Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milk bone undies

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Of course, I stole that from a famous TV show. But it's an accurate description, especially if you could see the teeth marks in my butt.Recent posts and columns in the dead-tree FP have sent the critics to howling. I thought about responding one by one, but thought it was best to put it all in a post.My most recent attempt to defend downtown Winnipeg has produced some shrill commentary on my blog, and in the greater Winnipeg community. The bottom line seems to be that I don't get how bad downtown Winnipeg is. Even though I'm downtown all the time, and have lived (downtown) in five different cities including Winnipeg (Toronto, Ottawa, London and Calgary being the others.) I'll make my main point one more time, just in case I did a bad job the last time: if more people came downtown and ate in the restaurants and shopped in the shops and strolled through the galleries (as me and my partner do) then I would agree it would be a better place. But as long as people stay away from downtown on principle, downtown will be lacking a certain buzz. Not visiting downtown and crapping on downtown is just a silly, self-fulfilling prophecy.We'll agree to disagree about this, and I do hope that people continue the debate. The most recent comments on my blog are actually pretty well thought out, even though I don't agree. But that's just one man's opinion.****Our good friends at the Blackberry Addicts demonstrate in their latest post why it doesn't pay to mess around with the almighty NDP.A recent analysis by yours truly attempted to reveal some of the ebb and flow of the recent election campaign by having key strategists from the NDP and Tories reveal what their polling and focus groups told them while the campaign was going on. The bottom line was that it was all ebb, no flow. Both parties agreed the NDP were out in front when the writ was dropped, expanded its lead the first week, and never looked back.The BAs confirm in their post that the anonymous authors have a knot the size of a pink grapefruit perpetually tied in their undies. The Addicts are okay with the fact I quoted top NDP strategists on their perspective, but don't like the fact I quoted Tory chief of staff Jonathan Scarth offering his analysis. By quoting Scarth, I have "bought in" to his rationale.Fascinating.Note to Addicts about the principles (such as they may be) of journalism: Everyone gets to have their say. However, frequently those of us at the FP are forced to defend our decision to even acknowledge a contrary opinion in stories we write. I understand the BAs don't like Scarth and don't care for his rationale; I do not understand the BAs and other similarly shrill critics howling like caged hyenas when we quote people from both sides of an issue.In my article, I allowed Scarth to argue that pre-writ advertising by the government and third parties such as the Manitoba Nurses Union put them at a disadvantage. And as far as the third-party advertising is concerned, he's got a point (which I will explore at greater length next week in the dead-tree pages). It's a point that's legitimate enough to bring up as one issue in a 1,500-word article that explored about a dozen key elements that helped decide the election.The same holds true with my reference to Probe Research pre-election polling. Those polls, publised by the FP, showed the Tories and NDP in a statistical dead heat. The Addicts are deeply offended I would even mention them in my article. But, once again, I would humbly suggest they have failed to see the method in this writer's particular madness.Yes, I pointed out that the NDP had much different numbers, and by implication demonstrated that the NDP probably had a better handle on public opinion. I have also several times acknowledged why the NDP does not like Probe's numbers, and have done so in a way that does not dismiss nor uphold those concerns. I lay out the concern, I hope, in a way that readers can be allowed to make up their own minds.I think it was fair, as a political columnist, to acknowledge that our pre-election surveys did not capture what the NDP was capturing through its polling. Perhaps the Addicts would have preferred that I ignored the fact we even published pre-election polls. Would that have been a cover up??Anyone and everyone has the right to criticize the so-called mainstream media. Not everyone does it in an informed manner. We'll keep trying to get it right at the typing school. Meanwhile, the Addicts might consider a night-course in media and mass communication.Let the debate continue.-30-

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About Dan Lett

Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school.

Despite the fact that he’s originally from Toronto and has a fatal attraction to the Maple Leafs, Winnipeggers let him stay.

In the following years, he has worked at bureaus covering every level of government – from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa.

He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed several borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.

In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could even hope for. He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations.

Other awards include the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often but no longer pines to live there.


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