Friday, 31 July 2009

t.o.night hiring

This is for TSF readers who have been asking if the new t.o.night afternoon paper to be launched in September is hiring:

"To the Sun Family blog readers;

"We've been happy to read about our paper on your blog, and to see some of the excitement generated.

"As we have had some inquiries, we thought we would put the message out to former Sun employees that we are indeed hiring. We are finishing building our ad sales team, but are still looking for a few more sales associates- those with experience with either the Sun or 24.

"We'd be happy to have some former Sun employees on board for this exciting venture.

"Please send resumes to if you are interested.


John Cameron
Managing Director
t.o.night Newspaper Group Inc."

Thanks for the update, John. Do let us know if any former Sun Media people are hired.

Thursday bits

Thursday thoughts:

Page 2: Day 3 of the "new" Toronto Sun and Kevin Hann, city editor, is still listed as the news editor, but then still has Moira Macdonald instead of MacDonald three years later;

(Update: As of Saturday, Kevin is city editor on Page 2)

Page 3: Did the Sun get a single call about the word "shit" appearing in Michele Mandel's column? We think not. Perhaps the new Sun is a more mature Sun;

Page 7: So Sue-Ann Levy has been freed from the op-ed pages and writing tighter?

Page 10: More mid-summer Toronto Maple Leafs sports fare from Joe Warmington in the "news" pages. Why the push of sports into the news pages? Twenty pages in the pullout sports section not sufficient?

Page 16: The deep and dark Sun Comment masthead just isn't doing it for us. A little top heavy. Ditto for the deep mastheads in the other sections. A little off the top?

Page 16: Puzzled by the "A Realistic Sentence" retort re "a problem with the Youth Criminal Justice Act, not the judge." The killer was sentenced as an adult. Is that not free and clear of youth sentencing?

Tabloid protest

Somewhere in Ontario, there is a movement focused on attacking tabloid journalism and a particular reporter.

Several web pages are devoted to a September rally being planned, a petition, a call for a boycott of tabloid newspapers, a class action lawsuit against the reporter etc.

But nowhere that we could find is there mention of who is organizing the rally, the petition, the boycott movement, the class action lawsuit etc.

There are a lot of "we" references in the pages of heated commentary, but no individual or group is named and for us, that immediately deflates any credibility for the cause.

If you expect any media coverage of your rally et al, be up front about your identity, whether it be as an individual or a legitimate, organized group.

As is, your unattributed comments and accusations are mirroring what you accuse the reporter and tabloid journalism of doing.

As we all know, the first of the 5 Ws is Who, as in Who Are You?

We really want to know.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Donato gem

Another Andy Donato gem on Wednesday, guaranteed to offend some but good for a huge laugh by the majority of Sun readers.

"To reach and agreement both sides have to bend a little."

You betcha.

The Toronto Sun might be shrinking in size, but the remaining vets are as big as ever.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Bell free?

Overheard someone say recently "I have been Bell-free for two years."

He said it with the same glee that an alcoholic or drug addict would proudly say "I have been clean and sober for two years."

After spending another 40 minutes on the phone with Bell today trying to resolve problems that began the day we signed up for high speed last November, we want to be "Bell-free."

So we ask you, TSF readers, are you Bell-free? When and how did you do it?

Bell doesn't seem to care about keeping a veteran telephone/Internet/satellite customer satisfied and if all of the Bell phone sessions weren't so aggravating, outsourced calls to India included, it would be downright comical.

Keep expecting Howie Mandel to interject during yet another lengthy phone call and say "Howie Do It." Or "you've been punked."

We grew up with Bell believing it was the only answer for telephone service, so we stayed on for Internet service and for satellite service. Blind faith?

Bell-free? Show us the way.

t.o.night details

The Globe and Mail's Jennifer MacMillan has the scoop on backers of t.o.night, the new free afternoon daily to be launched Sept. 8.

And it's bad news for laid off Toronto Sun reporters who want to know if they are hiring.

MacMillan's story in today's Globe says:

It is the brainchild of John Cameron, 24, a business school grad;

Cameron and two friends, Gareth Smith and Tom Hyde, are majority owners;

The paper will have a staff of 20, but no reporters, just CP and AP;

It will be about 20 pages and glossy;

St. Joseph Print will print the paper (or should that be magazine?)

No word if any of the bodies at t.o.night will be former Toronto Sun employees, but the Globe says private investors include Richard Costley-White, owner of Blackburn Radio Inc.

Costley-White's family owned the London Free Press before it was sold to Sun Media in 1997.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The "new" Sun

Had a flashback to childhood days and boxes of multi-coloured crayons while reading the revamped Toronto Sun today.

Colour, colour everywhere. If was if PKP gathered a group of fresh-faced college grads, gave them all a box of crayons and said "we need more colour in the Sun."

The shrinking size of the Sun shouldn't make much of a difference to readers. It still has a tabloid feel to it and is easy to read.

But the amount of colour being used is nonsensical, amateurish and distracting child's play.

Remember how people would say if your car motor is sputtering, chrome it? That could be said for newspapers laying it on with colour.

A couple of questions.

If green is the obvious colour of choice for the Money page, what does black represent for the Comment pages? Negativity? Doom and gloom?

On the plus side, the Page 2 Contact Us list makes it easier to reach someone in command by name re news, sports, Comment, Life and Showbiz - with e-mail addresses.

And we didn't know Kevin Hann was promoted from city editor to news editor. If so, belated congrats.

Other than bordered head and shoulder shots for columnists and some other minor tinkering, the fanfare for the "new" Sun was pretty much overblown.

Speaking of head shots, updated photos would have been welcomed. Egos being what they are, in print you can remain forever young.

Oh, and that disgraceful "message to our readers" quote used verbatim by several Sun publishers as their own was repeated on Page 2.

Crayons and outsourced cut-and-paste direct quotes - Sun Media's new media.

Give us your feedback on the revamped Suns with posted comments or by e-mail.

New paper Sept. 8

It's official - a new, independent free afternoon Toronto daily called t.o.night launches Sept. 8 with an initial 100,000 press run.

The first afternoon paper since the Star went mornings in the 1980s will be distributed Monday to Friday "between 3:30 and 6:30pm near subway stops and other transit touch-points in the city," says a story on blogTO, a blog that will be contributing local content.

"Unlike competitors 24 Hours and Metro, the commuter-targeted t.o.night will be filled with news, stories and sports scores that afternoon subway riders won't find in the boxes crowding busy downtown intersections," says blogTO. "And - not to be overlooked - the new daily will also come complete with a full page of local content created by blogTO.

"As far as local content, t.o.night will put more emphasis on event information, restaurant reviews and other happenings that will allow readers to plan their evenings as they look to unwind after a long day at the office."

The story also says "while backed by some investors with print industry ties, t.o.night is an independent media company and come August will be based out of a small office space in Leslieville upstairs from the Curzon bar."

Break a leg, ladies and gents. Looking forward to reading t.o.night.

And long live print.

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?

