Saturday, 31 July 2010

Vets forgotten?

Former Toronto Sun newsroom vet Sean McCann writes:

"Reading about Greg Weston's ouster reminded me of something. It was a Bono column way back when.

As only Bonokoski can do, he wrote about the photos on the Toronto Press Club wall. All great journalists, but where are they remembered now asked Bono?

It was a great question and made me think.

The new generations will never remember the names of the people who brought "freedom of the press" to their doors, to their lives. The battles that they fought.

It's a sad passing actually. All folks have today is the spin.

The so-called citizen journalism reminds me of a bunch of guys in a bar expressing their opinions over numerous beers, their uninformed, not-vetted opinions.

Sad, actually, that all of us don't know the men and women whose pix graced the walls of the now-defunct Toronto Press Club. Having said that, mind you, not sure if there were may women's pix there. So we have come a ways.

Anyway, the world goes around. Change happens. But as Bono said is his column, they were the pioneers. Sadly though, who remembers them now?"

Know what you mean, Sean.

It takes story tellers like Bono to refresh the memory and recall tales of newsroom giants and how they mentored many a young reporter in need of plaudits when warranted and criticism when needed.

We have a lot of Canadian news legends in mind and all were newspaper people to the core, not ex politicians, ad salesmen and corporate shills.

These legends were to print media what Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, Richard Widmark and Robert Ryan were to the big screen - tall in the saddle.

Pity the j-student who will never be mentored by the likes of Doug MacFarlane, Clark Davey, Gwyn "Jocko" Thomas, Jim Vipond, George Gross, Bob Vezina, Mike Burke-Gaffney, Robert Turnbull, Doug Creighton, Les Pyette, Ed Monteith and many others from the past decades.

It would be interesting to hear from TSF readers who have their own news legends in mind.

Friday, 30 July 2010

SONG & points

SONG president Brad Honywill has words of caution for non-union Sun Media employees in a new blog posting about newsroom performance points.

Honywill says "Sun Media has embarked on a chain-wide project to measure the productivity of its employees that, in a journalistic environment, is both chilling for employees and potentially damaging to the business."

His lengthy look at newsroom performance points includes this comment:

"Thankfully, Sun employees who are protected by a union don’t have to fear losing their jobs, or suffering some other kind of punishment if they find themselves on the south side of a benchmark. Non-union employees may not be so lucky."

Worth a read.

London -12

Sun Media is pulling the plug on its London print/online edition of the Pennysaver Smart Shopper at a cost of seven sales jobs and five pressroom jobs.

The Friday advertiser will cease publication by Oct. 22, says a brief story in today's London Free Press.

The story says the seven sales people "will be given every opportunity for employment elsewhere in the company as it becomes available."

The key word there would be "available."

The Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild website says five pressroom employees have also been laid off.

The new-and-improved SONG site says: "The London Free Press has announced the closure of its Pennysaver Smart Shopper publication, directly affecting seven jobs in advertising and contributing to the layoff of five people in the pressroom Thursday morning."

Online job

Sun Media is looking for an overnight online editor for its and Sun websites, a job that probably requires several people to manage efficiently.

But Sun Media has taken multi-tasking to new levels on almost every job level across the chain, so here's the rundown for the overnight online editor's job:

"We are seeking an enthusiastic and well-­‐rounded online editor to manage content on, as well as Sun Media’s newspaper websites overnight.

"Reporting to the general manager of online editorial, this person will work closely with the national online editors and the various markets to meet the chain’s online editorial needs.

"The position is located in Toronto.

"Responsibilities will include programming fresh and compelling content, copy editing, fact checking and some writing. Applicants should understand the web, be passionate about news, sports and entertainment, able to spot the top stories and give them appropriate treatment.

"The successful candidate will be a creative and quick-­‐thinking team player who can work independently under pressure.

"Qualifications include:
• A journalism degree or diploma
• Excellent news judgment
• Strong organizational, editing and writing skills
• Knowledge of CP style, editorial best practices and libel law"

Application deadline is Friday, Aug. 13.

What do you think, $75,000 to $100,000 a year minimum?

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Bono update

A TSF tipster says Mark Bonokoski, who agreed to write anonymous editorials until Labour Day, is on vacation until Aug. 10.

That doesn't explain removal of his name from the masthead for two consecutive days.

So he's not the national editorial writer while on vacation? Will publisher Mike Power's name be removed when he is on vacation?

Don't be messing with our Bono. He is a treasured Sun vet.

Just asking . . .

Was the tractor-trailer that was gutted by fire in an accident out London way on Tuesday carrying Sun Media papers?

