Sunday, 30 November 2008

Whig axes 6

CKWS-TV in Kingston says six unionized Kingston Whig-Standard employees have been axed, four in editorial, one in production and another in advertising.

"A union spokesperson declined to comment on the reason for the cuts, except to say that it makes it harder for those who remain," CKWS reported.

The Sun Media newspaper is one of the Osprey Media dailies picked up in the sale last summer.

More to come in the Sun Media chain this holiday season?

Stay tuned.

And Merry Christmas Quebecor. Your timing sucks.

Why announce layoffs weeks before Christmas? Is it a bookkeeping thing, or is it just another sign of being a conglomerate Scrooge without a heart?

Isn't "why now?" the same question Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington asked of Magna's Frank Stronach the other day?

In our books, the bottom line puts these heartless Scrooges on the bottom rung of Canadian corporate management.


Saturday, 29 November 2008

Morning smile

Too funny:

RJ buyout project

Listen up print media types who have taken buyouts at the Toronto Sun and other Canadian newspapers, Amy Fuller at Ryerson wants to hear from you.

"I'm working on a brief online story for the Ryerson Review of Journalism (," Amy, a graduate journalism student, says in an e-mail to TSF.

"The story, 'After the Buyout,' is about how journalists have been re-inventing themselves and their careers since taking buyout packages.

"I'm looking for people to interview who have accepted a package from the Toronto Sun (or any other Canadian paper) within the last few years."

Great topic, Amy. There is no shortage of Sun buyout recipients who have landed on their feet after accepting buyout packages.

Amy says she is on a tight deadline for her first draft and is hoping for some phone interviews this weekend or Monday morning.

If you can help Amy with her After the Buyout project, send her an e-mail.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

News tantrums

Andy Rooney spoke his mind about newspapers on 60 Minutes recently. If you missed it, it's on YouTube here. Another Rooney on newspapers clip is here.

They are word perfect, as are most 60 Minutes clips.

But you've got to love YouTube for preserving classic television news broadcast bloopers and hissy fits, on and off the air.

Toronto Sun newsroom outbursts come and go without much fanfare, but when TV cameras are rolling, all tantrums and bloopers are fodder for YouTube.

The Sun could be holding video bloopers now that reporters are doing double duty with video cameras on the streets, but none to date on YouTube that we have found.

(Speaking of the Toronto Sun, the number of verbal outbursts and tantrums witnessed during our 19 years in the pre-Quebecor newsroom can be counted on one hand. A civil bunch.)

TV is another story. Gotcha footage on YouTube is a good night's entertainment.

A few YouTube favourites:

Anchor & reporter on air verbal slug fest

A Jessica Savitch NBC news classic

Bill O'Reilly going ballistic in '90s)

Monday, 24 November 2008

Neate blogger

Neate Sager, an Ottawa Sun copy editor/writer and veteran sports blogger, is among the nominees for the Canadian Blog Awards.

"There are some really good candidates in the sports category," Neate tells TSF. "Battle of Alberta (Andy Grabia), Covered In Oil, From The Rink (James Mirtle's new site), Top Cheddar and Grant's Tomb, a Minnesota Vikings blog."

Voting is underway and Neate says he's honoured to be in the running with Out of Left Field, a blog he has been labouring at for five years.

You can vote in the sports category here.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Inauguration Day

created by James Miller

Odds & ends

It was one simple photograph tucked away on Page 48 of Friday's Toronto Sun, but what an uplifting photo out of Afghanistan. The photo shows an Afghan pomegranate vendor displaying his produce at the World Pomegranate Fair in Kabul. Grow pomegranates, not opium poppies for heroin, is the message. What a refreshing break from the steady stream of photos of the ravages of the conflict. It makes us want to go out and buy a bushel of pomegranates from Afghanistan. Give them a helping hand on the world market with a product that is undeniably healthier than heroin and taking up arms.

Nov. 22, 1963. An ad salesman walks into the Brampton Times on Queen Street and says John Kennedy has been shot. The city editor chuckles as if it is a joke. No joke. The remainder of the day is spent glued to television sets trying to cope with what happened in Dallas. Then came Jack Ruby's bullet for Lee Harvey Oswald live on TV. It was surreal. The truth of it all remains untold 45 years later. Ditto for Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, all victims of 1960's assassins. Lone gunmen? We've got some Florida swamp land for you. Recommended reading: Tim Harper's Star story today.

(Nov. 22 update: Not a word in the Toronto Sun about the 45th anniversary of JFK's death.)

The Sun says the latest movie from P.H. is a huge dud. Who knew? Why papers continue to waste space on this talentless bimbo is puzzling. She can't sing, dance or act. Go figure.

Forget Conrad Black, do you think George W. will pardon himself and his administration for crimes and misdemeanors during his eight years in the White House?

Variety call

An e-mail from Donald Duench re Mike Strobel's Variety Village Christmas Fund campaign:

"If you read Mike Strobel's great column about Variety Village in Friday's Sun, you would have seen a paragraph which noted that my wife, Ruth Demirdjian Duench, is donating her Tupperware sales commissions for next week (Nov. 22-28) to help the Toronto Sun Variety Village Christmas Fund.

"You and the TSF readers might appreciate knowing that photos and information about the Tupperware products which Ruth sells can be seen at her website, Purchases can be made at the website, or by contacting Ruth by phone (647-282-4386) or email at

"The sales commission for Tupperware's salespeople is 25%, so if Ruth has, say, $4,000 in sales this week, $1,000 goes to Variety Village.

"Ruth and I were at Variety Village in April to deliver a cheque after we did a similar sales commission donation following the death of George Gross. I agree with Mike that Variety Village deserves our support, and we're glad to provide it.

"We hope the TSF readers can help us give the Toronto Sun Variety Village Christmas Fund a big cheque next month."

Thank you for your e-mail, Donald.

Over to you TSF readers.

Speaking of Mike's column yesterday, he should threaten site staffers with daily flashings of his Toronto Sun tattoo until they provide hyperlinks to the online Variety Village donation site.

This is how it works,

"On Page 54 is a coupon to donate to the Sun's Variety Village Christmas Fund. Or you can do so online at"

You are there with the click of the mouse. No cutting and pasting and it makes it easier for older folks who don't know how to cut and paste site addresses. It could help raise more bucks for a worthy cause.

No need to go wild with links, but there are times when they are needed.

And trust us, you don't want Mike to be flashing his Sun tattoo at you.

One more thought, the Sun and the Variety Village site should have daily totals for donations received.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Today's lecture

A YouTube lecture on the future of newspapers when you have an hour:

Speakers: Orville Schell, dean of Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, and Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian newspaper in London, England.

Posted in January, but still relevant.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Blatch a winner

Speaking of authors and former Toronto Sun columnists, congratulations to Christie Blatchford, winner of the 2008 Governor-General's Literary Award in the English-language non-fiction category.

The veteran journalist won the prestigious award for Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from Inside the New Canadian Army, first published last year by Doubleday Canada.

Christie, a National Newspaper Award winner now at the Globe and Mail, accepted the $25,000 award yesterday. Her Toronto print media career also includes stops at the Star, Sun and Post.

Today's Globe story says:

"I owe huge debts of thanks, chiefly to the men and women of the Canadian army, and to their families and friends, who trusted me with the telling of their stories," Ms. Blatchford said in her acceptance speech in Montreal. "Whatever is good about this book is good because of them."

The jury said Christie's book "is a dramatic and vivid chronicle that proves reportage and the language of common speech can rise to the challenge of literature. Blatchford's writing allows the soldiers and their families to speak to us in their own voices, without adornment."

The Canadian Council for the Arts says a total of 1,469 books were nominated, with 73 finalists. A complete list of the GG winners can be found here.

As for Christie, we can now name drop with fond affection - a GG and NNA winner often mooched food from this rewrite guy's desk while counting the minutes to Sun newsroom deadlines.

Congrats, Blatch.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Simma Holt book

Peter Worthington's column yesterday about a new book from Simma Holt pushes the Toronto Sun Family author count to 40.

Memoirs of a Loose Cannon, Simma's fifth book since the 1960s, is available now at Amazon for $14.50.

"What Simma has written, as well as a testimony to herself as one of Canada's great 'natural' reporters, is a book that every journalist should read, and especially every person contemplating a life in newspapers," Peter says of the former Toronto Sun op-ed columnist and 1970s Liberal MP.

Peter's column was topped by another Top 10 headlines contender: Holt the presses: One of Canada's first female journalists pens fascinating memoir.

Monday, 17 November 2008

New Brioux turf

Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, Bill Brioux.

Bill Brioux?

Yep, 1150 WIMA in Lima, Ohio, heavily weighted on the conservative right, has signed on the former Toronto Sun TV writer for commentary Mondays on Mike Miller's morning news program.

Brioux made his Lima debut today and you can hear it here.

Program director Dave Woodward "must be looking to tilt things to the Left by importing a Canuck TV critic," Brioux says on his TV Feeds My Family blog.

As one of his blog readers says, Lima today, Toledo tomorrow.

The man is everywhere.

Tor police site

A Rob Lamberti story in today's online Toronto Sun should be applauded on two fronts.

The story announces a new Toronto police web site dedicated to unsolved current cases, cold cases and Toronto's most wanted.

And the online story includes hyperlinks to the new police site pages, a welcomed and long overdue practice.

The online cold case homicides date back to 1973, when the Sun was in its infancy. The Sun, or any other media, could assist police by featuring detailed weekly replays of the cold cases.

The lack of distribution boundaries on the Internet gives unsolved cases worldwide exposure. That is bad news for wanted men and women who think elapsed time is on their side.

And yes, Dennis Melvin Howe is still on the Toronto police most wanted list 25 years after the sex slaying of young Sharin Morningstar Keenan.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Lifestyle updates

Joan Sutton Straus has updated TSF on the post-Sun lives of two of her "babies" in Lifestyle: Barb Cole and Diane Solway.

"When we are remembering the success of the Sun alumni/alumnae, I'd like to remind everyone about two of my "babies," says Joan, a Day Oner and founding Lifestyle editor.

"Barb Cole was the first person I hired for the Lifestyle department when the budget increased so that I didn't have to be the whole department myself.

"She came on as a fashion writer, but we quickly discovered that she had a talent for photography. She has since gone on to a commercial career, with many advertising clients, and also one as a distinguished photographer.

"Her work has appeared in galleries in Toronto, New York, East Hampton, has been shown at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and collected in books.

"As the Sun flourished, the budgets became a little bigger, to the point where it hired summer interns. I was assigned Diane Solway. As you can imagine, I wasn't very happy about having the daughter of a Sun director in the department, but Diane proved to be an excellent worker, eager to learn, with great potential.

"Diane went on to write sports at the Sun before moving to New York, where she really has found her niche. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the NYTimes magazine, and the Wall Street Journal.

"She has written two very well received books, A Dance Against Time, and Nureyev: His Life. She is also a member of the adjunct faculty at the Columbia School of Journalism and an editor at W."

Thanks for the updates, Joan. As always, it is interesting to hear about the post-Sun lives of former staffers.

Blair's blog

Blair Gable, an award-winning photographer who walked away from the Ottawa Sun in August, snapped one of our favourite Remembrance Day photos for Reuters.

He's got the eye, as visitors to his Pho(blog)raphy blog can see, and it saddens us to see talent like his being lost by Sun Media for whatever reasons.

The Toronto Sun of old would have rolled out the red carpet for Blair. He reminds of the many innovative Toronto Sun photographers whose award-winning photographs graced the pages over the decades.

In viewing the first 10 months of Blair's elaborate blog, you can sense his passion for photography and his willingness to share what he knows at the drop of a hat.

Who has a Reuters front page Senators hockey photo in today's Ottawa Sun?

Blair Gable.

Gone from the Sun, but not avoidable when editors are looking for a quality front page photo.

This young man with photojournalism flare and multiple awards will be in news photo circles for decades to come.

That speaks volumes for someone who graduated from Loyalist College five short years ago.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Variety Village

When George Gross died last March, Variety Village lost a giant of a friend and fundraiser.

Toronto Sun readers were a generous lot in responding to George's annual appeals for donations to the Variety Village Christmas Fund, his pet project. They helped raise more than $1 million over three decades.

Occasionally, a community effort spearheaded by an individual dies with them, but not the Variety Village Christmas Fund.

Sun columnist Mike Strobel is picking up the baton from the late founding sports editor, who was still writing columns when he died at 85.

The Sun's annual appeal will remain the same, with prizes to be won and the names of all donors published. Donations can be made by mail or online at

"I'll write about Variety Village and this fund from time to time 'til Christmas," Mike says in his column today.

Good on you, Mike. George would be pleased.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Obama & Eric?

U.S. president-elect Barack Obama should make room in his administration for Sun Media columnist Eric Margolis.

At least Obama should take time to read his common sense Sunday Sun list of recommendations for the new president. Cuba, right on. Iraq, right on. Anti-missile program, right on etc. etc.

"Obama faces Bush's mess and other grave problems," Margolis writes. "But not since the ebullient days of new president, John F. Kennedy, has the world's heart been so open and filled with good feelings for the United States of America."

We second that emotion and appreciate it being said in the Sun.

YouTube finds

Updated re Chuck reading You Said It, SUNshine Girl, theme clip etc.

Remember Chuck the Security Guard, a good friend of the Toronto Sun who kept us up nights watching his weird and wacky All-Night Show on Ch. 47 in the 1980s?

He lives - on YouTube.

There are a number of clips to view, including a nostalgic flashback to the days of Chuck, aka Chas Lawther, the feisty Toronto Sun, Page 6's Gary Dunford etc. Check it out.

Another clip has Chuck reading a 1980 You Said It (Do you watch the All-Night Show?) and checking out the SUNshine Girl, a security guard.

Plus the theme clip.

"Hey you to the people at the Sun," says Chuck.

Hey you back, Chuck. Thanks to video and YouTube, you are in our living rooms again with a whole bunch of nine-minute segments.

Sad to say, there hasn't been anything to match the spontaneous, late night joy of Chucky since he was shown the door by MTV, Canada's first 24-hour TV station.

An all-night show could be a draw again with a new generation of video oddities, YouTube, DVDs, home cams etc.

Meanwhile, is there a Best of Chuck the Security Guard on DVD? If not, there should be.

Morrison book

Every Canadian who put skates on as a kid and grew up watching the pros from armchairs and stadium seats has probably wondered what Scott Morrison took the time to ask.

What was your greatest day in hockey?

A perfect question, but few people have the credentials and the access to the greats that Scott has grown in several decades as a gentleman hockey writer.

Hockey Night in Canada: My Greatest Day, released in time for Christmas gift buying for hockey fans, is another labour of love hockey book from Scott.

The 2006 Hockey Hall of Fame award winner, who interviewed 50 hockey greats, gave Sunday Sun readers a generous taste of his 216-page hardcover book in a two-page spread.

(Published by Key Porter Books, it is available at for $20.76.)

Scott, a former Toronto Sun sports editor who left the Sun in 2001 after a 22-year stay, has thankfully returned to the sports pages as a Sun Media writer via Osprey Media. He was missed.

The 1979 George Gross protege has done the Baron proud in print, on air with CBC's Hockey Night in Canada and Rogers Sportsnet, online at and on radio talk shows.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Random thoughts

Derek Tse, a talented entertainment writer/editor who jumped from the Toronto Sun to the Toronto Star a year ago, has returned to the roost.

