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August 27, 2015

A Eulogy for the Local Newscaster

by Stephanie Earp, posted Dec 13th 2010 4:30PM
Last week, a little ripple traveled through my Facebook friends, delivering the news that Mark Dailey, a guy most of the world has never heard of, had died. Dailey was a reporter and news anchor in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the city where I grew up and where many of my friends still live, and as the news passed from status to status, many of us felt unaccountably sad over the loss of someone most of us had never met, while the rest of the online world went on posting pictures of their kids with Santa, complaining about the Maple Leafs and linking to WikiLeaks mirror sites.

In the last week, many Canadian sites and papers have published proper stories about Mr. Dailey (notice I can't call him Mark -- first names are for the Britneys and Angelinas of the world) and so if you are curious about him, get your Google on and have a read, or watch the official Citytv tribute to him, posted on YouTube.

Mr. Dailey's career was an unusual one by today's standards. He moved from the US to Canada instead of the other way around. He moved from radio to television, despite his "bus windshield" glasses, as he called them. And he stayed put at Citytv from its days as a quirky indie station to its current incarnation as one of the many outposts of the Rogers empire. It's hard to have a career like Dailey's these days, and that's why I suspect we won't see many more like him.

For one thing, the TV landscape used to be so much smaller. When I was watching Dailey regularly on the late news broadcast, it was one of seven channels I could tune in. Like Walter Cronkite with the Kennedy assassination and the moon landing or Dan Rather and Watergate, Dailey became the face of crime and police in Toronto, and definitely, definitely the voice of our growing city. Now, it's harder to put a face to our news. There are so many reporters, so many channels -- and, it seems like, so much more news. I can't remember who I was watching during 9/11 or when the Asian tsunami or the earthquake in Haiti hit. The last time I remember feeling that a story 'belonged' to a certain reporter was when Anderson Cooper started asking actual questions during his CNN Hurricane Katrina coverage. As far as I can tell, that was the last time he did so.

Part of Dailey's appeal was his obvious humor. His voiceovers for the late night movies were always sharp, but even in his more serious roles as anchor and reporter, his wit was always in play, and Citytv gave him room to be funny. Up until just a few years ago, Citytv was still pretty much independent, although the network around it grew to include stations like MuchMusic, Bravo! and many more. There are still plenty of indie stations like City across the country -- you can see them if you get satellite and they are usually running desperate ads asking for community donations to keep them going. Eventually, I think, they'll all disappear, and with them will go the zany, strange and unusual personalities of local television. Instead, we'll get a rotating crop of young reporters cutting their teeth in a small market before applying for promotions in bigger cities. They will be perfectly serviceable reporters who have no accent, no ties, and lots of ambition. They may even be very good, but they will not be Mark Dailey.

Mr. Dailey's passing has made me sit up and look around my own community and take note of who delivers our news. I live in a small city, but it is a city and here's the thing -- I've met almost all of our local news reporters, for TV, radio and print. I see them at community events, often acting as emcees for fundraisers. They run in the Relay for Life, they grow Movember moustaches, they go easy on the local theater company. And that's another appeal of the local reporter that no 24-news network can touch: we know them, but they also know us, and like Mr. Dailey, many of them spend hours of their own time raising money for our communities.

Is there a local reporter or anchor in your community that sticks out like a sore thumb, makes a difference, or makes you proud? Tell me about it in the comments. And rest in peace Mark Dailey -- we miss you.

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Great tribute to Mr Dailey - thanks. As an aside I haven't lived there in 8 years but I know quite a few Ktown reporters who deserved to be honoured. And one or two who should be thrown in the Cataraqui river.

December 13 2010 at 4:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Pat's comment
farid ahmad

Like CityTv Mark Dailey was everywhere & did everything. He was the voice of the City & the CityTv was the soul of Toronto. He ill be deeply missed. Very rarely does someone like him come along

December 14 2010 at 4:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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