Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Mike Strobel column

Mike Strobel writes the most entertaining, offbeat columns for the Toronto Sun. He is one of three surviving "five best reasons to read the Sun" writers, which says a lot for the appeal of his prose.

The veteran Sun staffer - he has the Sun logo tattooed on his butt - added editor-in-chief and managing editor to his impressive Sun resume before gliding smoothly into the columnist slot. He can make us laugh and he can make us cry. He has that range as a writer.

Mike's column today is a second Sun reaction to Friday's Toronto Star column by Antonia Zerbisias. He joins Glenn Garnett, the new editor-in-chief and Inside the Sun blogger, in boldly defending the Sun's status as a competitive Toronto newspaper.

In a nutshell, Mike says the Toronto Sun is hanging in there during the downturn and the Star "can kiss my logo."

As we said, he can make us laugh.

But we thank Mike for four paragraphs in his column that remind us of the old Sun, when columnists were allowed to speak their minds on Sun affairs and the paper recognized the contributions of parting colleagues in print.

Mike writes:

"I don't agree with half the decisions made around here. Never have. Hell, not even when I made them, as editor-in-chief or managing editor of this paper for a dozen years.

"We have lost some good people lately, one way or t'other. Val Gibson, Alan Cairns, Len Fortune, Bill Brioux, Brodie Fenlon, to name a few.

"But the paper lives, breathes, fights another day.

"Worthington and Donato and Goldstein and Bonokoski and DeMontis and Slotek and Kirkland and Warmington and Gross and Coulbourn and Buffery and Leatherdale and Mandel and Braun and Blizzard and Levy and Simmons and Elliott and Weston and Zeisberger and on and on."

No argument there, Mike. Collectively, a solid, talented group of tabloid writers and editors. But why should they be carrying the burden of a diminished staff when the paper is a money maker?

Why the continuing Quebecor hatchet job?

The Toronto Sun "remains one of the most profitable in the country," but Mike and Glenn don't offer any insight into how a newspaper in the toughest newspaper market in North America can compete with a decimated newsroom. It can't - and isn't.

Readership is down, staff numbers are down, morale is down. All of these negative factors are catching up to the Sun and it isn't a pretty sight, within the Sun and beyond its walls.

Toronto Sun Family members all love the Sun for what it was and could still be if spared the inevitable on its present course.

The direction Quebecor has taken with Sun Media since 1999 is flawed and self-destructive. Cutbacks and the very long list of talent lost to firings, layoffs, buyouts and resignations tell the story and that is the story the Star told on Friday.

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