When I did my little rant about The Express closing, a friend in St. John's e-mailed me and said not to worry about burning bridges with it, that Craig Westcott had burned more bridges than he had ever walked across and was still getting work.
My response was that Westcott is twice the journalist that I am and has more lives than a shelter full of cats. That was before I read his speech at NOIA today, reprinted on Geoff Meeker's blog.
I'll repeat here what I said there – Jesus, Mary and Joseph. That man really wouldn't take shit from the devil himself.
I sat about 10 feet behind him during a Senate committee meeting on media concentration where he lambasted Transcontinental for their treatment of The Express and his concerns about what owning so many papers in Newfoundland would mean. Craig was the only journalist in the province to appear before the committee and one of the few, if not perhaps the only one, in the country to criticize their employer.
That takes balls.
What he did today, which was basically to call the premier of the province a power mad dictator one generation removed from Joey Smallwood and who should be put down like a rabid political dog was...something else. Balls doesn't really quite cover what it took to stand up and make that speech. It's something else entirely and something rarely seen in the province. The guts to criticize those in power, even though it might hurt your livelihood, the intelligence to make a coherent argument and the creativity to put it into words that everyone can understand, appreciate and be captivated by.
Hell, I tried to do put something together yesterday attacking Williams and it seems incoherent and hackneyed in comparison. And with due respect to Ed and Liam, also critics of the premier, who have tons of information at their fingertips but sometimes get bogged down, it can take a writer of Westcott's skill to get the point across as gracefully as he did today.
Anyway, I tip my hat to my former colleague and good friend. That was a hell of a piece of writing.
Two other interesting asides, watching the comments come in. First, that government suppporters are clearly going to attack Craig for the section on the government not advertising in his paper. First of all, the paper isn't failing nor is Westcott saying it is. He is saying that it's curious that of all the media in the province, the one the government is not advertising with is the one with the editor most critical of the premier. Peckford did it back in the days of the Sunday Express...it was a shitty tactic then that was heavily criticized and it's still shitty now. It's a typical tactic, ignore the meat of the speech of what he's saying and twist and attack a small point.
Secondly, I think there could be real money to be made on a series of t-shirts that says Danny Williams hates you. "Danny Williams thinks I suck." "Danny Williams stalks my blog", "A traitor to Dannyland", "The Newfoundland government thinks I'm a traitor"...stuff along those lines. I imagine we can come up with a few more catchy slogans. We just need some nice graphic images to go along with them. Anyone want to take it from here?