Sunday, 31 May 2009

Why King is King

Larry King has more than 50 years of radio and television talk show host experience under his suspenders and one of the keys to his success is the absence of Is.

"I is irrelevant in an interview to me," King, who has also written for newspapers, told The Hour's George Stroumboulopoulos during autobiography promotions in Toronto last week.

The late, great Toronto Star sports columnist Milt Dunnell, who died in 2008 at aged 102, had the same philosophy, saying "there is no I in Milt Dunnell."

Hopefully, the large number of radio and TV talk show hosts in Ontario were taking notes while listening to King during his radio and television interviews.

There are far too many self-absorbed windbags in the talk show business, including men and women hosting AM radio talk shows in the GTA.

I this and I that from people who don't know how to conduct a decent interview.

Listen to King. Take tips from the master. Leave the spotlight on your guests and avoid interjecting "I this" comments during interviews.

There are a few particularly annoying talk show hosts on 1010, 640 and 610 who clearly are more interested in talking about themselves than their guests.

Who cares? We don't. Get over yourselves.

We're down to one "I" and we're out of here for radio talk show hosts during interviews. Try it and you will be changing stations frequently.

I-itis, as we call it, is also suffered by print media egotists. If it is not a first-person column or story, they too get a quick glance, a yawn and an adios.

Media sing-a-long

Okay, name 10 songs about print media in 30 seconds.

Eight songs?



Tough to do. There was that 1992 Newsies musical, but nothing in it kept us whistling a print media song after the credits rolled.

Then along comes a music magazine blog posting with its The Ten Songs About Print Media list, compiled by journalist Mike Kemp.

Kemp also reflects on the "golden age of journalism (that) peaked with Woodward and Bernstein and began its steady decline with emergence of CNN."

He introduces his Top 10 with:

"So, with great hope for a reinvigorated Paste, fond memories of a once-dynamic newspaper industry, and big props to Phil Ochs’ great, album-long newspaper of 1965, All the News That’s Fit to Sing, I offer up my top 10 songs about newspapers and journalism (in chronological order):

He also details each song and provides search links to find lyrics and music.

“Newspapermen” (AKA: “Newspapermen Meet Such Interesting People”) - Pete Seeger and the Almanac Singers (ca. 1940)

“Jimmie Brown, the Newsboy” - Flatt & Scruggs (1957)

“Daily News” - Tom Paxton (1964)

“Ballad of a Thin Man” - Bob Dylan (1965)

“Yesterday’s Papers” - The Rolling Stones (1967)

“News of the World” - The Jam (1977)

“Sunday Papers” - Joe Jackson (1978)

“It Says Here” - Billy Bragg (1985)

“Newspapers” - Stan Ridgway (1989)

“A Letter to the New York Post” - Public Enemy (1991)

Interesting posting, Mike. Well done and your intro about journalism then and now hits home.

As for print media songs, the biz needs something to sing about these days.

Perhaps TSF readers can come up with their own Top 10.

How about the Beatles' A Day in the Life lyrics do include "I read the news today, oh boy."

And for a stretch, Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me.

Any other print media songs come to mind? E-mail the titles and your name if you want credit.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Jamie's day

Jamie Westcott would have turned 45 today.

His father, Clare, shares his thoughts about Jamie and what the young and enthusiastic Toronto Sun police reporter might have become had he not died at 25 of brain cancer on June 13, 1989.

"If he was still with us, he might well have made it to editor of the Sun, or at least a star columnist," says Clare, a former Toronto police commissioner and citizen court judge with a lengthy career in Queen's Park politics.

Sun vets who worked with Jamie for two years remember a good-natured young man who was determined to not let cancer prevent him from being a good reporter - and he succeeded. They remember the passion for the job and the smile.

(The photo above catches Jamie grabbing his gear in the Sun newsroom and heading out the door to cover a police beat story.)

Before he died at Scarborough General Hospital, where he was born May 30, 1964, Jamie was told he would be remembered by all who knew him and by recipients of a new Jamie Westcott Memorial Award for crime reporting.

(With June 13 being the 20th anniversary of his death, family, friends and former colleagues who want to share their memories of Jamie are invited to e-mail TSF.)

Clare says he is sure Jamie would want them to remember his 25 years among them, not his passing.

"Jamie loved sayings and he used to doodle in his Sun copy books and make up lines. I don't know where this one comes from, but for some reason it makes me think of Jamie's state of mind and his attitude in those last days in 1989, April through June. He was so very brave."

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass
It's about learning how to dance in the rain


Friday, 29 May 2009

Out of London

Philip R. McLeod, co-founder of The Londoner in London, Ontario, is parting company because the weekly has become more corporate than community under Quebecor.

McLeod co-founded The Londoner with Gord Hume in 2002. Hume left when the Bowes paper was purchased by Quebecor, but he stayed on as editor.

"(I'm) 'retiring' at least from The Londoner," McLeod, in the news biz for more than 30 years, told the paper. "I'm done at the end of May."

He said the paper they started has become more "corporate" and less "community" so it’s time for him to pass the reins to someone else.

Buy your own

A TSF tipster says contributors writing articles for Sun Media's glossy Niagara Magazine will no longer be mailed a free copy for their perusal and records.

"It seems that the Sun Media mag has no problem paying their scribes for articles, but they now draw the line at mailing each writer a free copy," says the tipster. "If they want to see their work - buy a copy!"

The magazine was picked up by Sun Media in the purchase of Osprey Media in 2007.

The cuts keep on coming.

Dreams shattered

TSF sincerely regrets the number of anonymous comments posted by readers over the years, often in fear of losing their Sun Media jobs.

But we'd rather air anonymous comments from journalists and other newspaper employees than reject their opinions outright.

We are reminded of the turmoil PKP and his Quebecor bean counters have caused since 1999 almost weekly in TSF e-mails and posted comments.

Comments like this one received yesterday:

"I worked for Sun Media for 29 years, starting very young. Didn't think I'd last that long, but certainly not expecting to be laid off and my whole department wiped out.

"I was counting the years 'til I reached 65, but alas that was not to be. It is hard finding a job at my age, apart from the fact that a lot of people are in my position, so jobs are few.

"I wish to thank all the people that treated me with dignity and respect, my friends who will forever be in my heart and I won't forget them."

Multiply those sentiments by hundreds and you grasp the volume of dreams shattered in the name of Quebecor's bottom line.

The gutting of the Sun tabloids and former Osprey and Bowes newspapers for no other reason than to create a minimalist chain of glorified shopping flyers has affected more than 1,000 employees, possibly 2,000.

One vet from the Toronto Sun's glory years summed it up for many of us who shared the early success and dreams of the Day Oners:

"It makes one weep to think of all that blood, sweat, tears and triumph being for nought."

The Toronto Sun Family would be a healthier family if we weren't so anonymous with out true feelings. There are exceptions, but just a few, and that saddens us deeply.

But please do share your feelings, anonymous or not.

And to the people who have created this foreign and paranoid atmosphere in newsrooms across Canada, we take you back to a famous exchange during the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s:

Mr. Welch: "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

N5 update

On the get it first, then get it right front . . .

Jonathan Jenkins, Newzapalooza V (June 5) organizer/musician writes:

"In the interests of accuracy, I have to correct my good friend Mr. Harvey. The resurrected Newzapalooza is thanks to the earnest importunings of Staristas Jim Rankin, Michele Shephard and Donovan Vincent, along with Globian Moe Doiron.

"These four and the Granatsteins, Rob and Natasha, and myself are solely responsible. And as you see from our press release sent today (and my apologies for getting it to you late) Jaymz Bee is not the host this year (love the guy) but fresh-faced comic Trevor Boris is."

The press release says:

"Witness the jackals of the press cower under the spotlight's harsh glare. Delight as VeeJay Boris ­ from MuchMusic's Video on Trial and the 2008 COCA Comedian of the Year ­ brings the gavel down on the court of public opinion. Everyone leaves with ringing ears and split infinitives."

Jonathan says there will be fabulous prizes from great sponsors, including Home Depot, Quad Spinning and the Toronto Rock.

Tickets are $20. Get them at or at the door, 735 Queen St. East. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. All proceeds to the Children's Aid Foundation.

For more information, contact Jonathan Jenkins, Toronto Sun Queen's Park Bureau 416-314-0246, office 416-568-4814 cell.

Thanks, Jonathan.

Now who are the musicians in Toronto Star's Johnny Hondo and the Deadlines band and the Globe/CP's Stimulus Package?

Hey, were talking media and the 5 Ws here.

But seriously, welcome back N5 and a great bunch of talented journalists who rock in the greatest print newspaper city in North America.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Bell speed blues

In the mid-1990s, while looking for a reliable Internet Service Provider, Sun columnist Gary Dunford recommended The-Wire, a small independent ISP that was launched in 1994.

Took his advice and was more than pleased with the performance of The-Wire until 2003 when we moved to Port Hope, well beyond its local telephone service.

Forced to seek an alternative, we went with Bell Sympatico dial-up, but continued to subscribe to The-Wire's webmail service at just under $50 a year and far superior to Bell's Sympatico e-mail system.

Bell Canada, and we emphasize "Canada,"surely must provide the same quality service as a small independent ISP, or so we thought.

The first frustration was having to deal with scripted, outsourced calls to India when there were dial-up problems. Dial-up problems became language barrier problems.

French-Canadians who use Bell have a designated French-language option for technical support, but English-speaking callers most often end up talking to someone in India or to French-Canadians who are not so fluent in English.

Bell Canada is in the communications business, but communication is not its forte.

We stuck with dial-up until last November, when family and friends and all the new bells and whistles on sites like YouTube convinced us to try high speed. Suddenly there was YouTube. TV programs on the Net. And faster downloading of programs.

When it was working, we loved it.

But just over six months later, with one-too-many India sessions and Bell in Ottawa perplexed by internal paperwork screw-ups they couldn't explain that caused sudden cancellations of high speed services, we cried "uncle."

A week ago Wednesday, high speed service abruptly stopped. Bell said the problem was located and service would be restored on Friday. It wasn't. On Friday, Bell said it would be back Saturday. It wasn't. On Tuesday, after two more hours on the phone, bye bye high speed.

Having high speed is appealing, but at what cost to your patience and stress level?

Bell knows how to entice people to high speed, but they need to hone up on how to keep the customers satisfied. And one big way is to cater to English-speaking customers on the same level as French-speaking customers.

So, for now, no YouTube clips for TSF, no TV shows or movies to watch, no Obama speeches to view.

What next? Rogers high speed? Cogeco? Satellite? We hear Rogers is forever nickel and diming customers. People we know who are on satellite aren't 100% satisfied.

Where is The-Wire when we need it most?

Death of pets

Never been able to forget watching a middle-aged couple in a local Legion bawling their eyes out over beers, not caring who was witness to their grief.

As observers learned on that day in the 1970s, their elderly dog had died.

Peter Worthington and Yvonne lost their 16-year-old dog, Murphy, the other day and you could feel their pain while reading Peter's column on Wednesday.

You could say Murphy was part of the Toronto Sun Family, Peter having mentioned their Jack Russell in his columns 47 times.

The odd couple

Bill Clinton will have some excess baggage when he arrives tomorrow for a Toronto speaking gig, namely George W.

Talk about odd couples. Just how are those $250 to $2,500 tickets for the two-hour Metro Toronto Convention Centre chat fest by two 63-year-old former presidents selling?

Clinton had a better run with poppa, George H.

If George W.'s appearance in Calgary measures Canada's feelings about him, there will be more protesters than rose petals on his arrival.

George, Dick, Sarah, Rush et al, listen to the lyrics of the Cole Porter song:

The party's over
It's time to call it a day
They've burst your pretty balloon
And taken the moon away
It's time to wind up the masquerade
Just make your mind up the piper must be paid

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

SUNshine Tweets

There is a daily blogger critiquing the Toronto Sun's front page, now a Twitterer is having a say about the daily SUNshine Girls.

The Tweeter - TOsunshinegirl - uses up to 140 characters to critique the girl of the day and provides a link to the Sun's online SUNshine Girl page.

We're not sure if the Twitterer is male or female, but sounds male.


"Very nice... today's Sunshine Girl"


"Great ... another 21 yr old mother with tattoos... looking for some green shoots this week Toronto Sun"


"Argo Cheerleaders in the Sun. No. 2 and No. 10 are gorgeous"


"Ernest Doroszuk - c'mon... 9 out of 17 photos with an 18yr old Sunshine Girl pulling her panties off?"

Bono for N5?

Newzapalooza promoter Ian Harvey was quick to note the main force behind the revival of Newzapalooza is the following trio: Jonathan Jenkins and Rob Granatstein at the Toronto Sun and Rob Cribb at the Star.

Ian says he is just one of the many media musicians promoting the June 5 Media Battle of the Bands at the Opera House.

And while the lineup of media musicians is impressive, "the only thing missing is for Bono (Sun columnist Mark Bonokoski) to sing Stand By Me."

Ian says if Mark is game, "we’ll work him into the show."

How about Sun alumni Brian Vallee on piano for Bono's favourite song?

That's worth a $20 ticket alone.

The bands to date:

Toronto Sun's The Screaming Headlines: Shawn MacIntosh (guitar); Jim Slotek (vocals) Ian Harvey (bass guitar); Jonathan Jenkins (drums)

Globe and Mai's The Doubts: Neil Teixeira (bass and vocals); John Daly (guitar); Eric Lam (keys and vocals); Erin Benoit (vocals); Bernie Serrao (guitar and vocals); Mark McLarney (skins)

Toronto Star's Holy Joe and the Principles: Rob Cribb (sax, piano, vocals); David Henderson (bass); Donovan Vincent (guitar); Steve Harris (drums)

Thomson Reuters News Agency's The Thomson Triplets: Joe Foo (bassist); Steve Hawryluk (guitar); guest drummer TBA.

