News

Rob Ford: QMI news story and newsmaker of the year

By Ted Rath, Postmedia Network

In early November, Toronto’s Karon Liu was on vacation in Peru. At the Cocoa Museum in Cusco, his guide turned to him and asked: “So, what’s with your mayor?”

Pardon the weight joke, but that’s how big Rob Ford got.

That’s why his story was an overwhelming pick for editors as both QMI Agency News Story of the Year and QMI Agency Newsmaker of the Year.

Editors from QMI Agency’s newsrooms across Canada were polled in early December. Rob Ford’s bizarre saga was voted to the top of both categories.

And just a heads up to Peru: You came late to the party. Toronto, and Canada in general, were cruelly enjoying Ford’s antics even before a crack video came to light this spring.

Remember his horribly failed weight-loss challenge when he was busted coming out of a KFC and actually gained weight? Or when he fell down throwing a football? Actually, the world caught up on that one when late night TV went back in the archives for their favourite new target.

As Ford’s crack scandal really unfolded in the fall — with the one-for-the-ages “probably in one of my drunken stupors” admission line — late night TV just sat back and let videos roll of Canada’s favourite buffoon mayor.

Parodies abounded. “More than enough to eat at home” T-shirts were sold.

For a while there, it’s safe to say, there was hardly a more familiar name on Earth.

“It was the story heard around the world,” said Monique Beech, digital content director for Sun Media and QMI Agency, in casting her vote. “Nothing in recent memory has put Toronto and Canada on the map like the Ford story...unfortunately.”

“The mayor of Canada’s largest city made a mockery out of elected office. His antics put Toronto on the map for all of the wrong reasons,” echoed Rod Hilts, managing editor of The Sarnia Observer and The Chatham Daily News.

Brian MacLeod, managing editor of The Sudbury Star, said Ford’s “sheer audacity set new highs for lows among politicians.”

Running a distant second as QMI editors’ newsmaker pick was good-guy astronaut Chris Hadfield, whose leadership aboard the International Space Station captured the imaginations of Canadians. Through his tweets from above the Earth during his three-month sojourn, to his videos explaining day-to-day life, Canadians tuned in. A song he wrote and recorded with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies while floating in space and his rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity went viral.

For news story of the year, the train disaster in Lac Megantic, Que., was a close second to the Ford scandal. The 74-car runaway train that slid downhill at high speeds and exploded in the small Quebec town in July, killing 47 people and destroying the downtown, forced Canadians to re-evaluate train safety codes and inspections. The crash also raised the debate about the safety of using trains to ship oil.

Other votes for the top news story included the floods in southern Alberta and the ongoing Senate scandal.

--- --

More quotes:

“Rob Ford’s saga is just too bizarre, widely covered and talked about. And it keeps on rolling.”
- Doug Edgar, Owen Sound Sun Times managing editor

“Canada watched with a mix of humour and horror as Toronto’s mayor twisted himself and his city into knots for months on end.”
- Mike Therien, Ottawa Sun editor-in-chief

“No other Canadian made quite so much news around the world.”
- Joe Ruscitti, London Free Press editor-in-chief

“The story of a mayor who, after months of denial, admits to smoking crack and then refuses to leave office is a once-in-a-lifetime news story that continues with more bizarre twists and turns every day...No other Canadian has dominated the spotlight as much as Ford or spawned as much news coverage or public and private debate.”
- Jonathan Kingstone, Toronto Sun city editor

“There was no escaping Ford.”
- Wayne Snider, Timmins Daily Press city editor

“Rob Ford was larger than life this year. For bad or worse, his name is internationally known.”
- Jeff Dertinger, Brantford Expositor managing editor

“If ever there was a slam dunk in this category, Rob Ford is it. His antics put a focus on Toronto like nothing before.”
- Steven Gallagher, Niagara Falls Review editor-in-chief

Poll

Do you think Rob Ford deserves to be the newsmaker and news story of the year?


Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions