Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Re Strangers

Our Waking Up To Strangers posting ruffled a few feathers among Sun Family folks, including Linda Williamson, former editor of the Toronto Sun and Paul Cantin, former Ottawa Sun staffer. (See e-mails below.)

The point of our TSF posting was a generation of readers raised on the Toronto Sun do not have the same bond with a lot of today's writers as they had with most writers from the 1970s through the 1990s.

"Strangers" we mentioned might not be strangers within Sun Media, but poll Toronto Sun readers and ask them how much they know about the tabloid's post-2000 imports.

Ask readers if they embrace any of the "strangers" to the same degree as Paul Rimstead, John Downing, Gary Dunford and other Sun pioneers, who were always much more than a byline and head and shoulders photo.

Linda Williamson writes:
"I hope you will get a number of responses from current Sun employees about your recent "strangers" post, but just in case, I am writing to set you straight on a couple of points.

I suspect you were being facetious, since I know you are well aware that some of the people you cite - such as P.J. Harston, whom you mentioned many months back when he was named the corporate business editor, are part of Quebecor's "convergence" effort that began about a year ago.

However, describing some of the people you mentioned as "strangers" is highly unfair. I'll stick to Comment, where, as you know, I was the editor until November 2006:

- Salim Mansur has been a regular Comment columnist since at least 2001 (I no longer have access to the database, so I can't give you an exact date, but that is my recollection). He is a political science professor at UWO in London, Ont., and widely respected as a commentator on politics and international affairs, particularly terrorism and the Mideast.

- Kathleen Harris has been a reporter with the Parliament Hill Bureau for several years and started before that at the Ottawa Sun - almost 10 years ago now, I believe.

- Mindelle Jacobs and I worked together at the Winnipeg Sun in the 1980s and the Ottawa Sun in the 1990s; she has been at the Edmonton Sun ever since, where she is one of the top columnists. Her columns have been picked up in the Toronto Sun Comment section periodically (like many others from the sister Suns, including my own before I moved to Toronto in 1997) for a good 10 years.

- Rachel Marsden? You know her story full well, having posted about her a few times. Whatever you may think of her, she has been a Sun columnist for about two years now, and is hardly a "stranger" to readers. None of these people are.

- Ajit Jain and Donna Marie Artuso are indeed (relatively) new additions, but it seems to me that they were introduced to readers in some way when they first appeared.

I hope this helps.


Linda Williamson"

From Paul Cantin:

"Hey, I just wanted to say that describing long-time Sun contributors such as Mindelle Jacobs and Salim Mansur as part of some recent program by Quebecor to ration resources or describing them as strangers to longtime Sun readers . . . you risk embarrassing yourself.

Mindy is a longtime veteran journalist who is based out west but has made some excellent contributions to the Toronto Sun over the years. Salim's work has been appearing in the paper for several years - he's not a figment of Quebecor's cost-cutting.

They may not be as well known to you, but for anyone who has been reading the op-ed pages carefully in, say, the last five to 10 years, I bet these are more familiar names than some of the long-departed (though fondly remembered) names you invoked from the good old days.

There is a danger in assuming that YOUR era at the Sun represents a pinnacle and anything else is a shadow of former glories. It's a danger any of us can fall into and it is disrespectful."

Thank you for your e-mails, Linda and Paul.

We now know more about the backgrounds of some of these "strangers."

But while some of the staffers mentioned above worked for other Sun Media newspapers for years or decades, they were new to Toronto readers.

Knowing who they are and where they came from would help readers bond with the post-2000 writers.

1 comment:

  1. Donna Marie Artuso is a former Edmonton Sun columnist who relocated to Washington about a decade ago.