Toronto Firefighters' Backdraft: Neil Dechamplain (bass, lead vocals, guitar, keyboards); Dave McNamara (drums, percussion); Rob Fitzderald (lead vocals, guitar); Mike Fleming (guitar, vocals, sequencing)

Toronto Star's Johnny Hondo and the Deadlines:TBA

Globe/CP's Stimulus Package: TBA

Sounds like a blast and all for a good cause, the Children's Aid Foundation.

Leatherdale hired

Linda Leatherdale, the former veteran Toronto Sun money section maestro, has a new job at Cambria, "the fastest growing quartz surfaces brand and company in North America."

A Canada News Wire press release today says Leatherdale has been hired to the newly created position of vice president of marketing and business development in Canada.

"Ms. Leatherdale is responsible for forging new business relationships and alliances with key trade and media organizations in Canada to sell Cambria natural quartz surfaces in Canada," says the release.

Leatherdale was a Black Tuesday Sun casualty in December.

She tells readers of her website: "My commentaries on my website will continue. You can also read me online at Canadian Business, and I'll continue to do regular commentaries on a host of media outlets, including radio and TV."

Cambria is a privately held, family-owned company with more than 600 employees, headquartered in Le Sueur, Minn.

Re new papers

An anonymous TSF reader writes:

"Local ownership at small-town papers is fine and good and, yes, probably the long-term solution to ensuring their survival but it probably wouldn’t hurt if those smaller weeklies and community dailies started paying their reporters (and other staffers) decent wages.

The staff turnover at weeklies right now is atrocious - it’s not uncommon for weekly newsrooms to completely turn over, editor-and-all, two or three times a year. Granted, many weeklies can only pay what they can afford to pay, but I know there are weeklies out there that make tidy little profits but don’t re-invest in staff.

It used to be that the radio guys (i.e. non-CBC) were the lowest-paid journalists in town, but now I’m not so sure. To me, that’s one of the biggest underlying problems in the newspaper industry in Canada - the talent is being eroded away from the smaller papers simply because few reporters can afford to stay at them for any real amount of time - not if they aspire to raise a family or create a comfortable life for themselves.

And if the talent is not staying in the business, you can connect the dots from there - lower-skilled reporters means an inferior product, which means fewer readers and subscriptions, which means lower ad revenues. To be fair, the smaller papers have paid poorly for a long time and it’s not just the ones owned by Quebecor, Sun Media, Osprey, or Bowes.

However, it’s my belief that it’s created a 'lost generation' of journalists (including this one) who bailed out of the business in their late 20s and early 30s because they weren’t good enough to cut it at a better-paying, big metro daily and they weren’t patient enough to float along making $35,000 a year at a weekly or community daily.

Yeah, I know. Money isn’t everything. But it’s not nothing, either."

Cherry blossoms

Congrats to Toronto Sun crime reporter Tamara Cherry for collecting a 2008 media award from Peel Regional Police this week.

Her Best Print News Feature award was for a series on human trafficking, a heavy subject for even a seasoned pro, but Cherry, 24, impressed the judges with her decision to focus on victims as well as police and the accused.

Two other Peel media awards went to Steven D'Souza, CBC News for Best Television News or Features, and Amar Singh Bhullar, Hamdard Weekly, Best Ethnic News.

A complete list of Peel Regional Police police and media citations and awards can be viewed here.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

David Simon PDF

Sun alumni blogger Ian Harvey posted a link to the above site, but it is not working. A TSF reader with the same interests has provided a working link.

Said Ian: "David Simon was a reporter for 18 years at Baltimore Sun who took a buy out in 1995 and went on to Hollywood to create The Wire. Here he addresses Congress about the demise of the once proud newspaper industry. It brought a lump to my throat."

Said the TSF reader: "I'm a regular reader of the Toronto Sun Family Blog. Really enjoy some of the newspapering issues you and your readers raise. Here's a link to something I found really interesting - just in case you haven't seen it yet. Fits with some of the discussion taking place on your blog . . . "


Chains of command

Updated July 23, 2013
Bill Doskoch's efforts to name editor-in-chiefs at the Star, Globe, Sun and Post in recent years gave us an idea - all Toronto Sun chiefs since Day One in chronological order.

The Sun's history is a breeze compared to the much older Toronto Star and Globe and Mail, so we'll give it a try, with much help needed from current and former Sun staffers.

Completed: Editorial page editors (2007-present); Travel editors (1971-present);

For missing names, names that are not in chronological order or corrections, please update us.

A work in progress.

Doug Creighton, Nov. 1, 1971, to Aug. 31, 1984 (deceased)
Paul Godfrey, Aug. 31, 1984, to April 22, 1991
Jim Tighe
, April 22, 1991, to January 1, 1975
Hartley Steward, March 1, 1995, to Sept. 6, 1997
Doug Knight
, Oct. 1, 1997, to March 1, 2000
Mark Stevens, March 1, 2000, to April 13, 2001
Les Pyette
, April 30, 2001, to Dec. 29, 2002
John Jamieson, Interim publisher, Dec. 29, 2002, to June 30, 2003 (deceased)
Neil Fowler
, June 30, 2003, to May 20, 2005
David Swail, Interim publisher, May 20, 2005, to March 28, 2006
Kin-Man Lee
, March 28, 2006, to July 15, 2009
Mike Power
, July 16, 2009 to present

Editors (as designated to 2005)
Peter Worthington (1971-1983) deceased
Barbara Amiel (1983-1984)
John Downing (1985-1997)
Lorrie Goldstein (1997-2005) 
now vacant

Editorial page editors (as designated 2005 to present)
Linda Williamson (2005-2006)
Rob Granatstein (2006-2011)
now vacant 

Peter O'Sullivan (deceased)

Mike Strobel (1999-2001)
Mike Therien
Jim Jennings (2004-2006)
Glenn Garnett
Lou Clancy (2007-2009)
James Wallace (2010-2013)
Wendy Metcalfe (2013-)

Managing editors
Ed Monteith (Nov. 1, 1971 - 19??, deceased)
Les Pyette
Gord Walsh
Bob Burt
Peter Brewster (1984-1988)
Mike Strobel (1988-1998)
Mike Burke-Gaffney
now vacant 

News editors
Hartley Steward
Al Parker
Sandra Macklin
Darren McGee (1994-2001)
Tim Fryer (2001-2005)
Jim Baine (2005-2011)

City editors
Ray Biggart (Nov. 1, 1971 - 1973)
Ken Robertson (1973-1974)
Les Pyette (1974-1978)
Lou Grant (for a day)
Bob Burt
Bob Vezina (deceased)
Lloyd Kemp (deceased)
John Paton (1984-1986)
Gord Walsh
Lorrie Goldstein
Jane Van Der Voort
Bob McConachie
Allison Downie
Kevin Hann
Jonathan Kingstone (2010 to present)

Photo editors
Jim Yates (Nov. 1, 1971 - 19??) deceased)
Norm Betts
Maria Rhynas
Hugh Wesley (1989-1999)
Len Fortune (a repeater)
Rick VanSickle (2003-2006)
Jim Thomson (2006-2012)

Sports editors
George Gross (Nov. 1, 1971 - 19?? deceased)
Wayne Parrish
Mike Simpson/Jim O'Leary
Scott Morrison

