Tuesday, 29 September 2009

You said it

A comment posted anonymously today that sums up the Toronto Sun's readership dilemma quite neatly:

"The Sun lost its way many years ago as to what drives someone to actually stop and buy the paper. What sells, if you will. And the front page IS the selling point for single copy sales.

"A big part of the problem was the fact that senior editors that put out the paper every night were denied access to weekly circulation figures that used to be handed out to a select few. Quebecor put an end to this practice after the tail-spinning numbers became a not-so-secret shame.

"These exact figures often proved something that many in the building (shurly not editorial board types, publishers and former city hall/Queen's Park typists) refused to believe: POLITICS DOES NOT SELL NEWSPAPERS. It never has. It never will. Despite that fact, politics was often pushed hard by the types that had to face other executroids outside the walls of 333 King.

"Other than political sex/cash scandals and election night coverage, readers could not give a rat's about political machinations. Was Miller's announcement worth the front? Absolutely. Did it deserve 10 pages . . . maybe not so much. Did it sell any more papers on a comparative basis? I tend to doubt it.

"What the circulation sheet showed week in, week out, was what any good tab editor knew sold: Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Crime. Better yet, celebrity crime. Celebrity death. Politicians caught with their pants down or their hands out (sometimes both!). Beautiful women.

(One weather picture of a bikini-clad woman under a fountain jacked circulation by 30K one day and caught the eye of The Donald who we then set up with for a meeting and spun it into another great front).

"Even, oh my god, the SunShine Girl (that franchise now sadly relegated to the back page smaller than many of the celebrity head shots despite it being the Top 10 hits of every web chart for Sun Media.)

"These were the staples of The Sun and what reader's of The Sun always wanted. Water cooler stories. Hey Martha stories, as the late-great Lloyd Kemp used to call them.

"Just a few random thoughts . . ."

Thank you for your comments. The broadsheet boys in command today have, indeed, lost the Sun's successful tabloid formula touch.


  1. I work at the Sun, and through all the changes and layoffs over the past 10 years, the people who remain are hard working and dedicated to producing a viable product.

  2. The poster who claims the Sun is a viable product should look up the definition of the word viable.
    The Sun used to be sensational. A unique product that the masses enjoyed (I know, I worked there with great pride). Even the readers of other papers who would shun the Sun would know of at least one columnists point of view on a controversial topic. Reminds me of Howard Stern. Many people disliked him but seemed to know a lot about what he was doing.

    As it is today, like Dare chocolate chip cookies, manufactured with one recipe, country wide, the Sun has become just a viable product.

  3. I 'used' to work at the Sun. Luckily for me, I got out just before the layoffs started. When I was there, most people were also hard working and dedicated to producing a viable product. The difference is, we enjoyed working for our founders. It was a family.
    ......don't tell me it feels anything more than just a way to earn a pay cheque now.

  4. I, too, used to work at a Sun paper, and I can tell you that the people I worked with, and those who remain, are excellent, hard-working people and I respect them greatly. They are fine professionals. But that fact does not take away from the truth that their paper has been gutted by cutbacks and it is but a shadow of what it was. The poster here who defended the staff misses the point: yes they are hard working and dedicated, but ownership has taken away too many of their needed tools (staff etc.) to produce a proper product.

  5. One dumb decision after another has made Sun Media papers a shell of their former selves. The Toronto Sun is just the biggest example of this. I'm sure "readership dilemmas" are going on from one corner of the country to the next due to the complete lack of logic and lack of common sense this company is run with.

  6. I, too, used to work at a Sun paper. And like the rest of those cowards, I will post anonymously because, well, well, why doesn't anyone have the cojones to put their name out there?

  7. The Sun was always and will always be a tits and ass, sports and celebrity tabloid. TABLOID.
    It's the one thing that competitively differentiates it from the broadsheets, especially the Star. These days there's little to choose from between Metro, 24 and the Sun.
    In a crowded market you have to stand out. Everyone knows - or used to know as the poster points out - that the front page is the single biggest sales trigger.
    Back in the day the wholesalers would bump or drop their buy at the dock based on the front page.
    While weather, TTC strikes and the like all had an effect on sales, the biggest pull was always shock value.
    Love it or hate it, you picked it up because you never knew what you were going to see or read when you turned the page.
    The Sun broke stories, it pumped stories into issues which others ignored.
    And then, it started to become the little broadsheet that couldn't. Not because of the staff but because of dumb executives who saw numbers and wanted a larger market share. THe SUn cannot and will not and will never draw from the larger pool, it has a core base of appeal and it's very hard as we've seen to grow it past that.
    Trying to appeal to more women, trying to cut into other demographics just hasn't worked and along the way they've pissed off the core by cutting the SSG, scaling back the sex ads, toning down the sensationalism, making it more bland, more corporate and McPapering the damn thing.
    Take a page from the Red Tops PKP, let the paper be what it has always been, an in your face, damn the torpedos, full steam ahead kick ass tab.
    Say the unsayable, think the unthinkable, do the outrageous. Have fun and tilt at those windmills.
    Leave blandville to the Star, Post and Globe.
    But noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. You won't will you PKP because you want that sameness even as the ship sinks around your feet.
    A fully saturated segment is worth more than a slice of a multifaceted segment. You still make money and you can do it with fewer resources, though not as few as you've left in place at 333 King East.
    Ahh well. Tried.

  8. Re: I, too, used to work at a Sun paper. And like the rest of those cowards, I will post anonymously because, well, well, why doesn't anyone have the cojones to put their name out there?

    Why did you waste your time and the time of us readers to post such a ridiculous comment? Makes no sense...no wonder you remained anonymous.