Thursday 31 May 2007

Pre-press deal

The Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild has negotiated a four-year contract for 35 Toronto Sun pre-press employees, with one outstanding issue to be resolved by an arbitrator this summer.

The agreement would give pre-press employees their first contract, Their responsibilities include ad building, photo image enhancing, proofing images before they are etched onto plates, information technology etc.

(Pardon this media dinosaur for previously mixing pressroom employees with pre-press. The 100 full-time and part-time pressroom workers are not unionized and it is their jobs that are at risk with the opening of the new Quebecor printing plant this summer.)

Brad Honywill, one busy president of CEP Local 87-M (SONG), has chalked up four contract settlements in three weeks: London Free Press editorial, Ottawa Sun editorial, Simcoe Reformer editorial and Toronto Sun pre-press.

Brad says the pre-press agreement was reached Wednesday after a full day of talks at the offices of the provincial ministry of labour.

"All items were resolved except for the contentious issue of wages for the 20 people whose salaries are overscale," Brad told TSF. "The union wants the salaries to be green-circled (maintained with cost of living increases) and the company wants to cut them back to market rates. The company has agreed to refer that issue to first contract arbitration.

He said a ministry of labour arbitrator will hear submissions from the two sides on the Toronto Sun pre-press wage issue later this summer and release a decision soon after. Until the arbitrator releases his decision, no dues will be collected.

"So far, while strike votes have been necessary, we're pleased that we've been able to reach deals in four out of five Sun Media units without walking out.

"That's only been possible because of the courage shown by members who have been willing to stand behind their bargaining teams and the skill of our professional negotiators."

Details of the pre-press deal will be released at a 5:30 p.m. membership information meeting next Thursday at the union office, 1253 Queen Street.

Still not settled - contract negotiations at Sun Media's Stratford Beacon-Herald Advertising unit.

Brad said SONG staff rep Howard Law is continuing the Stratford bargaining marathon today.

Hann city editor

Kevin Hann, a Toronto Sun staffer who has worn many hats at the tabloid since the 1980s, has been named city editor.

Kevin has been an assistant city editor in a newsroom without a city editor for far too long. His overdue promotion should bring stability back to a newsroom shaken by months of layoffs, buyouts and resignations.

"This is a long overdue appointment for a guy who has an incredible work ethic, is a great newsman and longtime Sun staffer," says one source. "This is good news from King Street East."

Glenn Garnett, editor in chief, announces the appointment today in his Inside the Sun blog, along with Gary Loewen, assistant sports editor, being promoted to associate sports editor.

Gary, who joined the Toronto Sun in 1995 as a night editor, has been (sports editor) Dave Fuller's right-hand man in helping develop the Sun's centralized sports section.

"Like Kevin, he's an unflappable, go-to kind of guy and we welcome him to the management ranks," Glenn says of Gary. "He's already wearing a tie."

City desk, aka the metro desk during the amalgamation years, was long the critical anchor of the Sun newsroom and where a long list of greats held court. Among them, Les Pyette, Bob Vezina, Gord Walsh and Bob McConachie.

A major daily newspaper without a city editor hasn't made sense.

Congratulations Kevin. A most deserving promotion.

Now bring back the rewrite desk, another key Sun newsroom position axed years ago, and the city desk will be working on all cylinders once again.

Chatham memories

It was the summer of 1963. Robert Turnbull, city editor of the Globe and Mail enjoyed reading this copy boy's solicited inter-office comments about proposed crosswalks for Toronto.

"I think you have a future as a reporter," Robert said in a memo.

One letter to one man and it was off to the Chatham Daily News as a very green, 21-year-old cub reporter to work 16-hour days for $27.50 a week.

It was the first of 10 newspaper jobs and like most firsts, it was an awkward, fumbling experience, but most memorable for its aftermath - a 30-year career in newsrooms, including 19 eventful years at the Toronto Sun.

All with undying gratitude to the late Robert Turnbull.

This "first" came to mind while reading an online Osprey help wanted posting for a general reporter at the Chatham Daily News.

"The Chatham Daily News has an immediate opening for a reporter for its award-winning newsroom. The candidate must be prepared to cover a wide range of assignments on a busy schedule that will include night and weekend work.

"As a key member of the editorial team, the successful candidate will be responsible for daily news reporting, feature and enterprise reporting, as well as some photography work. You will also be responsible for generating a portion of your own assignments, especially from within your beat.

"The position requires the ability to take direction and work well within a team atmosphere as well as work independently and develop assignments.

"Organization and an attention to detail are vital.

"Knowledge of digital photography and word processing are essential.

"A vehicle, valid driver's license and a willingness to relocate to Chatham-Kent are also essential."

Reading between the lines, it sounds like the successful applicant will be working 16 hours a day on a variety of two-way assignments, but hopefully will be paid more than the $27.50 a week Thomson paid in 1963.

If you are looking for a starting point, small dailies remain an invaluable basic training ground for journalists. Put all of your energy and heart into the job and if you have what it takes, good things will follow.

While Ryerson and other journalism schools teach you the basics, starting in the trenches from scratch can be the experience of a lifetime.

BTW: The deadline for the Chatham Daily News job is June 8.

Wednesday 30 May 2007

Print plant update

Quebecor's target for full operations at its new Toronto printing plant is August, says a posting on the Newspapers & Technology web site.

That means the days of the Toronto Sun's 100 full and part time pressroom employees and late-night press runs at 333 King Street East are numbered.

"We are in the startup phases of the first press and have tested newspapers," Mark Hall, general manager of the entity created by Quebecor to oversee the plant, says in the update.

"The target date to have all the presses operating is by August," says Hall. "We'll be producing directories, newspapers and lots of different products."

The newspapers are the Toronto Sun, London Free Press and 24 Hours.

The update confirms an earlier tip to TSF that Quebecor's two new printing plants in Toronto and Quebec will be printing large volumes of Yellow Pages telephone books.

"Both plants will also print telephone directories under terms of a long-term, $900 million agreement to produce directories for Yellow Pages Group Co.," the report says. "The sites will produce some 18 billion directory pages each year for more than 100 different directories in Ontario and Quebec."

And that, dear sports writers and sports fans, could affect Toronto Sun sports coverage.

If non-media products are a priority at the new plant, Sun deadlines could change. Earlier deadlines would eliminate final sports scores and coverage of evening sports events.

What the Newspapers & Technology update does not reflect is the pending turmoil for the 100 Toronto Sun pressroom employees and the London Free Press pressroom workers, some who have been on the job for decades.

And the report does not speak to the future of 333 King Street East, an address hundreds of Toronto Sun employees have called home since the summer of 1975.

