Newspapers have riot over Aberdeen

Compared to years past, Homecoming 2007 could be labelled a success. There were fewer arrests, fewer injuries and no cars were flipped. There seemed to be an air of tension leading up to the event, and the attitude around campus seemed to be that this year could turn ugly.

But it didn’t—not really. Although it’s never a good thing when thousands of drunks crowd onto a two-block street, this year’s Aberdeen Street party was a lot better than it could have been. It’s unlikely, however, that the rest of Canada shares that perspective if they’ve been reading the country’s two biggest newspapers.

The Toronto Star didn’t have a reporter in Kingston, and sought out the Journal to provide it with its facts. The Star’s headline “Queen’s Homecoming turns violent” was only the beginning of a dramatized account of the events that claimed Aberdeen Street was swarmed in “waves of violence.” In the parts where their article isn’t focused on the party-goers’ misbehaviour, it goes straight into details of Homecoming’s “sordid” past at Queen’s.

Similarly, Queen’s Homecoming was apparently so enthralling and significant for Canadians that it landed a photo throw on the front page of the Globe and Mail, with a continuation of the story on page A3. By contrasting the numbers of arrests and partiers on Aberdeen Street Saturday night with claims the night was a success without contextualizing the history behind that assessment, the papers make those involved out to be idiots.

The Globe’s story also implied that the University sanctioned the event—their choice of interviewees, including former Vice-Principal (Advancement) George Hood and Vice-Principal (Academic) Patrick Deane, were for the most part affiliated with Queen’s. This painted a skewed picture that Queen’s was, in fact, fully responsible for the going-ons of Aberdeen Street.

The Kingston Whig-Standard’s coverage—which spanned several pages—was comparatively less dramatic.

This coverage by major newspapers seems unwarranted. It’s as though both papers had a direly slow weekend, news-wise—so much that a street party became a top story. Moreover, it seems the angle adopted by both news sources—that Homecoming was an uproarious mess of beer bottles, cops and intoxicated youths—was clearly in place before any reporting was actually done.

As Queen’s students, it’s hard to not be upset about the negative coverage our school is garnering. But it can’t be denied that all these events did indeed take place. Despite what we see as an out-of-context perspective, these papers aren’t pulling their material out of nowhere. If we’re serious about eliminating such negative press about Queen’s, it’s up to us to keep our so-called revelry from being newsworthy.

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