Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Travel limits

Sun Media's stranglehold on travel expenses has noticeably affected coverage of the missing eight-year-old girl in Woodstock, a national story fumbled big time by the Toronto Sun.

Not one Sun columnist was assigned to Woodstock in the days after Victoria “Tori” Stafford vanished last Wednesday, but we hear that might change today with a column by Joe Warmington.

If Joe is on the scene, it's about bloody time.

The Sun has been using mostly copy from the London Free Press, which a source says has been limited to telephone calls instead of on-the-scene coverage in Woodstock - a half hour away.

Meanwhile, Woodstock Sentinel-Review staff have been multi-tasking non-stop, with little credit for the coverage in other Sun media.

"Sun Media's new 'territory' rules has left Woodstock's Elliot Ferguson reporting, shooting video and shooting stills for the past three days on the story," says a source.

"Elliot has done an admirable job, actually a great job virtually by himself," says the source. "He should be royally commended for his efforts.

"LFP people have been working phones and writing, but are not allowed to travel the 30 minutes to Woodstock territory. So anything the LFP writers have done is over the phone."

The Sun is also hesitant to use text or photos from the Canadian Press.

It appears if a major story doesn't fall on Toronto's doorsteps - as did Michele Mandel's national story about the baby heart transplant drama - newsroom staffers are being told to stay put and use the phone.

It is theatre of the absurd.


  1. Oh, good lord.

    At a time when information is truly borderless, Quebecor wants to draw artificial borders on news?

  2. That would be the London Free Press that, under previous ownership, had bureaus (among other places) in Woodstock, Stratford, Sarnia and Chatham -- now apparently forbidden Quebecor-owned territory.

  3. God forbid you have to pay someone for an hour trip through the crappy mileage they pay.

  4. Yep 35-37 cents a kilometre... we can't go breaking the bank for a national news story!

  5. Free Press started cutting bureaus before Quebecor took over.

  6. Oh, that makes it all OK then.