There are a lot of special memories attached to that building, but that is being nostalgic and Quebecor clearly has little tolerance for sentiment.

Rumours have it once the new Toronto printing plant is fully operational, Quebecor will put up a For Sale sign at the once thriving six-floor tabloid.

It's strictly business, right?

The presses will be obsolete and the first floor is to be gutted and leased out to commercial ventures, leaving five floors for the ever-shrinking Sun staff.

The Summer of 2007 is shaping up to be another sad milestone in the rise and fall of the Toronto Sun.

Tuesday 29 May 2007

Reformer settles

Unionized Simcoe Reformer employees ratified a new contract yesterday, giving them a 2% pay hike in each of the three years.

The Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild reached the tentative agreement with Quebecor following three months of negotiations.

Dan Pearce, SONG unit rep, said the vote by 17 of the 18 reporters, editors, ad reps, paginators and front office workers was 15-2 in favour of accepting the offer.

The new contract, retroactive to Jan. 1, also provides improvements to the severance formula and to the gas mileage rate. As well, some lowly-paid employees were given pay increases beyond their grid placings.

"It is a second contract for the 18 employees," Dan said. "A strike was narrowly avoided during negotiations three years ago."

The Reformer is published five days a week and was acquired by Sun Media in the fall of 2003.

It was the third Quebecor-owned newspaper to settle contract negotiations in three weeks. The Ottawa Sun ratified a four-year contract and the London Free Press voted in favour of a new three-year contract.

"We have two more to go - Stratford Advertising and Toronto Sun pre-press," Brad Honywill, president of CEP Local 87-M (SONG), told TSF.

Winning words

When Laurie Mustard lost an older brother to heart disease attributed to heavy smoking years ago, he soon gave up his own cigarette habit.

And then the Winnipeg Sun columnist used his computer keyboard and ad campaigns to reach out to thousands of Manitobans still fighting to kick the habit.

Laurie's efforts will be recognized June 24 when the Canadian Cancer Society in Manitoba awards him one of four Hope Awards for inspiring others to quit smoking.

Finding Laurie's story while Sun surfing on the Internet reminded us of all of the Toronto Sun reporters and columnists who have touched readers with stories about their own personal dramas.

Their first-person stories about dealing with mental illness, alcoholism, cancer, ALS and other diseases were encouraged by management and overwhelmingly embraced by loyal Sun readers.

We did so to help others cope and to let them know they were not alone.

The outpouring of support from readers following these first person accounts reaffirmed the special bond Toronto Sun readers had with the tabloid's writers.

Readers would take the time to call or write letters, expressing their gratitude to Sun writers for sharing their experiences.

So well done, Laurie. Your public effort to help smokers kick the habit fits perfectly into the Toronto Sun Family's tradition of caring and sharing.

Reformer talks

The countdown continues to a midnight strike deadline tonight for 18 employees at the Simcoe Reformer, a Quebecor owned weekly in the Bowes chain.

A government conciliator was called in for further talks yesterday and today in hopes of averting a strike/lockout.

The paper, with a circulation of just under 10,000, has been involved in contract talks between the Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild and management since March.

Recent 11th hour contract settlements at the Ottawa Sun and London Free Press included annual 2% wage hikes and job security issues.

Meanwhile, the Journal de Quebec lockout of editorial and office employees and sympathy strike by pressroom employees in Quebec City is now in its sixth week, with the 250 employees publishing a CUPE-backed free weekday tabloid called MediaMatin.

News out of Quebec City was minimal for most of the first five weeks.

Sunday 27 May 2007

Re Kathy English

The Toronto Sun lost a gifted journalist in the 1980s with the departure of Kathy English.

She spread her wings in a variety of media jobs in the past two decades and is now the Toronto Star's new public editor.

"It is an important liaison between our large, diverse readership and the Star," Publisher Jagoda Pikethe said in announcing the appointment yesterday. "Kathy is perfectly suited to enhance this well-established office and increase public awareness of the role of journalism and newspapers in Canadian society."

Kathy, 49, who first worked in media as a copy messenger at the Brantford Expositor 30 years ago, is an effervescent people person, so her new position at the Star should be a perfect fit.

She has covered a lot of media bases in three decades, including her Sun years and her 1980s stint at the Star as a reporter, feature writer, editor and assignment editor.

Kathy also taught journalism at Ryerson for 10 years, worked at the Hamilton Spectator and London Free Press and most recently was the Globe and Mail's reader response editor.

"I'm delighted to be coming home to the Star,'' Kathy said in the Star story. "In my 30 years as a journalist and journalism educator, what's mattered most to me is the journalism of integrity and excellence."

Although gone from the Sun newsroom for 20 years, Kathy still has a spot in her heart for the Sun and was one of 150 former and current staffers who attended a 35th anniversary reunion in November.

Congrats, Kathy. We are sure all of your former Sun colleagues wish you well as the Star's new public editor.

Kathy will be doing what Alison Downie did at the Sun as readership editor until Alison and the position were quietly axed by Quebecor last November.

Peter and Paul

In an early Toronto Sun promotional film, Paul Rimstead is sitting on a stool in the King's Plate Open Kitchen explaining how Peter Worthington's mission in life was to "look for communists under every rock."

We haven't viewed that clip in more than a decade, but we could clearly see and hear Paul mouthing those words while reading Peter's heartfelt Saturday Sun tribute to Paul on the 20th anniversary of his death in Florida.

Peter's full page tribute to Paul - he was out of the country on assignment when Paul died from cirrhosis on May 26, 1987 - no doubt made thousands of veteran Sun readers, former colleagues and friends from all walks of life nostalgic for the days of The Rimmer.

His column took us back to the newsroom of the 1970s and 1980s.

Peter's column, from beginning to end, captured the man, his talent and his idiosyncrasies and generated a wide range of emotions, from laughter to regret. The regret is that we couldn't find the words needed to convince Paul to stay on the wagon.

The memorable salute to one of the giants of the Toronto Sun is what TSF is talking about in saying there is another Sun book to be written, preferably authored by Peter.

Saturday 26 May 2007

Remembering Rimmer

Toronto newspaper columnists of every depth come and go, but few are remembered as often, and as affectionately, as Paul Rimstead.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of The Rimmer's death in Florida, an anniversary lamented by most Toronto Sun colleagues and longtime readers who admired the man and his priceless prose.

Paul, along with Max Haines, Gary Dunford, the Page 3 SUNshine Girl, a crack sports department, a top notch police desk, a photo desk team to die for and management's unwavering belief in freedom of expression all contributed to the Sun's phenomenal success in the 1970s and 1980s.

