Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Michael Sifton memo

The recent appointment of Michael Sifton as Sun Media's CEO has generated positive buzz among shell-shocked employees.

They have been looking for a light at the end of the tunnel following almost nine years of Quebecor cutbacks, firings, layoffs, buyouts and resignations.

This is a memo Sifton, CEO of Osprey Media until Quebecor bought the Ontario chain of daily and weekly newspapers, sent to all Sun Media employees.

Is it a light at the end of the tunnel - or an oncoming train?

Sifton's "tough times" rhetoric hints of more slicing and dicing down the road, but the Sun tabloids don't have much more to give before being declared vital signs absent.

(There is more about Michael Sifton in a Quebecor newsletter called Phoenix.)

September 21, 2007

To: All Sun Media Employees

From: Michael Sifton

"I’d like to introduce myself as the President and CEO of Sun Media and open what I hope will be an ongoing dialogue.

I have worked for most of my adult life in the newspaper and information business, in a wide variety of markets and a number of different media organizations. I have worked for some colourful owners and I have been an owner. I am passionate about our industry and believe in its potential.

Six years ago, I and a number of colleagues formed Osprey Media. The various newspapers that made up Osprey came from different ownership groups and had different ways of doing things. I like to think that we kept the best of what we inherited, we learned and adopted best practices from each other, and we sought out and implemented the best ideas we could develop internally or copy from elsewhere. Osprey’s businesses came together while maintaining strong local identities and keeping strong relationships with the communities they serve. When we met challenges, as we did, we met them head on and we persevered.

Quebecor has put together in Sun Media a great collection of assets, and together we have a strong and creative team. With hard work, and a little luck, we can achieve much. We can also have some fun doing so. It is remarkable what can be accomplished when people come together around a common vision of creating a modern news and information company, guided by a set of core values anchored in honesty. Goals that may currently appear to us to be stretch goals will start to come within reach.

Getting there will not be easy. We operate in some tough, competitive markets. Our competitors can be counted on to do everything in their power to ensure that our path is not an easy one. There is a continuing risk of a general economic slowdown. And if we fail to come together as a team, all bets are off. There will undoubtedly be some difficult choices ahead of us. But I believe that our industry can have a bright future, if we embrace constructive change and work together to achieve it.

I would not have accepted the challenge of being Sun Media’s President and CEO if I felt otherwise.

I look forward to the opportunity to work with you and to meet as many of you as possible. I will keep you informed of major developments, but also I want this to be a two-way communication process."

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