Examiner -20+

Peterborough Examiner presses were silenced on the weekend, with 20-plus layoffs in the transfer to Quebecor's printing plant in Toronto - 70 miles away.

"Roughly seven full-time press guys and 15 to 20 (I'm not sure) part-timers in the mailing room are gone," says a TSF tipster. "The paper has been printed here since the late 1800s."

This is how Examiner readers learned of the latest cutbacks at the former Osprey Media daily:

The Peterborough Examiner is now being printed in Toronto at a state-of-the-art facility owned by Quebecor Inc., The Examiner’s parent company.

The Saturday, July 25 edition of The Examiner was the last to be printed in Peterborough.

Publisher Darren Murphy acknowledged the professional, dedicated press room and mailing room employees, current and former, who played an important role over the years in getting the paper to its readers every day.

Production at the new facility will improve the overall print quality of The Examiner and allow for colour on every page, Murphy said.

Some customers might notice a small change in delivery times, he said.

TSF wonders if the changes in delivery times will be that small during the winter months or when major accidents clog the 401 or 115/35 to Peterborough.

But delays affect readers, not advertisers and we all know PKP's priorities.

Donato road trip

Andy Donato and his art are hitting the road.

The Toronto Sun's political cartoonist and landscape artist is setting up an art exhibit in Bobcaygeon and will attend the opening this Saturday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The show runs for the entire month of August at Art Experience, 18 King St. W.

A Lindsay Post story says when Robert Milner, who runs Art Experience with his wife, Kathleen, was offered the opportunity to display Donato's works, he accepted immediately.

Re David Black

David Black missed the boat in bidding for Sun Media in 1998, but a Globe and Mail story says he is solvent and waiting in the wings for other print media purchases.

David Ebner's online Sunday piece on the Black Press Ltd. chief is recommended reading for those who, like Black, aren't giving up on print media.

Ebner's piece doesn't say much about the work environment and morale at Black's newspapers, but if any of his employees care to comment, drop us an e-mail or post a comment.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

New T.O. paper?

A new free afternoon daily newspaper is apparently heading Toronto's way this fall, says a TSF reader.

We have no idea how legit this tip is, but the reader included a link to a mock front page of a print paper called Tonight.

"A group is planning to launch another free newspaper in Toronto in the fall, going after 24 Hours and Metro," says the tipster. "The twist is that it will be an afternoon paper, so news will be fresher for people on their way home from work.

"Kind of a mystery who's behind it, but doesn't seem to be any of the big media companies."

Interesting development, considering a recent report that the circulation of free morning newspapers is slipping. But a free afternoon newspaper might be workable if focused on the latest news, sports and entertainment - and evening events.

The hordes are off work and on the way home, or heading for a night on the town. What's on the tube tonight? What's on in town tonight? Sports, nightclubs, theatre, movies etc.

Personally, we miss afternoon dailies. You are guaranteed all of the sports scores from the night before and reviews of concerts that miss the early deadlines of morning papers.

If Tonight is a go, any other info about proposed content and its backers would be appreciated.

Who knows, maybe some of the Toronto Sun's finest who were laid off are getting back in the biz.

That would be an exciting development.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Tuesday is D-Day

The Toronto Sun's newest extreme makeover will be unveiled Tuesday and we await the new product with nervous anticipation.

We know it will be smaller in size - not that size matters - but promises of more colour and more visual elements makes us wonder if any of the original Sun will survive.

The previous makeover a few years ago while Neil Fowler was publisher received a lot of negative publicity and the critics are still lamenting the changes to fonts and other cosmetics.

Mike Power, the Sun's new publisher, is quoted in this teaser in today's Sun:

A message to our readers.

Beginning Tuesday, we're taking a little bit off the top and improving our look, while continuing to deliver the news and features you enjoy in your Toronto Sun.

Our new, slightly shorter page allows us to trim production costs and provide environmental benefits by reducing our annual paper usage by more than 2.6 million kilos.

We'll also be introducing some exciting design improvements, bolder and more colourful with more visual elements to give you an even more entertaining and informative read.

"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.

As always, we welcome your feedback.

Let us know what you think of our new look by e-mailing or calling 416-947-2080.

109th birthday

Has the Toronto Sun ever had a 109th birthday listed in its Born On This Date feature?

If not, it missed an opportunity yesterday when John Babcock, Canada's last known World War 1 veteran, marked his 109th birthday with his wife, Dorothy, 78, at a Spokane, Washington, restaurant.

Somehow Sun editors let Babcock's birthday slip through the cracks.

There were no words or photos for Babcock's 109th in our print editions yesterday or today.

There are dozens of online stories about Babcock, from MSNBC to the Toronto Star, Seattle Post, Canadian Press, Canoe, CBC etc., but zilch in the Sun's print edition.

We could have done without another upfront, mid-summer Toronto Maple Leafs column today (Joe Warmington, Page 8). Babcock's 109th would have been more fitting for Joe and readers.

Happy 109th, John. We'll e-mail the Sun a reminder for your 110th.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Enough, already

Is it just us or have details of the incredibly cruel torture death of a mentally-challenged Midland woman been repeated in the Toronto Sun to excess?

There is initial tabloid coverage, but these never ending exploitative descriptions of her torture week after week are beyond acceptable Sun standards, or should be.

She was tortured, period.

Enough, already.

Dunnville done?

Is the Dunnville Chronicle, a former Osprey Media newspaper established in 1896, done?

A TSF tipster says the scaled-back Ontario weekly is down to one person in editorial - the managing editor - and he is leaving Sun Media soon to take another job.

TSF can't blame him. Our tipster says the ME lost his part-time reporter in the December layoffs and his full-time reporter quit a few months ago. So he has been flying solo, working all hours of the day to get the paper published.

"There is no word on whether a replacement will be sought or whether the paper will be shut down," says our tipster. "Knowing the way the company operates, it will probably be shut down."

But if PKP decides there is still money to be made in Dunnville, there are more than enough unemployed journalists out there to fill the position.

"It is doubtful, though, that anyone who takes that job will last long because of the amount of time they'll have to spend covering everything, writing and taking photos, editing the copy and putting the paper together."

Honours for Tripp

Rob Tripp, the Kingston Whig-Standard's crime writer/blogger, has found himself at the centre of an international crime story after scooping the competition.

His original story Wednesday on the arrests of three people in the bizarre deaths of three sisters and a relative in a submerged car included comments about "honour killings" as the possible motive, plus a lot of other researched detail in the case.

Today, following the press conference announcing first degree murder charges have been laid against the parents and brother of the sisters, the Globe and Mail credited the Whig-Standard with raising honour killing as a possible motive.

"The honour killing angle was strictly ours," Tripp tells TSF. "As far as I know, no other media outlet has yet located or interviewed any of the relatives of the dead woman (Rona Amir Mohammad, 50).

"I'm particularly proud of it since it was fully sourced and attributed to relatives of the victim and to a document that was sent to police two weeks ago.," Tripp told TSF.