It seems you can't always get what you want at the Star, so Derek returned to his comfort zone at 333 and the entertainment department is delighted.
. . .
Gordon Lightfoot fans everywhere can wish the legendary Canadian singer/songwriter a Happy 70th on Canoe's Jam/Showbiz! site.

"Email your thoughts and wishes to here. We'd like to hear from you by November 10, so we can assemble it in time for the big day on November 17th," says the web site.
. . .
When we think tabloid, we think Page 6 and Joe Warmington's Saturday Scrawler perfectly fit the bill today. A perfect potpourri of local events and observations, with familiar faces and bold face names.

From Saul Korman - we've got to get down to the Danforth to buy one of his suits - to Ti Domi, Craig Bromell and even U.S. president elect Barack Obama. Add Joe's Page 6 to our favourites, along with the new Page 2 and the TV listings page
. . .
Speaking of Obama, its great to see some Toronto media bipartisanship going on, with Toronto Sun reporter Brian Gray marrying Toronto Star travel writer Kathryn Folliott.

It is not the first Sun/Star union (a Sun city editor bedded a Star police reporter in the 1980s), but it's nice to see. At least the newsroom/travel department pillow talk won't be a conflict of interest.
. . .
The Toronto Sun has posted a Help Wanted ad for a general assignment reporter, with a Nov. 13 deadline for resumes. Are young qualified journalists lining up to join the new Sun?

In the non-union, glory days Help Wanted ads were minimal. There was little staff turnover because the Sun was such a great place to work and people in waiting were numerous.
. . .
All of the Toronto dailies raised newsstand prices for papers beyond the GTA in recent weeks, citing gasoline prices and other costs.

Now that prices have dipped about 50 cents per litre, will they reduce the prices? Say that $2.63 Sunday Sun sans television guide, the $3 Saturday Star etc.
. . .
Will PKP be to the newsrooms of Sun Media and Canoe what Sarah Palin was to John McCain's election team? Stay tuned.

Word is employees fear a return to the Quebecor savaging experienced on and off since Sun Media was purchased in 1999, ending a year of relative calm.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Black Friday

News today that Sun Media chief Michael Sifton is out and Pierre Karl Peladeau is taking personal command of Sun Media and Canoe is seen by some as a death knell for the Sun as we know it.

"Sifton is out . . . PKP is back in charge," writes a TSF reader. "Apparently advertising lost about half a dozen folks. Strategy looks to meld Canoe and Sun Media."

Says another insider: "It is the worst possible news. Disastrous. And from the man who brought down Quebecor World."

Sifton, former chief of Osprey Media, was appointed Sun Media chief a month after Osprey's sale to Quebecor in 2007. He appeared to be a calming buffer between anxious Sun employees and PKP.

Today's stunning announcement in a press release induced flashbacks to the ousting of Doug Creighton as CEO on Nov. 5, 1992, almost 16 years to the day.

It is not that Quebecor Media overall is losing money.

The Financial Post says Quebecor reported third-quarter profit of $45-million, reversing a $35-million loss a year earlier.

But PKP says quarterly earnings for Quebecor's publishing and Internet businesses were "disappointing."

Well, if PKP resumes his heavy fists tactics across the Sun Media chain, as witnessed before Sifton became Sun Media chief, you ain't seen nothing yet.

That is the kind of change Sun Media does not need.

TSF heard only positive comments about Sifton in the months after being named Sun Media chief. His family had been in the newspaper business for three generations and it showed.

Employees have been feeling more positive about its future under Sifton, with hirings and a return to a focus on local news.

The silence from Sifton in recent weeks was deafening and now we know why.

But always the gentleman . . .

"I am happy to have been given the opportunity to integrate Osprey Media in Sun Media organization," Sifton said in a press release. "I leave behind talented people and a strong team that will no doubt successfully take on the challenges that our changing environment is bringing."

Thousands of Sun employees might not be sharing his optimism today.

Duck and cover.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

More of same

Was it just us, or were many of the post-election columns and stories in the Toronto Sun more of the same old negative sore losers fare?

Leave it to Andy Donato to cut through all of the Sun's negativity and leave us smiling with his Sarah Palin packing cartoon.

Republican John McCain was sent packing and George W. is soon to be history, much to the elation of millions of Americans and celebrants in countries around the world.

Barrack Obama is 47. A U.S. president of that age of any colour is refreshing and comforting for anyone who is tired of aging, warmongering leaders.

What would also be refreshing in this 21st century is an end to divisive politics in the broadcast and print media. It has become so old, so unproductive.

Obama fronts

President-elect Barack Obama made the front pages of newspapers around the world Wednesday and and other sites provided a world view.

We rounded up the Sun Media tabloid efforts and our Best O'Bama Front Award vote goes to the Calgary Sun. It is tight, bright and "History Made in America" says it all.

Edmonton's "American Revolution!" captured the essence of the historical milestone, but the photo was weak. Toronto and Ottawa editors must have been on the phone because both went with Bam!, which just didn't do it for us. Toronto used a better photo, so takes third place. Winnipeg's decision to go with a cartoon is baffling.

