Saturday, 30 April 2011

Shower time

Never thought we'd have a strong urge to take a shower after reading the Toronto Sun, but today's the day.

Shameful use of the printed word two days before an election.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Strobel responds

TSF didn't realize we were taking sides in posting Zach Bussey's response to a lack of links in Mike Strobel's column about Canada's federal election hotties.

We certainly didn't mean to offend our favourite Sun Media T&A specialist, who justifies our plunking down $1.50 - plus six cents tax - daily for the Toronto Sun out here in the boondocks.

But we obviously hit a nerve, as felt in this overnight email to TSF from Mike, who writes:

"You side with this blogger, which should not surprise anyone.

“But read my column and the blog and please identify the 'content theft' he talks about and which you repeat. There isn't any.

"The sexiest candidates idea?

"A quick Google finds such polls and lists have been used in elections from New Brunswick to Hungary. Mike Bullard did one a few months ago on Toronto radio. There are numerous sexiest elected politician lists. The Sun's done them. The Hill Times' is the best known.

"Hard as it may be for you to believe, the inspiration for my little bit of fun originated in the Sun newsroom.

"The words?

"The blog is a straight poll, though it is well-done, which is why I gave it a plug, then a link. It does have dozens of names, a useful list for me to cherry pick, especially the males, but they're just names and hardly exclusive content.

"Besides, most of mine came from the call I put out to Sun Media papers, which I believe you carried. My column was about the leaders' lack of sex appeal, with my own (and a female colleague's) simple top 10, with much different results than the blogger's.

"The photos? Virtually all are from party sites.

"Of course, if you'd contacted me for comment, I could have told you all this.

"My mother always taught me not to get into a pissing match with a skunk, but I couldn't let this post go unchallenged.

"Cheers. Strobel."

Thanks for your signed response, Mike. Cheers to you and the newsroom vets.

But it is a stretch to say TSF sided with Zach. We replayed his position, included your email to him and told Zach to dream on if he expected financial compensation for original blog content.

(Whatever degree of original content that might be.)

Kudos to you, Mike, for doing more than most columnists would do in having add a link to Zach's blog after your column was published. Getting to use links has been a challenge.

But that is the considerate, adorable, Sun-tattooed Mike Strobel we have known and admired for 20 or so years.

We get links

Updated 29/04/11

The latest links from TSF readers:

"Quite the spin on this one, I'll say," says a TSF reader. "They're using CTV News Channel and BNN for comparison, I don't even watch these channels. If I'm not mistaken, both CTV News Channel and BNN cannot be received over the air. (The Quebecor Venture) is available over the air, on cable and satellite. So the viewership should be much higher than the current ratings they are receiving."

"More crap from Sun Media, et al," writes a former Toronto Sun vet:

"Hi, thought you would find this blog interesting," writes a Niagara Region reader:

Interesting times . . .

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Hottie host hot

Blogger Zach Bussey has accused the Toronto Sun of content theft following  Mike Strobel's federal election hottie column today.

Bussey, host of an ongoing Canada's Sexiest  Election Candidates poll, says while Strobel mentioned his name in the column, links to his blog - - were not provided in print and online. 

He tells blog visitors:

"If you haven’t seen it, check it out! An article in today’s Toronto Sun takes content + inspiration from our little contest but doesn’t provide any link to us. He does admit in it that he’s seen Canada’s Sexiest Election Candidate polls, but only in passing does he give “Zach Bussey” a mention."

So Bussey fired off this email to the Sun:

"Hello Toronto Sun,

"I’m issuing a complaint regarding your article today in the Toronto Sun by “writer” Mike Strobel. The article in question is “Mike’s Hot Picks for the Election”.

"The article in question is, essentially a direct theft of content from my website.

"In the article, Mike Strobel goes so far as admitting that he’s seen my website by mentioning “blogger Zach Bussey’s excellent online poll.” This is all well and good to have included my name in the article, but without providing a link where people can view the original, let’s call it “inspiration”, it can only be considered content theft.