"Incidentally, at the news conference today in Kingston, police confirmed that they have the email from a relative in France and they are at least considering the suggestion of an honour killing motive."

Tripp says more exclusive details will be in the Whig-Standard and on his blog on Friday.

TSF posted an item about Tripp in March after we discovered his popular CanCcime blog and this latest crime story will no doubt boost his profile.

Tripp, who reminds us of Max Haines in his prime, is doing the Canadian justice system justice on his blog and is certainly doing his share at the struggling Whig-Standard.

We're not sure if Tripp has a book in him, but if there was ever a case for a book project, this is it.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Tori team work

Today's Toronto Sun coverage of the discovery of Victoria "Tori" Stafford's remains was what it should be on every major story - solid Sun Media team work.

It was Woodstock, London and Toronto reporters and photographers doing the story justice on Pages 1, 2 and 3.

Photos on the three pages: Elliot Ferguson, Woodstock Sentinel-Review;

Column on Page 2, Joe Warmington, Toronto Sun;

Stories on Page 3, Kate Dubinski and Norman De Bono, London Free Press, Bruce Urquhart, Woodstock Sentinel-Review.

Some CP files were used in De Bono's story, but overall, commendable Sun Media team coverage, presumably based on reliable information that the remains were Tori's hours before police confirmed the identification at a 9 a.m. press conference n Woodstock.

Kudos to all involved.

DVD porn driver

Toronto Sun headline:

"Motorist allegedly watching porn on 401"

Would that be classified as auto-erotica?

Ta dum.

Say what?

Did Toronto Mayor David Miller say the Ex would not be used as a garbage dump - as suggested in the Sun - because the CNE is a money-making tourist attraction?

So much for being mayor of all the people.

Tough love for thousands of children and adults being deprived of parks free from piles of garbage and putrid air in the Summer of '09. No money being lost there, eh Dave? How about votes?

In Europe, tens of thousands of protesters would be mad as hell by now and not taking it anymore.

Toronto residents being exploited by politicians and bullied by picketers should organize a united protest, with thousands of people taking it to the streets.

Cronkite in T.O.

Coverage of Walter Cronkite's death in the Toronto Sun's print editions over the weekend was minimal, but then John Downing, the master story teller, no longer hangs his hat there.

Today, you have to drop by his Downing's Views blog, and his posting yesterday didn't disappoint. It is a must read for those among us who enjoy stories from the good old print media days.

Downing, in great detail, talks about Cronkite's visit to the Toronto Press Club on Richmond Street 30 years ago, the willingness of the news legend to close the club, and assorted tales.

The Day Oner's intro renews our hopes that he will write a book about his decades in the newspaper business.

"Once upon a time, when press clubs flourished and movies made kids want to be reporters, we gathered glass in hand in the wee hours and talked about our jobs. It really was the good old days before the media splintered like a stone tossed through a stained glass window and the accountants sucked the fun out of the business."

If at first . . .

PKP's latest project? He is campaigning for the return of an NHL team to Quebec City.

And, no doubt, he will be using a fair bit Sun Media space to spread the word, as in Monday's London Free Press story from his QMI Agency.

Shut out in his bid to buy the Montreal Canadiens, PKP remains in an NHL frame of mind.

What wonders the Sun Media chief might do for his newspapers across Canada if he was more in a news frame of mind.

Meanwhile, a TSF tipster employed by Sun Media says he, or maybe she, is now required to pay for pens and notepads used on the job.

Monday, 20 July 2009

New media habits

Ed Shiller is a communications guru with almost 40 years of print media and public relations experience in Canada, the United States and Europe.

As president of Ed Shiller Communications Inc. since 1985, he has lectured more than 3,000 men and women from a wide spectrum of occupations at public media relations workshops and in-house seminars.

From the Auditors General of Canada and Ontario, to the Toronto Stock Exchange, to the Girl Guides of Canada, to the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, to A&M Records etc.

Representatives of government, big business and the community, all wanting to understand the fine details of how to approach the media with story requests and press releases.

He also advises them on how to "give media interviews that are relevant, truthful and responsive to what the reporter asked."

Shiller knows what he speaks. He was an editor at the New York Times News service, Copenhagen stringer for the New York Times, Newsweek and others, editor/newscaster on Radio Denmark in Copenhagen, a reporter for Reuters, the Baltimore Sun and the Toronto Star. At the Star, he was a city hall and business reporter, assistant city editor, editorial writer, deputy editorial page editor.

The vibrant conversationalist is big on ethics and it showed during his early 1980s corporate press relations stints at Falconbridge, Kidd Creek Mines and the Canadian Manufacturer's Association.

In a nutshell, Shiller asks who is going to get better press, someone who is deceptive and manipulative or someone who is credible and responsive to any and all questions?

Which brings us to ethics, the new media and press releases.

Shiller says while the Internet has escalated the flow of information, he is concerned about traditional media adopting new media ways without scrutiny.

A case in point.

The online edition of Sun Media's Sault Ste. Marie This Week recently posted, verbatim, a Communications Workers of America Canada press release in story form detailing CWA's results of a survey on the decline in newspaper readers.

Doug Millroy, editor emeritus at Sun Media's Sault Ste. Marie Star, later wrote a column about the survey and noted how mid-size and smaller newspapers are beginning to adopt new media habits, including the use of news releases untouched.

"The luxury days of every such release going to a reporter for rewrite are gone," said Millroy. "They should simply be edited to the required length to tell the story, a reporter being involved only if reaction is required.

"This would put newspaper newsrooms on a level footing with the Internet sites in regard to release of the information and also would allow for a quick follow-up in the print edition, rather than the spread of several days as on occasion is the case."

Millroy, in the news business for 54 years and a die hard print man, was describing some of the changes in journalism when he noted reproduces news releases untouched.

However, Shiller says automatic publication of news releases is a sad day for journalism and democracy.

"A free press means journalists (reporters and editors) exercise independent judgment," says Shiller.

He says while unedited cut-and-paste press releases via the Internet may be expedient, not all press releases are created equal.

"Accuracy and balance are everything," says Shiller. "A press release may honestly reflect the message the client wishes to convey, but it does, after all, represent only the client’s side of the story.

"Not allowing reporters the opportunity to make calls to expand or elaborate on press releases and printing them as though they were news stories, misleads the readers into believing that a journalist has critically, independently and objectively reviewed the material."

We have to side with Shiller. Posting the CWA press release verbatim was, in itself, unusual. But the content of the "story" in a Sun Media newspaper was also blatantly critical of Quebecor.

It should have, at the least, been rewritten and edited for bias.

Moon landing +40

It was early evening in the crowded Ladner pub in British Columbia when Neil Armstrong took that historic first step on the moon 40 years ago today.

The overhead television set was on, but few people looked up from their beers to view history in the making.

It was an historic event so this Ladner Optimist news guy walked behind the bar, picked up the microphone and shouted something like "they're walking on the moon" a couple of times.

More people did look up at the black and white television set, but most soon resumed their beer drinking and conversations.