The fronts: Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Tim and Woody

When Tim Fryer and Darren "Woody" McGee were shown the door by the Toronto Sun in May, people who knew and worked with the dedicated Sun vets were dumbfounded.

They were two of the few remaining glory days newsroom staffers still committed to the fading tabloid, but management ousted them in favour of a new guy.

Well, TSF is happy to report Tim and Darren are together again - at the Star.

Tim was hired by the Star a few weeks after his exit from the Sun and is now full time page editor on the universal desk.

And Woody was recently hired by the Star's Wheels department.

Congrats to both and to Star management for not letting the talents of Tim and Woody go to waste.

Two more valuable Sun staffers lost to the competition.

The Star, Globe and Post have cherry-picked many of the Sun's top talents over the years.

Quebecor's Sun doesn't have much left to give.

WinSun is 28

The Winnipeg Sun, an adopted sibling by way of Quebecor, turns 28 today.

Columnist Laurie Mustard marks the occasion with a 28 Reasons to Read the Winnipeg Sun column,

The paper was launched in 1980 by Al Davies, Frank Goldberg, Bill Everitt and Tom Denton and was often confused with the original chain of Sun tabloids.

Quebecor bought into the Winnipeg Sun in 1983 and it became a true Sun sibling, tabloid makeover and all, in 1999 when Quebecor bought Sun Media.

All kinds of Sun birthdays: Toronto at 37, Ottawa at 20.

A new day

As the song goes, Oh, what a night it was . . .

Several generations of Americans who have lived through the segregationist years in the U.S., the Vietnam war, the political assassinations, lynchings, church bombings, ghetto violence, the Nixon years and eight destructive and demoralizing years of George W., awake to a new era today.

And a number of delusional Sun Media pundits are eating crow.

What a wondrous and emotional night it was, highlighted by Barack Obama's flawless and inspiring speech, John McCain's gracious loss and a national voting fever to be envied by Canada and most free countries around the globe.

The president-elect is anxious to get started, as are most Americans and people around the world, but we won't see the last of George W. until Jan. 20, inauguration day.

We will miss David Letterman's nightly George W. flawed speeches and Tina Fey's brilliant Sarah Palin, but when it comes to making sense of the 21st century, comedy bits are dispensable.

You can sense a new direction for the United States is on the horizon. How radical a change is yet to be seen, but blue and red state Americans are definitely in need of unifying hugs.

Perhaps television, a venue all of the candidates flocked to in the two years leading up to the election, can provide guidance.

In the television series 24, the black president was competent, but fictional. Barack Obama is black, competent and a reality. His key word is change.

On The West Wing television series, Democratic president-elect Matthew Santos asks his unsuccessful Republican opponent Arnold Vinick to become his Secretary of State and he agrees.

"Of course, that was all just a television fantasy," John Weingart, associate director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, wrote in Newark's Star Ledger in January. "With the screen writers still out on strike, who could even imagine such a plot in real life?"

Well, hold on there . . .

Obama, big on bipartisan politics, is the new hope for the United States of America. tarnished by eight years of George W. Naming McCain to any post in his new government would be a monumental, unifying gesture.

The United States has never been so politically divisive, largely fueled by the broadcast media. Perhaps the healing process would benefit from a page torn from a television script.

Obama strikes us as a president who will dare to be different in positive, constructive ways. Giving McCain a role in the hike back up the hill would be inspirational - and a definite change in 21st century politics.

Our respect for McCain grew as he spoke in the wake of his defeat. He is not too old to contribute to the reversal of Republican misfortunes, he is just too old to be president with Sarah Palin checking his pulse hourly.

Taking another page from television, how about a Department of Extreme Makeovers, mirroring ABC's popular home reno series, offering a helping hand to selfless Americans? Rebuild America, block by block on a wider scale, with the assistance of community volunteers and corporate donations.

For now, our good neighbors to the south suddenly got a whole lot saner than they were on election day in 2004. Good on you.

Your neighbors to the north share your sense of hope and change.

We also envy your renewed passion for the democratic process, in record numbers, from ecstatic, first-time teen voters to 106-year-old Ann Nixon Cooper, who eagerly cast her vote for Obama in Atlanta, Georgia.

Canadians haven't shown such a collective passion for elections since the Trudeaumania years and that was 40 years ago.

In Canada, we don't care about the colour, religion or sexual orientation of a political candidate, we just want him or her to have a pulse.

Perhaps Justin Trudeau, Pierre's son, will someday motivate us to gather in large numbers, raise some flags and feel politically vibrant once again.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Ottawa reunion

Day Oners who launched the Ottawa Sun 20 years ago will be gathering for a reunion dinner in the capital city's Little Italy tomorrow night.

John Paton, founding editor-in-chief, is flying in from New York. Toronto Sun columnist Mark Bonokoski, who was the European bureau chief on Day One and became publisher in 1997, will also be there.

Peter Worthington, co-founder of the Toronto Sun and founding editor of the Ottawa Sun has been invited. Hartley Steward, the founding publisher, is in Scotland so can't attend.

Other Ottawa Sun pioneers have also been invited.

