Wednesday, 2 November 2011

30 - TSF

Five years ago, about 150 current and former Toronto Sun employees gathered for a reunion at a downtown hotel and the lapel stickers read Save Our Sun.

It had been seven years since Quebecor purchased Sun Media, lock, stock and barrel and the ongoing slashing of employees and benefits was worrisome.

During several hours of reminiscing and conversations about the state of the Sun, several former employees agreed a blog for and about Sun employees might boost morale.

The Toronto Sun was not just another newspaper when it came to pre-Quebecor years and the unique work environment and strong "family" ties warranted expanded reflections.

Ian Harvey got the ball rolling within the week, setting up a MySpace blog, writing a posting and the meaningful "We are the soul of a newspaper. Not just any newspaper." blurb.

But within days, we had used up our allotment of 16 photos. That wouldn't do, so I moved the blog to blogspot, with unlimited resources and an easy-to-use interface.

Ian and a couple of other blog volunteers soon bowed out due to work demands, so this semi-retired guy with lots of time for a newspaper that gave me 19 good years, got to work on the Toronto Sun Family project.

The first post on blogspot, on Dec. 8, 2006, was about the Toronto Sun's Day Oner's club.

It was a slow start, with maybe 25 to 50 hits per day, mostly accidental visitors looking for Toronto Sun content, but early posts about Sun pioneers living and dead drew more visitors weekly.

And then Quebecor's devastating layoffs across the chain resumed.

While the blog was to be a soapbox strictly for Toronto Sun employees past and present, it became a venue for all Sun Media employees.
Comments and tips from across the chain propelled the daily hits to an average of 250 per day, then 500, 600, with the largest single-day count being 2,000 the day after columnist Eric Margolis was turfed in the Ottawa purge.

In recent months, the blog has been averaging 500 to 600 per day and the count has been increasing in the past few weeks due to your Sun memories submissions.

(Website stats as of early today: 768,345 visits; average of 495 per day; 1,462,145 page views. We've always wondered who our American and European regulars were and what, if any, ties they had to Sun Media.) 

The memories from people who worked on all floors of the Eclipse and 333 have been heart-felt and often emotional reads. We should have requested them throughout our five-year run.

Sharing those memories on TSF tells Quebecor it doesn't get what we had on all six floors of the bustling Sun and it never will. And we'll always have SkyDome.

So enjoy the Sun memories that can be found in five years of postings. We'll leave the light on. 

But before we go, have to say thank you to the numerous TSF tipsters across the Sun Media chain, anonymous and signed, who turned this sleepy blog into a steamroller. Your numbers declined with layoffs, retirements and fear of Quebecor's wrath.

But without your input, we would have never known about internal decisions that affected the quality of the print product and the morale. You put names to the hundreds of layoff victims who would otherwise have remained a statistic without a face.

While we empathized with Sun Media employees wanting to remain anonymous, considering the bullying tactics of Quebecor, numerous former employees posting anonymously never made sense.

Refreshing were numerous employees and former employees who provided their names, including Rob Lamberti, Jim Slotek, Wayne Janes, John Iaboni, John Downing, Bill Sandford, Les Pyette, Sean McCann,  etc.

That is freedom of expression, something Sun Media preaches in print and on Sun News, but doesn't extend to its employees. 

As for the hundreds of anonymous comments containing cheap shots aimed at individuals in Sun Media and TSF over the years, your mention is where it belongs, just before the 30.


  1. Good to see you at Bettys Tuesday night John and thanks again for devoting five years to the Sun Family blog. That is was and is a family was very evident at last night`s salute. Congrats for so effectively channeling that old media spirit in this new media `zine.

  2. Missed you at Betty's ... wanted to tell you that for all hubbub about 40th anniversaries, rival parties and Sun survivors, we shouldn't forget the magnificent contribution by the Toronto Sun Family blog.

    I was away from Toronto for 13 years, and when I came back my lifeline to my life at the Sun (Toronto and Ottawa) was your blog. I didn't contribute much, but it was a daily "must read" for me ... I loved it, and will miss it terribly.

    Thanks for all your hard work. Old age has so enfeebled me that I was home and in bed by nine on Nov. 1.

    Thanks for everything, John.

    All the best, Don Hawkes.

  3. It was great to see you last night, to chat and to reminisce. Once again, thank you so much for being the heart, the soul and the managing editor of the Toronto Sun Family blog all these years.

    You kept our dream alive then and, as you said, you will keep the light on ... and for that we remain eternally grateful.

    I was glad to assist you in any way that I could and hopefully the combined efforts of all who did through the years will preserve the special story of The Sun.

    John Iaboni

  4. You know, we’ve never met but I feel I know you through our email exchanges, and your writing, over the past five years.

    I just want to thank you for the tremendous amount of work you put into producing a professional, newsy blog that kept my attention for the past five years.

    It was a huge success and in keeping with the values and family spirit that Doug Creighton imbued in the little paper that grew.

    Thanks for helping to keep the family together.


    Brad Honywill

  5. Butch McLarty:

    John, you did a wonderful job with the Toronto Sun Family Blogspot for several years. Sorry to see it go, but I can understand why you made the decision you did. It is truly sad to see what's happened to the Sun Media chain during the past decade or so. Cheers."