But Paul, a Day Oner, was the Sun's candle in the wind, gone much too soon at 52 from the ravages of alcohol.

Much has been said and written about Paul before and after his death in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on May 26, 1987, his second wife Myrna (Miss Hinky) at his side. (Google "Paul Rimstead" and you will find several hundred references.")

The Toronto Sun's front page headline the day after he died read: "A Legend Dies."

Politicians, sports legends, musicians, celebrities and media veterans all praised Paul for his unique writing style and his contribution to the community and to journalism.

Simcoe MPP Allan McLean told the Legislature: "Ontario has lost a great ambassador . . . For many of us, the Rimmer was, in an abstract way, a modern-day Stephen Leacock."

Paul, born in Sudbury and raised with six siblings in the Bracebridge area, was rarely idle in his 52 years. He was a student newspaper publisher, pool hustler, brush salesman, softball player, Globe and Mail reporter, Canadian Magazine writer, Telegram sports writer, Sun columnist, owner of Annabelle the race horse, Toronto mayoralty candidate, broadcaster, professional jazz band drummer etc.

The soft spoken newsman was many things to many people.

To some of his Sun editors, he was often a royal pain in the butt, but to his loyal readers he was always Rimmer, and dammit, he up and died on them in his prime.

Nobody at the Sun developed a stronger bond with readers. Paul wrote about the man on the street and celebrities with the same flare and insight. Readers identified with Paul and his cast of column characters, including Miss Hinky, Flashbulb Freddie and even his car, Rusty Rita.

Readers savoured his every word and for Paul, the gathering of those words often involved drinking: on assignment, as a jazz band drummer, at media gatherings, in bars, at parties etc.

It was getting his words into the paper that was often a challenge. The Page 5 columnist was MIA more often than Sun editors would have preferred, but when he was on the phone to rewrite, spinning his tales from scratch with a drink in hand somewhere in the night, he was brilliant.

Absolutely brilliant.

Newsroom staffers took turns taking Paul's columns over the phone and whenever Ed Monteith, the managing editor, shouted from his office, "Fire him if he's been drinking," we would always respond "Nope, he sounds perfectly straight."

Like a sad-eyed puppy, you just couldn't help but support and admire the affable word master.

Readers felt the same way and would do anything for him. Paul would invite readers to drop by the Sun and thousands would line up at 333 King Street East to pay a visit.

Rimmer clearly cared about his readers and the city, thus prompting him to run for mayor in 1972.

In May of 2006, veteran Sun staffer Mark Bonokoski wrote a column about Paul's campaign for mayor.

"Thirty-four years ago, long before the young murder victims and gangbangers in this city were born, Paul Rimstead, this newspaper's most notorious columnist, and the franchise player of his day, decided to add his name to the ballot for mayor - his decision to run initially based on the city politicians of the day brazenly voting themselves a huge pay increase without first taking the pulse of the people. Sound familiar?

"What began as a lark, however, soon began to take on a more serious tone within Rimstead's inner-self," Mark wrote. "Rimmer, in fact, had a lot to say as his protest campaign ramped up. And, although he was a long shot at best, and totally ignored by the mainstream media, a great many of the words he wrote back in that 1972 election campaign seem both wise and prophetic today."

Paul, 37 at the time, finished fourth in the election, with 7,807 votes, and retired from politics. David Crombie became mayor. Life's comfort zone for Paul throughout the remainder of the 1970s: booze, a typewriter, an audience and his lady.

His doctors, unfortunately, were accurate in 1980 when they told Paul he would die a premature death from cirrhosis of the liver if he didn't stop drinking immediately.

Actually, the day he was told "you can not drink again for the rest of your life" was Feb. 11, 1980 - his 45th birthday.

In the first chapter of his first book, Cocktails & Jockstraps, published later the same year, Paul wrote: "Dr. Jim Bailey, the liver specialist, explained it quite simply. If I continued drinking the way I had - in excess of 26 ounces of whisky a day for 25 years - I would die. I might live seven more years, but no longer and quite possibly not even that long."

Paul said he told the doctors he would try a life of sobriety "but I did reserve the right to make a choice if I don't like it. I told the doctors that if I was absolutely bored and unable to cope, I would start drinking again and enjoy two or three good years instead of twenty boring ones."

Paul did try. He quit cold turkey, without going to Alcoholics Anonymous.

In the final chapter of Cocktails & Jockstraps, an entry dated July 11, 1980, he wrote about being sober for six months. Reading between the lines, you could sense the inevitable, that he missed the booze too much to make sobriety a lifetime commitment.

He wrote: ". . . it isn't very difficult to stop drinking when you consider my alternative. As somebody once said, nothing is as bad as dying. I'm still against my abstinence. Nobody ever loved booze more than me. I still use a tone of reverence in my voice when I mention scotch, Cointreau, or any of those other joys of life."

In the end, Paul opted to make his exit as a drinker, writing Sun columns from Florida and working on a couple of books. He told friends and colleagues he just couldn't write his style of writing while sober.

It was painful for friends and Sun staffers to see him drink again and approach the inevitable.

Les Pyette, a Toronto Sun city editor in the 1970s and later publisher, vividly remembers Paul's final days in Florida.

"When Rimmer was near the end, Toronto Sun publisher and CEO, the legendary Doug Creighton, who was the champ of all human rights, especially his own staff, asked me and Joanne Richard to fly to Florida and be with Rimmer and his wife," Les told TSF.

"We arrived at Broward County Hospital in the middle of the night," he said. "Rimmer was plugged with tubes, but his eyes were shining as bright as ever. I held his swollen hands and prayed for him, which I wasn't too sure he appreciated. Anyway, it was sad to see the great columnist, Paul Rimstead, in that condition. He died a couple of days later and the world of journalism lost one of its originals."

Says Les: "Rimmer was the champ. Everyone loved him. The book we did on his 52 best columns - Rimmer, Damnit! - was snapped up very quickly. Jim Yates actually named the book. I miss the Rimmer and I miss Jim, who was my right arm for so many years in the news biz."

Paul might have said the booze destined to kill him made him the newspaperman he was for almost three decades. His legacy: two books, hundreds of newspaper columns, a Ryerson journalism award in his name, bar stories that are still being told today and smiles whenever Rimmer is remembered.

Gone for 20 years, but definitely not forgotten. Not by Sun readers, veteran staffers, his mother and siblings, including his brother Rolf, now fighting to get his Toronto Sun sports desk job back after being laid off last summer after 30 years on the job, and his sister Diane, a veteran writer based in Bracebridge.

