Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Weekly sameness

Weekly newspapers across the Sun Media chain will all be required to use almost identical layouts, from front page to back, beginning in mid January.

Weekly editors will be told how their newspapers will be laid out, with little variation other than the name of the newspaper in the flag/masthead/nameplate.

Editors will be told where copy and headings go, the size and style of fonts to be used and where ads will be placed.

A TSF reader sent us samples of the new format and we feel for weekly editors who treasure freedom of choice in the newsroom.

It is sanitized, cookie cutter sameness that eliminates the need for creativity.

Happy 2010 weekly editors.


  1. I used to take pride in the way I would put together a page. It was a chance to be creative and I used to feel that in some way, my layout might help draw readers into a story. They even gave out awards for this. (I was nominated once but didn't win.)
    How long do you think it will be before this is the rule at daily papers too?

  2. So what's so different compared to the current layout of the papers in Sun Media's daily properties, apart from ad placement?
    The Woodstock regional Centre of Pestilence has been churning out cloned products for months now. Daily products, that is, not weeklies...
    Same goes for other markets too.

  3. Creativity is not in QMI...Sun Media...Quebecor, whatever the hell we're called these days.

    Why pay more for someone with creative skills when the factory line drones at the Centre of the Excellences can do all the work.

    Or those over in India.

  4. I'm so glad to find out through this source first, before my superiors decide to fill me in...

  5. Don't you get it? There's no longer a need for skilled editors who are trained to do layout. Now, it's about pumping out pages in central locations, miniature 24 to 36 point type sizes for main headlines, and the entire time, the new 'superiors' are congratulating themselves on how great it is. Take a look at our dailies. They have gone way backwards. Now we're going to have even greater homogenized ugliness. We might as well scrap all the technology because people were putting out sharper looking papers back in the day using x-acto knives and wax rollers.

  6. They are taking away our individual mastheads and replacing them all with the Sun Media logo. How are readers going to recognize their papers? Even the staff bar will be eliminated.

  7. They're not supposed to recognize "their" paper... they're supposed to go from town to town and exclaim "Wow they have our paper here as well!! How cool is that."

    At least that's what PKP and his parrots expect.

    Corporate branding taken to the extreme and readers hate it.

  8. Nice essay here on the fate of newspapers:

    To paraphrase - "We don't need your newspapers Pierre... we do need journalism".

  9. Personally I think the design of your dailies looks great and many of your weeklies need the help big time. Just because they look the same doesn't mean they look bad. And I'm more likely to pick up one of your sister papers if it looks like the one I read every day at home. Maybe some of the contributors to this site should give credit where it's due...Sun Media still puts out great papers and in most cases better than the competitor.

  10. Wasn't Sun Media built on making the Suns across the country the same other than some of the content? Yup.

  11. Yes but the similiar Sun design didn't come at the expense of talented editors who still had to put all the pages together and had the freedom to design what they wanted.

    Now the so-called Centre of Excellence and the drones that work there for dirt cheap whip up one national page, sports page, world page, etc. and it runs in every paper.

    Don't get me started on how horrible the layout is, how much they slash and condense stories and the number of errors that are on these pages.

  12. Sun Media still puts out great papers and in most cases better than the competitor.

    What competitor?

  13. who's kidding who, no competitor means you do what you want, the hell with the reader. Hmm let's see if we can kill ALL the newspapers in Canada. Did anyone know that jobs have already been moved to India? Yet another Canadian company sending jobs away. Don't worry folks, 2010 will see many less Centres, can't call them excellence, as that's a misnomer. Don't you have to be at least a bit "good" before being called excellent. Holiday season is not over yet, pink slips are being processed for January.

  14. What competitor?

    Local weeklies.

    And he's dead wrong.

  15. Was it the Centre of Excellence that buried the attempted plane bombing in Flashes about 30 pages deep in the Toronto Sun on Dec. 26?

  16. Didn't the Spectator in Hamilton just can their entire production department last week? That's what I heard trough the grapevine, at least. I believe TorStar moved everything to India a few weeks ago prior to the axe falling.

    Apparently, TorStar are using the same company (MGI - Mindworks Global India) that is allegedly providing production work for QMI weeklies and dailies come early to mid-2010. And I know of several well-recognized QMI and Canoe representatives that have been flying back and forth between Quebec, Kingston and New Delhi since September 2008. This is something they've been working on for years.

    Production is a given, but now we're hearing Circulation and Advertising too. I can see how Production and Circ would be capable of moving, but Advertising? Really?

    I personally cannot imagine how on earth the off-shore Advertising scenario would pan out. Doesn't make much sense to me. Do you not have to meet with a client face-to-face at some point?

  17. I knew this was in the works when a reader survey popped up on our website without anyone at Sun Media telling us about it. Questions like "Your newspaper is considering a redesign. Which of the following do you prefer?" and "Your newspaper is considering adding more community content. Which features do you prefer?"

    It's nice to hear that WE are thinking of a redesign by seeing it on our own website.

    This whole process is insulting and disempowering. If that is the goal of this company - which it seems it is - they are succeeding brilliantly.

  18. For those who could use a morale boost, I recommend finding these DVDs. Deadline - U.S.A. 1952 (Bogart), Executive Suite 1954 (William Holden) and The Paper 1994 (Michael Keaton). At the core of each is the fact that brains, guts and nuts are what make a company profitable.

  19. It is alway nice to see that people in one departement of a newspaper can be ignorant as to the workings of another department. In all reality, when a department is centralized be it in Woodstock, Dresden or India, the newspaper suffers. When you can no longer walk up a flight of stairs or go through a door to get to the production, classified or circulation department, talk to a real live person who knows the city your newspaper services, it's a sad day for all.

  20. Nothing new here. Transcontinental Media did the exact same thing to its weeklies years ago and then gave themselves a big pat on the back about how wonderful they were.

  21. Not a smart idea to post your real name, Tammy. Not smart at all. You can bet you'll get a big fat checkmark in the "layoff" column for that one... Corporate watch this site on a daily basis.

  22. You know what, Tammy? Tell Anonymous #20 to stuff it. I can accept the rationale of some people who post anonymously out of fear. But it's not noble to try to spread the self-censorship to those who prefer to speak their minds openly regardless.
    (Hi Corporate! How's it hangin'?)
    Jim Slotek
    Toronto Sun Unit
    Local 87-M

  23. You'll all notice that Jim Slotek has the ability to say the things he does due to his position as Vice Chair of the Toronto Sun Unit Local CEP.
    I'd like to see him say things like that without hiding behind his little golden shield...

    Face it, Jim, the union has done dick all for the poor bastards who lost their jobs in the last round of layoffs, just as they'll do nothing in the next round.

    So yeah, I'm glad I paid into union coffers all those years, especially after I got laid off. I would so hate to see people like Jim miss their annual golfing excursion to Myrtle Beach.

  24. Myrtle Beach? Why would I go there when it snows ice cream at the Mother Ship?
    As for the union, I'm confused. Is it useless or a golden shield? And I've said all those things and more when my job was on the line before we certified, as did the other 12 who stood up that day and announced the union drive. It was pretty much understood that if the drive failed, we'd probably be on our butts.
    Ask the people who got their jobs back, as per the contract (a buyout equals one saved job) whether we've done "dick."
    Finally, if you were laid off, why do you still post anonymously? Are you afraid they'll hunt you down and lay you off again for fun? Or is skulking a hard habit to break?
    I include my union position in my sig because it was suggested to me it was more ethical to lay my cards on the table. Although "ethics" seems a ludicrous concern on a thread full of drive-by anonymice.
    Jim Slotek