my opinion. The fact that he is an unapologetic LEAF fan kind of puts it in perspective. Personally, it's not the leafs I dislike, its their fans.

I think Consolidated's OK
Its not the band I hate
Its their fans...Sloan

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted July 28, 2010 at 20:40:41

Thank you all for your comments, they are much appreciated!

On the lighter side of things, I would like to share with all here, two comments on the topic of Hamilton MSM (below), from my Facebook page.

These comments are from a blogpost I had really hoped to have seen published here at RTH, (as it was the final part of a trilogy on Larry) - but it was not meant to be, on account of evidence based irreconcilable differences that cropped up with my publisher/editor :-)

This orphaned third piece titled: "Welcome to the mayoral race, Larry!" can now only be found on my facebook page and also on The Hamiltonian blog. And sadly, now I am told that Facebook owns the rights to this third piece on Larry! :-)


Mahesh P. Butani

Larry Di Ianni:

Mahesh, I learned a long time ago not to complain about the media. In fact the trite statement says something about "don't complain; don't explain" when it comes to media treatment. I have been on the receiving end of criticism and I have gotten my share of positive attention. I take it all in stride.

I suggest you continue to be thoughtful and to present yourself well and you will get the attention you deserve. I, for one, look forward to your contribution.

Regards and we will have that coffee soon, I hope.

Mahesh P. Butani:

Hello Larry,

"Don't complain; don't explain" -- is a nice tenet to live by for sure - if one is seeking that 'road' which is paved with good intentions.

But our goals are quite different. I am focused on bringing change to Hamilton, and you just want to be loved!! ( know, I am kidding here :-))

When one is focused on change, one starts to see things differently.

For real change (transformation) to occur - right conditions need to exist or be created first.

In some developing countries, change had a chance, because its Media knew - right from wrong. We now call such countries - economies (...Brazil, China, and even India).

All change is organic - Yes, most cities too operate on this same principle.

Can you imagine the outcome in this video, if Cripps, Dreschel, Elliot, or even a Kelly - got a hold of this organically unfolding process?

This should not be that difficult to imagine - just look around Hamilton.

For Hamilton to change, its Media has to be made to change first - as there is a zero chance of organic growth there. So, if one has to drag it by its ears, kicking and screaming into the 21st century - then that is what one has to do - if one is focused on change.

Now, if one just wants to be loved - then you are right, one can comfortably get by on your tenet alone.

Coffee soon - most definitely! Cheers.

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