Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Readers can help

From day one in '71, the Toronto Sun newsroom was void of the deadwood that was evident at the Toronto Star.

It was a tight ship,with below average turnover.

That made frequently kicking the competition's well-cushioned butt on major stories and spot news photos all the more rewarding. David and Goliath, media style.

There were troop movements from the Sun to the Star and other newspapers in the 1970's and 1980's, prompted by personality conflicts or other ambitions.

Some, including
Cal Millar, Joey Slinger and Bruce Blackadar, were sorely missed when they moved to the Star. Others, like the reporter who came back from his two-month Sun sabbatical for 10 year's service and immediately jumped ship to the Star, were not.

Sun newsroom staffers who remained loyal through the 1970's and 1980's were rewarded with paycheques equal, or almost equal, to the unionized Star and Globe and Mail, two-month sabbaticals after 10 years, profit sharing, stock offers, hefty Christmas bonuses etc.

Then came
Doug Creighton's ouster in 1992 and all things good about the Toronto Sun began to turn bad. Things got worse after Quebecor bought Sun Media in January of 1999.

The Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild says the peak staff of 200 newsroom employees has fallen to 120, with fears of more layoffs to come later this year. A tight ship with a hole in it.

As numbers go, 80 is 80. As colleagues, experience and personalities go, the names behind the numbers speak volumes for the loss of talent at the Sun.

We are attempting to compile an accurate list of every Sun newsroom staffer laid off since Doug's ouster in 1992. Until then, this would be what 80 names look like in print, including the most recent 12 layoffs and others we know of from previous layoffs.

Bill Brioux, Maryanna Lewyckyj, Brett Clarkson, Sherry Johnston, Natalie Pona, John Simpson, Laura Bobak, Tania Pereira, Mark Keast, Scott Stevenson, April Novak, Manuela Foliero, Ciaran Ganley, Wanda Goodwin, Bill Duff, John Schmied, Gord Stimmell, Bob Thompson, Jean Sonmor, Cynthia David.

Wilder Penfield III, Jerry Gladman, Michael Clement, Ken Kerr, Steve Payne, Phil Johnston, Mike Patton, Tony Poland, Jill Rigby, Joanne Richard, Pauline Mason, Warren Toda, Linda Fox, Vena Eaton, Bill Dunphy, Sylvi Capelaci, Elaine Moyle, Greig Reekie, Gert Frank, Rob Galbraith.

Dawne Blackwood, Dave Abel, Debbie Bradley, Darren Crawford, Mary Dickie, Kim Dolan, Himani Ediriweera, Rudy Fillipetto, Manuela Foliero, John Fricassi, Pat Harden, Michele Henry, Dave Hilson, Sharon Ho, Jodi Isenberg, Ryan James, Eric Johnson, Brian Linehan, Tony Maraschiello, Barb McKay.

Chick McGregor, Larry Mickolwin, Errol Nazareth, Tania Pereira, Ed Piwowarczyk, Carlo Provenzano, Sue Sgambati, Jane Stokes, Ekaterina Todorova, Mike Ulmer, Bernadette Wardman, Linda White, Serena Willoughby, John Sakamoto, Glen Woodcock, Rick Van Sickle, Paul Cantin
, Alison Downie, Matthew Fisher.

Add staffers who have retired, resigned or have taken buyouts since 1992 - Jim Jennings, Max Haines, Kathy Brooks, Christie Blatchford, Les Pyette, Peter Brewster, Hartley Steward, Gord Walsh, Fred Thornhill, Sandy Naiman, Scott Morrison etc. - and that represents a huge loss of tabloid talent.

With the renewal of their 2003 contract due this fall, the remaining SONG members in the newsroom have some tough negotiations ahead of them to avoid adding to the carnage.

While some SONG members appear reluctant to go public with the ongoing chaos in the Sun newsroom, we can't think of better ammunition than to have loyal Sun readers on their side.

When readers spoke in the 1970's and 1980's, the Sun listened to what they had to say and responded appropriately. Readers were as much a part of the Toronto Sun Family as staffers.

But today's uninformed Sun readers are being short-changed by a bare bones newsroom, which hasn't had a rewrite desk in more than a decade and proof reading appears to be by chance.

With Quebecor weeding out higher paid experienced reporters, readers are being subjected to convoluted leads (we circled a 44-word lead in a recent story) and lumpy tabloid stories. Veteran columnists and wire stories are keeping the news side afloat.

You can't blame the novices. Overworked rim editors doing the rewrites don't have time to say "hey, kid this is how your story should be written," and most of the appreciated veteran mentors,
Doug MacFarlane, Les Pyette, Ed Monteith, Bob Vezina etc. have left the building. Without mentors and rewrites, most novices are destined to flounder.

The layoffs, unguided novices, overworked editors etc. all add up to a product that is not up to par for a major Toronto daily. Readers with a daily 53-cent investment should have a say about news coverage and content.

Get the readers on your side SONG and you will be locked and loaded come contract time.

The alternative is a quiet, less effective campaign to Save Our Sun.

Update: Reader Steve L. asks if Jerry Gladman was laid off. Incredulous as it sounds, the prolific veteran Sun writer was laid off, but continued to submit freelance features, including his final award-winning series on the crippling ALS that took his life.


  1. "We are attempting to compile an accurate list of every Sun newsroom staffer laid off since Doug's ouster in 1992. Until then, this would be what 80 names look like in print, including the most recent 12 layoffs and others we know of from previous layoffs.

    ". . . Jerry Gladman, . . ."

    I didn't think Jerry Gladman had been laid off. Was he?

    Also: I don't see mention of George Jonas among the departed.

  2. Vena, if you read this please contact me on Facebook, Wendy S.