The London Free Press story doesn't say, but a TSF tipster seems to think so.

Masthead -Bono

Mark Bonokoski's name was missing from the Toronto Sun's Comment section masthead on Wednesday.

We don't know why "Mark Bonokoski National Editorial Writer" was missing, but we can only hope it means the Sun vet is returning to column writing, where he belongs.

The layout of the masthead makes it doubtful his name was dropped in a computer glitch, but anything is possible so we'll see if it returns to the masthead on Thursday.

If not . . .

Bonokoski is a master storyteller and since his shift to anonymous editorial writing in June, TSF readers have asked if he was still at the Sun.

If you don't read the masthead, you wouldn't know.

Readers miss his award-winning columns. That is his forte and has been on and off for three decades.

As James Wallace, editor in chief, said in June in announcing Bono's summer "hiatus" from column writing:

"Bono's made a career out of writing stories that make a difference and matter to our readers - from a recent column on an elderly woman forced from her apartment in Keele-Lawrence by fumes from a crack-smoking neighbour to his ground-breaking series on the profound difficulties facing some of Canada's urban aboriginal peoples."


Stay tuned.

The 2 Westons

Google Greg Weston these days and you will find two Canadian journalists - Sun Media's recently ousted veteran political columnist and a New Brunswick political columnist.

We're not sure if our Greg Weston ever crossed paths with the other Greg Weston, but it is ironic both journalists are politics-oriented.

The Sun's Greg Weston spent 10 years faithfully covering federal politics and was Sun Media's senior national affairs columnist when ousted last week.

New Brunswick's Greg Weston is the Legislature reporter for the Times & Transcript, the province's largest daily newspaper and based in Moncton.

The Times & Transcript - the product of a 1983 merging of the Moncton Times and the Moncton Transcript - has a circulation of about 40,000.

Fans of the Ontario-based Greg Weston are hoping his absence from published political analysis will be brief.

There is room for two Greg Westons at the keyboards.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Say what?

A TSF reader up Sudbury way says Sun Media editors must have been sleeping at the wheel with this story.

The July 24 Sudbury Star story is about a Timmins event scheduled for July 18.

Better late than never? Not in this case.

The tipster said: "I want to share with you a clipping from last Saturday's Sudbury Star. I don't know how it happened, but my hometown paper ran an advancer for an event that had occurred a week earlier - and in another city.

"Could this be the product of overworked editors, or out-of-town paginators?"

Cartoonists 2010

If you are a seasoned fan of editorial cartoons and have about an hour to spare, highly recommend this recent speech by Chan Lowe at a Williams College reunion in Massachusetts.

Lowe, with more than 9,000 published cartoons, has been the first and only South Florida Sun Sentinel cartoonist for 26 years and is syndicated through Tribune Media Services.

The cartoonist/blogger blames economics for the decline in full-time American daily newspaper cartoonists - from more than 200 in 1975 to about 55.

Lowe gives a nod to Canada's editorial cartoonists and we had Sun Media's Andy Donato and Susan Dewar in mind when he said: "To me, a cartoonist is supposed to elicit a response from readers. Otherwise, what is he doing wasting everybody's time, including his own?"

And then he acknowledges the two or three female cartoonists in the male-dominated profession.

It is a fascinating insight into the mind of an award-winning editorial cartoonist.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Tim Fryer's 50th

Tim Fryer, one of the great Toronto Sun deskers shown the door by Sun Media in recent years, turned 50 this month and some of the old Sun crew helped him celebrate on the weekend.

Safe to say the bond between Toronto Sun employees from the good years hasn't loosened for a lot of former colleagues, no matter where they hang their hats today.

Among those enjoying the brotherhood in Tim's backyard were: Jim Baine, Darren "Woody" McGee, Tim, Sheila Reagan and Don Tsukada in front, Alan "Nosey Parker" Parker and Michael Reagan in the back.

More 50th photos on Facebook.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Eric hits champ

Updated re Toronto Sun comments not moderated
TSF hits after the Eric Margolis exit posting have gone through the roof, making the 27-year Sun Media op-ed vet a clear No. 1 in TSF popularity, pro and con.

Hits for the ousting of Margolis more than doubled the previous champ - the December 2009 Peterborough penis posting.

And his exit ranks miles ahead of the firing of op-ed columnist Rachal Marsden in November 2007. She be right leaning.

Politics and penises. Go figure.

The exit of Margolis - when his contract ends in three weeks - has also drawn the most comments since TSF was launched in 2006.

They include numerous moderated comments deleted for derogatory content.

