Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

Curated knowledge, trenchant insights & witty bon mots

My, what a cheap way to stir controversy

Margaret Wente wrote a remarkably ignorant column rhetorically asking, Why are bloggers male?

Many others have debunked the premise of her column, which had absolutely no quantitative information in it whatsoever to back it up. But I’m wondering if it was deliberately stupid.

Why? Well, I saw this in a Globe and Mail Facebook posting:

Globe columnist Margaret Wente argued today that  blogging is a man’s world – and readers everywhere were fired up over the gender divide. Join the live discussion with Ms Wente (and female bloggers) tomorrow at noon.

If you look in the comments, it’s not a very even debate. No one was taking Wente’s side (one newspaper marketeer defended newspapers in general).

And if you look on Twitter, it’s another landslide against Wente — and rightly so.

But that Facebook post had me tweet this:

On Facebook, the G&M is boasting how @pwente got everyone fired up. It ann’d a Fri online chat. I smell setup.

Followed by:

I wonder if this will become a regular G&M thing – Manufacture a contro w/ a stupid col … & then ‘debate’ it. :( 

I pay money to read the print version of The Globe and Mail. I like the paper the most when its columnists offer me something that’s well-written, well-researched, interesting and thought-provoking.

What Wente wrote was, at best, a Huffington Post column. That web-native publication is free.

The Globe should give some thought as to what the cumulative impact to its brand might be if readers are subjected to a constant stream of stupid columns such as Wente’s effort on Thursday.

Here’s a few other related tweets from Thursday:

The G&M’s Margaret Wente wrote: “These days, I no longer care when someone calls me an idiot.” But if she cared why, it would happen less.

My four-step plan for controversial columns – Decide for yourself if a certain someone follows my teachings.

An amusing, well-written G&M op-ed on Tiger Woods that isn’t cheap link bait –

If @pwente writes an ignorant blogging col., fire in the twittersphere! But Wente’s been writing inacc. climate cols for yrs. Little Rx.

@scrawledinwax @billdinTO To make no mention of the classism, racism, eurocentism… It’s idiocy masquerading as ‘good ole common sense’.

@scrawledinwax It’s a deliberate Wente/@pwente technique. And as link bait, it worked spectacularly well. We’re the suckers.

@maxfawcett Yes, Margaret Wente is an idiot. Here’s the latest evidence. #margaretwente #journalismfail #globeandmail

@maxfawcett From my blog: “MacGregor frets that this (metrics fixation) rewards obnoxiousness and needless provocation …

@maxfawcett “… but that has me wondering if he’s ever read Margaret Wente.” –

@maxfawcett @billdinTO well, he’s in the front, and she’s in the back. Maybe he’s never read past his own page?

@maxfawcett I’m wondering. Because some in MacGregor’s own paper commit the acts he was fretting about.


Wente got blasted in some letters to

Thu, March 18 2010 » Main Page, Media