In a 35th anniversary Sun column in November of 2006, Peter Worthington wrote:

"Who is our Rimstead today? No one. He was one of a kind, though Joe Warmington has shades of Rimmer when he organizes rallies for our troops, and (Mike) Strobel has echoes of Rimmer when he paints himself blue in the Amazon jungle, or cuddles up to the Shaky Lady, flirts with a Playboy Bunny, or emulates a drag queen."

Peter, co-founder of the Toronto Sun, writes in great detail about the Paul Rimstead he knew and admired again in his Saturday Sun column.

Peter opens with: "Today is the 20th anniversary of Paul Rimstead's death - an anniversary that may not mean much to younger readers of the Sun newspapers, but a loss still felt deeply by those who knew him."

And he closes with: "Lord, but I miss him, as do those lucky enough to have known him."

We do miss Paul. He was a legend in his own time and at the right time.

While he would be humbled by the attention given him 20 years after his death, he would be disappointed with the changes at his beloved tabloid and today's management.

We're sure he would write a priceless probing column about his Quebecor bosses, but unlike the open and tolerant Doug Creighton years, when he often took Sun management to task, it's doubtful it would be published.

Paul was a character, a one of a kind journalist whose fans still reminisce about him in blogs and newsgroups two decades after his death.

A few of the many Paul Rimstead web links:

Paul's column in the first Toronto Sun from Nov. 1, 1971;

Sports Media Canada tribute by Tim Wharnsby

A detailed 1998 Ryerson Review of Journalism tribute by Julie McCann;

Cruising with Paul, memories of fellow musician Jim Galloway;

Judi McLeod remembers losing Paul's phone-in column;

Wikipedia entries about The Rimmer.

Friday 25 May 2007

Kudos for Kirkland

Globe-trotting movie critic Bruce Kirkland was humbled at the Cannes Film Festival yesterday when awarded one of 30 prizes given to veteran journalists.

"To celebrate its 60th, the Cannes Film Festival, through the esteemed Gilles Jacob, gave out some 30 prizes yesterday to veteran journalists," Bruce wrote in today's report from Cannes. "I got the one that represented Canada, quite the responsibility for your Sun Media correspondent.

"It is a big, beautiful, incredibly heavy bronze medal that sits resplendent in a leatherette case," Bruce, a Toronto Sun staffer for more than 25 years, said in his report from Cannes today. "On the front, it reads: "Festival de Cannes." On the back is a French-language inscription I'm still translating."

Says Bruce: "I feel honoured and embarrassed and happy."

A most deserving award for a prolific movie and DVD critic who keeps his Sun readers informed and entertained throughout the year.

Congrats, Bruce.

Dunlops: Calgary

The Calgary Sun joined the Ottawa Sun, Winnipeg Sun and 24 Hours Vancouver today in announcing its Edward Dunlop Award of Excellence winners online at

Calgary's strength was in the photo department, winning several Dunlops for staffers.

Still MIA on the Toronto Sun, Edmonton Sun and several other publications.

Perhaps Sunday, as a TSF said in a comment.

Thursday 24 May 2007

The Bike Bandit

Mike Strobel, fresh off a Dunlop Award win and an honorable mention, scores again with today's column about Michael Flaxman, the retired Bicycle Bandit.

You have to read it to believe it, but the robber of three dozen banks in the summer of 1995 is a reformed heroin addict about to open a Toronto pub with the assistance of - a bank loan.

His escape vehicle during his unarmed bank heist spree - usually a stolen bike.

Much like Joe Warmington's column Tuesday, the Michael Flaxman story definitely has the makings of a TV movie of the week.

One question Mike Strobel didn't ask Michael Flaxman was how sympathetic would he be if a drug addict attempted to rob his pub?

Dunlops &

The Toronto Sun's treatment of the 2006 Edward Dunlop Award of Excellence winners' list is baffling.

The Dunlop award winners were announced Tuesday, but they were not in the Toronto Sun on Wednesday.

The Ottawa Sun winners were on early Wednesday and the Winnipeg Sun winners were online Thursday morning.

The Toronto Sun caught up to the awards Thursday in the print edition, but its story about all of the Dunlop winners in the Sun Media chain is MIA online.

They keep telling us to go to but when we went to to provide a TSF link to the Toronto Sun awards story, zilch.

Meanwhile, Glenn Garnett, editor-in-chief and author of the Inside the Sun blog, did not write a congratulatory blog Wednesday or Thursday.

Go figure.

Ottawa settles

The Ottawa Sun's 32 editors, reporters and photographers have voted 100% to accept a first contract that will give them 2% wage hikes in each of the four years.

Other highlights of the four-year deal for the CEP members include a signing bonus for all members, immediate increases for some employees who had fallen behind their colleagues and improved kilometre rates and cell phone allowances.

The contract also provides protection against arbitrary discipline or dismissal, gives seniority protection in layoffs, a grievance procedure and training in new multimedia technology.

A tentative agreement with Sun Media was reached Wednesday, just hours before a midnight lockout/strike deadline. The vote on the company's new offer was held today.

“It was a tough bargaining process, but we are pleased that the employer listened to our concerns and presented a package that we could recommend to our members,” said bargaining committee chair Rob Ludlow.

“The Ottawa Sun operates in a highly competitive media environment and as professional journalists we look forward to using this new foundation and predictable period of labour stability to continue to provide a variety of quality news products,” he said.

Newsroom workers organized 17 months ago and it took more than three dozen days of bargaining over that period of time to achieve this first contract, he said.

The new contract and a Stanley Cup series with the Ottawa Senators in action bodes well for a positive summer at the Ottawa Sun.

All Dunlop winners

The 2006 Edward Dunlop Award of Excellence winners.

Congratulations to the winners. We will try to provide links to most of the winning stories, columns and photographs that remain active on the Internet. To provide links to winning entries, e-mail TSF.

We know at least one winner, Edmonton's Doug Beazley, is no longer at the Sun. If there are others, please e-mail TSF.

The winners are:

Creighton Award: Tom Braid, Edmonton Sun

Winner: Mike Strobel, Toronto Sun - Nightmare Next Door; Runner-up: Earl McRae, Ottawa Sun - From Heaven to Hell

Investigative Reporting
Winner: Thane Burnett, Toronto Sun Sexual slavery; Runner-up: Robyn Stubbs, 24 hours Vancouver, Toxic time bomb

Layout and Design
Winner: Andrew Pollreis, The Winnipeg Sun, Home Turf game preview; Runner-up: Darren McGee/Bill Murray, Toronto Sun, The Changing Face of Toronto

Critical Writing
Winner: Jim Slotek, Toronto Sun, Kramer's Comeback (fee required to read online); Runner-up: Bill Harris, Toronto Sun, Heart of the Matter.

