“I’ve never run a newspaper, but…” Steve Paikin on the Star reassigning Jim Coyle

By Steve Paikin. TVO’s The Agenda

I’ve never run a newspaper. I’ve never managed a baseball team. I’ve never coached a hockey team.

But that’s never stopped me — or millions of other fans of journalism or sports — from offering free advice to those who are lucky enough to have those jobs.

So I’ll confess I’ve spent a considerable amount of time this weekend scratching my head over a recent personnel move, not by the Toronto Maple Leafs, or New York Yankees, but by Canada’s largest circulation newspaper.

For my money, Jim Coyle is one of the best Queen’s Park columnists that’s ever been assigned to The Pink Palace. Ever. And I’ve been covering events there for 25 years. Coyle for even longer.

He cares about the issues that come out of provincial politics. He cares about the people who do politics there. He writes with an intelligence, wit, and deep reservoir of knowledge that few in our profession have.

He’s also got one of the best B.S. meters around, which means when Jim smells the fecal count mounting, he doesn’t hesitate to blast the pooper in question.

So, you’d think with less than a year to go before, potentially, one of the most historic elections in Ontario history (Dalton McGuinty is going for a third consecutive majority government, something that hasn’t been done since 1959), The Toronto Star would want  one of its most experienced and best columnists staffing the Queen’s Park bureau.

That’s what you’d think.

Instead, Coyle has been called back to the Mother Ship at 1 Yonge Street to write features, to be replaced by who-knows-who.  Who-knows-who will, no doubt, be a capable professional.  But he or she won’t be Jim Coyle. And what Star readers need with less than a year to go until election day is Jim Coyle. We deserve it.
Full disclosure: I like Jim Coyle both personally and professionally. While we don’t socialize outside of work, I consider him a thoroughly talented guy, a friend, and someone who ought to have been left where he was, so he could continue to help us understand what goes on at Queen’s Park, praise those who deserve praise and give H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks to those who don’t.

Steve Paikin is the host of TVO’s The Agenda, where this story was originally published.