Pat Grier
Dave Fuller
Bill Pierce (2010-present)

Sunday Sun editors
Phil Sykes (1973-1974) deceased
Hartley Steward (1974-1975)
Glen Woodcock
David Bailey (1977-1978) deceased
Peter Brewster (1978-1984)
Mike Burke-Gaffney (1985-199?)
Lou Clancy
Siobhan Moore (1999-2000)
Darren McGee (2000-2001)
Mike Burke-Gaffney (2001-2004)
Darren McGee (2004-2007)
now vacant

Entertainment editors
George Anthony (Nov. 1, 1971-1980)
Bob Thompson
Kathy Brooks

John Kryk
Dave Fuller

Lifestyle editors
Joan Sutton (Nov. 1, 1971 - 1977)
Kathy Brooks
Marilyn Linton
Rita DeMontis

Financial editors
Garth Turner
Linda Leatherdale
now vacant

Travel Editors
Percy Rowe (Nov. 1, 1971 -1986) deceased
Jill Rigby (1986-2001)
Robin Robinson (2001-present)

Monday, 25 May 2009

Musical EIC chairs

Media blogger Bill Doskoch has compiled an editor-in-chief musical chairs list for T.O.'s Big Four - Star, Globe, Sun and Post.

Ed Greenspon's departure from the Globe and Mail prompted his update. The Globe's new EIC is John Stackhouse, 46, former editor of Report on Business.

We recently took a liking to Greenspon for talking to the competition about his son being pushed onto subway tracks. His interviews were on a Saturday, two days before the Globe's next print edition.

Was Greenspon, the Globe's EIC since 2002, pushed out the door, or did he decide it was time to kick the can around? Reading between the lines, the Globe story suggests he was pushed.

30 - Jay Telfer

James Deans "Jay" Telfer was a popular Toronto-raised musician, songwriter, artist, TV writer, avid VW memorabilia collector, B&B manager and founding publisher of the Wayback Times antiques and collectibles newspaper.

So Jay, stricken with heart, stroke and other health issues over the years, was many things to many people in the short 61 years before his death Wednesday in Mississauga. (Star obit)

Much has been written about Jay and no doubt many stories will be told during a 9:30 a.m. memorial service and reception this Friday at Turner & Porter 'Peel' Chapel, 2180 Hurontario St., in Mississauga

Canoe's JAM Showbiz web site has a lengthy 2005 bio for the popular 1960s and 1970s member of Yorkville bands, including A Passing Fancy. He recently returned to his Yorkville roots, reliving his folk/rock years with former band members and friends.

While Jay wasn't a Toronto Sun Family member, he was an admired innovator who found a niche in the antiques market in Ontario and launched a new antiques newspaper in 1995.

The Wayback Times, from the start, was financed by advertisers and distributed free from Ottawa to London. One man, working long hours with his wife, Cindy, from their home in Wellington, near Picton.

A firm believer in print media, Jay also saw the promise of the Internet and when two former Toronto Sun vets, the late Jim Yates and this blogger, approached him, he was agreeable to us hosting the Wayback Times on our new, but short-lived, YourGuide web site.

When Jay sold the paper in 2006 to Sandy and Peter Neilly of Hastings, he continued writing for the paper, not wanting to lose contact with the many readers, antique dealers and collectors.

Jay had much more to do, much more to say and much more to write. Sadly, deteriorating health that included a stroke in 1984, brought it all to an end much too soon.

Hear, hear

A comment posted by a TSF reader says it all:

"Another year, another nom/win for the lil' Simcoe daily. An excellent reminder to the masters that smaller market newspapers and local journalism still matter . . . no matter how much you keep chopping them off at the knees."

That be the Simcoe Reformer and the 2008 NNA winner in the local reporting category is reporter Monte Sonnenberg for "articles about the sale of a police officer’s home through the Ontario government's Home Owner Employee Relocation plan. His articles led to changes to the program."

Shady politicians and town officials everywhere would no doubt celebrate the exit of their local media and the likes of Monte Sonnenberg and other dedicated journalists. They would get out the brooms.

Meanwhile, Quebecor's downplaying of Sun Media's involvement in local, provincial and national awards contradicts everything journalists strive for day to day - the brass ring and recognition for a job well done.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

New papers 2

We haven't heard from the former Sun Media employees in Alberta who have decided to publish papers in areas abandoned by Quebecor, but reaction to the idea has been mostly positive.

Perhaps that is the answer for hundreds of laid off and fired Sun Media employees - find paperless communities and, with the committed support of local advertisers, launch new papers.

All you need, as did the 62 Toronto Sun Day Oners is 1971, are the need to succeed, a commitment to journalism, computers, a reliable core of advertisers and a local printer.

Remain independent and remain focused on local news, sports and entertainment. Let the communities know their needs are a priority.

As one of the TSF readers puts it: "The future of newspapers is in small-towns, with independent owners. You'll never be able to read what happened around the council tables of Morinville or Nanton without local papers that care about their communities, not just the almighty dollar. That's why dailies are dying. Good luck to the new papers!"

We second that emotion. There are numerous independent publishers across Canada, publishing newspapers and special interest publications. Some are free thanks to sufficient ads and others have subscription fees.

A move away from conglomerate ownership of newspapers could become a movement with dedicated journalists at the helm. New versions of Doug Creighton, Peter Worthington and Don Hunt.

One of our dream scenarios is the Toronto Sun never went public in 1981 and the nightmare called Quebecor was never allowed to evolve. The Sun never allowed politicians and bean counters in the front door. It remained independent and feisty and committed to the needs of readers with a proven tabloid formula.

But hey, that's just us.

Canadian journalists burned by conglomerates shouldn't give up on journalism. Arrange meetings of minds and start anew.

If you fail, at least you tried. If you succeed, well, just ask Toronto Sun Day Oners how that feels.

And if you need a semi-retired former Sun rewrite guy to handle your news copy via the Internet, let me know. The prospect of new community newspapers springing up is invigorating.

Here's to Lew

Toronto Sun copy desk vet Lew Fournier has left the building after taking a buyout, but before he departed he was interviewed by Ryerson's Greg Harris.

The intro reads: The Toronto Sun’s Lew Fournier is a whiz at writing tabloid headlines. Sadly, he’s the master of a dying art.

The Ryerson Review of Journalism story can now be read online here.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Abel's NNA win

Toronto Sun photographer Dave Abel was disappointed when Quebecor axed the 2008 Dunlop Awards, but was all smiles last night when he heard his dramatic bank robbery takedown won a National Newspaper Award.

We're not sure if Abel paid his own way to Montreal because of the Quebecor ban on awards expenses or sat it out in T.O., but fellow photojournalists and readers generally agreed his amazing February 2008 News Photography non was the one to beat.

The Canadian Press has all of the details from the 60th annual NNA awards gala in Montreal, which saw the Globe and Mail dominating the wins with six of the 22 awards and again provides links to winning entries in its NNA story.

The Toronto Star was next with four, followed by Montreal's La Presse and the Hamilton Spectator with two each, says the CP story.