"Considering this is my content and no link was provided, I’m asking for half of Mike Strobel’s paycheck this week. Wild request huh? Well if I’m going to be providing content to your writers, I should be paid for being a writer.

"Canada’s Sexiest Election Candidate has been featured in over 40 news publications, tv stations, radio channels and other media in the past week. This was a direct ripoff to gain some of the attention I’ve earned."

Strobel's reply:

“Zach. I’ve asked our website guys to link to your site. As I said in my column, I think you’ve done an excellent job. Your site was one of the sources of candidates’ names for me, especially for the guys, but just one of the sources. Sun Media colleagues across the country contributed most of the names. However, I agree, a link is a good thing. So, it shall be done. Cheers."

And, online, it was done.

But, says Bussey:

"A link has been included on the web version. While a good start, this doesn’t provide a link to the 150,000 print versions they sell daily! I’m still insistent that I deserve financial compensation for my hard work, but this is a move in the right direction."

Financial compensation from Sun Media for original blog content?

Dream on, Zach.

Freedom chatter

There has been a whole lotta jabbering about freedom of speech on that new Quebecor venture in the past week or so, but the talking heads surely can't be talking Sun Media freedoms.

Not when educated grown men and women quake in their shoes in fear of being fired for speaking their minds about the downturn of the chain in the past decade under Quebecor.

And not when respected columnists are fired, or have their columns spiked, over content that is not politically in line with the new breed of righty bully boys. 

Freedom of speech? Give us a break.

Exhibit A?

Harper no longer on high moral ground


First posted:
Friday, March 25, 2011 3:10:27 MDT PM | Updated:

Even when the Liberal party was run by the Nutty Professor, the best Stephen Harper could do was win a minority government.

Despite the pollsters, despite the government having put a Rock Cornish hen in every budgetary pot, the coming federal election will be close, full of surprises and bitterly contested. The last result I expect to see is a majority government.

The coming campaign will not be launched around the budget. It will begin with a damning vote in the House of Commons. For the first time in history, a sitting government will be found in contempt of parliament.

Not important? Rubbish.

It's not just a case of Steve doesn't play well with others. It's a case of preventing duly elected MPs from doing their jobs. It's about having foisted the death march of partisanship on our seminal institution. It's about making dizzying spending decisions as if this were a one-party system.

Unlike 2008, Steve has a lot of explaining to do this time around.

Does he really have a weakness for disbarred ex-forgers with an eye for the ladies when it comes to staffing the PMO? How appropriate is it for a PM to say, "You win some, you lose some," when the Federal Court of Appeal makes a legal finding that his party has broken the law?

Own scandals
And how many times can Steve call in the RCMP on his own brood without admitting that he hasn't exactly put honesty and integrity back into our politics?

In Steve's finest political hour, he occupied the high ground when he said that the Liberals no longer had the moral authority to govern. He was right: Adscam was like a hundred gallon drum of rotting fish.

But now the moral high ground is occupied by others who will be measuring the PM's once credible rhetoric about integrity and transparency against the tawdry backdrop of the in-and-out scandal, the Bev Oda affair and contempt of parliament.

Iggy as underdog
Michael Ignatieff may yet prove that he should be marking papers, not running a country. But he begins this campaign in the always advantageous position of the underdog, though not as feisty a one as Jack Layton.

Little is expected of Ignatieff based on years of listless underperformance as Opposition leader. So if he shows even a little bit of spunk in the battle, there is a chance he can at least stave off a rout.

Ignatieff has already served notice that the government's sad ethical record won't be the only thing under the microscope; the economy too will be front and centre.

Despite the prime minister's chorus of enablers on his canny management skills, there is a case to be made that this guy spends like a Liberal.

How can you take a bow for being a good manager when you have racked up the largest deficit in history, grown government by 15% since 2006, and come up with a budget that would make increased government spending a reality for the next five years? Is that even Conservative?

If the past is any guide, Steve will dismiss the scandals and contempt finding as trivial.

Meanwhile, he will relentlessly raise the bogeyman of a coalition government if Canadians don't give him an outright majority.

Fear works. How long it will work is the main question of the next election.