It is not the SkyDome party they all attended to celebrate the Toronto Sun's 20th in 1991, but any gathering of Sun vets speaks for the strength of the Toronto Sun Family bond.

As Paton, now chairman and CEO of New York-based impreMedia, says: "As someone who got to the Toronto Sun in '77, I really loved being a Day Oner in Ottawa."

Re Greg Harris

Greg Harris, director of fundraising and publicity at the Ryerson Review of Journalism, is on a mission and he is hoping seasoned headline writers will answer his call.

He needs to interview copy editors about "the art of writing headlines," a topic seldom analyzed. It is for a Spring 2009 publication. His e-mail is

Headless Body In Topless Bar - New York Post

Queen of Mean has room in tomb - Lew Fournier, Sun

Firefighters save farmer's ass - Ditto for Lew

Meal almost becomes cereal killer - Our Lew again

Headline writing is, indeed, an art. Sun legends include Fournier, a gentlemanly vet who has agreed to be interviewed; Tim Fryer, now at the Star; Darren McGee, ousted from the Sun recently along with Tim, the late Paul Heming, Ben Grant, Lloyd Kemp and Howard MacGregor etc.

Greg said he didn't realize how little headline writing has been documented until he went Googling. He sent TSF the following e-mail:

"I am writing to tell you what a great resource your blog has been for me. I first came across the Toronto Sun Family blog in September, when I was doing background research for my Ryerson Review of Journalism piece about headline writing.

"Very little has been written on the art of writing headlines, but a Google search for Toronto Sun headlines, or something of that nature, brought me to your Top Ten Heads. I had called the Sun twice at that point, trying to find out who the headline writers were, and nobody that I talked to could give me any names.

"So when I saw that Lew Fournier had written half the headlines on your list, I knew that I had to speak with him. I was fortunate in that he responded to my email inquiry, and agreed to meet with me. Had it not been for your blog, I'm not sure if I would have gotten in touch with Lew.

"I must say that reading Toronto Sun Family on a daily basis has provided me with a solid context as to what's going on at the Sun these days. When I got the chance to visit the newsroom last weekend, I had some idea what to expect, and I definitely see Quebecor in a whole new light.

"Anyways, I am continually tracking down sources for my headline story, which is scheduled to be published in April. If you could put me in touch with any Toronto Sun staffers, past or present, who'd be interested in talking headlines with me, I would certainly be grateful.

"In the meantime, I'll keep reading the blog to see if any other names jump out at me.

"Yours truly,

Greg Harris,
Director of Fundraising and Publicity,
Ryerson Review of Journalism, Spring 2009"

Thank you for your e-mail Greg. We're sure headline writers at all four Toronto print dailies will be e-mailing to assist you in your project.

Fowler moves on

Neil Fowler, a former Toronto Sun CEO and publisher, is retiring as editor of the monthly British Which? Magazine after a three-year stay.

Fowler left the Sun in the fall of 2005 and was appointed editor of Which? in January of 2006, returning to his UK roots. Which? has a circulation of about 500,000.

When his Which? appointment was announced, Fowler said: "I'm very pleased to be joining Which? It has one of the highest trust ratings of any product in the UK - so it is a huge responsibility."

He once told Press Gazette editing Which? was "one of the best jobs in journalism."

"I think in journalistic terms it's as near to pure traditional journalism as there is. We don't take advertising, we are not for profit and we sell purely on the basis of how good the magazine is."

Now 52, Fowler says it is time for him to take a "bit of a break" from editing.

"I've been editing for 23 years and I'm having a bit of break and seeing if those skills are transferable. Which? is doing really well, I'm leaving it at a time when the sales are doing well. I want to see what else is out there."

Prior to his Sun run, his UK editing jobs included the Lincolnshire Echo, the Derby Evening Mail, the Journal in Newcastle and the Cardiff-based Western Mail.

Brioux returns

Bill Brioux, the ever-prolific TV writer turfed from the Toronto Sun in January of 2007, returned to the Sunday Sun's ENT section on the weekend.

It was a Special to Sun Media effort and it felt so right.

Brioux, one of the many victims of Quebecor's senseless savaging of the Sun, gained a much wider audience after his exit, which speaks volumes for his talents.

He is everywhere. Based at the Canadian Press, he has been writing for Toronto Star's Starweek, he writes a popular TV Feeds My Family blog, he authored a book on TV fact and fiction.

This past weekend he had the cover story in StarWeek and a full page in ENT.

In his Sunday Sun piece, he talks about "edge" and that is something the Sun needs to recapture in the fiercely competitive Toronto print media market.

We've never met Brioux. He was after our time. But we like his style. Seeing his byline in the Sunday Sun again made us giddy, a feeling that has all but vanished in recent years.

It is the kind of edge we long for in the Sun.

Somewhere, there is an editor who said enough is enough and welcomed Brioux back into the Sunday Sun's printed pages after a two-year absence. We applaud you.

Want more edge in the print editions?

Pull Max Haines out of retirement, or clone him, for a weekly crime column; have the new poker guy write about more world tournaments with Canadians at the final tables; revive the lottery column to give players a voice; more features on the unexplained; a weekly cold case column etc.

But the return of Brioux to ENT is encouraging. Many more, but not for the television guide. Brioux fans beyond the GTA don't get it in their $2.68 Sunday papers.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Odds & ends

Keeping things positive . . .