We'll Be There
Winner: Doug Beazley and Alex Urosevic, Sun Media, Canada at War; Runner-up: Toronto Sun entertainment department, Golden Years - 50 Years of Rock 'n' Roll.

Feature Writing
Winner: Earl McRae, Ottawa Sun, Brooding Icon Owned a Generation; Runner-up: Thane Burnett, Toronto Sun, Anticipation, Fear and Relief (scroll down to read)

Spot News
Winner: London Free Press, Bandidos Massacre; Runner-up: Max Maudie, Edmonton Sun, Letter from a Fugitive?

Writing Under 50,000
Winner: Larissa Liepins, Fort McMurray Today, Oilsands Development; Runner-up: Daniel Pearce, Simcoe Reformer, They Never Came Home

Sports Writing
Winner: Paul Friesen, Winnipeg Sun, A Look at Drugs in Sports; Runner Up: Jonathan Huntington, Edmonton Sun, Gambling Series

Winner: Wade Ozeroff, Edmonton Sun, Lost in Laguna; Runner Up: Mike Strobel, Toronto Sun, Queen For a Day

Feature Photography
Winner: Blair Gable, Ottawa Sun, Parliament Moon; Runner Up: Veronica Henri, Toronto Sun, Man's Best Friend

Spot News Photography
Winner: Blair Gable, Ottawa Sun, Fire Bomb Kids; Runner up: Jim Wells, Calgary Sun, Water Woes

Sports Photography
Winner: Veronica Henri, Toronto Sun, Gators Upend St Michael's; Runner Up: Ryan Jackson, Edmonton Sun Take Down

Photography Under 50,000
Winner: Scott Wishart, Stratford Beacon Herald, Real Horsepower; Runner up: Elliot Ferguson, Woodstock Sentinel-Review 9/11 Memorial

New Media Award: Tie
Winners: Alex Urosevic and Geoff Brennan, Sun Media: Afghanistan, and Al Charest, Darren Makowichuk, Kevin Udahl, and Jim Wells, Calgary Sun, Tribute To A Fallen Soldier.

Dunlops: Winnipeg

The Edward Dunlop Award of Excellence piece-meal winner announcements continued today with the Winnipeg Sun reporting it won two of the awards.

"The Winnipeg Sun has been chosen to receive two Edward Dunlop Awards of Excellence for its sports coverage in 2006, marking the newspaper's best haul since joining the Sun Media chain in 1999," the paper reported today.

"When you're competing against papers in Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and other big cities, two wins are a great reason to celebrate," said Stephen Ripley, the Sun's editor-in-chief. "It shows the level of talent and dedication in our sports department and reflects well on the entire newsroom."

The winners:
Sports Writing: Columnist Paul Friesen, a Winnipeg Sun staffer since 1997, for Juiced, a three-part series on drugs in sports.

Layout and Design: Graphic designer Andrew Pollreis, for his work on Home Turf, the Sun's eye-catching pregame CFL supplement.

"It's an honour to win with a project like Home Turf," said Pollreis, who has also been at the Sun since 1997.

Ottawa deal?

Negotiators on both sides of the Ottawa Sun/Sun Media contract talks were quiet last night, but a reliable source says a tentative deal was reached and will be voted on today.

The 32 unionized newsroom employees set a Monday midnight deadline last week and then extended the deadline to midnight Wednesday.

The union members have been negotiating for their first three-year contract since March of 2006.

A settlement for the CEP employees would be timely, with the Ottawa Senators about to compete in the Stanley Cup finals.

The 50 unionized London Free Press employees, members of CEP's Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guide, settled May 11 for 2% pay hikes in each year of their new three-year contract.

Meanwhile, more than 250 Journal de Quebec employees, members of CUPE, continue their month-long lockout/sympathy strike in Quebec City.

And newsroom employees at Sun Media's Simcoe Reformer have set a midnight May 29 strike deadline in their negotiations.

The Dunlops puzzle

When the Ottawa Sun announced it had won several 2006 Dunlop Awards yesterday, TSF found it odd that only the Ottawa awards were mentioned.

We checked the Toronto Sun on Wednesday, but not a word about the annual in-house Edward Dunlop Award of Excellence recipients.

In previous years, winners of all of the Dunlops were announced the same day, with chain-wide fanfare. In the early years, all of the awards were announced at black tie dinners at the posh Sutton Place hotel.

A previous source said the awards would probably be announced in late May or early June.

So what's with the Ottawa Sun's solo announcement?

Did the Ottawa Sun jump the gun with a strike/lockout deadline approaching? Were the Ottawa Sun wins put out there as a negotiations bargaining chip?

Are the Dunlop awards judges ticked?

Very odd, indeed.

Wednesday 23 May 2007

Bye: Max Haines

Remember when the Toronto Sun knew how to say its goodbyes to parting vets? A time when the tabloid had heart and an appreciation of the contributions made by its employees?

We do.

On July 20, 2006, veteran Toronto Sun columnist Max Haines made his exit and Mike Strobel was there with a farewell column.

By Mike Strobel
Murder Man is piling things in boxes as I pass his office.

Getting rid of the evidence, Max?

"Nossir," says Max Haines. "I'm a goner."

At first I think it's a gag line, from a wit who has written about more than 2,500 goners.

But, Max Haines really is no more, in our pages anyway. Sunday is his last column. It is about a deadly woman doc.

"I've been deeply engrossed in the most vile crimes in the world and it's time to stop and smell the roses," says Max. (He remains syndicated in two dozen papers.)

Later, we meet in the rose garden behind the Etobicoke home he shares with the lovely Marilyn, where they raised three daughters. You could dust the house and not find a single fingerprint.

Upstairs is the Murder Room, where Max has cranked out 34 years of columns and 27 books. It is lined with 700 other volumes from Ability to Kill to the Zodiac Killer.

Last time I was here was a day after they found sweet Holly Jones in pieces along the waterfront. Max and I talked about another little girl, Sharin'Morningstar Keenan, and her presumed killer, Dennis Melvyn Howe.

Howe, if he still breathes, is among us somewhere.

Max writes about him from time to time, chases leads, re-runs his photo so we won't forget. He thinks he's lurking in a lumber camp or maybe a fishing village.

Well, you can forget about him now, Max. You're retired.

"No, I'll keep looking. He's my boogeyman."

Lord knows there have been many choices.

The first column was about axe murderer Lizzie Borden.

Ed Monteith, managing editor of the new Sun, paid $15 and asked for another.