Michael Harris 2

Glen McGregor, the Ottawa Citizen's Talking Points blogger, a 2011 federal election notebook, devotes ample space to Sun Media/Quebecor on two fronts this week.

Reaction to PKP's Page 3 piece Wednesday is a given.

The other is the story behind the recent axing of Friday op-ed columnist Michael Harris, yet another Sun Media vet silenced in favour of a flock of reliable righters.

McGregor writes:

An award-winning journalist and novelist, Harris says he was told his column was dropped to make room for other voices.

He suspects, however, that a column he wrote on the eve of the election, titled  “Harper no longer on high moral ground,” might have lubricated his exit.

McGregor's piece includes a reply from Rick Gibbons, Ottawa Sun publisher, who told him column, what column?

"We ran Michael’s columns for many years and never had issue with his content."

It's, well, all these new columnists spawned by the Ottawa bureau/TV Event makeover that led to his exit after nine years with Sun Media. 

Making way for new voices, not negative words about Stephen Harper.

Do you think the "new voices" will write anything negative about Harper?


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Michael Harris gone? says Michael Harris, Sun Media's Friday op-ed columnist, is toast following a column critical of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Today's posting  says "Sun newspapers have recently fired their regular Friday columnist, Michael Harris for reasons one may surmise when you read Michael Harris' last Sun newspaper piece below." repeats the March 25 column, which is no longer online.

Par for the course with the ravaging of the Ottawa bureau since last June.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Election hotties

What to do when a federal election is such a bore? 

Well, QMI wants newspapers in the Sun Media chain to help spice it up with the names of local candidate hotties, guys and gals.

A TSF tipster sent us this QMI memo, with a CC to columnist Mike Strobel:

"Hi all

"Fun story for you all to potentially help with: Mike Strobel is working on a feature to be published Thursday to feature Canada¹s hottest federal election candidates (both guys AND gals). 

"Mike is tirelessly combing through websites and bios to do his own independent research, but could use the help of all newsrooms if there is a candidate in your riding, or area riding, who¹s not hard to look at and has even created a buzz for their particular symmetrical features and/or healthy proportions, please send Mike¹s way. He could use names by tomorrow night at the latest. 

"He can be reached at


"Your friendly qmi help desk,


Leave it to Strobel to spice up the final days of the campaign.

No Sun Media points for suggesting Steve, Michael, Jack, Gilles or Elizabeth.  

Monday, 25 April 2011

Web Page WTF

Did Steve Tilley, Sun Media's prolific tech guy, wake up to Monday's Sun and ask WTF did they do yo my Web Page?

If not, we did because the latest makeover of our favourite Monday page is a disaster.

It is time to ease up on the crayons and change for the sake of change.

30: Robin Anderson

Robin Anderson, Sun Media's first advice columnist slot contest winner, has died from cancer in Edmonton. She was 39.

Sun Media says Robin, who died last Wednesday, was a "clear frontrunner" out of the hundreds who entered the Canada-wide contest in 2008.

The newspaper chain says:

"Her no-nonsense approach to the problems posed to her, coupled with a dry wit and obvious empathy toward people from all walks of life, made her a perfect fit for this demanding job - as did her years of experience as a nurse, which allowed her a unique, caring perspective."

When her one-year contract came to an end, Robin wrote Robin's Eye View, a wide-ranging lifestyle column. It continued after she was diagnosed with cancer.

She signed off last September. 
Robin is survived by her husband, two step-children and other family.

Memories of Robin can be emailed to TSF.

Press club loss

Another Canadian press club is closing, this time in London, Ontario.

The London Free Press says only two of the London City Press Club's current 82 members are newspaper people, the lowest ratio in its 54-year run.

So the club will be serving its last drink on June 30, says the Free Press story. Remaining members and club memorabilia will be moving to a military service club.

The paper says in the 1970s and 1980s more than 100 of its 350 members were media types.

In the glory years of press clubs, newshounds could always find a local press club to visit during their travels.

And you never knew who might drop by.

