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Thursday, March 12, 2009

last thoughts on neil waugh.

Provincial Affairs/Fish & Game columnist Neil Waugh was one of twenty staff laid off at the Edmonton Sun yesterday. A fixture of the Alberta political scene for decades, Waugh seems to have become one of the latest casualties of continent-wide media layoffs.

Though I wish him good luck in his future endeavors, in my humble opinion, Waugh was not an amazing political columnist, nor even a mediocre columnist. I struggle to name another mainstream political writer in Alberta who's columns were as qualitatively inconsistent as Waugh's. Perhaps he showed promise as a columnist at one point in his writing career, but over the past ten years, his columns had rapidly declined in their quality, and had come closer to resembling one-line rants rather than well-thought out columns.

I have had two experiences with Waugh that stick out in my mind. The most obvious was his January 2008 column that ingrained in infamy the quote "...Dave Cournoyer isn't some obscure fat frat boy with a sticky-up haircut" (or at least in the header of this blog). Though I appreciated the attention on the issue, I was surprised that Waugh didn't even attempt to contact me before accusing me of being part of an secret well-oiled Liberal Party conspiracy to tarnish the image of Premier Ed Stelmach (and as we all know, the same well-oiled political machine steamrolled to electoral victory in March 2008... oh wait...).

My second memorable Waugh experience sits more in the realm of bizarre. During a February 2008 media conference about the PC-connected Election Returning Officers, Waugh threw then-Liberal leader Kevin Taft a screwball question about Federal Liberal appointments to the Canadian Senate. Off-topic? Yes.
Bizarre? Undoubtably.

11 comments:

WillBlog said...

I personally will never forget (nor forgive) Mr. Waugh for his incredibly biaised, unfair, and outright deceptive commenting on the election campaign in Edmonton-Sherwood Park.

He did not check his facts, he made gross assumptions and generalizations, and I think he did the Edmonton Sun an incredible disservice.

Chandler Kent said...

Guys, whatever you think of him, he is out of a job. One hopes that you never find yourself, at a similar age, wondering how you will put food on the table. Schadenfreude seems like fun, I suppose, until other people practice it on you, in a public forum. He's not a politician, who signed up for you to take shots at him, just a guy trying to do a job.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with Chandler. And to add: Waugh was not writing for you, daveberta, he was writing for his - underline his - constituency, if I may briefly corrupt that word. Do you think you'll go thirty years getting paid to write, young daveberta, "aspiring writer"? A little respect, a little less diss, shall we, even if we're not his biggest fans...

Anonymous said...

Dude is in his 60's and he got laid off, likely with a giant payout. He's not cutting the fingers off his gloves and fashioning a bindle so that he can ride the rails west, where he's heard he can get work as a ranch-hand or docksman.

At his age and seniority at the Edmonton Sun, he probably took a voluntary redundancy. Then again, I'm speculating. WHO DOES THAT SOUND LIKE?

Anonymous said...

Whee a little bit of appropriate snipping.

Anonymous said...

Neil Waugh was one of the true Albertan patriots fighting for honesty and truth in politics -- a value that I HOPE we all can share. The smug tone of this post and many of the comments here frankly disgusts me. The man is out in the cold -- show some compassion, like he would if the roles were reversed.

Tiny Perfect Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I agree with Will and Dave. Waugh wouldn't know good journalism if it slapped him in the face. Apparently, something of that very nature occurred yesterday.

Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

Finally some good news about the economic downturn. And for those taking shots at Dave over his post? Screw that noise. Everything Dave wrote about Waugh was either factual or on-the-money analysis of the man's writing. I've been out of work before too and I don't expect my detractors to cry for me if/when it happens again. Let Waugh's body of work defend itself. Will he find another job? I doubt it, his journalism isn't even up to CanWest's level... which isn't a very high bar to reach.

Laurence Miall said...

The only thing I liked about Neil Waugh was his reliable sense of "humour" - maybe he did it in spite of himself. You could always rely on Waugh to write a quote by, say, Kevin Taft, then follow it with, "an angry Taft spat." Anyone he didn't like sniffed, spat or snorted. And I was often at the news conferences where all this spitting, snorting and sniffing was going on and I thought, Cripes, Neil must be far more attuned to the stealthy noises of the human body than I am....

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't worry about Waugh - like Lorne Gunther, Dave Rutherford and his phone-in disciples, etc- thier belief in the "power of the free market" where everyone ruggedly fends for themselves will put him in good stead.