Monday, 17 May 2010

Odds & ends

Whatever the motive, the car bomb threat outside the Journal de Montreal on Monday highlights the personal, disruptive nature of layoffs and the prolonged 16-month lockout of 250 employees at the Quebecor paper. It's time to end the lockout, folks.

That was an entertaining
old one-two Sunday with Andy Donato critics and Mike Strobel's column reacting to Donato's pit bull cartoon. Donato has barely unpacked from his extended winter vacation and he is back in the doghouse. Excellent.

Rita DeMontis should get out of the kitchen section more often. Her front page story Sunday about Allison Dubois' link to the Tori Stafford abduction and murder in Woodstock last year was top-notch tabloid fare. That be Allison the true life Medium psychic.

The "Ns" have returned to the daily Toronto Sun television grids, but the new packagers don't quite have the drift. N stands for "new" and Seinfeld, for one, hasn't had a new episode since 1998. Also, N in bold after the program works better for readers.

Phil McLeod, who got out of the London Free Press before Quebecor got in, is running for a council seat in London's Ward 7. McLeod, 67, was editor in chief from 1987 to 1998. He later founded the weekly Londoner and hosted a talk show on Rogers.


  1. I don't know, I find these psychics who claim to contact murder victims to be in bad taste. Either they're deluded, or they're cynically exploiting families when they're at their most vulnerable. I don't know if the Sun should really give that kind of play to someone like that.

  2. Phil McLeod also did a stint for Sun Media as publisher in Brockville.
    Unless he unexpectedly stumbles, he should win a spot on London council. He'd be an asset to London council.

  3. I'll agree. This read as nothing more than a re-written press release for a dog and pony show where the grieving pay good money to be told garbage. Aren't there laws against this stuff?

    A front page AND a full Page 3? Please.

    At least, in the old days, Rimmer would make fun of stuff like this...

  4. I have to agree with with JA and Anon — to a point. I don't mind the Sun covering "psychics," but it has to be done with an air of skepticism, not awe. At the very least, a skeptic like the Amazing Randi should have had a shot at this woman's alleged abilities.

  5. I once spoke to the Canadian Skeptic Society about how newspapers are the last place to look for skepticism - mainly because we don't have the time to be skeptical (made worse by the cutbacks in the industry). We quote people on their word, and, hopefully, we quote somebody who begs to differ. Voila, we've done our job.
    Meanwhile, we've traditionally run horoscopes and (in the case of the Sun) a Biodex, and pushed science stories further and further to the back of the paper. Science beat writers have been losing their jobs all over North America.
    Jim Slotek
    Vice-Chair Toronto Sun Unit
    Local 87-M

  6. Well said Jim? I beg to differ. Sure time is always a factor, but that's no reason to concede out of the gate you aren't going to do anything more than get a couple quotes, one from each side, and then file. That's giving up before you start. There's a big difference between failing to be perfect and failing to even try. If you don't even want to try, go into some other field. You are taking a job from someone who is willing.
    Yes that may be ridiculously idealistic, but sue me. I'm just a small town newspaper guy who still tries to do my job the way it should be done. And from the sounds of my big city brethern, thank god for it.

  7. This has to be a first for TSF: The majority of comments to date are signed. Thanks to Wayne, J.A., Lew, Jim, Ian and Bill. It does make a difference.

  8. You don't really differ at all, Bill. I didn't say that given the time and resources, reporters wouldn't give stories the depth they deserve. And anybody who questions my commitment should do it to my face. I spoke the truth about what I've seen in 30 years in this business. And I've seen enough smalltown papers (I'm from Northern Ontario) to be a little skeptical about your piety.
    Do they count bylines at your paper as a means of assessing your worth?
    If the majority of people on a story lied to you, would you have the time to assume they might be lying and sort it out, even if it might take weeks?
    Don't expect to fail, but don't be too boastful either.

  9. Fair enough Jim. Perhaps the brevity of the posting gave the impression you were condoning something less than full diligence, which surprised me since I have followed your work for years. I apologize for misinterpreting your post and questioning your commitment. And relieved to see you still get fired up by someone doing so.
    For the record, I am far from pious about anything; just a hopeless crusader against everything that stops us from doing the best job possible. And the last time I counted bylines was to comment on the fact we had one from every reporter on my staff on the front page. Other than that byline counting is as useless as, well, psychics.

  10. I don't think there's a story I ever wrote that I don't think could have been better if I'd had more time to work on it. It's like that old director's adage, "You don't finish a film, you abandon it."

  11. I hear that. Love reading my old stuff and seeing all the things I could have done better, especially with more time. Again my apologies for misinterpreting what you were saying earlier. You are right: there is a big difference between looking at what you could have done in hindsight and not doing everything you could at the moment. Clearly you are talking about the former, not the latter. Glad to know my cynicism about my big city brethren was illfounded and incorrect.