For Max, the career change was timely.

Runs had appeared in his pantyhose business. Never let a shipment leave the factory without checking elastics.

"I was too busy writing murder stories just for the fun of it.

"Then, we started getting letters from women all over Canada. 'I was walking along the street and my pantyhose fell down.'"

Soon Max was writing about felons far and wide.

If you are a fan, which is likely given our popularity polls, you know he tells of terrible deeds with a droll touch.

Who else can make you smile as you read of decapitation?

Funny thing. Max can't stand the sight of blood.

But he has peered into murderous minds and seen awful things.

Joel Rifkin, for instance. He strangled 17 prostitutes in New York State and had sex with them before, during and after.

In July 2000, Max went to see him in prison.

"The guy was intelligent and articulate and he talked about each of those 17 women like he was talking about apple pie."

Max was disgusted by what he heard.

"We're just on different wavelengths," the killer told him.

"It wasn't disgusting to me at all."

Sheesh, Max, how do you sleep nights?

"I've always been able to turn it off when I come home."

Then there was ol' Bob James, who arranged for a rattlesnake to bite his wife.

Or English fiend John George Haigh, who dissolved his six victims in sulphuric acid and poured them in his back yard.

Apparently Mr. Haigh was unaware sulphuric acid is no match for gallstones. This helped to hang him.

So, there's a Haines tip. Do not try to dissolve someone who has gallstones.

Max, you gentle soul, say you wanted to off someone . . .

"Hunting accident. Very difficult to prove it was intentional. All of sudden, you trip, the gun goes off."

Or, he says, move to Texas.

"It's a great place to get rid of an unwanted husband.

"Everyone has a gun down there. The good wife always says, 'Gee, I thought it was an intruder and it was dark and I plugged him in the heart.

"And in Texas, you need two kills to your credit before they take you seriously."

Remind me never to go hunting in Texas with my wife. Or Max Haines.

Antigonish, N.S., is more like it.

Max's next book will be about that town, where he was born in 1931. The worst crimes are brawls and broken windows. Legends says the local jailer set you free on hot days as long as your were back by 7:30 p.m.

The warning: "If you're not in by then, I'll lock you out."

Well, Max, enjoy life without deadlines.

But keep your head up, your ears perked, your eyes peeled.

It's murder out there.

Dunlops: Ottawa

The Ottawa Sun was first out of the Sun Media gate to announce its 2006 Edward Dunlop Awards of Excellence winners early today.

Ottawa Sun photographer Blair Gable picked up two main photo awards and reporter Earl McRae picked up one main award and a runner-up honorable mention.

Perhaps Ottawa wanted to announce their awards before tonight's midnight strike/lockout deadline.

TSF will update the Dunlops winners as they become available, but for starters, congrats to Blair and Earl.

Ottawa Sun
Feature Photography: Blair Gable won top honours for a moody shot of the moon behind a cloud-covered Parliament Hill tower.

“(The Parliament shot) was a case of beautiful light,” Gable said in an Ottawa Sun story by Alex Hebert. “I wanted to shoot something that would complement the quality of light available at that time.”

Spot News Photo: Blair Gable, for his photo of a mother, who had lost her children in a firebomb arson crime, holding a locket containing their pictures outside the accused’s trial.

Blair, who recently won a major News Photographers Association of Canada's award, attributes the firebomb photo to an old saying among photographers — arrive early and stay late.

“I had the photo I needed but I felt like I should stay to get something better and that’s when the locket came out,” he said in the Sun story.

Feature Writing: Earl McRae for a story recalling the impact Elvis Presley had on his life, including the night he played racquetball with the King.

“The feature writing award was for a piece on the impact Elvis has had in my life, so I guess I’ll have to phone him in Tweed and tell him I owe him one," said Earl in the Sun story.

Column Writing runner-up: Earl McRae for a story about how surviving a deadly terrorist bombing in Egypt forever altered the life of one young Ottawa woman.

The Dunlop awards, named for the Toronto Sun's late founding president, have been awarded annually since 1985.

Feel good story

For a feel good story, far from the daily dose of war and mayhem, you can't top Joe Warmington's column Tuesday in the Toronto Sun.

It is all about a town celeb called Christopher Todd Wilkinson in South Fredericksburg, Ontario, born with Down syndrome and who will mark his 40th birthday next April 1.

"Life for Todd is a joy," writes Joe. "It's plain, it's simple and it's pleasurable."

The Scrawler's column was a joy to read, as are many of his columns throughout the year.

Be sure to circle next April 1 for a 40th birthday tip of the hat to Todd and his devoted parents.

And how about a feel good TV movie about Todd?

Tuesday 22 May 2007

Re Press Review

Press Review, a labour of love for Michael Cassidy from 1977 until his death in 2005, is for sale. Asking price: $50,000 or assumption of debts.

A notice on the Canadian Journalism Project web site says the trade magazine for reporters, editors and communication professionals has suspended publication and is looking for a buyer.

Is there anyone out there ready to accept the challenge? It would be a shame to see Press Review fade into the sunset. It has been a vital source for media contacts, troop movements, news etc. for three decades.

When founding publisher Michael Cassidy, 81, a WW2 vet and a familiar face in Toronto newsrooms for decades, died of prostate cancer in March of 2005, his widow Jana Cassidy inherited the magazine and vowed to carry on as publisher.

Jana published the glossy periodical up to the Fall 2006 issue, which can still be read online at the Press Review web site.

"However, due to a lack of interest, she is stepping down and putting the magazine up for sale," says the Canadian Journalism Project web site. "The asking price is $50,000 or assumption of debts."

The Press Review and its predecessor, Press Journal, were Michael's pet projects and he nurtured them over the decades by mingling with Canadian journalists on all fronts - print and broadcast.

Toronto Sun staffers welcomed Michael's visits to the newsroom because he was always upbeat and could be counted on for a new story or two.

Michael's tireless efforts to report the news about the news makers should be enough of a motive to save Press Review.

A partnership of laid off and fired Toronto Sun employees, perhaps?

Ottawa breather

The strike/lockout deadline at the Ottawa Sun has been extended to midnight Wednesday.

Management and CEP representatives agreed to an extension of last night's midnight deadline as negotiations continue for a first contract for the the 32 unionized newsroom employees.

Last Thursday, the employees voted 82% to reject the company's final offer.

Monday 21 May 2007

Pay to read

Ellee Seymour is a blogger in Britain who is devoting space daily to missing children around the world.

"Every day from today, I am going to write a post about a missing person," Ellee, a journalist, says on her blog. "I am doing it to remind us that this is a terrifying nightmare that happens to some families. How they continue their tormented lives, I cannot imagine, it must be a living hell."