We'll say it again folks, anonymous, defamatory cheap shots aimed at individuals, Sun Media and this blog, won't be cleared.

If you want to rant anonymously, try the Toronto Sun comments. The 54 comments posted to date under Eric's weekend column are not moderated.

But clearly, Eric Margolis has been making a difference as a Sun op-ed columnist and isn't that the point of the op-ed page?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Margolis interview

Eric Margolis explains his departure from Sun Media in an online interview, saying his contract runs for another three weeks and then it's back to New York City.

"My contract has been ended, and I'm too heretical even for this chain that has carried me for 27 years" says Margolis.

After explaining Sun Media's proposed pro-Harper Fox North platform, he says:

"Heretics like me who question war in Afghanistan, or deficit spending, or any of these other things are being shown the door (by Sun Media.)"

Is a farewell Sun column after 27 years in the cards? Stay tuned.

Margolis says during the Scott Horton interview he is heading home.

"I am looking to get myself another apartment in my native hometown of New York City."

Noting he is banned from the Wall Street Journal, he says: "It is not easy being an outspoken person in today's American media."

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Sun: jet crash

Updated: See comment posted by Roy's wife
All five Sun tabloids went with the same Great Escape! front page Saturday, - and good on them. A refreshing look after a week or so of oddball fronts.

All of the other fronts on, including the Toronto Star and National Post, take a back seat to the spectacular fiery CF18 jet crash and the pilot parachuting to safety.

Hopefully, photog Kurt Roy of Kurt's Kustom Photography, a professional photographer for 17 years, will be fairly compensated for his breathtaking photo.

Print editions of the Suns provide a "Kurt Roy photo" credit.

Online, it's "Kurt Roy/QMI Agency" and there is a line offering readers to buy the photo from Sun Media. Other news services credit Roy's business.

In the best of times, Kurt Roy would be pocketing a good chunk of change for the photo and possibly a photo award, even an NNA.

Today, you just don't know.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Oy Canada

This new Sun News parody sent to us by a TSF reader views better on YouTube

Eric Margolis out

Veteran Sun op-ed columnist Eric Margolis is another casualty of Sun Media's shift to the far right, with little regard for longevity or popularity.

"I wrote for the Sun chain for 27 years because it allowed me total freedom of expression even when the editors disagreed with my opinions - something very rare in the media," Margolis told Toronto Sun Family in an e-mail today.

"This policy has changed. My views are displeasing to Ottawa," he says. "Accordingly, the Sun and I are parting company."

We'll miss his unique analysis of world politics. We also mourn the loss of op-ed diversity.

Margolis, like other high-profile Sun columnists who have been axed or forced into retirement without an opportunity to say farewell to readers, will remain visible online.

"My weekly columns on foreign affairs will still be available at each Sunday, and at and I am also on Twitter and Facebook."

As Eric says, there was a time during the glory years of the Toronto Sun when opposing views were welcomed by management and appreciated by readers.

Quebecor's newly-planted henchmen are putting an end to that editorial freedom.

It's eyes right these days as Sun Media turns into a haven for former PMO staffers intent on morphing the chain's print and broadcast image into Fox North.

Sun Media's parliamentary bureau has lost five columnists in the past month:

Greg Weston, Elizabeth Thompson, Christina Spencer, Peter Zimonjic and Kathleen Harris, who is still writing but as a national reporter from outside the bureau.

"Basically, all five people with substantial experience covering the Hill are out," says a TSF source.

"Another aspect that seems to have escaped the public is that with central layout of national pages, whoever controls the Parliamentary bureau controls the content of the national page inserted into a lot of papers," the tipster says.

"That person is now Kory Teneycke."

As you know, Teneycke is Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former director of communications.

Question of the day is, what happens to the new crew and dreams of Fox North if the Conservatives are trounced in the next election?

Odds & ends

Sun Media's humiliating newsroom performance points system has arrived in the Niagara Region, says a TSF tipster. It is like a creeping, vile vine spreading across the Sun Media chain, part and parcel of all that is wrong with the floundering chain.

John Caputo, a 23-year Sun vet with strictly an advertising background, is the new Edmonton Sun publisher and CEO. Par for the Quebecor course, he will "continue to serve as director of advertising for the Sun and will oversee operations at the Edmonton Examiner."

Tim Peckham, a talented and productive Toronto Sun cartoonist, is receiving much wider exposure with his TIMWIT iPhone app. A Sun story says his ap was one of 66 comics selected for the Apple Store. Tim's TIMWIT had a six-year Sun run in the 1990s. Way to go, Tim.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Greg Weston out

The landscape at the once productive and passive Sun Media parliamentary bureau has changed again with the departure of Greg Weston, sources say.

