Friday, 27 May 2011

It was written 6

John Paton's $50,000 contribution to a New York university scholarship fund in the name of the late, great Doug Creighton left us hankering for more stories about the early years of the tabloid.

The generosity of the former Toronto Sun copy boy, who was hired by Doug and reached  executive status, couldn't be better timing with the countdown to the tabloid's 40th anniversary this Nov. 1.

That is putting your money where your mouth is.

The current crop of self-absorbed, mean-spirited suits have zapped all that was positive and selfless out of the flagship tabloid.

So we take comfort in knowing Ron Poulton's 1976 Life in a Word Factory is always at arm's reach for tales of the glory years.

Poulton wrote:

It the Sun's first days, unsolicited money from readers kept arriving in the mail. Two boys spotted an open street box and carried the dimes it had spilled to the Sun office. Female readers baked batches of cookies and took them to the city room when word leaked out that some of the staff were too busy to get out to eat.

Between November 1 and November 4, 75 Sun street boxes were stolen by souvenir hunters, but that was the only sour note struck in the first exhilarating week.

Readers response revealed itself in letters that arrived. The Sun, as (Travel editor Percy) Rowe pointed out, got 12,000 in its first year while the Star, with four times the circulation, was admitting that it had received only 14,000.

When the Sun conducted its first poll, an advertising agency warned that the tabloid would be lucky to get 500 replies, but 8,200 responses arrived in the first three days.

(TSF note: Annual full-page surveys for the daily and a separate one for the Sunday Sun  were in the pre-Quebecor years when Doug, Peter Worthington, Don Hunt et al Sun  cared about the interests of readers.)

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