Sunday, 28 October 2007

Ottawa Sun SOS

The Toronto Sun marks its 36th anniversary on Thursday, with newsroom morale boosted slightly by the recent hiring of several reporters and a renewed focus on local news.

The same cannot be said for the deeply wounded Ottawa Sun, where key newsroom personnel continue to voluntarily jump ship in frustration over poor management and a lack of leadership.

Sources say the Ottawa Sun, still hemorrhaging after 18 months of layoffs, buyouts and firings subsided last spring, desperately needs a lifeline.

Recently announced voluntary departures from the “rapidly shrinking newsroom” in Ottawa:

Andy Tomec, assistant managing editor and computer whiz, to a software company as a trainer.

Rob Brodie, night sports editor and sports columnist, to the Ottawa Senators media department;

Sean McKibbon, court reporter, to a business wire service, where Geoff Matthews, former Ottawa Sun OpEd/Comment Editor and Money Editor, now works;

Sean Kilpatrick, photographer, to Canadian Press;

Dave Washburn, veteran sports copy editor, to CanWest sports;

Five key departures in the last two months.

Key newsroom employees continue to jump ship even after the Ottawa Sun newsroom achieved its first contract because they are "embittered and just can’t take it anymore," one source said.

“Some of the talent has fled to CanWest and the Ottawa Citizen and some have gone elsewhere. But they are now lost to Sun Media, along with so many others who have been hounded out in the race to the bottom.”

"One of the key, underlying reasons people can't stand it anymore is management," a source said. "Even in a hellhole, staff will be loyal to leaders who deserve it and have their respect. Not here."

As one source told TSF, the new Sun Media honchos (Michael Sifton et al) must be wondering what went wrong in Bytown.

“The Osprey types must have been shocked when they took over and are now busying themselves trying to patch a sinking a ship.”

The 30 remaining Ottawa Sun newsroom staffers (down from 60 before the cutbacks) are said to be cautiously optimistic that the new Sun Media leadership will remedy the weaknesses, show a “refreshing” new respect for staff and revive the tabloid's "journalistic values."

"They (Sun Media) know they cut too deep and swung too hard in one direction,” a source said. “Now we can barely get a paper out and people are still fleeing in droves as more local space is returned to shrinking newsrooms.”

The Ottawa Sun, launched Sept. 4, 1988, with great fanfare and enthusiasm, needs an extreme newsroom makeover if it wants to be around to celebrate its 20th anniversary next year.

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