The Russians had been first with a man in space less than a decade earlier, but a man on the moon was one of those indelible "firsts."

Forty years later, we have space shuttles and an elaborate international space station, but not the degree of advances in space exploration anticipated after viewing 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time in 1968.

Captain Alan Bean, the fourth person to walk on the moon, says the U.S. should forget about returning to the moon and concentrate on an international manned Mars mission. Ditto for Buzz Aldrin.

We second that emotion. That would be the ultimate milestone in the lifetimes of baby boomers.

As for moon landing doubters, Mike Strobel's Sunday Sun column took care of them.

Photo fee-less

Remember the Whitby funnel cloud photos used in late June and we wondered if freelance photog Adam Strongman was paid by Sun Media?

Well, we have just heard from Adam in a posted comment and the answer is no, not a cent.

Says Adam:

"No I did not get paid for the photos. Just photo credits. It was done through the 'your scoop' your news type of submission.

"I have had photos posted this way on CTV, the Sun, Reuters etc. Just trying to break into the news media biz.

"Any advice? Would love to hear any tips -"

Well, Adam, if your photos have been accepted by Sun Media, CTV and Reuters, it is probably time for you to consider getting paid for your work.

Today's new media is taking advantage of aspiring photographers who are trading exclusive photos for ego-boosting credit lines.

If you don't mind not being paid for your time, camera usage and skills, then all is well.

But if you want to graduate to paid services, do some research.

You might also consider the benefits of joining the new Canadian Freelancers Union.

A CFU press release says it now has the "resources, and a three-year commitment from national CEP, to make the CFU a reality."

CFU's inaugural meeting will be held Oct. 3 at "a number of physical sites, with electronic links to the entire country. At this meeting we will adopt a set of initial bylaws, elect the first national executive, and establish other founding policies."

Union, or no union, the key is to educate yourself in how to approach the media with exclusive photos. If they want your photos, ask for payment.

Not too long ago, the going freelance rate for an inside photo in the Toronto Sun was $100 and $150 for a front page colour photo.

Or higher, if the photos are exclusive and truly exceptional.

Those 1991 Bernardo/Homolka wedding photos that were published in the Toronto Sun cost the tabloid $10,000 and that was after some wheeling and dealing.

In a nutshell, don't sell yourself or your photos short. If the media want to use your photos, name your price.

Double duties

A definite trend at Sun Media is appointing one person to multiple key positions at more than one newspaper.

The latest is Tracy Weaver, who has been appointed managing editor of Kingston This Week and the Napanee Guide.

Kingston This Week says Weaver, who has been publisher of Kingston Publications, got into media more than 30 years ago as a Windsor Star copy girl.

Another Windsor Mafia associate for the records.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Yahoo obits

There is something unsettling about obit tag lines on Yahoo, especially for an icon like Walter Cronkite, who died today at 92.

"Legendary CBS anchor Walter Cronkite dies at 92 - Yahoo!"

Yes, "News" follows but "Yahoo!" makes it sound more joyous than sorrowful. did Walter justice with its obit.

Much of what Cronkite represented was lost after the CBS anchor retired at 65.

Television news just isn't what it used to be. Somewhere along the line, entertainment and news merged and in some cases degenerated to theatre of the absurd.

Growing up with Cronkite - the Most Trusted Man in America - was a security blanket. We felt comforted and informed by his presentation and his authoritative words.

In 1963, he was in our homes for hours emotionally sharing the tragedy of John Kennedy's assassination.

In 1969, he motivated us to celebrate the first moon landing.

He gave us the Vietnam war up close and personal, covered by the media like no other war.

Fair and balanced? Cronkite comes to mind more than that sideshow "news" channel filled with far right dingbats who use those words as their motto.

Cronkite's contribution to the media did not end when he retired. He had much more to say and do.

Three media-related Cronkite quotes among the gems at are:

"Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy magazine."

"I think it is absolutely essential in a democracy to have competition in the media, a lot of competition, and we seem to be moving away from that."

"In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story."

All areas of the media reached excess in the coverage of Michael Jackson's recent death.

Cronkite is due more than a small fraction of the coverage given the late pop star, but we couldn't find any talk show tonight devoting much talk time to his death.

Ironically, the only extended time found was an hour on CFRB, a station once known for its stable of trusted newscasters, including Betty Kennedy, Pierre Berton and Gordon Sinclair.

Maybe the all-so-important demographics of other talk shows don't include people old enough to remember Cronkite and the days when news was largely fair and balanced.

Prepress party

Organizers of a Toronto Sun prepress party for current and former employees tell TSF it won't be open to others.

Randy Miller said the BBQ gathering was originally planned for the few prepress employees let go since September and the dozen remaining employees still on the job.

And they have decided to keep it that way.

"The idea of a large reunion is difficult in that it would require a lot of planning and we would be uncertain as to what we would have to prepare for since a lot of talented people have passed through the doors at 333 King St. E. over the years," says Randy.

"The idea of a Sun reunion is interesting but would require perhaps a committee to organize this. Many of the employees who would be interested from all the various departments are now gone.

"If some would like to suggest how this could be arranged I would be glad to help."

Thanks for the update, Randy.

With the 40th anniversary of the Toronto Sun coming up in 2011, why not put feelers out now for an organizing committee for one final come one, come all Sun alumni reunion?

About 150 people showed up for the 2006 Save Our Sun reunion and that was accomplished in a matter of weeks. Two years is more than adequate to plan a 40th anniversary bash.

Let's do it up right, in the memorable grand style of Doug, Peter and Don, with music, memories and a salute to the 62 Day Oners.

Power napping?

Where were the Sun Media troops for the widely publicized swine flu outbreak at several children's summer camps north of Toronto?

Power napping?

On Thursday, it was huge front page news for the Star and the Globe and Mail and national television news, but limited in the Toronto Sun to nine paragraphs on Page 34 - from the Canadian Press, no less.

One TSF reader saw it on CNN.

"The Star runs a line story on cottage country outbreak probably involving many GTA kids, sends a photographer up to the camps and has four or five reporters working on the story," says the TSF reader. "The Sun runs what, a four-inch CP filler. No Osprey papers up that way?"

A reporter from Sun Media's Orillia Packet & Times covered the story, but there's that CP again in the Toronto Sun. It's Woodstock all over again. And this is the news agency PKP wants to turf by next June?

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Doucette's award

The Toronto Sun's Chris Doucette will be down at Toronto Police headquarters today to pick up a Crime Stoppers award for a 2008 teen crime story.

It is the Toronto Crime Stoppers' Best Crime of the Week in Print Media Award and the teens and technology help fight crime story was from Aug. 14.

Today's Sun story says the winning story described how three teenaged members of the Toronto Police Youth in Policing initiative went to a shooting scene in Parkdale and recorded a video appealing for tips. His video was also posted on YouTube and Facebook.

Congrats, Chris.

Rob Lamberti, your award-winning partner in crime, must be a positive influence on the police desk.

But Chris, the rewrite guy in us can't resist noting your 50-word lead in a recent story.