The Canadian Press, Toronto Sun, Calgary Herald, London Free Press, Montreal Gazette, Lethbridge Herald, Simcoe Reformer and Ottawa Citizen had one each.

Once again petty corporate Quebecor/Sun Media will take the spotlight in announcing major awards while refusing to tell readers nominees have to foot all of their expenses if they want to attend awards ceremonies.

But well done, Dave, and congrats to all of the other winners.

(NNA noms list can be viewed here re links to most entries.)

Friday, 22 May 2009

Missing kids

When nine-year-old Colin Wilson vanished from his westend Toronto home in the 1970s, his mother, who had been raising him alone, could not be reached by the media.

For days, relatives and friends shielded her from reporters who called on the telephone or arrived at her apartment building in search of interviews.

We thought she was in isolation by choice.

Then one day, the Toronto Sun's David Somerville and this reporter were assigned to try again. We arrived at the entrance to her building, buzzed her apartment and she answered.

The blockade of friends and relatives around her had been lifted, perhaps temporarily, and she buzzed us into the building.

We arrived at her apartment, she invited us in and for the next hour, we sat at her kitchen table talking to her about Colin and her feelings about his disappearance. She thanked us for being interested in what she had to say.

Talking to us was comforting, she said. She had wanted to talk to the media, but people around her thought it best she didn't and they intervened.

Colin's mother was allowed to vent and we had our exclusive front page interview.

Her son was never found and no arrests were made. There would be more missing children, more distraught parents to approach for interviews, but Colin's mother taught us not all is what it seems when it comes to the parents of missing children.

Fast-forward to Woodstock 2009, with Victoria "Tori" Stafford's mother, Tara, holding almost daily press conferences on her front lawn and people saying that was a strange way for a parent to handle the abduction of a child.

Along the way, she told reporters without the press conferences, the media might lose interest and Tori's story would fade away. And generally, with much credit to Tara and Canadian print, broadcast and Internet media, Tori's story never faded.

Canadians and the media never lost interest in the fate of Tori, all the while hoping she was still alive because she was abducted by a woman and why would a woman want to harm a child? Killer Karla was a freakish anomaly in Canadian crime, wasn't she?

While watching TV footage today of Tori's abductor helping police locate the youngster's body, we could hear a collective gasp from Canadians saying to themselves, not again - not another Deal with the Devil that allowed Karla Homolka to see the light of day again.

That is the next chapter in Tori's abduction and murder and until it is over, we welcome every comment made by her mother and father, unedited and from the heart.

Meanwhile, Woodstock, a town of 35,000 that has been occasionally branded a Town Without Pity since Tori vanished April 8, has some soul searching to do.

Along with talk shows, Facebook and other web sites that have been fueling unchallenged gossip.

Trust us, gossip unchallenged becomes fact in the minds of the gullible.

New papers?

A TSF reader in Alberta writes:

"Word has it former Sun Media staff have started up newspapers in Nanton and Morinville where offices were closed and amalgamated into other locations. Kudos to them."

Please tell us more. We would like to salute them by name and promote their community newspaper efforts.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

New WS-R pub

The Woodstock Sentinel-Review has a new publisher.

News of Andrea DeMeer's arrival came on the day when the small town's biggest story broke with the arrests of two Victoria Tori Stafford abduction/murder suspects.

DeMeer, in the news biz for more than 23 years, will also be publisher of the Sentinel-Review's associated publications. We wish her well.

The newspaper's online story says DeMeer joined Sun Media as an Ontario Farmer reporter, later worked for the Paris Star as its editor and then publisher of the Brantford Pennysaver Smart Shopper.

Her resume also includes a weekly column published in several communities including Paris, Chatham and Stratford, for 20 years.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Powered media

A TSF reader sent us a YouTube interview with Igor Smirnoff, taped at the 2008 Monaco Media Forum on the future of e-papers.

"Who needs paper?" asks the TSF reader.

In the five-minute clip, Smirnoff promotes Newspaper Direct's, an international source for newspapers, and he demonstrates several portable gadgets designed for user-paid newspaper reading.

One phone/monitor gadget didn't work. The battery had just died.

Update: We bought a print edition of the Toronto Sun today. Batteries not included - or needed.


Back in the day when the Toronto Sun held rehearsals for the first Sun-sponsored Toronto Argonaut cheerleaders, the young women involved were a welcomed plus.

The Sun being the Argos' official newspaper and cheerleader squad chief served the tabloid well for more than three decades until ties were severed.

But all is now well in T.O.

The Toronto Argonauts Football Club announced today it is returning to the Toronto Sun as the official newspaper of the team, says As well, the 2009 Argos Cheerleaders will be presented by the Toronto Sun.

The Toronto Sun was home to the Argos for decades and now, after a short absence, is its print partner once again, says the web site.

The Argos also inked a deal with SUN TV for a weekly Argos Access half-hour show Tuesdays at 6 p.m. beginning June 9.

Protecting sources

While many policemen in North America retire without drawing their weapons, many journalists retire without being required to protect the identity of a source in court.

Frequent or not, the issue of confidentiality of Canadian news sources reaches the Supreme Court of Canada on Friday.

It is an appeal of an Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that the public interest in police investigations trumps the charter guarantee of free expression, Janice Tibbetts says in a Canwest News Service story today.

One to watch.

TorSun's global nod

The Toronto Sun earned a third place nod in the 2009 International Newsmedia Marketing Awards (INMA) competition.

A Media in Canada story says the Toronto Sun took third place in the New Marketing Services category for its 76-page special section marking the 100th anniversary of the Toronto Automobile Dealers Association.

Impressive, considering the number of entries: 531 from more than 150 newspapers in 43 countries - all judged via the Internet by 21 judges worldwide.

Top Canadian newspaper honours among the 90 INMA awards, presented at the 79th INMA World Congress in Miami, went to the Montreal Gazette, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Winnipeg Free Press.

Kudos to the Toronto Sun's ad marketing team. Did Sun Media pick up your Miami tab - or is the prize in the mail?

Monday, 18 May 2009

Wheel of Fortune?

So did the Toronto Sun pay the anonymous contributor of that widely-used video of a wheel falling off a plane landing in Buffalo?

Was it a Wheel of Fortune - or a mere thanks and a handshake for footage that was used by major networks across North America with Sun Media credits?

The passenger who shot the amazing footage from a seat on the plane has not been identified, so he or she is not receiving world-wide attention via the Internet.

It would be comforting to know Sun Media wrote a cheque.

With amateur videographers gladly providing media with free footage of whatever, exclusive footage that once fetched handsome prices is being aired and posted online for a handshake.

That just isn't right, but the potential value of exclusive video footage is something the public has to comprehend. Don't expect all media to be up front with the worth of exclusive footage.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

You said it

Recommended weekend reading: Harry Bruce, a second-generation newspaperman, tells readers of the Nova Scotian what print media means to him.

Bruce, whose father, Charles Bruce, was a general superintendent of Canadian Press, says of print newspapers:

"What they once were, for me, was not only the very foundation of the work in Toronto that enabled my father to support me and the rest of his family, but the indispensable ingredient of a boyhood ritual."