Concerns about Greg's future with Sun Media were raised last month, with at least one blogger suggesting he was already toast. But columns by the man who exposed G20's $2 billion security price tag continued.

Today, a Twitter posting by Greg MacEachern: "Sorry to hear that Greg Weston's Sun column is dead and he and the chain have parted company."

MacEachern, an Ottawa consultant and Hill Times columnist, Twittered earlier in the day that he would be appearing on CBC Politics with Weston, so we know his posting is legit.

And our thanks to for the heads-up.

MacEachern doesn't say if Weston was fired or he resigned, but he will no doubt resurface feeling cleansed and prepared to resume what he does best.

The most recent Greg Weston column online is from July 4. Being summer, his absence might have meant a vacation but during the Quebecor years, absence has often meant pink slips or quiet, forced resignations.

Greg's photo on Sun Media's Eye on the Hill website has vanished. His profile once read:

Greg Weston is the senior national affairs columnist for Sun Media. Over the past 35 years, he has informed and amused readers with the good, bad and the truly stupid of every election since Trudeaumania went gloriously into the toilet. Recipient of more than a dozen of investigative journalism’s most suspect wall decorations, his perfect day is getting under the skin of all political parties equally.

The mean-spirited Bullies on the Hill have pushed Greg, Christina Spencer, Elizabeth Thompson and Peter Zimonjic out of the bureau in the past month in favour of imports from the PMO's ranks.

Loyalty means little when you are stacking the deck with righters focused on a national Fox News North TV agenda that appears to be already dead in the water.

It all stinks and Sun Media's treatment of the foursome should be the topic of a forum on ethics in the media, if not a wrongful dismissal hearing

Feds funding

Sun Media newspapers pummelled by Quebecor staff cuts and cutbacks are receiving federal community newspaper grants and a TSF tipster calls it "an absolute joke."

"Not sure if you'd be interested in this news of funding for 'community' newspapers in Huron-Bruce, where PKP has completely gutted newsrooms, sent layout to Barrie, closed a press and left long-time, dedicated production people out of jobs," says the tipster.

"There were other newspapers, including two independents and three Metroland, in the area to receive money as well, but to make it easy I only left in the Sun ones."

Community newspaper funding announced by Huron-Bruce MP James Moore, Canadian Heritage and Official Languages minister:

• $57,291 to the Goderich Signal-Star
• $40,673 to the Shoreline Beacon
• $32,246 to the Kincardine News
• $28,518 to the Clinton News Record
• $23,190 to the Huron Expositor
• $21,325 to the Lucknow Sentinel

“The grant from Canadian Heritage is critical to the viability of small newspapers like ours,” Dave Sykes, Group Publisher, Sun Media, said in a recent Canadian Heritage press release. “It ensures that people in rural areas have access to local news.”

Pocket change for PKP, but an insult to employees affected by layoffs and nickle-and-dime cutbacks like cleaning staff and water coolers.

For a complete list of Canadian newspapers and magazines receiving Heritage grants, click here.

The Heritage Canada website says:

The Aid to Publishers component provides funding to eligible Canadian print magazines and non-daily newspapers calculated using a formula based on copies distributed over a year.

Publishers are able to use funding to support the creation of content, production, distribution, online activities, or business development.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Author Strobel

How many points for a published book, Mike Strobel?

Introducing Bad Girls and Other Perils, a soon-to-be-released 188-page paperback by Strobel, one of Canada's most diversified newspaper columnists.

Bad Girls and Other Perils, with the work of Sun cartoonist Andy Donato on the cover, is a compilation of Strobel's popular offbeat columns. Pre-orders for the Aug. 11 release by Dundurn Press are being accepted at at $14.59.

Mike has covered a lot of bases since he switched from an editor in chief to an award-winning columnist eight years ago and readers who enjoy his style are most appreciative.

From tales of the memorable Shaky Lady con woman, to African safaris, to tear-inducing human dramas, to wild and sexy ladies, to Moonlight Ladies etc. (Sun Media dropped the ball big time in not making his Moonlight Ladies a weekly SUNShine Girl feature.)

Meanwhile, the book promo copy for Strobel's first book reads:

"Meet legendary panhandler the Shaky Lady; the Weasel, who knows where Jimmy Hoffa is buried; the secretive swinger Sexy Boots; the notorious Bicycle Bandit, who quit robbing banks, got a loan and opened a bar; and Dr. Hook, the top doc whose professional fate rested on the cut of his jib.