Tight and bright, tight and bright.

Name play

The Toronto Sun and TSF readers are already working the name play in welcoming Michael Power as the new publisher.

"Power to the people?" wrote one TSF reader.

The heading on today's online story by Jenny Yuen reads: "Sun has new Power"

TSF just hopes the new publisher isn't "Power happy."

Jenny's story quotes Power, 43, as saying: "I feel tremendously excited and privileged. I'm really looking forward to be working with great staff at a newspaper with a great history."

Power, the 11th publisher since Day One in 1971 and the sixth since the turn of this century, also says:

"I think editorial identity is important. Historically, we've had an edge and I'm not going to dull that at all."

Will the Little Paper That Once Grew get a "Power surge?"

Stay tuned.

So Michael, can we call you Mike?

And don't be a stranger to TSF.

Not a peep from Kin-Man Lee in the three years he was publisher.

Maybe it was that embarrassing Sun video.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Kin-Man Lee out

The Toronto Sun has a new publisher and it doesn't surprise us that his forte is advertising, not newsrooms.

Today's Quebecor executive shuffle moves Kin-Man Lee out of the Toronto Sun after three years as publisher and moves Michael Power (see photo) into his sixth floor office.

A Quebecor press release says Power, previously vice president of advertising sales and 24 Hours, joined the Toronto Sun in advertising 19 years ago.

Lee, with the Sun since 1989 and publisher for three years, is promoted to Sun Media's chief financial officer. He was possibly the most photographed TorSun publisher since Day One, pictured at supermarket openings and other functions.

Power joined Osprey Media in 1998 as publisher of the Belleville Intelligencer, so technically he left Sun Media after eight years and returned to the fold when Quebecor purchased Osprey in 2007.

The press release says Power was most recently senior group publisher for North Central Ontario at Osprey Media and publisher and general manager of the Barrie Examiner.

There are other troop movements in the Quebecor press release, but none that will mean much to employees in Sun Media newsrooms.

But speaking of publishers, this is the tabloid's track record since Day One in 1971:

Previous Publishers: Doug Creighton, Paul Godfrey, Hartley Steward, Jim Tighe, Mark Stevens, Doug Knight, Les Pyette, Neil Fowler, David Swail, Kin-Man Lee.

Our faves: Creighton, Steward and Pyette, print newspapermen to the core.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Elliott on second

For the second consecutive year, veteran Toronto Sun baseball writer Bob Elliott is a Hall of Fame finalist, one of three nominated this week by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Finalists for the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing are Elliott; Joe Giuliotti, a retired writer of the Boston Herald; and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News.

The winner will be announced in December.

Last year, Elliott ran second to Nick Peters, 69, a San Francisco Giants beat writer for the Sacramento Bee, who retired in 2007. Chicago's Dave Van Dyck was third.

No Canadian sports writer has won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award since it was first awarded in 1962.

Toronto Sun colleagues and readers will be cheering Elliott on in December hoping for another Canadian first for the record books.

Re PKP Niagara

A TSF tipster's report on PKP's visit to Sun Media holdings in Niagara Region:

"His message in Niagara was that times are tough for newspapers.

"The company is making investments in other areas that will help the company.

"Newspapers have to deliver news 24/7.

"Times are tough.

"Convergence is a good thing. News needs to get out on all kinds of platforms.

"There will be casualties in the business.

"Canwest performed badly, Torstar's numbers will probably be bad, Quebecor is doing okay.

"(Quebecor spent) $400M on getting the 3G network (in Quebec only) and another $500M will be spent to build wireless networks.

"There will be casualties.

"Islington plant was $125M to build, there is a printing plant north of Montreal, more flyer work will be do in-house.

"There will be casualties.

"I think that's the gist of his message."

Thanks for the update.

30 - Bob Gage

When they talk amateur sports coverage in London, Ontario, Bob "Scoop" Gage no doubt comes to mind as one of the greats.

Gage covered UWO's Western Mustangs multi-sports teams during all of his 33 years with the London Free Press.

On Sunday, the dean of amateur sports reporters in Canada died at University Hospital, says Steve Coad in a lengthy Free Press obit.

(The Canadian Interuniversity Sport web site and UWO's Western News also have fond tributes to Gage, who was 89.)

Coad says Gage "is being remembered as a 'true champion' of amateur athletics and a man of unflagging character and enthusiasm."

He says Gage, who retired in 1982, is in every major University of Western Ontario sports hall of fame.

"That includes UWO football's Wall of Champions, basketball's Wall of Honour, track and field, and the W Club (the men's athletic alumni hall)."

Sounds a lot like our late, great George Gross.

The funeral will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. at St. Mary's Church in London . A tribute will follow in the church hall at 11 a.m.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Re Hinton Voice

Robert Washburn had this to say about Alberta's new Hinton Voice weekly in a posting on the Canadian Journalism Project site:

"The Hinton Voice is a great example of what needs to take place. Hyper-local publications serving very specific geographic areas or communities of interest are the solution the big corporations are missing.

"While these chains promote more centralized production away from the communities they serve and more common content across the board, local audiences are turning away in disgust.

"The Voice (staffed by former Sun Media employees) is responding with a commitment to local coverage and content that is focused on the community it serves. It is worthy of watching."

Washburn also says: "Sun Media recently cut back at the Pincher Creek Echo and the Crowsnest Pass Promoter. There are rumours flying around that smaller Ontario papers in the chain may suffer more reductions only months after a major series of layoffs occurred in the winter and spring."

We wonder how many more heads will roll following PKP's anticipated tour of Ontario newspapers this week.

TSF has heard another newspaper to be run by former Sun Media employees will soon be launched - in Ontario. Stay tuned.

It is beginning to sound like a movement out there.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Buildings 4 sale

The pending sale of 333 King Street East, home of the flagship Toronto Sun since 1975, was confirmed earlier this year.

Now employees of other Sun Media newspapers feel they are about to lose their buildings.

The Brantford Expositor for one.

And the Peterborough Examiner for another.

A TSF tipster says the Examiner building "has been surveyed and photographed and there were measurements and photos being taken of the presses this week.

"Somewhere there's a kiosk with our name on it."

A kiosk probably looks good to Sun Media employees who are now working out of their houses.

News vs ads

An astute. but anonymous, Sun reader posted this comment today:

"Remember back in the days when ads were 'pulled' if they clashed with the news content?

"Toronto Sun editors did pull ads from time to time, either due to conflicts with news content or, (and get this), to make more space available for important news!

"For example: if the top story was a plane crash, the paper took it upon themselves to pull any airline ad; if the page had a story of a child's murder, a nearby ad with smiling children was pulled or moved; if a big story needed more space, the first several pages were cleared of all ads.

"That was back when papers cared more for their readers than for their bottom line.

