Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cirque du Soleil "review"

I wasn't lucky enough to get to go to last night's big Cirque du Soleil show at the Alerus Center, but that doesn't mean I can't be really ticked off at the Herald and writer Paulette Tobin for the ridiculous excuse of a "review" that appears on the front of today's paper.

First of all, what the heck is a review doing on the front page of the paper? Isn't the front page usually reserved for news stories or at least articles that aren't supposed to be biased or slanted? When was the last time you saw Marilyn Hagerty's restaurant reviews on the front page? Reviews belong elsewhere in the paper. Actually, this particular one would have been better off in the trash, come to think of it. Any past reviews that have appeared in the paper have gone deeper in...certainly not on the front page.

We all know the Herald hates the Alerus Center, but this is really sinking to a new low. In the past after major events like this, the paper has usually written up a short article that just contains the facts...no spin or "I didn't like the show because..." stuff. Why did the Herald decide to write a "review" of this event instead of the traditional brief story?

Why are we supposed to be so interested to hear what Ms. Tobin thought of the show? Is she a musical critic? The paper publishes Marilyn's restaurant reviews because she has been at the paper for years and has a following. Contrastingly, no one is very familiar with Tobin and I doubt few think of her as any kind of art or music critic. The "review" sounds more like a response paper from a high school student than a real review by a true critic. Using the Power Rangers and Jim Carrey as examples in a review? Yikes!

Also, what good does it really do to review an event that is over and already gone? When Marilyn reviews a restaurant in Grand Forks, it at least makes sense because the restaurant will still be there after the review comes out and people can use the review to decide whether or not they want to go there. Cirque du Soleil's Grand Forks stint is over and won't be happening again anytime soon so why do we really care whether or not Ms. Tobin liked it? Most of us weren't lucky enough to get a free ticket to the show...

Update - 9/22/06 - 2:21 AM
I couldn't help but notice that a review of Ms. Tobin's appears in today's paper. However, this time around the review starts with this little disclaimer: "This is a review and includes the writer's opinions." Hmmm, I think someone at the Herald (other than our friend Tu-Uyen) has been reading Grand Forks Life.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought it was odd that the story rated front-page treatment, but just considered it the result of a slow local news day.

What really bothered me was the subjective nature of the story as you point out. While it's not unheard of to write a review after the fact, it is highly unusual and frighteningly inept to put it on the front page.

wendian said...

Amen Amen Amen. I was thinking the same thing.

The show, while pleasantly weird, was very good. The tech effects were unbelievable; too bad you weren't able to score a ticket. If people knew how influential GFG really is, they'd be sending you tickets to things nonstop, mwoo-ha-ha-ha-ha!

GrandForksGuy said...

LOL, wendian! :o)

Anonymous said...

GFG...The Herald "hates" The Alerus? I disagree, The Herald goes out of their way to NOT report the facts on what's going on out there. If you think the paper has a problem with the Alerus now, just wait until the new owners come on board and bring back integrity and factual reporting to the market.

Although...maybe thay'll just follow suit with the current coverage.

It will be interesting to see.

JGS said...

Unfortunetely, I didn't get to see it. The concert would have been amazing to see, imo.

I thought the same as you, GFG. I was hoping it was a joke, but they proved me wrong.

I hope they swing by to Grand Forks sometime in the future, I'll be sure to go next time.

Also, do we have an accurate count on the attendance?

Tu-Uyen said...

Wow. Integrity. I'd never heard that word before. Thanks for the lesson from yet another armchair media critic. We reporters love to ignore you guys. Drop in some facts next time you complain.

Anyway, the complaint about the Cirque du Soleil thing is kind of interesting. I think we put it on 1A because the circus was the biggest event in town and had some nice images to boot.

It was clearly labeled "review," just above the headline, so there's no confusing it with objective facts.

Paulette Tobin is well within her jurisdiction on this one as well because she's the new arts and entertainment reporter. Reviews are part of her job. I'd prefer a reviewer separate from a reporter but this is arts, not politics. Sports reporters area allowed a certain level of bias and I think arts reporters should be as well.

I actually appreciated the review because I didn't go and now I know how it went, at least for one person. I suspect I would react the same way.