Today's posting on missing children is a review of the 1985 disappearance of Nicole Morin in Toronto. Ellee provides a profile of Nicole's case and a link to Brian Gray's "very poignant" Toronto Sun interview with Nicole's father, Art.

But this is what her blog readers get with the Sun link provided:

"The story you are searching for is available in its entirety via email, fax or mail for $12.00 (plus GST), payable with credit card (include expiry date)."

International interest in a Toronto missing persons case and Sun Media wants twelve bucks?

Yes, other newspapers are charging for older stories, but surely they can all exclude stories about unsolved missing persons cases and unsolved major crimes.

Besides, Sun Media's pay-to-read policy isn't consistent. There are Sun stories and columns written years ago that are still active without a demand for payment.

Providing free access to Sun stories and columns about Nicole and other missing children and adults wanted for major crimes could help in the investigations.

Ellee's readers are also directed to a U.S.-based Websleuths Crime Sleuthing Community forum where Brian Gray's full Sun column on Nicole is posted, avoiding the need to cough up $12.

The Crime Sleuthing site includes numerous forum comments about Nicole's case.

Here we have world-wide interest in one of our lost children. It is the Internet at its best, a true global village forum.

And Sun Media wants twelve bucks.

Cross words

Sun Television editors screwed up on the Crossword puzzle once again yesterday, publishing the wrong answers for the puzzle.

The editors should know by now not to mess with Sunday Sun Crossword fans. They get mean and snarly when errors are made.

The Crossword puzzle is one of the few remaining features in the 36-page TV guide. Is it that difficult to double check the puzzle and the answers week to week?

What is a seven letter word for not getting it right?


(Yes, it is a six letter word, but that is the point.)

Perhaps it is another sign of overworked employees in an understaffed newspaper.

Thursday 17 May 2007

McCann re PKP

An e-mail from Sean McCann, a veteran newsman who worked his way up the Sun ladder from Toronto Sun reporter in the 1970s to Calgary Sun managing editor in 2002.

"Re (Pierre Karl) Peladeau's comment: 'The practice of journalism is no longer and never will be what it was, and pangs of nostalgia will not change that.'

"There is a certain amount of truth in this statement from his perspective, but it's really spin. Of course the practice of journalism will never be the same. The practice that is. Computers, Internet, cellphones and all the other electronic wizardry have changed the practice of journalism. Instead of having say, an eight or 10 hour deadline, reporters now have maybe an hour deadline.

"But the essence of journalism will never change. The five Ws still rule. Our calling "charged with the truth" is still in place. Sure we may have to do it faster, but the craft doesn't change.

"The trouble with Peladeau and those who have never "been on the street" is they believe it's all b.s. They don't really believe anything journalists write, so they believe it doesn't matter. So what they call nostalgia, i.e. good solid journalism, isn't really necessary to put out a newspaper because the readers will lap up anything that's served up to them.

"So really, what he is saying is journalism isn't necessary in our society. So therefore we (older?) journalists are nostalgic . . . and redundant.

"I think the declining readership in his newspapers, and the unrest among staff, all point to one thing - readers are nostalgic too. But hardly redundant.

"Funny, such a smart businessman can't see that. But then, he and Conrad Black and other of their ilk believe they have all the answers. They move in specialized circles. We journalists only move with the ordinary folks.

"Now isn't that terribly nostalgic?"

Thank you for your e-mail Sean.

Tely/Sun nostalgia

Talk about nostalgia, Guy Crittenden over at was raised on newspapers and newspaper stories, being the son of Telegram editor Max Crittenden and later, stepson of Toronto Sun co-founder Peter Worthington.

In a recent lengthy posting on his Truck News Blog, Guy wrote about the changing tools of the trade in newspaper and magazine publishing and recalls childhood memories of the Toronto Telegram and the rising of the Sun:

". . . I realize that I am already a dinosaur for the next generation of magazine and media grads from universities and polytechnical colleges. People starting out nowadays will completely take for granted the bleeding edge computer technology that puts everything together in virtual reality. There will be no wax guns or whiteout under the fingernails for them!

"One final thought - all of this reminds me of my own childhood and just how much things have changed in the print media world. I grew up in a newspaper family. My father and stepfather and mother and stepmother were (and some still are) newspaper writers and editors. (They were all on staff at the same time and recently remarried to one another when the old Toronto Telegram folded in 1971.)

"My stepfather was one of the founders of the Toronto Sun, which launched its first edition on the Monday after the Tely folded on a Saturday. I still recall the "wake" my dad held at his apartment for the Tely, and some of the people there getting angry when they learned that Paul Rimstead burned the last edition at a bonfire in a park!

"In those days, the (Tely) newsroom was a busy and very loud place, unlike today's quiet computer and cube-land environment. Articles were written on ink and ribbon typewriters, and corrections were made with pencil on paper (remember those thick yellow pencils?).

"Articles were then (I am not kidding!) rolled into containers and sent Dr.Seuss-like by vacuum tube from the editorial department to other departments, and ultimately down to the "composing room" where technicians would read it and copy it onto printing plates ONE LETTER AT A TIME from little block letters made of lead.

"This was an astonishing skill that I witnessed as a child. The fingers of these older fellows would fly as they "composed" each newspaper page in hot lead type. And remember the most amazing thing of all - because these were print forms, every word and sentence had to be composed in lead type that read BACKWARDS!

"I recall that my father Max (since deceased) was the editor of the Telegram and was famous for being able to compose "directly on the stone." Remember that the broadsheet papers in those days would have three, sometimes even four, editions per day. There would be a morning, afternoon and evening edition, and maybe one more if there was a huge news story.

"The Tely, the Star and the Globe and Mail fought almost to the death to get "the scoop" and I recall that it was against the rules to be a delivery boy for more than one newspaper. You were either a "Tely" kid or a "Star" kid. I never did meet a "Globe" kid!

"This meant that the newspaper, and especially the front page, was constantly being updated. So, under deadline pressure and not wanting to bother sketching out a new front page layout, my dad would go down to the composing room and give directions to the print technicians, telling them to start an article here or end an column there, with the whole front page layout in his head, he'd direct them to compose the page in hot lead type on the "stone" (an actual stone tablet onto which the lead type was arranged). What an amazing accomplishment!

(I guess I come by my magazine layout trade honestly!)

"Of course, as technology evolved, those old typesetters were eventually out of a job, much as I imagine a lot of the older film house staff will have to find new work or retire early these days, unless they can covert their skills with red tape and Exacto knives into skills using a keyboard and computer monitor.