"Remember when Lady Diana was killed, and the Calgary Sun's front page was a big photo of her smashed car ... along with a front page ad for a lawyer offering to sue for car crash victims;

"The Toronto Sun's feature about over-40 yr old women ... side-by-side with an ad for vaginal tightening;

"Sunshine Girl swimsuit feature ... with ad for breast enlargement;

"Story about the death of US marines ... ad for environmental group about the importance of marine life;

"Story about dogs killed (poisoned) in a Toronto park ... alongside a pet food ad offering to keep your pet full of life and showing a photo of a dog;

"Toronto Sun story about two teens killed in car crash ... alongside a car insurance ad.

"Who is asleep at the wheel? Do editors have their hands tied? Do advertisers have control? Does the ad dept overrule editorial? I assume proof readers no longer exist at any newspaper.

"Recall that meeting Quebecor had in Ottawa, just after it took over Sun Media. Charles Cavell, (then president and CEO of Quebecor, after Peledeau Sr. had died), gave the Ottawa Sun, and in fact all of Sun Media, its marching orders. He used his wallet to make his point.

'Nuff said? "

Front is front

Friday's insensitive Toronto Sun false front ad for Bruno the movie was bad timing.

Any positive effect the false front and all of page 2 had in promoting Sacha Baron Cohen's movie was surely lost by the real-life tragic murder of a Toronto woman found dead in a car trunk.

Some people apparently wondered if Cohen was the "body found in car trunk."

Are Toronto Sun editors cringing over the latest false front? We're sure with advertising dollars involved they didn't have much say in the matter.

Family and friends of the dead woman should be incensed.

Bruno and the garbage strike, or Bruno and a light animal rescue story, but not Bruno and the tragic death of a woman.

A few TSF readers seem to feel it makes a difference if the front page ads are real front pages or wraps. Why? Front is front when you are walking past newspaper boxes, kiosk stands and stacks of papers in stores.

(Friday's sellout was technically not a wrap. Only the first and second pages were part of the Bruno promotion. The back two pages were normal fare.)

No doubt selling out the front page will continue, but Friday's mix of true crime reality and a movie promotion is a new low for Sun Media.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Bruno & death

Another day, another Sun front page in the news.

Eye Weekly questions today's Toronto Sun front page layout pairing a body-found-in-car-trunk headline and a photo promo for the movie Bruno.

"Toronto Sun declares Sacha Baron Cohen dead?" asks Eye Weekly.

"The exact cause of death is unknown, though sources believe it might have had to do with a grave case of editorial/advertising departmental miscommunication," says Eye Weekly.

And yes, the murder/Bruno front page is on's Today's Front Pages showcase for international viewing. shows the original front page photo.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Re Brockville pub

The Brockville Record and Times has a new publisher.

The paper says Liza Nelson, publisher of Sun Media's eastern Ontario-based magazine group, took over as group publisher of the Record and Times and the Gananoque Reporter yesterday.

"My goal for The Recorder and Times is for it to continue to be the most relevant source for local news and information in the market," she said Wednesday.

Brief bio: Grew up in Mississauga, a Queen's University grad, worked at the Newspaper Marketing Bureau in Toronto (now the Canadian Newspaper Association), joined Southam in 1995, later working at the Kingston Whig-Standard, married with four-year-old twins.

All the best, Liza.

The Final Word

The final and somewhat more civil and informative word in the Calgary noodles saga comes from Jose Rodriguez, editor-in-chief of the Calgary Sun:

"Hey guys, just to set the record straight, there is a script that takes the last front page from the system and ships it out to the Newseum. Obviously, since the replate came at the end of the run, the wrong page was picked and sent.

"It was a mistake. I'm sure the anonymous owner of this blog has made some in the past. As soon as we learned about it, we fixed it. As for the integrity of the managing editor — and the entire news team for that matter — it is beyond reproach.

"We have not sold out. We are still breaking stories that the competition can't touch and sharing a laugh or two along the way. This may be hard for you to believe based on the comments I've read on this blog in the past, but we are still damn proud to be part of Team Sun.

"Still working hard to bring relevant news to our readers. Not sitting anonymously on the sideline and sniping in a 'good old days' trance."

Thank you for the update, Jose.

The four key words here: "It was a mistake."

Fair enough.

But your closer - "Not sitting anonymously on the sideline and sniping in a 'good old days' trance." - chilled our enthusiasm for your elaboration. Memories of your managing editor, mother's basement and all . . .

The majority of TSF postings since December 2006 have been based on information provided by disillusioned current and former Sun Media employees who remember the "good old days."

The blog is not about any individual, including the not-so-anonymous blogger, it is about Toronto Sun Family members who wanted a forum to vent their feelings and frustrations about the Quebecor years.

When the venting is done and Quebecor's extreme makeover is complete, we will be done.

We will leave our mother's basement confident that TSF members did their all in memory of Doug Creighton and the other 61 Day Oners who gave us all the opportunity to share in North America's greatest print media success story.

Calgary noodles 3

Just a Q&A FYI from the pages of re the daily Today's Front Pages process:

"Every morning, as many as 800 newspapers from around the world submit their front pages to the Newseum via the Internet to be part of Today's Front Pages."

And ...

"All daily, general-interest newspapers are invited to participate. The front pages in our display are sent voluntarily from each newspaper."

PKP in Niagara?

TSF tipsters say PKP will be touring Sun Media holdings in Niagara Region on Monday.

The Sun Media chief will no doubt have attentive, captive audiences.

But what will his message be?

Somewhat nervous TSF tipsters will be on call for updates if he does visit.

Welland -1

The Welland Tribune lost another employee this week.

A TSF tipster says Stephen Carroll, the ad manager, was let go Monday.

"Publisher Ken Koyama has taken over as ad manager on an interim basis," says the tipster.

Remaining staff at the former Osprey newspaper must be feeling like punching bags.

It has not been a good year for the Tribune.

Its presses were silenced recently, with printing going to the Toronto plant;

Its sponsorship of boys and girls basketball tournaments has been axed;

Its Port Colborne office has been reduced to a satellite office;

Eight employees were pink slipped in December;

They lost their second-floor newsroom water cooler, temporarily.

Woodstock class

Kudos to Darryl Smart, a Woodstock Sentinel-Review staffer who has jazzed up his Twitter page with a WSR logo and banner.

His bio reads: "I'm the Bo Jackson of the Woodstock Sentinel-Review. Real title Night News Editor/ Sports Editor but I do a little photography, writing and page layout."

Doing it all for Sun Media's WSR - and more, with Twitter.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

One rim for all

A TSF reader who brought two new Sun Media job ads for Brockville to our attention says:

"Looks like the One Rim Fits All is coming soon."

Brockville, Ontario, appears to be the latest Centre of Excellence in the province.

The first job posting reads:

Page Builders

Sun Media Corporate Editorial is seeking page builders to paginate pages for the chain's community daily and weekly newspapers.

Reporting to Sun Media's East Region Pagination Co-ordinator(s), these layout editors will design broadsheet and tabloid pages including news, entertainment and sports. Graphics work will also be required. Experience in the publishing industry an asset. This position involves working afternoons and evenings, as well as some weekends. The location will be in Brockville, Ontario. Applicants should be prepared to start their first shift in August 5, 2009.