By the way, we don't hate the Alerus Center. You'll notice that when angry readers go too far in their criticism, I go on the defense. Check out the lengthy debate on Progressive Palette. Paulette doesn't hate the Alerus Center either. She didn't like the circus but that's not the same. No one at the office is all that interested in the Alerus Center except yours truly. There is no conspiracy.

Rick said...

Tobin was the education reporter or something, but just made the switch to Arts Editor or some title close to that.

Anonymous said...

Tu-Uyen, I like you. You're a nice guy. I appreciate you puting yourself out-there so much (said the anon guy) but...cynicism doesn't play well with you. You have to be careful. Some day you may become embattled, embittered, and angry. When that happens, you run the risk of...accepting a job a out of state, making more money, and living happily ever after. ;-)

Anonymous said...

There's many more angles for stories to be reported regarding The Alerus. When I have time, I'll throw them out there and see if anyone agrees.

Why won't any posters/reports forcast the #'s on this event? How was the attendance? Not to ruffle any feathers but...this event belonged in The Ralph. It's playing arenas on virtually all of it's other tour stops. The show would be much more exciting in an arena. Maybe the "in your face" environment of that setting would have dramatically effected the reviewer and changed her mind about the show. If the show sold about 12k, or less, it would have fit The Ralph.

Anonymous said...

I've heard 2nd hand from someone working the show that there were about 4500 people attending the show last night.

My wife and I were able to attend, and we both thought it was a great event, one that was pretty unique for Grand Forks. I found the Herald review pretty off base...

uptight idiot said...

"I get paid to write for the Herald, so I know more about journalism than any of you."

Tu-Uyen said...

Really? Who are you? I don't know any reporter like that. On the other hand, I know a lot of reporters who know about what's going on inside the paper, who, in fact, know more about what's happening in their own workplace than anyone else. Call me out the next time I tell you how things are at your workplace. Oh yeah, call me out when I tell you how to do your job.

You have to be careful. Some day you may become embattled, embittered, and angry.

Nah, I love this job and I respect readers — when they bring valid points to the table. I really dislike it when people question my integrity, and those of my colleagues, without any proof. I'll never bite if the points are valid. I think I was pretty polite with Grand Forks Guy's criticism.

Tu-Uyen said...

By the way, you'll notice I was shooting back at the anonymous who preceded JGS, not JGS. He and I posted at roughly the same time but he got his in before I did.

GrandForksGuy said...

I think that freedom of speech goes both ways between the media and the public. A media outlet may be able to say what they want to about something, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be able to vigorously criticize what they have to say or their reporting style if we so choose to.

Also, because of their subjective nature, I think reviews are very much open to criticism and debate. If you're going to write a review (especially one as negative/controversial as the one in question), you're just asking for criticism.

GrandForksGuy said...

Off topic, but since we're picking on Thursday's Herald anyways...

What was up with the "nail gun accident" story on the front page of today's paper? Half of the story appears on the front page and then we're supposed to turn to page 2 to read the second half, but there is no part of the story on page 2. In fact, the rest of the story doesn't seem to be in any other section or on any other page of the paper. Rather confusing...

Tu-Uyen said...

but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be able to vigorously criticize what they have to say or their reporting style if we so choose to

I agree completely. That's what the blogosphere is all about. I'm only asking that the criticism be substantive and civil.

I'm talking about this particular quote: "If you think the paper has a problem with the Alerus now, just wait until the new owners come on board and bring back integrity and factual reporting to the market."

I take my integrity and my paper's integrity seriously and I'm not letting any fool stomp on it unless he's got good reason — and proof. If you're not evil don't assume that I am (not you, GFG, the Anon. that said the above).

In fact, the rest of the story doesn't seem to be in any other section or on any other page of the paper. Rather confusing...

Yes, this was a big mistake. There's no denying that!

GrandForksGuy said...

We both seem to be late-nighters, Tu-Uyen!

I wouldn't question the overall integrity of the Herald (pre-Forum or post-Forum). All in all, I think the Herald is a good paper which tries to do a good job of fairly reporting the news.

My intention with this post wasn't to call into question the integrity of the Herald itself, but to criticize what I saw as a very poor decision on the part of the Herald and one of its writers.

