Thursday, September 2, 2010

Media Literacy Lesson Dec 1 1910

As an exercise in media-literacy, and as research into Flo in the City, my novel in progress about a girl coming of age in the 1910 era, based on the letters of, I have decided to deconstruct one edition of one newspaper from the era. The Montreal Gazette Dec 1 1910.

I chose December 1, 1910, randomly, because it's plunk in the middle of my 1908-1913 time frame and December 1st is my birthday. (I chose the Gazette, well, because it is online.)

Random. Sort of. And, yet, right off the bat, on the first page, I can already see two articles of interest, one on the rising cost of living in the city for young women, (New York) where it is mentioned that teachers require a higher salary to live, and an other on What It Means to Be Canadian.

The Nicholsons didn't subscribe to the Gazette, but I'm hazarding a guess that Marion Nicholson, who was teaching in Montreal in 1910 (and maybe even Edith Nicholson) read this paper.

Two articles would have been of particular interest to them: One a report on the St. Andrew's Ball, held at the Windsor Hotel and the other, an editorial, a rather complex convoluted one which will take me a while to deconstruct, about "the language problem" and teachers.

Looking at old newspapers is an important exercise, even for people not interested in social history. And that's because what comes around goes around. The exercise gives a modern media watcher perspective. You can see things more clearly from a hundred years distance, the contraditions in what people are saying for one. And then you can apply it to today's speeded up media.

One article that would have been of little interest to the Nicholsons resonates today. It is a wire service article about the Texas Rangers. A vote is to be held to decide whether the famous group will be dissolved - as their primary adversary, the Indians have either 'passed into history' (sic) or gone into business. (What business, Casinos?) And there are no cattle-rustlers either.

But those in favour of keeping the Texas Rangers, who are all crack shots, argue that they are protection against the Mexicans, a kind of border patrol. Hmmmm. "As long as they are on the job, the Mexicans can't whip us."

The article ends by saying that the group will likely be re-organized and their name kept. Well, they were re-organized all right, but their name was given to a baseball team. (A team that once was owned by a Bush, am I right?)

So, I intend to deconstruct this one edition of this newspaper, ads and all, and relate it to Tighsolas.