Paul Wells (Maclean’s Magazine) vs. Tommy Philbauer (McMaster Students’ Union President)
(note picture of Paul Wells is not hosted on my site – it is directly from warrenkinsella.ca)
Leave the blogosphere for 10 minutes (okay more than ten minutes) to do my homework and a flame war breaks out. Normally on Sunday mornings I read up on my blogs. Yesterday, I decided instead to do homework. As my regular visitors are aware I’ve not been updating my blog as much as I like to. It’s been a very busy school year for me so far.
To the point of this post:
Paul Wells of Maclean’s Magazine has been taking the offensive against Tommy Piribauer the McMaster Students’ Union President on his blog. Tommy sent Mr. Wells a letter after Mr. Wells wrote the following on his blog of the McMaster Silhouette Newspaper:
A note to the campus paper that called to complain about not being mentioned in my campus-newspaper column
I’ll call when I get back to Ottawa. And you should be glad I don’t say which paper you are, because all the other campus papers might decide you’re a bit thin-skinned.
It’s fun when the staffs of campus papers are as sensitive about the Maclean’s university issue as the university presidents are. Although when Fotheringham used to write his odes to The Ubyssey, we got pretty hot about it too. Nothing changes
Tommy sent Mr. Well’s an email which Mr. Well’s took a little more strongly then what one would expect a professional journalist to take an email. Mind you that Tommy was very pointed in his email. Mr. Well’s posted the email in it’s entirety. The post included Tommy’s phone number and cell number encouraging editors of other student newspapers to call Tommy to tell him how wrong he is for considering the Sil to be a great student newspaper.
The post was done on Sunday at 5:47. He edited it on Monday to remove the contact numbers and the direct call for other student newspapers to go after Tommy.
He added an attack line against the staff of the Sil at the end during this edit.
Fair enough. I’m busted. Here’s the exposure you wanted, Tommy. Enjoy:
Dear Mr. Wells.
I had the opportunity to read your blog:
“A note to the campus paper that called to complain about not being mentioned in my campus-newspaper column. I’ll call when I get back to Ottawa. And you should be glad I don’t say which paper you are, because all the other campus papers might decide you’re a bit thin-skinned. It’s fun when the staffs of campus papers are as sensitive about the Maclean’s university issue as the university presidents are. Although when Fotheringham used to write his odes to The Ubyssey, we got pretty hot about it too. Nothing changes.
In response, I believe the newspaper you are referring to is that which my Student Union publishes at McMaster. I surely wish you had published the name of our newspaper in your blog so that other campus newspapers would take notice to our complaint. Any of your readers of this article that possess a tiny hint of the journalistic and/or graphic design skill, would recognize that ours is as good, if not better, than that from any other Canadian University.
You suggest that our newspaper staff and our administration are being “sensitive” about your University issue. Would you rather they treat it as meaningless rhetoric? Perhaps they along with our students will soon come to that conclusion. For the time being, your magazine, whether it intended to or not, has become the barometer upon which Universities and departments measure their success. When you comment on something such as campus newspapers, readers assume it to be commentary on the best and worst of those around, with all else left to fall unmentioned. Our newspaper staff are dedicated to our newspaper because they believe themselves to be providing the best possible product for our students.
Please continue to say what you want in your articles, and to leave out what you want. Do not, however, insult my staff through your blogs by suggesting they are being “thick skinned” about their expectation of being one of the best. In doing so, you question their integrity, pride, and pursuit of the highest quality.You may think you are clever by being able to hide behind your blog. I am truly amazed that MacLeans itself would permit their website to be a tool for berating its readers; those same readers that simply look to keep you accountable for your claims.
Though I can not dictate what our newspaper prints, I think it is safe to say you will likely not be mentioned in its list of best MacLeans journalists. But please, don’t take offence!
President & CEO
McMaster Students Union
UPDATED OK, so that was fun. On the substance of the matter, I’m happy to report the Silhouette has a lot going for it. It’s a broadsheet, which is rare enough; it had a front-page feature on commercializing research in one of the issues I received, which showed a lot of ambition. (It wasn’t the most clearly-written feature in history, but biting off more than you can chew is a good way to get better.) If I was writing a list of above-average campus papers, it’d be on the list, along with other papers I didn’t mention in my column: The Imprint from Waterloo and Mars’ Hill from Trinity Western. I thought I was making it pretty damned clear that I wasn’t attempting a scientific survey of campus journalism in Canada. This point seemed to have escaped only McMaster students, for some reason.
Is the Sil the best campus paper in Canada? Clearly in the minds of its editors â€” and, eerily, in the mind of the students’ union president they’re supposed to be covering â€” it is. I must tell them, in a gently collegial manner, that if they think they’re one of the best-looking campus papers in Canada then they really should get out more…
Mr. Well’s was completely unprofessional on his blog today and yesterday. I cannot believe that a nationally respected journalist would launch a flame war against a bunch of University students. I guess flame wars with Warren Kinsella are just not his style anymore. (Link to the Jan 05 Flame War – Part I and Part II)
Here is my question – when did Paul (hope he does not mind me calling him by his first name) become so “thin-skinned” himself?
Also for the record, I am not the biggest fan of The Sil, rarely does a week go by when I do not go to their office to complain. I am a fan of The Peak (Simon Fraser University) and The Excalibur (York University).