About the missing half of that story...I'm just glad to see that the paper is reprinting it today.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the Delirium review appears on the front page because, sad to say ,the public is getting more and more news from other sources so print media starts to resemble those other sources. This is old news but continues to accelerate as newspaper readership declines. The STRIB does the same thing to make the front page eye candy. What is more interesting is what was the revenue from the show? At $71-$110 per ticket the 4500 people paid probably in the neighborhood of 4500x$85=$38,000. Aside from concessions what is the cut for the city? I would guess the Cirque lost its' butt. What it amounts to is they needed a pit stop during the middle of the week and can subsidize the smaller venue from its big city weekend revenue. Does anyone know where did they went after GF?

Anonymous said...

Pollstar.com is your friend. Check it out. This is one of the few tours that routed very nicely for Grand Forks. They were on their way to Winnipeg. The cold-hard fact about this show is...the atttendance bit the big one (sadly). All tours are tracked through Pollstar, the attendance and gross revenues. Promoters then use this archive to speculate which markets they'll promote shows in the future. Grand Forks has now built up a solid reputation as a tertiary market not suited for major tours, despite what the Alerus supporters say. This comes as no surprise. It's just substantiated the fact that The Alerus is a way too aggressive development for a market this size.

Hopefully the Alerus will dummy down it's menus and pricing to the point that they'll attract more of the private sector's banquet and wedding business (said the poster sarcastically).

WeatherGal said...

I guess the reviewer wouldn't like any of the shows in Vegas either. I saw a show in Vegas and it was AWESOME!

Dave Miller said...

You all are calling it a "Herald" review... that's wrong. It was a "Tobin" review. She disliked the show and gave her thoughts about it. Your supposedly smart people, if you went to the show and liked it, so be it... the reviewer didn't. You disagree. Are you supposed to agree with everything you read in the paper?

(Why have I been defending the Herald so much over the last few months? -- Strange.)

My father saw parts of the show (he was working the event) and let's just say, it wasn't his cup of tea. Remember where you are people... Grand Forks, ND. Such "odd" entertainment is not the norm in the blue collar world of GFND. My dad's a beer drinking, working class guy from a polish Detroit family... a fruity Canadian circus is not his (and my folks in this part of the county) kind of fun.

I'm just saying... maybe her review isn't totally off-base. It's just that you folks that went are "cultured" and "artsy" and you dig that stuff. That's all. Different strokes for different folks.

Dave Miller said...

That should be...

(and many folks in this part of the county)

Anonymous said...

The Herald protects The Alerus. The show didn't draw, so they slammed it. "It can't be the market or our precious Alerus Center, the show died because it's a 'fruity' Canadian circus" (a tour that is currently one of the largest draws in the country, btw).

The community is fried by the politics of the Alerus and the pompsity of it's supporters. In the days when The Fritz was rockin', the community came out in droves to support the venue. The public would roll the dice on a ticket, even if they weren't familiar with the artist.

The Alerus doesn't have this support (and doesn't deserve it).

Stonegateguy said...

I know that this has nothing to do with the topic on hand but i am wondering if anybody knows anything about the old target store... i have seen some signs of life over there and was hoping someone knew someting about it. The other night when i was coming home from work (11pm) i saw a semi-truck pulled up to the back loading dock of the old target. Then last night when i went by i though i would take a closer look as it looked like there were lights on ... and they were... the lights inside of the store were on... i didnt see any signs of construction or anyting inside but i also noticed that there was no longer a for sale sign on the front (there was one there right?... can any one remember? I could swear there was on but i cant remember) hopfully someting exicting will be taking the space !

dale said...

4500x$85=$38,000

Check your math there. I think you forgot to carry the one.

They should have had me review the show... I'd probably fill the column talking about the lights or somebody's dorky costume and forget to mention the show, though.

GrandForksGuy said...

BTW, why does it always take so long before any kind of attendance numbers are released after an event like this? Does it really take that long to count how many tickets were sold? I've noticed that numbers often come out quick if the show has been well attended, but numbers are much slower if sales were less than anticipated.

WeatherGal said...

