More than 10,000 words and 13 black and white photos. Last Saturday's profile of Justin Trudeau has attracted criticism from some Globe readers who felt it was too much real estate and too positive for the man described in the front page headline as "The Contender."
So was it fair to do so much on one candidate in a tight three-way race? And was it fair to run such a major piece so close to voting day?
First a little background and then an explanation from Gabe Gonda, Head of Features and Weekend.
For the background, the Justin Trudeau feature was available to print and online subscribers only. An excerpt of John Ibbitson's book Stephen Harper was published Aug. 1. It was just under 4,000 words and included two feature photos.
In February, the Globe ran another long feature (more than 3,000 words) from Mr. Ibbitson on the Prime Minister, headlined, "The Harper Effect."
The February article was also for print and online subscribers.
And what about Thomas Mulcair? There will be a major Focus section profile of Mr. Mulcair by Ottawa columnist Jeffrey Simpson this Saturday with roughly the same number of pages as the Trudeau profile, the same photographer, John Lehmann, and a very similar treatment.
Mr. Gonda said there is also a plan for a Stephen Harper interview article this Saturday. He defends some of the articles being available for subscribers only since much time and money was spent on those features, while there has also been a veritable mountain of available news coverage.
Asked about the view from some that that profile of Mr. Trudeau was very positive, he said the perceptions are often a Rorschach test of how people already view the leaders. "If you believe Trudeau is earnest and intelligent, you will find that in the piece. If you believe he is a lightweight, you will find evidence to support that view, as well."
In my view, it is the job of the news organization to give you the information you need to make an informed choice and that includes policy stories, a behind-the-scenes look at the person, critical analysis and comment. While the balance cannot be expected to be exactly equal, it needs to be fair and respectful to the person who matters most: the reader and voter.