"You'll also get a look at a fake orgasm champ, a practising witch turned beauty pageant queen, a boss cannonballer, and assorted other heroes, rogues, athletes, finks, politicos, celebrities, bureaucrats, sons and lovers."

Also between the covers: Mike's take on the "fads, fashions, morals and hot topics of the day."

Might not be for Habs fans, but a lot of his readers will be looking forward to reliving his experiences with the Shaky Lady.

Mike Strobel speaks his mind, as demonstrated the other day, and in our books he is the Sun's 21st century answer to the late, great Paul Rimstead for originality and reader appeal.

Just how popular is Mike Strobel the columnist? The promo copy says his online Sun columns draw a million hits a year.

Take that, Shaky Lady.

Friday, 16 July 2010

E-mail FYI

FYI TSF tipsters and e-mailers: Major e-mail problem here with the loss of e-mails from the past few weeks. No problem with posted comments, just e-mails, so if we haven't replied to your e-mails or posted your information, please try again.

No Fox North?

The Globe and Mail is reporting Quebecor has already been turned down in its bid for a national cable channel TV launch on Jan. 1.

The paper says Quebecor will have to wait until October 2011, which the CRTC says is the earliest for considering new “must-carry” licenses.

Kory Teneycke, head of the Quebecor project, said the company planned to submit an amended application, says the Globe.

All that fanfare, Ottawa bureau shuffling, firings and a lot of ink and we might have to wait for more than a year to see if Fox North is ever going to become a reality.

And how about all of the time spent on this Sun News website?

Horse before the cart, eh?

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Strobel's point(s)

Leave it to Mike Strobel, the Toronto Sun's insightful wordmeister, to highlight the absurdity of Sun Media's incoming newsroom performance points system.

Strobel should be given all of the points he fancies for today's column, not the three points to be awarded for a column.

Editors too.

Our favourite para: Likely, you have similar stories at your work. Maybe horror stories. Job appraisals. Merit points. Gold stars. (Oh, wait, that was kindergarten.)

Strobel's column is not to be missed.

Newsroom performance points sink Canadian journalism to a new low in employee/management relations and demonstrate a complete lack of respect for the long-revered Fourth Estate.

Could you ever imagine:

Nice work, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, your Watergate scoop earns you two points each.

Hey Alan Diaz, great AP shot of the young and terrified Cuban Elian Gonzalez and the armed U.S. federal agents. Two points for you - and a 2001 Pulitzer.

Peter Worthington columns have righted wrongs and changed Canadian rules and regulations. Sun Media is going to belittle him by awarding three points per column?

Doug Creighton, JDM, Ed Monteith, George Gross, Bob Vezina, Bob Pennington, Paul Rimstead and all of the other late Toronto Sun news vets must be rolling over in their graves.

It just boggles the mind.

As the ever-astute former Toronto Sun desker Lew Fournier notes, the points system has everything to do with quantity and absolutely nothing to do with quality.

What will it take to halt this infantile performance points system?

Thanks to TSF tipsters and Strobel's column, it is now out there for scrutiny by other media, media unions, readers and advocates of respectful treatment of journalists.

Stay tuned.

Al & The Boss

Link updated
Another great read for lovers of stories from the glory days of the Toronto Sun is today's Nosey Parker blog posting by Al Parker.

It's all about Parker, Doug Creighton, Peter Worthington, Peter Brewster, Mike Strobel, Michel Hell, the Prime Minister of Israel - and George Steinbrenner.

Well, it might have been Steinbrenner on the phone to Al's home in the middle of the night.

This is one of our favourite stories about Doug and the Sun and the feelings of loyalty we all had for him.

Says Al: "Doug Creighton was the best boss I ever worked for. I think 98% of the people who worked for him would tell you that."

The Steinbrenner story, he says, "happened back in 1989 or 1990 - so long ago now, mes enfants - before the board of directors at Sun Media executed a palace coup and dumped Doug Creighton as CEO."

Al's blog posting should be tucked away for use in a collection of Toronto Sun stories to mark the 40th anniversary of the tabloid on Nov. 1, 2011.

It's a gem.

New Falls ME

Stephen Gallagher, a 15-year print media vet and former Brantford Expositor city editor, is the new managing editor at the Niagara Falls Review.

A QMI story says Gallagher, 38, attended Ryerson before interning at the Edmonton Journal. He spent two years as a Medicine Hat News reporter; six years at the Sault Star (three as district editor); six years at the St. Catharines Standard (four years as news editor); and then moved to the Expositor as city editor earlier this year.