Boyhood newspaper reader, paperboy, office boy, journalist, it has been all print for Harry Bruce.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Ottawa Tweets

The Ottawa Sun gets a mention in the Toronto Star today for its Twittering live from a courtroom during the ongoing trial of Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien.

at the Star's Ottawa Bureau quotes Shane Ross, the Sun's reporter who was frantically tweeting from the courtroom this week, a recently approved media breakthrough.

Ross told Smith: "We knew that people would want minute-by-minute, blow-by-blow accounts of the testimony and fortunately Twitter is something that can provide that kind of analysis."

Veteran court reporters remember the day when newspapers were not allowed in courtrooms. Small electronic gadgetry filled that void.

OPC tease

Rob Granatstein, the Toronto Sun's editor, Twittered this on Friday:

"Heading to an Ontario Press Council meeting. Should the press council have rules about online commenting on stories?"

(Granatstein was elected to the OPC earlier this year to replace Mike Burke-Gaffney, managing editor, who took early retirement.)

Looking forward to coverage of that meeting, or comment on that subject in general.

Having viewed a wide variety of racist, libelous and downright guttural comments on media articles and, in YouTube's case, videos, host moderation is much needed across the board.

Who is accountable for libel, slander and hate messages in the online abyss?

It was unnerving to discover the Toronto Sun's online comments are not moderated after a recent damaging comment was left unchecked for several hours.

LFP cloning 4

Chapter 4 . . .

National Life pages
• National Life pages are built with 100% Sun Media content.

• Please DO NOT use tab versions of PDFs because they contain styles that do not conform to our styles. As a rule all of these PDFs are available in broadsheet form.

• Try to avoid mixing local and national copy on these pages, unless space doesn’t allow. If you must mix the two then the ads dictate which runs at the top of the page. We never want to disassemble a PDF, so fit a National half page in first.

• National Life page should always be slotted in your paper ahead on World News and the Money Page.

• The top half of the Life page will contain content indicated below.

• Bottom half of the page will include another lifestyle column as well as the chain’s new advice columnist.

• The bottom half of the page cannot be broken up into quarters.

• These pages must appear on the following days:

Monday: Health/Keeping Fit column/Advice

Tuesday: Life/Dr. Beliveau column/Advice

Wednesday: Eat/Elizabeth Baird column/Advice

Thursday: Discovery/Dr. Gifford-Jones column/Advice

Friday: Gadgets/Web Page column/Advice

Saturday: Green Planet, Style, Life/Waters on Wine column/Advice

National Entertainment
• Try to avoid mixing local and national content on these pages, unless space doesn’t allow. If you must mix the two then the ads dictate which runs at the top of the page.

• Never use wire content in place of national entertainment PDF.

• The bottom half of the page can be broken up into quarters.

Feature pages
• Periodically Sun Media produces some great features that are produced for our broadsheet papers. Please monitor all lookahead skeds and check the Bulletin Board for the PDFs.

• Features vary in theme and topic but are great additions to any of our larger Saturday products when space allows.

National PDF Order of importance
• Comment, Comics/puzzles, National News, National Sports, National Life, National Entertainment, World News, Money

TSF note: There is also a colour-coded section on page flow for 16-page papers.

Sun Media broadsheet publishing 101.

Thanks to the tipsters who provided the PDFs. It has been illuminating.

Over and out.

LFP cloning 3

We're almost done . . .

Classified pages
• Classifieds should be placed vertically on a page to allow for a page topper to sit overtop of any editorial content.

• Classifieds should NEVER run under an editorial page topper. For example, having Death Notices under an “Entertainment” page topper is something that lacks taste and can be seen as offensive.

Shared comics/puzzles
• Standard PDF from Sun Media that must run on an open page.

Local Sports pages
• Local sports should always be at the front of the sports section and come before national sports.

• Pages should be 100% local copy.

• At least one story on each locally generated page should have a standard online throw.

• Wire and local copy should never mix on this page whenever possible. Please choose the best Sun Media story that doesn’t appear on a PDF that you are using.

• Do not turn a local story onto a page that will mean you have to break up a national PDF.

National Sports pages
• National News pages built almost exclusively with Sun Media content.

• Standard PDF from Sun Media, this PDF should never be broken apart if it can run in its entirety.

• Updated throughout the night with new results, including game stories with quotes.

• National Sports PDFs can be divided by halves and used over two pages.

• If a page has a quarter-page ad on it, use the full PDF minus the ad space. These pages are designed for exactly this purpose.

• Secondary sports pages may be offered. These including (sic) NHL playoffs, auto racing, baseball, golf etc.

• Auto Racing should run Wednesdays, Golf on Thursdays and Baseball on Saturdays.

• National Sports agate pages are always built as a half page and should run at the bottom of a page unless ad stacks prevent it.

• Can be packaged with the top half of the National Sports page or with local agate or community sports calendar.

• Updated throughout the night with new results and for Western time zones.

More to come.

LFP cloning 2

By popular demand, more of the Sun Media broadsheet page flow and PDF guidelines:

Local News pages
• Pages should be 100% local copy.

• Local news/turns from the front page.

• At least one story on each locally generated page should have a standard online throw.

Comment page
• Standard PDF from Sun Media.

• Local letters (if any) should conform to LFP style. Template that includes standard throw asking for reader input will be made available.

• Local column (if any) should always match our style guide.

Local Forum pages
• Pages should be 100% local copy.

• Local letters (if any) should conform to LFP style. Standard throw asking for reader input should be used.

• Local columns (if any) should always match our style guide.

National News pages
• National News pages, build (sic) exclusively with Sun Media content, always take precedent over World News, but should never run at the expense of local news.

• Any combination of Local/national and world content should never appear on the same page (See right).

• Standard PDF from Sun Media, this page should never be broken apart if it can run in its entirety.

• National PDF can be divided by halves and used over two pages.

• If a page has a quarter-page ad on it, use the full PDF minus the ad space. These pages are designed for exactly this purpose.

World News pages
• World News Pages should never run at the expense of local or national news.

• Any combination of Local/national and world content should never appear on the same page.

• Standard PDF from Sun Media, this PDF should never be broken apart if it can run in its entirety.

• World News PDF can be divided by halves and used over two pages.

• If a page has a quarter-page ad on it, use the full PDF minus the ad space. These pages are designed for exactly this purpose.

More to come in this journalism-by-numbers series.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Print TV listings

The tradition of buying a weekend newspaper for its TV guide is all but dead now that the Globe and Mail has dropped its full week of daily listings grids.

If you don't have Toronto Sun home delivery in the GTA, your only choice for a worthy television guide package is the Saturday Star.

As of today, the Globe has dropped the TV grids in its Friday 7 section, advising readers to check out daily listings on the paper's website.

So people who have been buying the Friday Globe for its 7 package with TV listings are being encouraged to read the online listings for free.

That does not make sense to print media traditionalists.

Gord Stimmell, Starweek's tireless TV guide editor for almost a decade and a Sunday Sun TV guide editor for 25 years before leaving in 1999, has been working wonders with 36 pages.

