Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Signed Editorials

Veteran journalists and Sun readers must be wincing after Sun Media announced Tuesday it will publish only signed editorials as of today.

It is now Sun Media policy to name the writers of all "Point of View" editorials, said Paul Berton, National Comment Editor, in Tuesday's Sun Media newspapers.

Paul's comment that "writers in this space will come from across the country from various Sun Media newspapers" tells us "Toronto's Other Voice" will be weakened considerably.

Traditionally, which means for a century or two, newspaper editorials have been anonymous comment that spoke on behalf of the newspaper, not an individual. Quebec newspapers appear to be the exception in Canada, as noted on this Government of Canada web page.

Sun Media's editorial policy announcement Tuesday said, in part: "Since editorial writers are typically not required to write opinions they oppose, the editorial is often the opinion of the writer, but presented as the view of a larger group.

"Not any more.

"Readers will find a wider range of opinions from all sides of the political spectrum here.

"The intent is to invite as many different points of view as possible to the Comment pages, and encourage a debate with readers and interactive discussions through Sun Media's website,"

There's that Quebecor convergence theme again . . .

But isn't a signed editorial just another opinion piece best suited for the op-ed page or in columns found throughout the newspaper?

Will Toronto Sun editorials no longer speak on behalf of the newspaper at election time, or as a united voice on major issues in the community?

Will an individual editorial writer at the pro-Conservative Toronto Sun be allowed to endorse an NDP candidate running in a provincial or federal election?

Or will individual editorial writers be restricted to comment that reflects only the opinion of the newspaper's owners? Which brings us back to editorials being a mouthpiece for the newspaper.

The daily editorial, a source of pride and a reflection of the Toronto Sun's clout in the community since the tabloid's birth in 1971, has just coughed an unsettling cough.

We're anxious to hear the reaction of founding Sun editor Peter Worthington to this new editorial page edict. Ditto for Lorrie Goldstein, Senior Associate Editor.

Personally, an anonymous Sun editorial speaking on behalf of the newspaper and supported by a classic Andy Donato editorial cartoon can never be topped.

Do the majority of Toronto Sun readers want editorials that focus on community events in Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Winnipeg etc.?

If not, will the Toronto Sun publish their point of view as Letters to the Editor?

We doubt it. Dumping Alison Downie and her Readership Editor post was a clear indication the Sun is no longer open to criticism from its readers.

BTW: Did you notice there were only four letters to the editor on one page in Tuesday's Toronto Sun, compared to nine letters over two pages in Monday's paper? Readers have always had ample space to speak their mind so hopefully the "new look" doesn't include fewer letters.

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