"I'm excited to join an experienced, professional newsroom staff and continuing to build on a great print and online product," Gallagher says in the QMI story.

"We're absolutely thrilled to have Steve," said Mark Cressman, publisher at the Review. "I firmly believe this is the best newsroom in Ontario. Adding Steve is that final piece of the puzzle. He's a young guy. He's a go getter. He's from Niagara so he understands the market. We're excited to have him on board."

Sounds like the man for the job. Let's hope newsroom stability and longevity are in the cards.

Sun Media staff cutbacks and troop movements down Brantford, St. Catharines, Niagara and Welland way in the past year or so have been dizzying.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Fishing tales

There were fish galore being landed in an Ontario Salmon Derby celebrity boat, but Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington couldn't catch a cold, John Downing jabs in a blog posting.

On the boat with Downing and Warmington were OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, derby manager Walter Oster, businessman Bob Dickson and Natural Resources Minister Linda Jeffery.

Downing laments the Sun's decline in derby promotions, once a priority in the days of Linda Ruddy, Pat Surphlis and photographer Hugh Wesley.

So Downing, the Sun's former editor and political columnist, does his own promo.

"It seems the salmon in Lake Ontario are so big this year you don't have to exaggerate your catch. And they're so many salmon out there that I think even Joe Warmington will finally manage to catch one."

Fishing tales from a master storyteller.

Union & points

Sun Media's new performance points system is being watched by the Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild, says its president, Brad Honywill.

Brad tells TSF in an e-mail:

"We are aware that Sun Media is asking employees at some locations to record their work activities in an apparent attempt to evaluate workload, but there is no suggestion that this is connected to wages.

"We plan to get more details when the key HR person at Sun Media returns from vacation in two weeks and determine our position at that time.

"I should point out that employers can provide merit pay in many SONG contracts. But employers can't arbitrarily replace our salary grids with a pay-for-performance system in mid-contract.

"They would have to do it through contract negotiations at the end of the contracts and I guarantee that it would be a strike issue.

"However, it's only prudent that we know more about this evaluation before we take any positions or say anything further."

No response yet from the CWA, which represents Sault Star newsroom employees who will be introduced to performance points this month.

World Cup V

What do Spain, Paul the Octopus and Sun Media have in common?

They all performed like champions during the World Cup in South Africa.

What the dispatched three-man Sun team - Morris Dalla Costa, Mike Zeisberger and Gareth Wheeler - did throughout the soccer fest is whet the appetite of Canadians for a team worthy of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

And thanks to extensive and stimulating coverage of a sport that can leave the uninitiated perplexed, perhaps there will be more interest in packaging a Canadian team that can qualify for 2014.

For the past few weeks, the World Cup did for South Africa what the Winter Olympics did for Canada - unite and inspire.

But all good things come to an end, which means Sun sports will again be dominated daily by coverage of the losing Leafs, the losing Jays, the losing Raptors etc.

Promo deficit

A TSF comment posted that is in need of highlighting. It reads:

Quote: "The biggest cheerleader you could find in print media circles . . ."

Absolutely right. In today's world, with a hundred TV channels and a zillion web sites, marketing and promotion is the most important part of any business. Marketing is the only thing that generates money, everything else generates cost.

Pat Surphlis and Sun promotions: Women's Fitness weekend, public tours of the Sun building, annual open house, Sunshine Girl appearances at various events and fundraisers, big groups of contest winners vacationing down south - all great ways to connect with the readers, which no other newspaper in Toronto ever did.

Today, who cares?

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Re Wells bust

Renato Gandia, a Calgary Sun city hall reporter, was driving to another assignment Friday when he stopped for the home invasion aftermath that saw colleague Jim Wells arrested.

He didn't witness the altercation between Wells and the cop who arrested him, but Renato says in his Post deadline blog he did take time to interview witnesses, including photographers from the competition.

Renato's posting has much more detail about the incident than his day-old story in the Calgary Sun.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Sun photog busted

Police/media relations just aren't what they used to be.

A Calgary Sun story says Jim Wells, a veteran Sun Media photographer, was arrested yesterday and charged with obstruction after taking photos of a home invasion victim.

Witnesses say Wells was bruised after being pushed to concrete by a cop.

It is a cops say/Wells says situation until court, but it appears police tolerance for media trying to do their jobs has waned in Canada.

Time for some feature stories about police tactics when it comes to media doing their jobs.

Check of this Florida-based Photography Is Not A Crime website, which picked up the story.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Human Facebook

Steve Ladurantaye, a former Kingston Whig-Standard reporter and faithful TSF reader, has launched a unique website called The Human Facebook Project.