The 37th birthday video at has been edited, eliminating Kin-Man Lee's comments about the National Post being around when the Sun was launched in 1971 and Lee saying 27 years instead of 37.

Kudos to the Page 2 layout crew for the new look. Page 2 has gone through more transformations than Larry King has gone through wives, but the current tabloid page is a keeper. We'll give those responsible a tip of the hat if given a name(s).

(One small improvement to Inside Your Sun would be the Toronto Sun's mailing address below the Web address to avoid having to search for a snail mail address. OK, one more. How about TV listings in the Regulars box?)

Was yesterday's Emmy's journey story by Veronica Henri (nee Milne) a first for the award-winning veteran photographer? If so, get her to the keyboards more often. Ditto for veteran copy editor Kaarina Leinala and her recent op-ed piece.

Alex Urosevic pushes the envelop with bikini clad Marcie, today's SUNshine Girl. People with poor eyesight are still trying to determine if that is a tattoo, doodling or pubic hair down yonder. The distraction, once again, is the circular red cellphone promo.

We're sure there is a desperate automobile designer somewhere out there dodging the rubble from a collapsing market thinking The Donato Wheelberry just might sell some cars. Andy's cartoon yesterday should have been animated for effect. Another gem.

And speaking of Donato, the more we think of it, 40 Years of Donato is a compilation book that has to be published. This is a milestone year for the editorial cartoonist and there would be ample sensational cartoons to package for a spring 2009 book release.

To Andy, Strobel, Bono, Michele, Peter W., Scrawler, Slotek, Liz, Bruce, Linda, Tom, Ian, Rob, Peake, Behal, Chris, Kevin, Bob M. and all of the other newsroom vets who reward readers daily, thanks for another year.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

37th video

Sun Media packaged a 37th birthday message video, which on the surface looks polished.

But there are glaring errors and omissions not worthy of a spirited anniversary special. (Check it out at the bottom of this posting.)

First, not one of the four remaining Day Oners - Peter Worthington, Andy Donato, Christina Blizzard and Jim Thomson - was interviewed.

Second, Kin-Man Lee, publisher and CEO of the Toronto Sun, says when the Sun was launched on Nov. 1, 1971, there were three other papers, "the Globe, the Post and the Star."

Say what? The Tely had folded, leaving the Globe and the Star. The Post didn't appear until 1998.

Lee later says the Sun is "27."

We all make mistakes, heck even TSF has made a few or more. But the Sun is in the business of communication and when it communicates in print and online, its accuracy affects its credibility.

The video was still accessible today so it appears Sun Media wasn't willing to edit the Lee footage for the sake of accuracy.

As for the four remaining Day Oners not being interviewed, we can only hope they avoided the spotlight by choice and by conscience.

To see them participate in the rally-around-the-flag production would have been embarrassing for them and all of the other Sun pioneers who take pride in the pre-Quebecor glory years.

Michele Mandel, Jim Slotek, Dave Fuller and Brett Clarkson do their best, but the only dialogue that registered with us was Lou Clancy saying the Sun was "turning again towards our roots."

Problem is, few people who truly understand the roots of the tabloid are retired, fired or deceased.

And the new regime apparently doesn't know how to get that lovin' feeling back.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Day Oners 7

Updated: see John Downing's blog posting and Sharon Lem's Toronto Sun story

Happy 37th birthday, Toronto Sun.

Yes, we are between birthday milestones, but year to year is the tempo now after almost 10 years of Quebecor ownership.

The rush to the Internet and the downsizing of the staff at 333 raise concerns about whether the print edition will reach 40.

We haven't heard if the For Sale sign at 333 produced any results. Perhaps downturns in the economy and condo development have given the 33-year-old Sun complex a reprieve.

But the inevitable is on the horizon: 333 will be sold and demolished and the four remaining Day Oners - Peter Worthington, Andy Donato, Christina Blizzard and Jim Thomson - will eventually bid adieu.

And that, as they say, will be that.

So we took this week to mark year 37 and to salute all of the Day Oners for rolling up their sleeves in a chilly old former factory and turning a dream into a reality.

This blogster is forever grateful to have worked in the Eclipse Building for six months before the move to the new Sun building, built from the ground up with great fanfare.

The move from 322 King Street West to 333 King Street East in the summer of 1975, less than four years after the paper was launched, was a resounding measure of success.

What a party it was until Doug Creighton's ouster as CEO on Nov. 5, 1992.

So many memories.

The last of the 69 Day Oners listed in Ron Poulton's Life in a Word Factory book to be mentioned here in our countdown to the 37th anniversary are the deceased.

We began with Doug Creighton's profile as co-founder and founding publisher. We end with:


(58) Ed Monteith, managing editor: The rock of the newsroom and a mentor to dozens of reporters who passed his way before he retired from the Sun in November 1990. Ed was 14 when hired by the Tely as a copy boy and was managing editor when the paper folded. Ed, a no-nonsense kind of newspaperman for five decades, suffered a fatal heart attack on Aug. 16, 1996. He was 69.