An added bonus for Star readers: Cover stories by Bill Brioux, one of the many quality Toronto Sun writers shown the door in recent years.

The Star recently dropped its glossy Starweek cover to save big bucks, but with few complaints. As they say, it is what's inside that counts.

So this print media traditionalist will continue to look forward to the Saturday Star for TV programming planning, a good read or two, a crossword puzzle, TV Q&A etc.

Bell's often outdated satellite listings and the various inconvenient online listings just don't beat the ease of a handy print guide by your side.

LFP clone factory

Broadsheets across the Sun Media chain will be identical in layout, if not always in content, with publishers and editors restricted to new page and content guidelines.

So much for local autonomy and innovation.

This, in a nutshell, will be the face of Sun Media broadsheets, all mirroring the London Free Press from front page to back.

The new page flow and Sun Media PDF guidelines, include:

Page Content and Design
• The following is a list of pages that currently make up the bulk of our papers.

• National Life, Sports, Entertainment and News pages will now have throws to Canoe. These are built in a manner that will allow you to use the bottom half of national pages as half pages when you replace the throw with a page topper.

Front Page
• Pages should be 100% local copy.

•All front pages will now contain an online throw built into your mastheads as well as a cropped photo throwing to something inside the paper. (See attached PDF on next page)

• There will be a detailed index down the left-hand side of the page that will include our standardize web throws.

• We will create several versions of front page templates with pre-built designs for your editors to choose from and then fill will (sic) copy and photos. (More later on this)

• All design work on these pages will be done (sic) Sue Batsford and will be modelled directly from the London Free Press. She will then work with your paper to build templates suited to your needs.

Pagetwo (sic)
• The following are acceptable items on pagetwo:

• “How to reach us” box containing all the info readers and advertisers need.

• Other items such as: Weather map and Lottery numbers.

• Local news/turns from the front page.

• Other local items that are acceptable, but not required on Page Two include Death Notices, Community Calendars (with standard brand badge).

Get the drift? There is much more for editors to absorb in conforming to Quebecor's cut and paste journalism, but from the PDFs TSF received, it is clear broadsheet sameness in print and online is now the brand across the board.

Much of the same foreign strategy has been applied to the print and online pages of the Sun tabloids in recent months.

Local pride in assembling community newspapers from scratch and playing the news, sports, entertainment etc. as experienced editors see it, is obsolete at Sun Media.

It is publishing by numbers, from front to back, with numerous PDF pages being provided by outside sources to conform to Sun Media edicts.

So much of what made newspapers a success is now obsolete.

Dare to be different at a time when print media desperately needs to be different to survive? Not in PKP's domain.

Late, great newspapermen we have known and admired over the decades would be shocked by the emasculation of Sun Media publishers and editors.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Short shorts

If you missed any of the animated Andy Donato cartoons by animator Greg Parker you can catch up to them all here.

A new Remembering George Gross video tribute taped during a recent reception at the Variety Village Lounge can be found here. There are photos of the late, great Toronto Sun founding sports editor, plus testimonials by friend Joe Millage and others.

So who wants to be first to provide TSF with details of the sale of 333 if, indeed, it has been sold? Who bought it and for how much? When does the deal close? Future site of a condo? Will the elaborate exterior Sun mural be saved? What next for Sun/Canoe employees?

A PKP quote from yesterday re whether Quebecor Media's recent decision to go online only with its free French-language ICI weekly will be repeated: "I can't say that it will never happen and I won't say it will never happen."

As if in preparation for the next step in the evolution of Sun Media weeklies, take a look at a Lacombe Globe story in Alberta that informs readers they no longer have to wait for the paper to be published to read about breaking news.

For those who speak French, here's PKP talking all things Quebecor at a press conference in Montreal yesterday. But darn, English translation of his comments for thousands of interested employees across Canada couldn't be found online.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Vivian Song is out

Vivian Song, a former Toronto Sun reporter who has been prolific as a Sun Media national bureau writer, has left the building.

"Just heard Vivian Song was fired," says a reliable TSF source. "Not sure why. She left the union to work for National."

Vivian has been high profile as a Life/Green Planet writer/blogger since 2007 and participated in coverage of the recent Great Canadian Sex Survey series.

"She is a very talented reporter," says a TSF reader who worked with Vivian at the national bureau.

Drop us a line, Vivian. We'd like to hear your side of the story.

Vivian's Green Planet blog bio reads:

"So here's my spiel.

When asked to write a weekly environmental column, Green Planet in 2007, I took on the mission with gusto.

I would provide readers with updates on the latest climate change science, dispel myths perpetuated by front organizations for big oil companies, and inspire Canadians to make behavioural changes which cumulatively would make an impact.

I would challenge readers to eschew the consumer-driven society we live in, and compel them with my stories to recycle the beejeezus out of their garbage.

But here's my confession dear readers: when I took on the column, I was no treehugger, in the strict Birkenstock-wearing sense of the word.

I was and can still be, notorious among friends for my fiendish shopping appetite. What can I say, new shoes give me joy.

I live in a condo and can't compost my organic waste.

I own and drive my 1997 Mazda clunker when my destination is off the subway line, a relic from my days as a general assignment reporter at The Toronto Sun."

Confirm or deny

Word is a high profile Sun Media writer who has been getting a lot of space recently is now on the outside looking in after being axed.

We have one reliable source, looking for a second to confirm this truly unexpected departure.

The writer, no doubt, will not be idle for long.

More Moonlighters

Mike Strobel's photo spotlight on ladies 40 and beyond gets another workout today in a special section in the Sun and online in photos and videos at

In praise of older women, indeed. No belly bling in sight.

Strobel's steady stream of Moonlight Ladies clearly reveals there is a supply and a demand for women whose ages are beyond Sun Media's demographics.

Question is, does Strobel ask these Moonlight Ladies for proof of age? Don't want any 39-year-olds ringers fudging their ages to get into this exclusive 40-plus Sun Media club.

Strobel says readers are asking when Moonlight Ladies will become a regular feature, but he's leaving that up to the Sun powers that be.

FYI: Canada's baby boomers are beyond the Sun's demographics, but they carry a lot of weight in numbers.

Quebecor bid

Updated re Globe and Mail timeline
The old ticker skipped a beat this morning when we read this online Reuters headline:

RR Donnelley offers to buy Quebecor for $1.35 bln

Unfortunately, the bid by R.R. Donnelley & Sons in the U.S. is for the financially troubled Quebecor World printing operations, not the ever-shrinking Quebecor Media.

The updated Reuters story says:

RR Donnelley said it will pay the insolvent commercial printer's debtors about $957 million in cash, and 30 million of its shares, valued at $394.2 million, based on Monday's close of $13.14.

"We believe that the proposed transaction set out in this letter is superior for the Quebecor debtors and their creditors to the restructuring proposed by the plans in their current form," Chief Executive Thomas Quinlan said in a letter to Quebecor management.

The story does not include comment from Quebecor Inc.

You can read the full RR Donnelley letter of intent here.