In a nutshell, Steve tracks down people listed as Facebook friends and interviews them for his Human Facebook Project.

The idea is getting rave reviews.

Steve recently sat down with Fred Laflamme, "the last great community newspaper publisher who retired from Kingston right as Quebecor came aboard."

In his intro, Steve writes:

"Some of my favourite moments at The Whig were just sitting in his office and talking about news. He didn’t play the game the way other publishers do – if he was going to insist on a story, he just told you why. And it rarely happened. And, they were good stories.

"He left shortly before I did. Then the new publisher, under directions of the new owner, proceeded to gut the joint.

"Here’s what he thinks about the industry now that he is retired, and what he thinks has to happen for things to be fixed."

The interview is recommended reading.

Our favourite quotes from the former publisher:

"The newspaper should not only provide a forum within its pages but should mimic that concept within its bricks and mortar and make the offices a welcoming place for readers and advertisers."

That is not the atmosphere at a lot of Sun Media newspapers.


"Obviously care has to be taken to develop the Internet side of the business to complement the “hard copy” but since less than 2 per cent, and in most cases less than 1 per cent, of a newspaper’s current revenues come from Internet based products, where would you put your emphasis for the next while?"


Trudy re Pat

Toronto Sun promotions vet Pat Surphlis was shown the door in November after 25 dedicated years on the job, but she has not been forgotten.

Trudy Eagan, a 28-year Toronto Sun vet who retired in 2002 after working her way up from secretary to executive vice-president and chief administration officer, tells TSF in an e-mail this week:

"I was very sad to learn that Pat Surphlis is no longer a member of the Sun Promotion Team. Pat always gave 100%, worked any hours required to get the job done, and did it with a smile on her face.

"Not only was she a big asset on the promotional side of the Sun, but she also totally understood the business side and ensured that every deal made had to make sense to the bottom line.

"She is well respected by everyone she has dealt with (both inside and outside the Sun), and it is my hope that Pat will end up in a position where she will be able to continue to utilize her considerable talents.

"I know there will be a line up of people more than happy to sing Pat’s praises to her next employer.

"And another chapter ends at 333 King St. East."

Thank you for your e-mail, Trudy. Pat's work ethics and effervescence mirrored the overwhelming spirit of employees at the Little Paper That Grew.

Soo points

Updated re Sault Star union
A Sault Star staffer says Sun Media's performance points are coming to the unionized Sun Media newspaper in mid-July - smack dabble in the middle of contract negotiations.

"No one knows what it (the points system) means, but it doesn't seem it works with our collective agreement," the staffer tells TSF. "And what a time to start it - in the midst of negotiations."

So how does awarding points for reporters, photographers and columnists sit with the Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild (SONG)?

We have e-mailed SONG president Brad Honywill for a comment.

The Sault Star employees' union is CWA, so we will also approach the CWA for comment.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Lohan's FU finger

Sun Media's sloppy censoring of Lindsay Lohan's "fuck U" fingernail is the talk of the blogs, not that it was alone in fudging on the image.

The online Globe and Mail fingernail photo can be read, with a close-up of her offending left middle fingernail. Ditto for the National Post.

Former Sun photog Warren Toda questions photo manipulation in posting the 24 Hours photo on NPAC.

"Why alter a news photo when other pictures were available? Why lie to the public?" he asks. "I guess since 24 Hours is a free paper, no one cares? Maybe it's true what a journalism reviewer once said about 24 Hours when it was launched, "You certainly get your money's worth."

Online, the Toronto Sun left the fingernail message untouched, but the photo manipulation in the tabloid print edition was embarrassing.

Why alter the print photo and not the online photo?

The finger message could not be deciphered in the Toronto Star's online photo.

The story here is not sobbing Lohan and her finger play. It is news media photo manipulation.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


From CBC News, another view of the aftermath of Quebecor dropping out of the Quebec Press Council, including comments from Quebec's federation of professional journalists.

The CBC report says the federation denounced Quebecor's withdrawal in a press release and questioned what sort of ethical and professional standards Quebecor will hold itself to.

It says the federation's statement says Quebecor does not have "the slightest credible mechanism to independently receive and process public complaints."

Gazette re QPC

Recommended reading: Megan Martin's Montreal Gazette story with more quotes from retired Justice John Gomery about Sun Media pulling out of the Quebec Press Council.

Gomery, who heads the QPC, told a Tuesday news conference:

"The absence of the largest group of news media as a member brings the credibility, funding and usefulness of the Press Council into question. It is unthinkable for the biggest player on the media scene in Quebec to not be accountable to anyone."

