Friday, 5 January 2007

Alison Downie


Alison Downie and her much hyped Readership Editor column have been quietly axed by Quebecor.

Alison and her popular direct link to readers were terminated two months after she wrote her last Sunday Sun readership column on Nov. 5.

Shame on Quebecor for keeping Sun readers in the dark about the fate of the Readership Editor. The Sun of old would tell readers why Alison and the relatively new and much hyped Readership Editor position are no longer valid.

(FYI: Alison, 47, was born in Dundee, Scotland. The Ontario Press Council member earned a journalism degree from Conestoga College in Kitchener. She was a reporter at the Citizen and then the Banner in Orangeville. During her stay at the Woodstock Sentinel-Review from 1985 to 1998, she worked her way up from reporter to managing editor. Alison was city editor at the Ottawa Sun from 1999 to 2002 and city editor at the Toronto Sun from 2002 to 2004.)

Alison, hired for the new Sun position by editor-in-chief Jim Jennings in 2005, settled in quite nicely, responding to the concerns of readers and answering their telephone calls and e-mails.

You can still read Alison's columns on the Internet. Did a sensitive Quebecor find Alison too honest in her reaction to the comments and complaints of Sun readers?

Or did Jennings' abrupt resignation in September 2006 curb her enthusiasm for the job and she let it be known? Jennings' sudden departure sure felt like a body blow to staffers who considered him a newsroom savior, much needed in such negative times.

Newsroom speculation was Jennings, a veteran America-born newsman who helped redesign the Sun in a major overhaul and was vocally pro-staff, resigned over additional newsroom staff cuts in the works.

(Jennings' resignation was announced on the day the SUNshine Girl failed to appear in the Sun, an omission management said was a technical error.)

Maryanna Lewyckyj, associate Money editor and Sun newsroom union rep, told the Globe and Mail Jennings would be missed because "he was seen as someone who stood for editorial integrity and fought against further cuts at the paper."

She told the Globe many people in the Sun newsroom were concerned that more layoffs were coming and added: "These are pretty frightening times."

Frightening times, indeed.

Two months after talking to the Globe, Maryanna learned her name was among 16 additional newsroom staffers to be axed.

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