Ask The Toronto Sports Media MSMer Bruce Arthur


After a very successful first round with TSN Radio’s Robert Gray, you asked for a member of the Toronto print team. So, I’ve asked and he’s agreed to take your questions. I will, once again edit them down so add to the comments your questions for the National Post’s Bruce Arthur.


Photo from the National Post here

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February 29, 2012 1:03 pm

Why did you block me on Twitter, Bruce Arthur?

Johnny D
Johnny D
February 29, 2012 1:04 pm

Hey Bruce, what sports have you played in your life & to what extent? thx

Another Steve
Another Steve
February 29, 2012 1:49 pm

I know you are a big fan of the tennis player Marat Safin, who is now a politician representing Vladimir Putin’s “United Russia” party. My question is this: why do you think that no-one has confronted Safin about the fact that he represents a party that jails members of the opposition and kills journalists? It seems that most journalists find it cute that he’s “political” yet fail to recognize what his politics really are. Along with that, do you think it’s fair to criticize Tim Thomas for silly and childish Facebook comments and yet fawn over someone (Safin) who actively represents a system which commits human rights abuses?

By the way, this question was not directed at you personally – a lot of the media seem to swoon over Safin and don’t question what he is doing or what he represents. Thanks.

February 29, 2012 3:58 pm

I’d be curious to know if Bruce has any aspirations to write a fiction novel.

I think he’s the best sports writer in Canada. I’m not an expert, but I think he has the chops to do something like that.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
February 29, 2012 4:55 pm

since there seem to be so few responses, i’ll cobble a question together:

there is a perception that (Toronto) sports writing has traditionally been a bit of an “old boys club” but that blogs have had a democratizing influence on sports media in general, and Toronto in particular. As a younger member of the media, has it been your experience that there is a division between the veteran sports writers and the younger crop? Can you share any stories of being welcomed (or shunned) by established writers during your way up?

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
February 29, 2012 5:03 pm

here are a few questions i have no expectation you’ll answer Bruce, but reading them here is sufficient for my purposes:

– can you put into words the level of embarrassment you feel as a journalist when Cox trolls people on Twitter or in his blog? Is there a lazier member of the media than Cox?
– what’s it like to have to carry a whole sports section all by yourself at the NP?
– do you want to punch Cyblulski in the throat when he makes idiotic jokes when people are trying to conduct serious interviews? Have you ever laughed with rather than at him?
– do you miss doing PTS roundtables or is not being interrupted by Shannon its own reward?

February 29, 2012 5:43 pm

when are they going to update your beardless picture?

February 29, 2012 6:26 pm

Do you see traditional print media eventually dying a horrible death and everything moving to strictly online?

February 29, 2012 9:59 pm

Bruce, I want to know why no one calls Brian Burke on his BS. Right after the trade deadline he threatens to impose a “trade freeze” on the Maple Leafs 10 days before the deadline. That’s crap. A question should have been posed: You mean to tell us (the media) that you would turn down a deal that would clearly improve the fortunes of your team based solely on principle? Yet the MSMers swallowed it like they always do.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
March 1, 2012 7:44 am

… some more q’s in case we need to pad the email … edit as you see fit.

– if you could cover any sports story from history, which one would it be?
– do you think the convergence between sports writers and radio/TV stations is good for the consumer?
– what is your favourite sport to cover and why?
– Brunt told a story recently of nearly being spat on by Bo Jackson. Have you ever had an athlete treat you as less than human?
– Has any athlete/GM ever confronted you about something you’ve written?
– prediction for the Jays W-L totals this season?

Raptors Devotee
March 1, 2012 8:30 am

Do you have any idea how awesome you are with all the sub-standard MSM’ers we have to tolerate on a daily basis. Be honest with your answer, don’t play it politically correct please.

Steve from Waterloo
Steve from Waterloo
March 1, 2012 3:22 pm

How much math do you do/need as a sportswriter?

I ask because I was refused from journalism school at Ryerson, because my math average wasn’t high enough.

I have always wondered why my lousy algebra experience stole my dream to be a sportswriter!

March 1, 2012 3:53 pm

Aside from the media convergence question and what he envisages the landscape to be in say 5 years:

Even though as a columnist he deals with a much broader perspective how difficult is it with current state of pro-sports in Toronto?

Who has had the biggest impact on his career and what columnists does he routinely read and why?

What is his assessment of the state and quality of sports journalism today?

There has been some damning commentary about ESPN’s holding on to the Fine/Davis tape, what is his view re: passing information possibly germane to a criminal investigation on to the authorities and where does he see the line around the ethics of disclosing athletes’ personal information and what the public needs to know.

If there was one sports figure he could interview who would it be and why?

The of course all of MIB’s Cox questions

Mike S
Mike S
March 1, 2012 7:19 pm

Here are some questions I would ask Bruce Arthur:

1) You used to be a frequent contributor to Bob McCown’s show. Now you are a frequent contributor to James Cybulski’s show. Is it a strange feeling to be on a show that competes directly with a show that you used to appear on? Were you ever close to officially joining the Rogers/590 family instead of the TSN/1050 family?

2) What was your appearance on ESPN’s Around The Horn like? Have they ever asked you to appear again? Or did you feel the need to retire undefeated?

3) You follow over 1,200 people on Twitter and you have posted over 72,000 tweets. How much time do you spend each week on Twitter? How is it possible to follow that many people effectively? I assume you use many different lists

Ami Angelwings
March 2, 2012 3:32 am

You’re one of the most vocal progressive/liberal sports media personalities that I’ve read or listened to, if not the most and you’re not afraid to deal with racism, homophobia, sexism, etc in situations when it doesn’t fit the safe narratives in society about those issues. For example, it’s easy to say that calling somebody the n-word is racist, but most writers would shy away from the strong stance on Raffi Torres’ blackface costume that you took. (You know me from Twitter so you know I already admire you for this)

But my question is, do you think that you’re more progressive than most sports media people you know, or that a lot of people agree with you but they just don’t want to write/talk about it.

And following on that, do you have any limits on what you can write in your columns in that vein? Has anybody at the National Post ever told you to just write about the games and that talking about racism, or homophobia
isn’t relevant?

Conversely, do you feel you have more freedom to express your ideological opinions because you write sports rather than politics?

Also, from my general reading/listening, I find a lot of Toronto sports media personalities (You, Blair, Brunt, Grange, McCown come to mind) are pretty progressive both in terms of anti-discrimination and in terms of opposing problematic sporting and macho culture (like the head shot issue).

A) Does this seem like an accurate perception to you?

B) If it is accurate, do you think this is a Toronto thing or, in your experience, are sports writers more likely to lean progressive vs say, news columnists?

Oh, and one more question in that respect: the National Post is perceived to be a right wing paper, but obviously, you’re not right wing. Do you find the ideological leanings of sports writers to generally match up with the ideological leanings of the newspapers they write for, or is there no correlation at all? (my perception has been that unlike general news columnists, there’s no correlation)

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x