Qualifications include:
Strong design and graphics skills
Proficient knowledge of InDesign CS and/or QuarkXPress, InCopy and Photoshop

Interested applicants should send their resumes by Wednesday, July 22, 2009 (see below)

The second job posting reads:

East Region Pagination Centre Co-ordinator

Sun Media Corporate Editorial is seeking two page co-ordinators to oversee pagination for the chain's east region community daily and community weekly newspapers. Reporting to Sun Media's Regional Managing Editor, the co-ordinators will oversee the building of local and regional pages for daily and weekly newspapers. The co-ordinators will also work with region's newspapers to create regional shared pages. Managing a staff of page designers, this person(s) will also design pages and must have the ability to edit stories and rewrite headlines if required. Some Photoshop skills may also be required. Experience working at a daily newspaper would be an asset. This position involves working days, evenings, as well as some weekends. The location will be in Brockville, Ontario.

Qualifications include:
A journalism degree or diploma
Strong layout and design skills
A strong knowledge of InDesign CS or QuarkXPress, and Photoshop

Interested applicants should send their resumes by Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Resumes for both job postings to the attention of Angela Zito, Supervisor, Human Resources, Sun Media Corporation, 333 King Street East, Toronto, Ontario M5A 3X5. E-mail:

TorSun/24 remake

The Toronto Sun, which hasn't fully recovered from a revamping a few years ago, is being redesigned once again.

A memo forwarded to TSF says the redesigned Toronto Sun and 24 Hours will be introduced to readers on July 28.

The Sun will be smaller and you have to wonder if that means the same size as 24 Hours to provide easy exchanges of ads.

Is it the beginning of the long-rumoured merging of the paid and free newspapers? Stay tuned.

The memo from Louisa Karabellas, account manager, Toronto SUN/24hrs,

"Hi all! Just wanted to give you a heads up and let you know that we are doing a REDESIGN of our Toronto SUN and 24hrs newspapers. The re-launch/redesign is set to take effect July 28th!

"You will see a brand new, more convenient look to both our papers. As a result, the specs to your ads will be changing. I will let you know the exact specs so we can create the proper ad sizes within the next few weeks! If you have any questions, just let me know! Thanks, Louisa

"On Tuesday, July 28th the new paper size will be ten (10) columns x 160 lines

* Following a thorough readership study, readers expressed significant interest in our proposed changes

* Readers identified an even greater level of engagement with the paper as a result

* Ease and consistency of product navigation is the cornerstone of the product experience improvement plans

* We continually strive to provide a refreshed and visually exciting experience ­ providing our readers with a relevant and relaxing navigational experience ­ allowing them to engage with the content and advertising messages.

* Key Design elements will include:

Sectional Navigation

Sub-Section design and treatment

Columnist & Editorial profiling

Reinforcing our authoritative voice on content important to readers

Navigation simplification

Enhanced visual experience ­ from graphics and charts to fonts and colour

Our Readers Want It. Our Advertising Partners Will Benefit From It. And We Always Deliver!"

Calgary noodles 2

Was the Calgary Sun's front page Chinese food ad on Newseum the Washington, D.C., media museum's fault?

TSF received this comment from Martin Hudson, managing editor of the paper:

"If you ever left your mother's basement and got a job instead of blindly ripping everything you know nothing about, you would be aware that newspapers sometimes print promo copies at the end of the run. This front was picked up in error by Newseum. Check your facts before you run your mouth.

Martin Hudson
Managing Editor"

It is a huge relief to hear the Calgary Sun has not sold out its front page (full wrap, or no wrap) to promote the sale of egg rolls and noodles.

But how can you lay the blame on Newseum when editors submit their front pages to the museum?

As for the snide comments about mothers, basements and running our mouths, we are not impressed when they are coming from the managing editor of a major daily newspaper.

MJ is dead?

Do you realize there must be people living in remote areas who haven't heard Michael Jackson has died?

That is not to blame world print, broadcast and Internet media for lack of trying in their bid to reach each and every inhabitant of this great planet of ours with the sad news.

We're just saying they might have missed small pockets of people in their marathon coverage of his death 12 days ago. Isolated islands. Remote mountain villages. Amazon jungle tribes.

But don't fret for the uninformed. With much more to come from the family, the fans and the courts, chances are word of MJ's death will eventually get to everyone.

Meanwhile, we've got some MJ 8-tracks for sale.

Midland minced

Sun Media's Midland Free Press, a paid circulation newspaper since 1879, will become a free weekly as of July 22, says a memo sent to TSF.

The newspaper, currently being published Wednesdays and Fridays, will also be reduced to Wednesdays only, says the memo.

The former Barrie-area Osprey Media newspaper is the latest to feel results of PKP's rewrites.

The TSF tipster who sent us the memo withheld the name of its author. It reads:

"Beginning July 22, after 130 years of being a paid circulation newspaper, The Free Press will become a completely free source of news that will be packaged into a comprehensive once a week paper published on Wednesdays.

"We will provide readers and advertisers with an aggressive paper more colourful and easier to read. Editorial coverage will be pro active. Our format will change as we reorganize our content and sections.

"The Free Press became one of the oldest businesses and senior news sources in North Simcoe by adapting to the needs of readers, advertisers and new technology. We recognize that readers have less time and advertisers want more impact from their advertising dollars.

"This change to providing a single stronger newspaper will answer both of these requirements. Our history indicates that over the years we have successfully changed publication dates to address these needs.

"The Free Press will be printed on brand new presses that will give us unlimited colour opportunities and better reproduction. The distribution will be increased to 19.000+ and is timely for retail and insert customers alike.

"We value your patronage and would like to think that the partnership that has evolved has enabled both our businesses to grow. We see this growth continuing. Please feel free to contact me should you have questions or concerns."

We can only guess at what the local news/flyers/ads ratio will be for the new free weekly.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Calgary noodles

There are 793 front pages posted by newspapers in 77 countries on today and one that stands out like an embarrassing pimple is the Calgary Sun.

No local, national or international story, just a full front page ad for a Chinese eatery chain, discount coupons and all.

The Calgary Sun refuses to run an ad critical of the Calgary Stampede's calf roping competition and sells out its front page for an eatery ad.

We have passed the point of no return, folks.

Eat your noodles.

Names, faces

When the presses at 333 were silenced, Toronto Sun columnist Mike Strobel gave the pressroom crew a heartfelt sendoff.

But there were no words for the prepress and ad builders who have left the building in large numbers in the past year or so.

Randy Miller, one of those vets, has provided TSF with a list of names and years of service as he and others make arrangements for a fitting sendoff this summer.

Someone once told us the average stay at a newspaper job was five years. If so, the Toronto Sun has definitely been the exception, with numerous employees on the job for decades.

Not just in the newsroom. Throughout the building. Turnover was minimal because the Sun was one of Canada's Top 100 companies to work for before Quebecor arrived in 1999.