Celebs who raised a glass or two at the London club included Pierre Trudeau, Xaviera Hollander, aka the Happy Hooker, John Diefenbaker, Wayne Gretzky, Tommy Hunter etc.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Robertson honours

Congrats to Toronto Sun vet Ian Robertson for picking up the 2010 Peel Regional Police media award for two features on the aftermath of  a horrific fatal street racing crash.

A Toronto Sun story say Robertson, 62, received the best print news feature award Tuesday night during a police board awards ceremony.

His award was for his January and March 2010 articles on a 2007 Peel street racing crash that killed two friends, Mariarossa Dalsass and Cynthia Dougherty

“I covered this story pretty extensively in trial, and met families of these two lovely women,” Robertson, a news vet with more than 23 years at the Sun, says in the Sun story.

It is Robertson’s second Peel police win in as many years.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Micheners -Sun

It is the CBC 1, Sun Media nil in nominations for the 2010 Michener Awards announced yesterday.

Other finalists are the Calgary Herald, The Eastern Door, Hamilton Spectator, la Société Radio-Canada; and the Vancouver Sun.
Governor General David Johnston will present the awards June 14 in Ottawa.

Thumbs up .com

Aside from a few 404 error links and the awkward white space near the top of the home page, the new gets our thumbs up. 

And, with apologies to Roger Ebert, thumbs way up for the print/online return of the circular iconic Sun logo Andy Donato created prior to the launching of the Sun in 1971.

How appropriate in this 40th year of the tabloid.

The new finally blends text and photos/videos, one of our biggest beefs over the years, especially the lack of photos for cop desk stories about bank robbery suspects caught on camera. 

Every indexed story should have a photo or illustration. 

There are some glitches to fix and some polishing to do, but overall the new look is a favourable step forward for

That blank space at the top of the home page has got to go for the flow. Moving the weather to below the logo would do it.

Cheers for Christina

Anyone who has fought to keep aging parents together in a home for seniors no doubt stood to applaud Christina Blizzard for changing the frustrating system with one column about a couple married 66 years.

Christina, one of four remaining fulltime Toronto Sun Day Oners, knows the heart of the tabloid has, for decades, rested in stories and columns that help readers find comfort when dealing with bureaucratic red tape.

In this case, a couple married 66 years about to be forced by economics to live apart when common sense dictates they be together.

It is not the first time Christina's words have prompted swift action from government sources and made a difference in the lives of Sun readers.

And, as Mike Strobel knows after his successful column campaign for a new TTC stop at Variety Village, it doesn't get any better when your words do make a difference.

As have the positive reactions to causes taken on by Peter Worthington, Mark Bonokoski, Connie Woodcock and others past and present at 333.

That is a brand of tabloid fare readers embraced from the start in 1971.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Memories of John

Memories of John Jamieson, former Toronto Sun numbers man and interim publisher, who died last Thursday while vacationing in Barbados.

Lorrie Goldstein, senior associate editor of the Toronto Sun: 

"Very sad to learn of John's untimely death at the far too young age of 61.

"John was smart, solid and honourable - an executive you could trust. Tough - but also fair and supportive as a manager. 
"While, as VP Finance, he was first and foremost a numbers guy, he genuinely cared about all aspects of the Toronto Sun, constantly asked probing questions about editorial decision-making in the newsroom and why we did certain things the way we did. 
"Also  knew how to disagree without being disagreeable and had an open mind to changing his own views and recommendations - even about budgets -  if you could present a good argument to him to do so. 
"John was acting Sun publisher for a time  and I was one of many at the Sun who urged him to apply for the job full-time, which he modestly declined. 
"He was one of the good ones.
"My sincere condolences to John's family. He will be missed at the Sun and by all who knew him."
Memories of John Jamieson can be e-mailed to TSF

Peter W show

While wading through several hours of new television yesterday, two favourites stood out - the Peter Worthington interview and some of the Charles Adler reports.

We'd PVR any segment involving Worthington, so hopefully he won't be a stranger to the latest sibling of the empire he helped launch almost 40 years ago.

Worthington has a vast array of stories to tell and while we don't agree with all of his political views, we always want more from his memory bank.   

Why not give him a daily or weekly capsule commentary slot, much like Andy Rooney's bit on 60 Minutes?

