Monday, 27 July 2009

Cloned voices

Our jaw has dropped numerous times since Quebecor purchased Sun Media a decade ago and it has dropped once again.

On this eve of an extreme makeover for all of the Sun tabloids in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, we sit here dumfounded.

In in an incredulous demonstration of centralization gone amok, as TSF tipsters point out, brief published stories explaining the changes to readers are almost identical, including direct, attributed quotes with interchangeable names.

"What isn't changing is our commitment to bring you the news, sports, comment, lifestyle, entertainment and business content you depend on in your daily Sun in the same informative and engaging manner," says publisher Mike Power.

Edmonton (and Calgary?):
"What isn't changing is our commitment to bring you the news, sports, comment, lifestyle, entertainment and business content you depend on in your daily Sun in the same informative and engaging manner," said publisher and CEO Gordon Norrie.

TSF couldn't find the link but a TSF tipster says "exactly the same squib ran in the Ottawa Sun Monday, July 27 except the quote was attributed to Publisher Rick Gibbons."

Only the Winnipeg Sun's quote from the publisher varied - slightly:

"You'll still be getting all of the great news, sports, entertainment and lifestyle features you've come to expect in your daily Sun," says publisher Kevin Klein. "The format will be changing slightly, but I think you'll find the Winnipeg Sun to be just as interesting and informative as it was before the change."

How lazy - or, should we say regimented - have Sun publishers become when they put their names to direct quotes written by someone else at Sun Media?

Did the publishers think adding their names to cookie cutter comments would not be noticed?

Or, dare we suggest the quotes were written for them and they did not realize they were identical to quotes being published in other Suns?

It appears Klein added a personal touch and changed the prepared quotes and good on him.

But what does it say for the credibility of the other publishers?

Are they not being allowed to speak for themselves in addressing readers?


  1. These guys aren't the giants of journalism that the industry requires at this time. To call them publishers stains the profession. They do what they are told. Pierre Karl keeps them in place because of this common characteristic.

  2. Um, who is John Galt?

  3. If Kim Man Lee was still publisher, his quote would have had an accompanying photo of himself...

  4. Just saw the new Sun. It's a bit smaller, but that's the only change. Otherwise it's identical to before. What a lot of hype about nothing. No story here at all.

  5. So the "new design" is out. All that changed is: (a) page size is smaller and (b) the page number, a thin outline around each reporter's (old) headshot, and some graphics now use a matching mechanical colour, (each section uses a different color).

    The smaller size is not a bad thing. The Sun is now the same size that the Toronto Star TV magazine was a couple of years ago. But the Sun has way more information than the Star TV magazine ever did. Take that, Toronto Star!

    Will the Sun now redesign their street boxes to reduce the window to match the paper size? Otherwise, a little paper in a big window will look a bit sparse. I guess we know why the the Sun no longer uses the phrase, "The little paper that grew".

    Each section now has its own colour. The Life section is half pink and half brown, Either that's a deep metaphor for life, or the paper couldn't make up its mind. Entertainment is mustard colour, I guess to reflect the colour of mustard used on hot dogs at some events. News is blue, I guess to match the Toronto Star, except the op-ed is mostly black (does dark blue on black equal blue or black? Is the black op-ed section meant to symbolize the lack of diversity or the death of free speech?

    There is a reason why most papers have moved *away* from colour-coding their sections. The Toronto Star, and some other papers, use only a colour-coded banner on their section fronts.

    The Sun is a one-(physical) section paper, unlike most broadsheets (narrowsheets?) They did try pull-out sections for the weekday paper, many years ago, and soon realized the folly of that.

    I guess the thought for using colour sections was to make it look like there is more there than there really is. But the Sun will (eventually) learn what other papers learned a few years ago: colour coding affects/influences the graphics and even photos used on a page. It also can affect how readers react to some stories.

    One of the practices used in marketing and advertising is that you can use colour to distract the buyer. If your sales pitch or product is weak or lacking, lots of colour, big bold type and graphics (banners, starbursts, etc) will create a (false) sense of urgency and excitement. This is what the Sun is using. Why not rely on good, solid, original content? Why not rely on the talents of the staff? Oh yeah, that costs money.

    Will the Sun change design as often as it changes publishers? As most of us know, shuffling the decks chairs on the Titanic wouldn't have altered its fate. Only a full change of course would have saved it.

  6. Well since Sun Media is run by the Borg, it's no wonder all the publishers had the same quotes. Ok, so call me a Star Trek geek, but really, look at the company - newspapers are all starting to look the same, run the same stories, printed at the same I need to go on.