Randy's list - based on his files from 2007 - clearly shows the amount of talent that was shown the door or parted company with buyouts.

The list of people who have departed prepress since the union was formed are:

William Thomas, 27 years; Mike Zuccaro, 21 years; Gregory Viens, 30 years; Peter Pritchard, 20 years; Betty O'Hara, 20 years; Joe Roach, 19 years; Linda Hudson, 25 years (part time at the end). All part time people were let go at this time

From September 2008 until the shutdown of ad production in March 2009:

Gary Zarowny 35 years; Ron Gilder, three years (seven years part time as well); Andrew Balfour, 34 years; Albert Ria, 32 years; Joe Duffy 31 years; Joe Colabro, 22 years; Timothy Cullinane, 27 years; Patricia Brockman, 21 years; Kevin Crawford, 21 years; Christopher Thomas, 30 years; Randall Miller, 31 years; Bryan Stubbs, 30 years; David MacKenzie, 31 years; Lindy McClean, 29 years; Larry Gillespie, 33 years (June 2009).

As you can see, these are people who were loyal Sun employees who loved their jobs. Being on the outside looking in hasn't been easy for many of them.

When they gather this summer - at a date, time and place to be announced - for a proper wake, they will represent hundreds of years of Sun talent who gave the tabloid their all.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Star/Globe news

CNW Group Item 1:
Globe and Mail members voted 85% today to ratify a new, five-year collective agreement with their employer. Of the 341 members who voted, 289 voted yes to accept the tentative deal worked out July 2 by the union bargaining team. Another 52 voted no.

TSF asks: Was there any doubt a strike would be avoided? The Globe and Mail hasn't had a bitter labour dispute since the ugly 1960s ITU strike.

CNW Group Item 2
CEP says Toronto Star management ignored its own values and the paper's vaunted Atkinson principles today in announcing that its classified advertising department is being outsourced to a Buffalo-based American firm. Their plan would see some 27 out of 32 unionized Star employees in Classified lose their jobs to Americans.

TSF asks: As a customer, would you prefer to deal with an American across the lake, or someone in India? But yes, it does seem odd to be outsourcing to Buffalo to cut costs.

Hinton's new paper

The Hinton Voice, Canada's newest independent weekly newspaper, has been launched in print and online.

The print edition of the new Alberta newspaper was launched June 25 by former Sun Media employees. The online edition already boasts an impressive list of advertisers, with full online display ads via PDF.

Tyler Waugh is the editor; Jeff Pearson, reporter; Sarah Burns, sales; Robin Garreck, composing; Melynda Ewasiuk, office and sales.

The front page of the first print edition (to the right) bodes well for the future of the new weekly. The online edition needs some polishing, but it is a promising start.

Go the extra mile for readers and advertisers in the community and the dividends will be loyal readers and advertisers.

Graduating journalism students and the hundreds of unemployed newspaper people across the country should consider pooling their talents and resources to launch independent newspapers.

Show the conglomerates print media is not dead.

And let the three co-founders of the Toronto Sun - Doug Creighton, Peter Worthington and Don Hunt - be your inspiration.

Re Dan McGarry

Dan McGarry, a former Toronto Sun supplier who says he was often invigorated by visits to the tabloid in the 1980s and '90s. laments the loss of the good vibes in an e-mail to TSF.

He writes:

"Though not officially a member of the Sun family, I was one of the Sun's suppliers and most frequent visitors from the mid 80's to the early part of this century.

"Your blog has brought back some great memories and reminded me why the Sun was the best place in the country to work for so many years.

"I lost contact with everyone when I went back to school and then left Toronto to teach. Now I am back and have found that they have scattered to the winds.

"What a wonderful group of people you had in the Mail Room, Circulation and working the presses. I first learned of the loss of Garf Webb when I found your blog today. My most sincere condolences to Brenda. Garf was a great newspaper man and one of the best golf companions anyone could wish for.

"Mike Smith, Ron Bohas, Peter Verity, Don Laycox and the rest could tell some wonderful stories. Our times at Crooks and Betty's could stretch on forever. Their love of the place was palpable.

"Later, I got to work with the Driscoll brothers on the launch of FYI. I still have a copy of the first edition, one of the bags used to carry the paper, a hat and sweatshirt.

"The security crew before the building was expanded often had to put up with me corralling up to 400 people in that tiny 'lobby.' At one time, my young daughter insisted on wearing the Sun coveralls that I purchased from the short lived store in the expanded lobby.

"Art Roach was able to overcome my lack of skill when our foursome won the company golf tournament. Others that I met on the course included Bob Pulfer, Mike McCabe and Al Cairns.

"Whenever I was down, it was time to visit the Sun and see people working hard in a happy environment, something that always recharged me. What has happened is a shame and a terrible loss to the culture of Toronto.

"Please keep up the blog.

"Regards, Dan McGarry"

Thank you for your e-mail and memories of 333, Dan.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Getting it right

Sun Media's centralized PDF news packaging failed miserably when a published photo said to be of Cpl. Nicholas Bulger, Canada's latest Afghanistan casualty wasn't Bulger.

Most embarrassed was the Peterborough Examiner, which used the photo of what they were told was the hometown Bulger on the front page of its Saturday print edition.

Online, a brief correction: "The picture of a soldier holding an explosive that ran on the front page of Saturday's Examiner was not Cpl. Nicholas Bulger, who was killed on Friday.

"Also Cpl. Bulger did not visit the Buckhorn community centre last year as stated in the story."

"The Examiner apologizes for the errors."

A TSF reader commented: "Speaking of photos, the entire chain messed up majorly, running the wrong photo of Cpl. Nick Bulger.

"Someone posted it to the bulletin board on Friday (a submitted photo I believe), Sun creates those famous PDFs and uses it on their world page for Saturday's edition.

"An email from Gord Walsh sent at 5 p.m. Saturday not to run it . . . yeah Gord, a little too late now."

Another TSF tipster writes: "The Examiner in Peterborough ran the photo huge on their front page. Can you imagine how the family must feel after seeing that? Way to go Centre of Excellence.

"This should be a topic of its own."

Readers won't know who screwed up, so editors at their local newspapers will take the blame.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Prepress boost

Linda Fox, who worked for the now defunct Oshawa Times before moving to the Toronto Sun in the late 1970s, is one of many Toronto Sun Family boosters out there.

If employees from the glory days had a motto, it would probably be "never forget."

Linda hasn't forgotten a lot of the prepress people she worked with before moving on in 2001 and when she read about a prepress send off being planned, she wrote:

"Love to know when and where the composing send off will be. Some great guys there over the years . . . from cut and paste on up to computers.

"All the best to guys like Randy Miller and Andy Balfour. I have never heard much about what happened to that section of the Sun staff since I left in 2001.

"So if you guys post a date and a venue, I would love to know where and when."

We're sure Linda is not alone among current and former employees in wanting to meet and mingle with the laid off prepress/ad builder vets.

When Randy and Andy pin down a date, time and place, we'll post it here on TSF.

Do it up royally. You have earned it.