Enjoyed the Liberal party's election commercials.All is fair when it comes to ad dollars.

There could be more to watch once the new crew gets past the hoopla, but much of yesterday's chatty fare left us thinking about the lyrics of Everybody's Talking.

Everybody's talking at me
I don't hear a word they're saying
Only the echoes of my mind

And the echoes of my mind were asking where's the news in this new news venture?

Lots of gravy, not a lot of meat on Day One.

30: John Jamieson

John Jamieson
John Jamieson, an interim Toronto Sun publisher for six months after Les Pyette retired in 2002, has died at 61 during a Barbados vacation. 

A Toronto Sun story says Jamieson, a "numbers man" hired by Quebecor as director of finance in 1995, died on Thursday.

Jamieson, father of two, joined the Toronto Sun in 2001 as vice-president of finance and left in 2005 to launch a new Investors Group position as financial planner and adviser, says the Sun story. 

“This is a huge loss,” said Piero Menicucci, the current VP of finance for the Sun. “He was a real family person. I would imagine his family is struggling considerably with it. He will be missed by everyone.”

Menicucci says after leaving 333, Jamieson often dropped by with investment advice.

“He was very honourable, you could trust his financial integrity,” Menicucci says in the Sun story. “He was very well-respected.”

Memories of John Jamieson can be e-mailed to TSF.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Rabble's Sun watch

Just when this Toronto Sun Family blog is winding down, up pops another Sun-related watchdog blog at

No doubt motivated by today's Event, (Sun) Media Watch promises to keep Canada's largest newspaper chain in check.

Today's announcement says:

"Welcome to's newest initiative - (Sun) Media Watch.

"Born out of necessity, driven by a passion for accuracy, fueled by a dedication to facts, (Sun) Media Watch is committed to dispelling myths perpetrated by ideologically driven reporters and sensationalist media; to correcting the misinformation presented as fact in their effort to further a particular agenda.

"Though we're starting off small,'s Media Watch aims to cover a wide range of media, from uninformed editorials to inaccurate reporting. At Media Watch, our team of dedicated spin decoders and lie detectors won't just point out misinformation, but will provide you with links to, and information about, the sources from which we cite the accurate information.

"Be it scientific data, peer reviewed research, documented fact or expert analysis, we'll give you the tools you need to further investigate the issue, should you so desire. And we invite you to share corrections you find that need correcting with us -- either by tweeting using #sunwatch hastag, or via email to sunwatch [@]

"They say you should never stare directly into The Sun - such wise advice, which Media Watch enthusiastically endorses. After all, unchecked political propaganda leads to ideological blindness."

Looking forward to another eye on Sun Media. 

Dedicated Sun watchdogs have come and gone. 

Toronto Sun Sucks hasn't been updated since September. 

Toronto Sun Cover Reviews has shifted its focus from covers to the federal election and hasn't critiqued a Sun front since January.

(We can't remember the last time the Globe and Mail of the Toronto Star had their media writers cover the Quebecor/Sun Media/Quebec Media/QMI/Osprey/Bowes machine.) 

TSF, in its fifth year, is wider in scope than the other blogs and has enjoyed lasting power thanks to all of its contributors and tipsters.

Our original intent was to support the troops at the flagship Toronto Sun following a Save Our Sun reunion in 1996. TSF grew from there.

The troops, the real estate and the morale are all much thinner today, but staffers across the chain still have a voice, anonymous as it is most of the time.

Our countdown matches the Toronto Sun's 40th anniversary countdown less than seven months away.

The Event unfolds today.

Rabble on.

It's a new frontier for divisive politics in Canada. Foxy style. 

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Lamberti honours

Kudos to Rob Lamberti, the Toronto Sun's veteran crime reporter, for raking in another award.

His latest is a Toronto Emergency Services media award, his first EMS award - and for a photo.

Rob snapped the award winner last May at an accident scene in Toronto, capturing the drama of an injured cyclist being tended to by a paramedic after being struck by a car.

As the Sun story says, numerous writing awards dominate his list of honours in 25-plus years on the crime beat at the tabloid. This is his second photo award.