Quoting Dave Miller:
"My father saw parts of the show (he was working the event) and let's just say, it wasn't his cup of tea. Remember where you are people... Grand Forks, ND. Such "odd" entertainment is not the norm in the blue collar world of GFND. My dad's a beer drinking, working class guy from a polish Detroit family... a fruity Canadian circus is not his (and my folks in this part of the county) kind of fun.

I'm just saying... maybe her review isn't totally off-base. It's just that you folks that went are "cultured" and "artsy" and you dig that stuff. That's all. Different strokes for different folks."


Dave, you illustrate so well why this town will never move forward to become the destination city it claims it wants to be. Just because I might enjoy the ballet, the symphony or other similar things doesn't make me "artsy" or "cultured". Don't people in this region enjoy Mozart or Tchaikovsky?

It's too bad so many people here refuse to try something new and different. I respect the history of hockey and farmers working hard to make their dime, but perhaps some cultural diversity is in order. It's nice to be able to attend "Stomp!" here at the Chester Fritz instead of having to drive all the way to MSP to see it.

I dislike how many of the people around here seem to turn their noses up towards anything that doesn't fit with their ice-fishing beer-slugging hockey-playing farmer mentality. After 5 years, I'd like to feel more a part of this community, but as a 31-year old transplanted southerner, I have yet to find much accpetance. It's downright sad and pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Can you beleve we're just three hours away from a major Canadian city that is building the Canadian Human Rights Museum?

You'd think a little of that progress would rub off.

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to know the total economic impact of this show. Yes, it may have been an unsuccessful event but...let's not forget the financial impact for the community.

Let's see, 4500 people eat dinner, and then drive to the Alerus for the show. Meanwhile, an out of state entity takes the 45,000 dollar gate and hit the road the next day.

What's the total gain for Grand Forks? 50 million dollars, a hundred million?

Does anybody know?

Anonymous said...

The reason people didn't attend was the $100 price tag. Plain and simple. If you could get cheap seats for $35 instead of $70, they would have tripled their attendance.

Sidenote: Everybody who works at the GF Herald is a dirty communist out to destroy the city of Grand Forks. They are all stupid, ugly, short, and they smell bad. (tu-uyen, it's a bad idea to try and debate anonymous internet people....especially when the Herald sucks so hard.

Anonymous said...

Nice post anon! I can't find the winky-wink smiley guy though.

Anonymous said...

I know of 3 people, myself included, who would have gone to see the show at the Alerus if the ticket prices had been lower. My sister would have left work early, driven an hour, had supper and gone to the show if the ticket prices were more within her budget. Ditto for myself. So instead we're saving our pennies to pay $40. or so for tickets to go see Lori Line at the Fritz in November. Now that's a show and she puts on two in one day!

dale said...

Let's see, 4500 people eat dinner, and then drive to the Alerus for the show. Meanwhile, an out of state entity takes the 45,000 dollar gate and hit the road the next day.

WTF is wrong with you people? Isn't basic math taught any more?

4,500 people attend the show.
$85.00 is the average ticket price.

4,500 * 85 = $382,500

What's the total gain for Grand Forks? 50 million dollars, a hundred million?

Yeah, 50 million dollars. Out of 4500 people, that would come to about eleven thousand dollars each. One heck of a meal, I guess.

On a less sarcastic note, I agree that the ticket prices were out of control, but we looked into Cirque the last time we were in Orlando, and prices were about $150 a seat. For an obscured view (possibly Obscured By Clouds, the seats were so high, I wouldn't have been surprised.) There's apparently quite the demand for French Canadian circuses out there.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, dude, it's called a typo. The poster dropped a zero. And, evidently rounded the ticket price to 100 bucks.

The Alerus is laughable. I'm appalled that HG, and RN, think I'm so fucking stupid that I'd buy their spin. No big deal. Here's how I roll...I quit banking at Alerus and I'll never set foot in a Happy Harrys.

Civic center comparision, give me a break! Who do they think is buying their crap!!!

dale said...

Ahhh, dude, it's called a typo. The poster dropped a zero.

This: $450,00
Or This: $45000

is a typo with a dropped zero.

This: $45,000

is either someone who can't do math, or someone with an agenda that requires Alerus Centre revenue to be ten times less than it should be.

The fact that I corrected this "error" twice in the same thread should be vindication enough :-)