Wednesday, 19 September 2007

New Sun Media CEO

Michael Sifton's appointment today as Sun Media's president and CEO has to be good news for hundreds of employees who worked for Osprey.

The newspaper executive was at the helm at Osprey this summer when shareholders agreed to sell the chain of 54 daily and weekly Ontario newspapers to Quebecor.

Today's announcement that Sifton's appointment is effective immediately should provide comfort to those concerned about their jobs under Quebecor.

At Osprey, they watched from a distance as hundreds of Sun Media employees were cut through firings, layoffs, resignations and buyouts after Quebecor took over in 1999.

Some Osprey workers were Sun Media refugees, now back in the shadow of Quebecor.

Is there room for employee optimism with Sifton at the helm?

Sifton, 47, served as the head of Osprey for six years and is the great-grandson of Sir Clifford Sifton, who owned the Winnipeg Free Press in the 1890s. He is also a former publisher of the Star Phoenix in Saskatoon and a former chairman of Canadian Press.

So there is print blood in him.

"I'm thrilled at this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Sifton said in a Toronto Sun story.

Time will tell if Sifton will have the freedom and the clout to act on behalf of employees for the betterment of Sun Media newspapers, or if he is destined to become a mouthpiece for PKP?

We wonder how Sifton feels about the Le Journal de Quebec lockout and strike that marks its fifth month on Saturday. The stagnant lockout and strike affects 280 Sun Media employees.

And we are anxious to hear if Sifton is concerned about the bare bones newsrooms across the Sun chain following years of Quebecor cutbacks, firings, layoffs, resignations and buyouts.

Welcome to the club, Michael. We wish you - and all Sun Media employees - well.

Hopefully, your presence will be a turning point in staff numbers and morale.

Pierre Francoeur, 55, a 20-year Quebecor Media vet and outgoing CEO, will play a key role in the management transition before he retires next summer, says a Canadian Press story.

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