He will receive the award May 19 at Toronto EMS headquarters.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Lou Clancy unretires

Lou Clancy, the Toronto Sun's former editor in chief hired by Postmedia last year as director of special projects, is being promoted to editorial's top dog.

So much for retirement, eh Lou?

Clancy, 64, will oversee Postmedia's editorial operations and the news services that feed the Post,, other Postmedia newspapers and websites, says a Canadian Press story.

His new titles will be vice-president of editorial and editor in chief of Postmedia News.

The CP story says an internal memo to staff, the company said Clancy will be "charged with building a strong team of stars to complement the great journalism produced daily at our newspapers and our news service."

Clancy retired from the Sun in November of 2009.

New Standard ME

Wendy Metcalfe, currently working at a newspaper in Scotland, has been hired as the new St. Catharines Standard managing editor. 

She will replace Andrea Kriluck, who is retiring May 27 after 31 years with the paper, including eight years as ME.

A Standard story says Metcalfe, a Canadian, is currently editor of the Greenock Telegraph and Inverclyde Extra, just outside of Glasgow.

Publisher Judy Bullis says  "her experience, energy and enthusiasm to spearhead the Standard and our regional direction will serve us and our community well."

The story says Metcalfe has worked for several newspapers in the UK, including Scotland's flagship national newspaper, the Daily Record.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Toda tip

 Former Toronto Sun photog Warren Toda over at NPAC recommends a read of a recent story about a wealthy American who is buying up newspaper negatives to digitize.

Fascinating read and encouraging to see someone devote so much time and energy to preserving the wealth of history gathering dust in newspaper morgues and storage areas across North America.

The Scott Libin story at says John Rogers, a collector from Little Rock, Arkansas, is paying newspapers for their negatives, digitizing them and the newspapers retain full copyrights for future use.

(See previous TSF posting re Baltimore Sun project.)

EdSun turnover

The Edmonton Sun newsroom has experienced an almost 100% turnover in the past four years, notes a TSF reader.

Many of the troop movements have been in the past year as the 33-year-old tabloid  lost its seasoned reporters, columnists and photographers to other media and other walks of life.

Our TSF Edmonton Sun losses count was -13 a few months ago when TSF feeds went quiet. We figured the last of our sources were out the door.

But a former staffer is keeping an eye on the tabloid for us and in his update this week says  legislature beat reporter Frank Landry, "a Winnipeg Sun transplant who also served as Edmonton's city hall reporter, has quietly given his two-weeks notice and will begin a communications job with a post-secondary institution sometime next month."

Also - the Edmonton paper continues to be unable to fill the EIC position vacated by Graham Dalziel over six months ago. Word is no one's even applying.

"Basically, over the last four years the Edmonton newsroom has seen almost 100% turnover, save for Winnipeg transplant Cary Castagna, who remains a fitness columnist and night editor, and Max Maudie, former reporter who moved to the web side a few years ago."

Thanks for the update.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Nyet to hoopla

Pardon us for not being caught up in the  rather excessive hoopla leading up to the launch of Quebecor's new venture on Monday.

Whether it succeeds, or fails, there are just too many bodies scattered along the roadside, including casualties of the extreme makeover in Ottawa in the past year.

And, from posted comments and e-mails from current staff across the chain, much of the workload for the costly new venture will be on the backs of already understaffed and overworked newsrooms.

Any suggestion the new venture is comparable  to the wing-and-a-prayer launching of the Toronto Sun by 62 former Tely workers on Nov. 1, 1971, is ludicrous. 

Apples and oranges.

There was nothing mean-spirited associated with the Eclipse building gang in 1971 and the  original 62, and many others who followed, were handsomely rewarded for their dedication and loyalty.

The new way of doing business at Sun Media/Quebecor is foreign to the upbeat mood of the glory years, with its profit sharing, stock options, sabbaticals, ample bodies etc.

It is much more take than give these days, with greatly diminished respect for employees, especially the remaining vets who helped build the chain.

(We are completely disillusioned by the work environment at 333 after reading a recent internal memo, but that is another posting.)

