Monday, 25 June 2007

Edmonton forum

If the folks at Quebecor can't take the heat from irate readers of the once popular Edmonton Sun, they should avoid the Connect2 Edmonton forum web site.

The site is for feedback about all things Edmonton and when it comes to the downsized Edmonton Sun, the heat from readers and former readers is blistering.

The numerous negative comments about the current state of the Edmonton Sun make us weep for the Sun pioneers who launched the newspaper on April 2, 1978.

And empathy for the remaining staff who are hanging in there after the layoffs, buyouts and resignations and doing their best to publish a newspaper.

Of the many recent postings on the forum site, one from a Dusty Bear, says a lot:

"I'm no fan of the Sun either, but I really feel for the people working there. They have endured some deep cutbacks in the past few years and the existing staff are constantly worried they may be next.

"You might have already noticed the declining number of local editorials, stories and columns. Mike Jenkinson and Scott Haskins, both longtime employees, are gone. As are numerous reporters and people behind the scenes.

"This despite the fact that it is a profitable newspaper. I'm only speculating, but I suspect it has a lot to do with Sun Media's parent company Quebecor making unwise acquisitions (ahem, Videotron) and squeezing every dollar out of its successful operations to make up for it.

"The Edmonton Sun has never been my favourite newspaper, but it's getting much worse. And I think people are noticing."

Noticing, indeed.

We are confident similar public forums in other Sun Media newspaper cities would draw the same volume of negative comments following eight years of Quebecor cutbacks.

Minimalist publishers who produce bare bones products can't expect paying customers to tolerate the loss of favourite features and writers.

But if the long term goal of Quebecor is to milk the cash cows until dry and then merge them with the free 24 hours commuter newspapers, negative reader feedback is irrelevant.

Instead of readers reaching into their pockets and purses, advertisers will be carrying the full load. Readers will get what they don't pay for - and it won't be quality journalism.

What a contrast to the collective, positive attitude of the co-founders of the Toronto Sun when they ventured into other Canadian cities to provide the best damned Sun tabloids possible, with flare, a sense of fun and ample staff to do the job.

Edmonton Sun on April 2, 1978.

Calgary Sun on Aug. 3, 1980.

Ottawa Sun on April 11, 1988.

Those were the days . . .

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