And the Globe and Mail has a timeline today.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

333 sold?

A TSF reader says Canoe has been working out of the third floor at 333, one floor up from the Toronto Sun.

The reader also says 333 has been sold and "they were in measuring today."

Okay, where to next for Sun and Canoe employees?

Canoe & Sun Media

Quebecor has announced Canoe is being merged with Sun Media "to seize the opportunities available on the new media landscape by combining assets from its Internet and newspaper operations."

Read today's Marketwire press release and you will be wondering how many more jobs will be lost and what will it mean to Sun Media print newsrooms.

Let us know your reading of Quebecor wording such as:

"The new multimedia company will allow Quebecor Media to move another step forward in rolling out its new business model, designed to generate innovative and fruitful synergies within its multidisciplinary teams so that customers may take full advantage of the digital world."

For a communications giant, Quebecor's wordy press releases are all but communicative. And they do so love using that word synergy.

PKP says in the press release: "Today, we are combining the strengths of two industry leaders. Pooling their assets, expertise and energy can only result in a winning combination for our customers."

From Quebecor's past performance, TSF sees more job losses and cost cutting in the wording of the press release.

Stay tuned.

Law Times audio

The Law Times, no stranger to former Toronto Sun employees, is now providing audio with some of their online text stories for the benefit of the visually impaired and visitors with tired eyes.

Audio readings of news stories are slowly - much too slowly - becoming a bonus feature for online publications. TSF noted in January how singer Bono was writing and taping his columns for the New York Times.

The current Law Times audio is for a story about media being given permission to use Tweet or live blogging from inside the courtroom during the bribery trial of Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien.

Nothing new, notes the paper. The London Free Press has been filing electronic updates from the Bandido's murder trial for several weeks.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Sun Media fined

Successful lawsuits against Sun Media have been a rare occurrence since the launch of the Toronto Sun in 1971, the most notable being the John Munro case in 1981, which cost the tabloid $75,000.

A story says the Court of Quebec has found Sun Media and the Journal de Montreal guilty for invasion of privacy of two Raelians, one of which is a priest.

Sun Media was ordered to pay the victims more than $10,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as judicial expenses and expenses for expertise.

The court action stems from a series of Journal articles on the Raelian religion in 2003.

Exhibit A

Caught on tape: A kind and gentle Toronto Sun newspaper box double dipper (or outright thief, perhaps) who believes in sharing his daylight loot. Taped Thursday by R.J. Moorehouse, a blogger who is documenting street life in his Yonge/Bloor neighborhood.

Maybe the bizarre false RBC ad front page caught this gentleman's eye.

The Sun was free in a Yonge/Finch box snapped by a TSF reader in January, so this fellow's paper handout doesn't appear to be a major crime. He's just sharing the good Toronto Sun vibes and spreading the need to read message without asking for money. An advocate for print media.

If Sun Media is giving Suns away to boost circulation figures, why not give bundles to the homeless for free and have them earn money by selling papers on the streets? Boost circulation and help the homeless - a win-win situation.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Twitter quitter

Steve Tilley has called off his quest for 1,000 Twitter postings by Tuesday - 500 shy of his goal.

Steve's Saturday postings read:

"This is the 500th tweet of the 1,000-tweets-in-a-week experiment, and this is where I stop. This boy needs a break. :)"

"I have a feeling "Twitter quitter" will be the headline on Monday's article :). Hey, batting .500 ain't bad!"

"I know, I feel bad for quitting :( But to rack up another 500 in two days would mean FULL on tweetspam, and no one needs that :)

A novel idea would have been to post a 1,000-word story one word at a time.

Or number every posting to show readers where he was at day to day.

A thousand gaming/tech/web tips in a week would have been a huge draw.

Another closure

The ever-shrinking Sun Media properties will soon be thinner when the Welland Tribune's office in Port Colborne closes, says a TSF tipster.

"The Post Colborne office has existed for over 80 years," says the tipster.

The Tribune, one of the Osprey papers purchased in the summer of 2007, lost eight employees on Black Tuesday in December.

To add insult to injury, the tipster says

"First, Sun Media eliminated water coolers to save money, now papers like the Welland Tribune have cancelled the front floor mats. These keep the dust down in summer and deal with snow- covered boots in winter."

Okay now, that's water coolers, door mats, funeral flowers, counselling services, awards expenses and sponsorships, sabbaticals, Christmas bonuses, the Canadian Press (as of next year), Monday editions at some dailies, weeklies padlocked, freedom of choice in newsrooms, etc., etc.

Oh, and a thousand or so employees.

But we digress. There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

And we know PKP's dealin' is far from done.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

"Stupid" heading

Toronto Sun editors preoccupied with today's ad-dominated false front page neglected to catch a glaring error in the Exclusive: 'Our son is stupid, not a racist' heading.

Read Brett Clarkson's story. What the mother of the boy involved in the Keswick school incident said was "He said something stupid. Really stupid." She didn't say her son was stupid.

A TSF tipster says the Sun will be publishing the following apology tomorrow:

"A headline on page one of the Toronto Sun yesterday was both inaccurate and misleading. In fact, as the story reported, the mother of a boy in involved in a high school fight in Keswick said her son “said something stupid.” She did not say nor imply he was stupid. The Sun regrets the error and apologizes to the boy and his family."

TSF empathizes with overworked editors. It can't be easy working in a stressful, sweatshop environment with little time for quality control.

Numerous recent Sun corrections, including faulty ads and sloppy graphics, reflect the aftermath of years of staff cuts that have left survivors with additional workloads not befitting any newsroom staffer.

It is minimalist print journalism at its worst.

Another memo

The latest Sun Media memo forwarded to TSF takes us back to the decades when Doug Creighton, Peter Worthington et al took care of their own in times of need.

Alcoholics kept their jobs and were counselled by staff who had walked in their shoes.

Employees experiencing stress-related illnesses were referred to the best professionals and, if necessary, given leaves of absence to deal with their problems.

The same consideration was given to employees with mental illnesses.

The bereaved were personally consoled, sent funeral flowers and given time to grieve.

Now, thanks to another TSF tipster, the reality of Sun Media in 2009:

"Memos went up from Sun Media head office this week announcing that the employee assistance programs - confidential counselling for employees suffering stress, depression, alcohol or drug problems or other issues, provided by professional counsellors - has been unilaterally cancelled by the company, effective immediately.

"The memo says there are numerous government and public sources for people who need assistance so it's not a program that is required, and helpfully includes a list of 1-800 numbers for things such as Telehealth and the problem gambling hotline."

Three words to describe the new Sun Media: Lean, mean and heartless.

Sun fronts WTF

Speaking of freedoms in Sun Media newsrooms, we wonder how editors at the Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton Suns feel about today's incredulous front page sellout to an advertiser. We are speechless. Kudos to the Ottawa Sun and Winnipeg Sun for opting out of full false fronts with the RBC ad.

Sun Media dabbled with half-page slipover ad fronts last year. They were pulled after wide-scale negative reaction. Now this. The iconic Sun fronts should not be dominated by ads. It is grade school thinking.