So no amount of promotion for Monday's event will eliminate the stench of the damage done to The Little Paper That Grew and all of its siblings in the past decade.

Meanwhile . . . 

Monday, 11 April 2011

Journal return

When all was said and done in and around Journal de Montreal, 23 unionized newsroom employees returned to work today after a two-year lockout.

Some stats: 253 employees locked out by Quebecor on Jan. 24, 2009; 62 allowed to return to their jobs, including 42 in the newsroom; 23 of the 42 return to their newsroom jobs.

In a CP story, Raynald Leblanc, their outgoing union president, says "several people decided to retire, have found jobs elsewhere or have decided to stay working at the Rue Frontenac news website."

The return to work follows a March 28 vote where 85.5% favoured a settlement. 

So the Journal is one not-so-big happy family again. Not.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Cross folks win

It didn't take long for Toronto Sun editors to realize readers didn't take dropping the New York Times crossword puzzle lightly. 

Once crossword fans realized the absence of the Times crossword on April 1 wasn't an April Fools joke, they started writing letters to the editor. 

To their credit, Sun editors quickly decided to reverse their decision and yesterday advised Mark Neilson, one of the letter writers "the Times crossword is coming back by the end of the week."

The letter:

About those crosswords ...

I was pleased to note your readership has risen in today’s difficult market. However, I was surprised to see you no longer carry the New York Times crossword puzzle. I assume this is some bright business idea for cost cutting, but the two daily crosswords and the brilliant editorials made your paper unique.

Mark Neilson

(Well then we hope you’ll think we’re brilliant again when we tell you that you are right, we goofed, the Times crossword is coming back by the end of the week)

Mission accomplished.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Calgary Sun -1

Calgary Sun business reporter Markus Ermisch has resigned to take a PR job with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, says a TSF tipster.

Ermisch left the building last week.

"It looks like they are going to hire a replacement, but Markus will be missed," says the tipster. "He was a top notch reporter and a great guy."

Ermisch posted this on Twitter on March 25: 

"My last day with the Calgary Sun today. But stick around - I do like followers."

Is hell frozen?

Don't tell anyone in management, but a Florida newspaper is paying its reporters to sell ads.

Even in this rapidly changing media environment, there's one golden rule any news publication worth the paper its printed on still abides by: a strict wall between sales and editorial. Well, the Daytona Beach News-Journal has decided to offer bonuses to its editorial staff for selling advertisements and subscriptions. 

Yikes. So how much will editorial staffers make selling ads?

"Anyone selling a three-month subscription to the paper would get a $25 bonus, or $50 for a six-month subscription. Anyone selling $100 worth of advertising would get $50."

What are we up to now in the man department, for reporters, five-man? Reporter, photographer, videographer, on-air sound/video newscaster and ad salesman?

That could be six at some Sun Media newspapers where reporters are expected to do the office cleaning. 

Egos must be taking a beating with all of these new job descriptions.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Column, or news?

Sun Media columns posted online should be designated columns, not news stories, says a TSF reader

He offers a Joe Warmington column posted online at the St. Catharines Standard as an example.

The TSF reader, who is absolutely correct, writes:

"I have noticed that more and more QMI articles are becoming more inclusive of commentaries rather than objective journalism that I am accustomed to reading.

"What's more troubling is that they are not labelled as columnist's articles when they in fact, are. I take journalism quite seriously and this is becoming a common issue in Quebecor-owned newspapers. Why is this being tolerated? Whatever happened to objective journalism?"

News is news, opinionated columns are opinionated columns.

Niagara exodus

Postmedia in Hamilton has picked up another Niagara-area Sun Media staffer, says a TSF tipster.

"Reporter John Vessoyan is leaving the (Welland) Tribune to go to Postmedia," says the tipster. "He joins former Sun Media and Niagara paper employees Joe Wallace, who left the (Niagara Falls) Review, Rick VanSickle, who was recently let go from the (St. Catharines) Standard, and at least two more former Standard copy editors. 

"There is no word on whether Vessoyan, who served as sports reporter/editor and general assignment reporter, will be replaced."

