Friday, 22 December 2006

Peter Worthington

Peter Worthington will celebrate his 80th birthday on Feb. 16, 2007.

A milestone, indeed.

What Peter has experienced in his first eight decades, as a man and a journalist, makes most of our lives seem sluggish in comparison.

Heck, the man was a few feet from Lee Harvey Oswald when shot dead by Jack Ruby in Dallas in 1963. How many journalists have that experience in their memory bank?

Raised in a military family, Peter fought in two wars (WW2 and Korea), travelled the globe as a foreign correspondent (Toronto Telegram), co-founded the Toronto Sun in 1971 after the Tely folded, was twice a federal candidate in the Broadview-Danforth riding, helped save the Bergeron Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Picton with a series of columns.

And all the while, as the late, great columnist Paul Rimstead would say, "Peter was looking for Communists under every rock."

Peter's pen has been mightier than a sword.

But there is something missing in Peter's lengthy list of credentials - the definitive book on the Toronto Sun. Not the media empire that evolved, just the Toronto Sun.

There was Life In a Word Factory (1976), Ron Pulford's light and early look at the first five years of the Sun. And there was The Little Paper That Grew (1992), a hefty, but disappointing epic by Jean Sonmor. In his 2001 Thirty Years of SUNshine, Peter just skimmed the surface.

The Sun Family, readers and staffers alike, hungers for a ringside recap of the first 35 years of the Sun. Why not one through the eyes of a co-founder who experienced the giddy highs of the 1970's and 1980's and the downturn in the 1990's and 2000's?

The multiple National Newspaper Award winner, author and highly respected Canadian journalist has all the skills and the memories to give us that book.

Tell it like it was Peter, from Day One. From the underdog days in the creaky Eclipse Building with the 61 other staffers who hiked a few blocks from the defunct Tely in 1971, to your 80th birthday on Feb. 16, 2007.

The Sun highs - the numerous awards, the daily and Sunday circulation milestones, the legendary parties, hiring Lou Grant, aka Ed Asner as Senior City Editor. He arrived for work on March 23, 1979.

(The brilliant Lou Grant publicity stunt created an odd pairing in the Sun newsroom - Lefty Ed rubbing shoulders with Righty Peter. Readers were told the next day Lou was fired because his presence was too disruptive in the newsroom.)

And the lows - being jailed (briefly) and then cleared in the Official Secrets Act case, John Munro's successful libel suit, the ousting of Doug Creighton, the deaths of Doug and other close media colleagues over the years.

Peter is due for another review of his life and times at the Sun.

It would be a perfect way for Peter - and the Sun Family - to mark his 80th birthday.

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