Tuesday 27 March 2007

Farewell messages

Numerous veterans have left the Toronto Sun and its sister Suns for various reasons in recent months, many going quietly into the night without parting words in the tabloids they loved.

This posting is to invite farewell messages for any of the Sun people in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and yes, even our stepsister in Winnipeg, who made their exits in recent months.

Collectively, their departures represent hundreds of years of newspaper talent gone from the Sun chain forever, not to mention the heartfelt loss of colleagues.

Please e-mail your message for and about departing staffers.

Re Keith Bradford (Edmonton)
From an anonymous former staffer who posted a comment about the Edmonton Sun sports editor, who resigned: "Bradford, who routinely worked 60-80 hour weeks just to get his section out with no appropriate compensation or recognition, was ordered out of the building immediately, as the paper's publisher Gordon Norrie decided he was crossing the street by going to the Herald - because Norrie is now also publisher of the Calgary Sun. Bradford was a very talented guy and a highly principled and effective writer and editor; and they should have gone to lengths to keep him. Instead, it was a classless act. This is why some of us are as glad as sad to no longer be working there.

Re Thomas Williams (Toronto)
From Hugh Wesley, former Toronto Sun photographer and photo editor: "Anybody who worked with Thomas (an invaluable, behind-the-scenes graphics department worker for more than 20 years) knows he was one of the best. Sorry to see him pushed out, but he will find even without the Toronto Sun, there is a big and beautiful world out there."

Re Len Fortune (Toronto)
From Linda Barnard, former Toronto Sun reporter, now with the Toronto Star: "Len Fortune and I are old school chums. Honest. He was in my English class at Ryerson. Hard to believe, I know, because Len is so very much older than me. But he'd decided to go back to school and get his degree despite running the colour lab at the Sun and working late nights to do it. But that was our Lenny - the hardest working man in newsbiz. He was obsessed with getting it right visually (if not always in print - remember the day you spelled your byline wrong and wondered if it was time to quit, Len?) Lenny carried a special obit section for the Pope John Paul II around for more than a year that he had meticulously crafted - but the Pope just refused to die, so Len worked on it endlessly. He taught me about layout and design and how to make a page pop. He taught me why Jameson's is better than Bushmills and that if you asked for a "special coffee for Len" at Crooks on a takeout run, you come back with an ounce of coffee and 4 ounces of hooch in a Styrofoam cup. I wish you well, buddy. You will be missed."

Re Len Fortune (Toronto)
From Tim Peckham, the Toronto Sun's editorial designer: "Lenny, You were the "Man" in "Manager." No, that doesn't sound right. You were the "L" in Loser? No! No, no, no. "Lucky!" Hmm. Give me a minute. The "J" in "Jameson?" No. Put the "Len" in "fLend?" This is hard. The "Miss" in "Missed?" Aw, Lenny, what can I say? A thousand bad headlines can't put into words what I feel about you. You're great! A great friend and I'll miss seeing you around (the office). Tim."

Re Al Cairns (Toronto)
From Brodie Fenlon, former Toronto Sun reporter now at the Globe and Mail: "I am one of the reporters to leave the Sun in recent months for greener pastures after seeing the writing on the wall (and narrowly escaping a layoff thanks to Sandy Naiman’s buyout). I miss everyone there. They are a great group of people who take a habitual pummeling from their corporate masters, yet somehow pull themselves up from the mats every day - bruised, shaken, disheartened, but determined to put out the paper. I wanted to pass on a special farewell to Al Cairns, who I was so fortunate to work with, learn from, and share a Dunlop Award with last year for investigative reporting. I know of no reporter who can dig for a story and work sources better than Al. It would always brighten my day to see him grin like the Cheshire cat as he worked the phones on a scoop (our desks were side by side). After all these years in the business, he still buzzed with excitement when clawing away at an exclusive story. It was inspiring. Thank you, Al, for the lessons and incredible memories, from staking out fraudsters to chasing Karla Homolka through Montreal. The Sun has lost one of the best in the business. Thankfully, the Sun’s loss will be another newspaper’s gain, as I’m sure Al will be snapped up soon."

Re Len Fortune (Toronto)
Les Pyette, former Toronto Sun editor and publisher: "As a former editor and publisher, Leonardo Fortune made me look good on numerous occasions and I wish him much happiness and good fortune (sorry about the pun) in the next chapter of his brilliant newspaper career. In so many years working together, you make some friends along the way, friends that stick with each other through thick and thin. Len Fortune was that. Countless late nights putting out the paper and never a complaint. He can do it all, a special guy with loads of character and talent. Good luck, my friend."

Re Mike Koreen (Toronto)
From Jason Paul, Toronto Sun Sports Department: "While Mike has not been there as long as those other great Sun staffers, he should have been the future of the Sun. He was the one of the best young reporters in the building, and one of the best sports reporters of any age, period. It was a tremendous loss for Sports, and our Raptors coverage, when he was shuffled into news. His ability to track down a story was superb and his dedication unmatched. He'll do a great job at York University, but hopefully he will find his way back into reporting. He's too talented not to be one."

Re Al Cairns (Toronto)
From Ian Harvey, longtime friend and former Toronto Sun reporter: "Al has been a dogged, digger, news breaker and ace reporter for almost 20 years. He was the go to guy and a stalwart of the newsroom. Al is apparently sick and tired of the cutbacks and sees no future. Publisher Kim Man Lee apparently tried to persuade him to stay, but Al, forced back into general reporting and away from his first love as a crack investigative reporter, has no stomach to stay. And, though we love him, that's saying a lot. Al is a hot property and media proprietors should be swift to latch on to the availability of this hard nose news guy."

Re Valerie Gibson (Toronto)
From blogger Dennis Earl, a media watchdog (his full post): "An important question has to be asked: what did the lovely British lass do to deserve such awful treatment? Answer: absolutely nothing. She was one of my favourite Sun writers for years. A champion of men, fiercely independent, funny, intelligent and deeply devoted to animals and her only daughter. The stylish, red-headed divorcee with those killer gams paved the way for women like Demi Moore and Cameron Diaz to consider younger men suitable for sexual trysts and even serious relationships. That is a good thing. She bore the abuse for years so that others would not in the future. She is a true pioneer in this regard. She is one of the nicest ladies working in media today. And also, one of the smartest."

Re Kit Poole (Calgary)
From Bob Bishop, former Toronto Sun Showcase editor: "When I was Showcase editor at the Toronto Sun, Kit Poole was one of the kindest, most professional people I had the pleasure of dealing with. To see her, and so many others, leave, take buyouts or fall under the axe makes whatever voodoo spin-doctoring they'd like to put on the latest NADbank (circulation) numbers moot. The product cannot survive without good people. It's that simple."

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