Sunny Jays

Kudos to the Toronto Sun sports department team for covering all of the bases in its 13-page coverage of the Toronto Blue Jays' home opener.

Veteran Sun photographer Michael Peake captured the mood of the day with that two-page photo of the Jays in the dugout and eager fans in the stands anxious to get a new season of ball underway.

The Jays, who won the opener 13-3 in front of a sell-out crowd, didn't make it onto the Toronto Sun's front page on Saturday - a front page that left us thinking about Charlie's Angels and Naked News.

But otherwise, the Sun welcomed our Boys of Summer back for the 35th consecutive year in grand style. 

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Let's play ball

Never has the Toronto Sun devoted so much time, energy and space to a losing cause than it has with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season and numberous past seasons.

How about equal time, energy and space for the Toronto Blue Jays, who kicked off the 2011 season yesterday with a 13-3 win in front of a sold out, hometown crowd? 

Toronto's baseball fever was never more passionate than when the Toronto Sun's award-winning photographers were snapping front page Jays photos in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Boys of Summer never looked so good as they did on the front pages of the Sun.

The Toronto Sun has an enviable team of baseball writers -  Bob Elliott, Ken Fidlin, Bill Lankhof, Mike Rutsey - and a guest baseball column or two from Peter Worthington.

But the Sun's impressive sports department doesn't seem to have the same front page clout with the Jays these days. They are free to flog a perennial dead horse called the Leafs, but . . .
The Jays were winners in the hearts of fans last season, even though they did not win any pennants. They did Cito Gastin proud in wrapping up his Jays career as manager.

This year, new season, new manager and renewed hopes of a return to the glory of 1992 and 1993. Media-fanned hometown support will make a difference, especially for Sun readers.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Metro for Niagara?

These TSF tips could just be a coincidence, but . . . 

Boxes for the new free Metro newspaper have been spotted in London, Ontario, as the world-wide newspaper chain prepares to launch in that city on Monday.

"Saw a green Metro box today beside the other established papers near a Tim Horton's," says a tipster.

Meanwhile, and this could be a coincidence, Mark Cressman, publisher of the Niagara Falls Review, has written an 800-plus word column with the heading: Shouting from the rooftops about The Review.

Why the epic sales pitch? Is Metro considering a launch in Niagara Falls?

A TSF reader wonders if Cressman's comments are the norm.

"The Review's youthful publisher has a column in today's paper extolling the wonders of the newspaper and the talent of its ad sales staff," the reader tells TSF. "It makes for an interesting read. Wonder if any other community dailies are self-promoting this way. Anyone?"

The Niagara tipster also says the Review has a classified in the paper for part-time staff in the production department.
The ad reads: Niagara Falls Review now hiring for part-time staff in our production department. Approx 15-20 hours per week, midnight shift. Previous production/labor work an asset.

"I suppose it could mean mailroom jobs, but it isn't clear.

More trimming

One day Sun Media is beating its chest and thanking all for a 33.1% hike in Toronto Sun readership, indicated in the 2010 NADbank survey.

The next day, it trims the tabloid's popular three-page Coffee Break spread to two pages, eliminating some of the comics, rearranging the Born on This Date feature and axing the New York Times crossword puzzle.

The four bargain-basement comic casualties are no great loss and the popular Born on This Date feature looks cramped in its new space, but the Sun should know better when it comes to messing with crossword fans.

Give readers a say and we're sure most would vote to deep-six the remaining six comics and bring back the N.Y. Times crossword to keep the L.A. Times crossword company.

So Sun Media's Coffee Break just got shorter. 

Perhaps they had to chop a page to have more advertising space to pay for the Coffee Break return of Eugenia Last's Horoscope column. Bye-bye Christine Davison.

Last first appeared in the Toronto Sun in 1983.

How often do you get the opportunity to type Last first?

No fools here

Just some good old raw rock and roll to break the monotony of Election 2011, which will, no doubt, end with another minority - minus $300 mil. Owe Canada! They don't get it, Canadians prefer minority governments. Meanwhile, back in Rome, circa 1989.