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

CP re QPC -QMI has updated the Canadian Press story about Quebec Media dropping out of the Quebec Press Council, adding an interesting comment from retired Justice John Gomery.

Gomery, who heads the non-profit QPC, says Quebecor's absence will not stop the council from investigating complaints against its newspapers, including Journal de Montreal and Journal de Quebec.

The QPC lobbies for freedom of the press and the public right to information, says the CP story. It examines complaints from the public, then issues rulings about whether journalists acted properly.

Quebecor accused the council of issuing what it called arbitrary decisions and had threatened to sue the council if its actions hurt business, the story says.

WinSun points

Details of Sun Media's new points-for-performance system will be rolled out for Winnipeg Sun newsroom employees on Friday, says a TSF tipster.

"Should be high scores with only five news reporters on staff now (that includes beats)," says the tipster.

As first reported by another TSF tipster in February, the new performance points system goes something like this:

A story is 2 points; A photo is 2 points; A brief is .5 points; Special features are 4 points; Columns are 3 points; Videos are 2 points; Web posts are .5 points; "Writethroughs" are .5 points; Tweets are .5 points (minimum 5 tweets).

Without CP/AP stories, photos and fillers, performance points should be on the rise in Sun Media newsrooms working overtime to fill pages.

Well, there is always bargain-basement WENN for filling lots of space with tidbits about talentless bimbos and idle Hollywood gossip.

As for the Toronto Sun, it is the old pros in editorial, sports and entertainment - Andy Donato's Sunday Sun cartoon was another classic - who continue to sell papers.

Awarding points to the likes of Mike Strobel, Peter Worthington, Michele Mandel, Chris Blizzard, Rob Lamberti, Michael Peake, Stan Behal, Joe Warmington, Bob Elliott et al in sports, Bruce Kirkland et al in entertainment etc. is juvenile, demeaning playschool management.

Give them respect, job security and a decent work environment, not points.

Monday, 5 July 2010

CP changing hats?

Is the Canadian Press bowing out of member services to become a for-profit news agency?

A Susan Krashinsky story in the Globe and Mail says the 93-year-old CP has struck a tentative deal that would see it being owned by its three largest members:

CTVglobemedia, which owns the Globe and Mail; Toronto Star publisher Torstar Corp.; and Gesca, which owns La Presse.

The Globe story emphasizes CP's change of hats is tentative and would require federal approvals.

When the Toronto Sun dropped the Canadian Press in 1978 in favour of its very own news wire service - United Press Canada - CP carried on with its national cooperative operations.

Seven years later, the money-losing UPC was bought out by CP, its only competitor, and the Toronto Sun once again became a CP member.

Last Thursday, the Toronto Sun and all of the other papers in the Sun Media chain dropped CP/AP and will largely rely on the sharing of QMI stories and photos.

But this time, CP member services might not be available should Sun Media want to return to CP down the road.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Canada Day score

July 1, 2010:

Canada's 143rd birthday, waterfront fireworks and all

Introduction of the HST, pushing gasoline prices to a buck-plus

The Toronto Sun sans Canadian Press and Associated Press

One out of three on the enjoyment meter sucks.

Where are the thousands of protesters when it comes to buck-plus gas prices when oil per barrel is well below $80? Where is the outrage over unchallenged gouging by the oil companies?

Canadians are getting hosed and thanks to the HST the nozzle just got shoved up our gas tanks a little deeper.

Meanwhile . . .

While reading the Toronto Sun on Canada Day, the apparent first day of the end of Canadian Press/Associated Press news services, the main thought was "what are readers missing?"

Some quality content, do doubt, but if they aren't sitting down to read the Globe, Star, Post and Sun with a CP/AP counter in hand, how do they know what relevant CP/AP content is absent?

What news didn't Sun Media newspapers get to cover?

Will your average Sun reader notice the absence of CP/AP credits? That is debatable. But they will notice the increase in QMI credits and perhaps wonder why QMI dominates content contributions.

QMI's recycling of Sun Media news, sports and entertainment from across the chain might fill the pages, but it is short-changing readers.

A classic example was a photo of a non-fatal house fire in Edmonton, with no flames, minimal smoke and no firefighting drama, that took up space in the Toronto Sun.

QMI Agency content will be only as productive as the contributions from Sun Media's overworked and understaffed newsrooms across the chain. It ain't going to be pretty on quiet news days.

If CP and AP have been permanently dumped by Sun Media, it is yet another case of paying more for less.