Sunday, 1 March 2009

MBG comments

Updated 02/02/09 re Linda Barnard and Rob Lamberti
TSF is pleased to have a full month before Mike Burke-Gaffney bids farewell to the Toronto Sun after 29 dedicated and productive years. Too often, in recent years, vets have quietly left the building without their well-deserved farewells.

Linda Barnard, former Toronto Sun reporter now at the Toronto Star, writes:

"My fond best wishes to a crack editor, a kind man and a dedicated dad.

"I worked with MBG for years and learned many lessons from him, professionally as well as personally. Mike had some very tough jobs to do over the years and he did them with grace.

"All the best, Mike."

Rob Lamberti, veteran Toronto Sun crime reporter and SONG union rep, writes:

"I will miss MBG. He has been great to deal with in terms of union-management relations. He is a gentle man and a gentleman.

"I wish him all the best in his retirement. I am very jealous."

Wayne Janes, a Toronto Sun vet and an editor in Entertainment, writes:

"Mike Burke-Gaffney has seen the best of times and the worst of times at the Toronto Sun - and sometimes been responsible for the best times - and through it all he's been a steady presence, a rock in a hard place.

"In 1985, when I lost my business and he was Sunday Sun editor, MBG gave me a part-time job as a proofreader when I had no journalism experience. A few years later, when I was working on the News desk and Entertainment had seconded me to work there, MBG made a deal where I was still his Fridays and Saturdays, to work exclusively on some of those spreads and features Rick VanSickle talked about earlier. Nothing could have expressed his faith in me more clearly.

"MBG is the kind of editor who points you in the right direction, but never holds your hand. He has always allowed others the freedom and the room to be creative, all the while knowing what the readers want to see and what needs to be done to provide it.

"His unerring instincts guided the paper through its greatest circulation periods and for a while turned the Sunday Sun into the most formidable weekend paper in the city.

"I'm sure retirement will be good for him, bad for us."

It is only fitting that Rick VanSickle, a Sun Media wine writer, is the first to toast MBG.

Rick VanSickle, former Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa Suns staffer now at Sun Media's St. Catharines Standard, writes:

"I don't think there has ever been, nor ever will, be a more caring and talented editor than MBG.

"From his high-flying days when the circulation on Sundays (his paper) was 500,000 (I still have the clock to prove it!) through his many other stints as editor of Toronto's favourite paper (the Sunday Sun), no one put in as much effort, thought and creativity from cover to cover than Mike.

"Working with Mike was an unbelievable treat. Desk editors would do whatever it took to come in on Saturdays to watch Mike work his magic. If you were lucky, as I was many times, MBG would throw you a bone, an open feature page and, if you were really lucky, one of his legendary two-page spreads (run the art big, Mike would insist).

"He always had an idea for that spread, how he wanted it laid out, but it was always a gentle push in his direction. And he was always right, of course. The features Mike assigned were killers when he was running the Sunday paper and his front pages were the most successful Toronto has ever seen.

"Good luck, Mike, in your quest for the perfect round.

"Cheers, Rick VanSickle."

Thank you for your e-mail, Rick.

Comments about Mike's retirement on March 31 can be e-mailed.

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