(59) Bob MacDonald: "A 10M Goof" was the first front page headline in the first Toronto Sun on Nov. 1, 1971, and the story was by Bob MacDonald. It would be the first of numerous Sun scoops written by Bob over the next three decades. And along the way, Bob was the ultimate mentor for newsroom colleagues, including his daughter, Moira, now an op-ed columnist at the tabloid. Bob was an affable Nova Scotia native, a story teller, a hockey player, an active AA member and a Regent Park Christmas Dinner supporter. The Tely vet provided exclusive coverage of the Springhill mine disaster and the FLO crisis. At the Sun, he was filed columns until colon cancer silenced the award winning journalist on Feb. 26, 2006. He was 76.

(60) Bill Hay, copy editor: A Tely/Sun character, no doubt. This chain-smoking, near-sighted copy editor's legacy includes numerous hilarious newsroom tales, including the day in 1971 when all of the day's wire photos on his desk went up in smoke. (Photo needed)

(61) Jim Yates, former assistant city editor, money manager: This easy going native of Scotland first worked for the Telegram in 1967, helped launch the Sun as assistant city editor in 1971 and was technology director when he severed ties with Quebecor in the 1990s. Jim, an avid sailor for most of his life, died of colon cancer on Oct. 6, 2003. He was 60.

(62) Paul Rimstead, columnist: A Sun legend if there ever was one, Paul was a reader favourite from Day One in '71 to his death on May 26, 1987, at age 52. He had a cast of characters for his widely read columns, including Flashbulb Freddy, Miss Hinky (his wife, Myrna), Rusty Rita, his car. Longtime Sun readers still talk about Paul, cherishing yellowing clippings of favourite columns. Bar hoppers remember his nightclub drum sessions. Race fans remember the horse he bought. Thousands of readers remember the Sun parties they attended on his open invitation. He ran for mayor, wrote a couple of books.

Photo department

(63) Wasyl Kowalishen, darkroom technician: The darkroom facilities in the Eclipse Building on Day One were flimsy compared to the Tely's darkroom, but Wasyl and the three photogs made do. Wasyl, quite the conversationalist, was proud of the achievements of the Sun pioneers. He was in a tux getting ready a private 30th anniversary Sun dinner for Day Oners when he suffered a stroke in his home on Oct. 31, 1991. He died Nov. 8, 1991. He was 63. John Downing, then editor and also a Day Oner, said: "Wasyl was as much a part of the start-up of the Sun as Doug Creighton. Papers need people like Wasyl." (Photo needed)

Sports department

(64) George Gross, founding sports editor: The Baron wasn't royalty, but he earned the honourary crown as the Sun's sports ambassador for almost four decades. He covered it all, from minor sports to world events, earning numerous awards along the way. The dapper, Czech-born journalist was sports editor from 1971 through 1986 and remained as corporate sports editor and columnist until his death. He was on the job the night before his fatal heart attack on Good Friday 2008. The National Newspaper Award winner recalled his Day One memories in 2001 and can be read here.

(65) Ken Adachi: Ken, a Vancouver-born former Japanese interment camp resident during WW2, worked briefly for the Telegram before joining the Sun's Day Oners in 1971. In 1972, he moved on to the Toronto Star's sports department, where he became the editor of the book pages in 1976, the same year The Enemy That Never Was, his acclaimed book on Japanese Canadians, was published. Ken was the Star's literary columnist when the first of two plagiarism accusations were raised. He committed suicide on Feb. 9, 1989. He was 60. (Photo needed)

(66) Eaton Howitt: This Guelph-born Day Oner, the wearer of many hats during his 41-year career, worked in newsrooms across Canada, capping his journalism days with 13 years at the Canadian Press. Known as one of the last top drawer drinkers, but always the pro, Eaton was said to have a sports who's who contact book to die for. When he died of cancer on April 14, 1987, at 61, Harold Ballard and Jake Gaudaur where among the sports elite to praise Eaton as a reporter and a man. "He just had a way with people," said Gaudaur, the former CFL commissioner who died last December. (Photo needed)


(67) Frank Eames: TSF has no information about Frank and time spent in the library. (Photo needed)


(68) Mike McCabe: Mike's lengthy association with the Sun began in circulation, where he was named circulation manager in 1973 and fleet manager (two Volkswagens and a Cadillac) years later. But the easy going Mike is best remembered as Doug Creighton's right hand man and chauffeur. He was a familiar face around the newsroom, where he chatted with a receptionist and walked her down the aisle in 1991. Doug chauffered Mike and his new bride. Mike retired to Fort Erie after Doug was ousted as CEO in 1992. He was at home on May 30, 2006, when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 76. "He was a prince of a guy," Len Fortune, then assistant managing editor, would say. (Photo needed)

Business office

(69) Art Holland: Office manager, furniture mover, pencil counter, Art did it all to help launch the Sun and remained a key player in keeping the Sun viable. Fellow Day Oners say Art was instrumental in moving anything that wasn't tied down at the defunct Telegram to the Eclipse Building at King and John Streets in the two days after the Tely folded. Peter Worthington called it a "hitherto undetected streak of larceny." Said Peter: "While others got accolades at the Sun, it was Art Holland who kept the internal workings of the paper harmonious." (Photo needed)

Many thanks to the Day Oners, here and gone.