"Closing comment: I'm writing this Blog entry on my laptop from a coffee shop with a wireless Internet connection that allows me to connect to my company's server in Toronto. The software will automatically format this entry and post it to our magazine's website. Who would have thought this possible just a few decades ago, in the era of vacuum tubes and typewriters and yellow pencils?"

Tuesday 15 May 2007

Nostalgia lives

Quote of the week:

"The practice of journalism is no longer and never will be what it was, and pangs of nostalgia will not change that."

Well, Quebecor's Pierre Karl Peladeau said it so it must be true: Journalism as we have known it for a century or two is dead.

His concept of 21st century newspapers, perhaps, but don't get out the shovel just yet.

Toronto Sun Family members are a nostalgic lot, so pardon us if we don't agree with PKP's comment about "pangs of nostalgia" being wasted energy.

The past nine years under Quebecor have been anything but nostalgic for Sun Media employees, so that leaves sentimental us with the first 25 years or so to remember.

PKP's comments during the 35th annual meeting of Quebecor do not bode well for Sun Media newspapers, already hammered by eight years of layoffs, firings, buyouts and resignations.

He is quoted in the Montreal Gazette as saying: "It's obvious this industry can no longer operate under the business model that guided it for decades. Content is available now instantly and freely. Paid-circulation newspapers have to change their way of doing things from top to bottom."

He said the overhaul is, and must be, dramatic, and that means eliminating duplication and providing content not available elsewhere for nothing.

That tells us Quebecor will steamroll its way to Sun Media centralization and readers and employees be damned.

And should this sad media story end with the eventual rumoured merging of Sun and 24 Hours newspapers, it will be the result of tunnel vision, not necessity.

Yes, writing about the Sun's good times, the sharing and caring times, the respectful times, the compassionate times - all pre-Quebecor - is being nostalgic.

But it also pinpoints how newspaper people run newspapers and how people who were not raised in word factories run newspapers.

We'll take newspaper people over suits anytime.

Monday 14 May 2007

ENT feedback

Full credit to ENT's editors for publishing not-so-favourable reader feedback about the Toronto Sun's new Sunday Sun entertainment section.

Victoria MacMillan wraps up her letter to ENT by saying "I'm at a loss for words. I nearly cried when I opened the paper and found this. I don't know how else to say it. We hate it."


Helen Gibson says, in part: "Sorry, your ENT magazine does practically nothing for me."

F. Setters was more positive - and brief: "ENT is a great little magazine, with lots of info."

TSF says: Can't say we hate it and can't say it is great. We do say the makeover certainly didn't warrant a name change from Showcase to ENT.

(Just a thought: How difficult would it be to put dates in the Today through Saturday boxes at the top of the pages, except for the checked boxes?)

One problem with ENT is the age factor.

Except for Bruce Kirkland's reviews of DVD films for all ages, most of ENT section content is aimed at readers from late teens to thirty something.

The CD reviews, video games, concert reviews etc. leave the Sun's post-50 readers feeling ignored and wanting more for their Sunday Sun money.

The slimmer Sun Television guide is another disappointment for veteran Sunday Sun readers.

Once upon a time, the Sunday Sun, from front page to back page, was a newspaper to anticipate week after week. Sadly, not so much anymore.

Baby boomers who grew up loving the Toronto Sun are growing older with a tabloid more interested in catering to a younger target market than packaging a paper for all ages.

Perhaps that is another reason for the plunge in Sunday Sun readership.

Saturday 12 May 2007


It is deja vu all over again.

But instead of Torstar and Quebecor competing for the purchase of Sun Media in 1998, it is apparently Torstar and Quebecor as possible buyers of some of Osprey's 54 newspapers in 2007.

Osprey newspapers include the Kingston Whig-Standard, St. Catharines Standard and Peterborough Examiner.

"They (Osprey) don't want to carve their chain up but it may not be their choice," said Ben Mogil, a media and entertainment analyst with Westwind Partners.

CBC News has the full story on the possible sale of Osprey newspapers, but Torstar or Quebecor? Hmmmm. Doesn't that sound familiar?

Rachel Sa returns

Well hello, Rachel.

Freelancer Rachel Sa returned to the Toronto Sun for the first time since 2004 last Monday with an informative op-ed piece about that new Internet buzz place called Facebook.

MySpace is so yesterday . . .

"It feels great to be back," Rachel tells Toronto Sun Family. "I'm back on a freelance basis (same as my gig before.) Monday was my first column since 2004."

Back at you Rachel. It's great to see your well-written prose back in the Sun.

Rachel was a Mississauga high school student when she first wrote for the Toronto Sun in 1998 - a freelance column about the effects of teacher strikes on the morale of students. Sun staffers liked her style and she found invaluable mentors in Lorrie Goldstein, Alan Cairns, Bob MacDonald, Joe Warmington, Bob McConachie, Mike Strobel and others.

The effervescent young writer wrote an On Campus column for the Sun throughout her university years and in 2002 became a published author with a collection of her columns called What Rachel Sa - A Field Guide for Parents.

Rachel moved on to other ventures in 2004, including a stint at the National Post while former Sun publisher Les Pyette was at the Post.

All we can say is the Sun shines brighter with Rachel on the scene.

You can read more about Rachel in her TSF Hired in the 90s posting.

Friday 11 May 2007

Ottawa Sun -1

Geoff Matthews has made his exit as Comment Editor at the Ottawa Sun and he was allowed to do so with a farewell column.

Geoff, a seven-year Sun Media staffer, says his exit from the Sun
is "an opportunity to ply my trade somewhere else."

If you know where that "someone else" is, e-mail TSF.

"It's not easy saying goodbye. Not after nearly seven years at the Sun," Geoff wrote in his final column May 3.

"I can't tell you how many columns, editorials and stories I have written in those years. Some found general agreement, others harsh criticism. Some, I hope, made you stop and think. Hopefully many informed you.

"This one has the most simple message of them all: Goodbye and God bless all of you. "

Geoff's final day on the job was last Friday.

Yesterday, this Help Wanted ad was posted for a new Ottawa Sun Comment Editor.

Comment Editor
Ottawa Sun
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Posted: May 10, 2007
Deadline: May 25, 2007
Salary: not stated

The Ottawa Sun is looking for a Comment Editor.

The Comment Editor will edit and manage the local contributions to the Comment pages and work as a team member with Sun Media's national editors.

The successful candidate will be a clever and creative writer and manager able to work under tight deadlines. The flexibility to write objective news stories and local current events opinion columns is essential.

Applicants should submit a resume and a cover letter (stating you found this job on Jeff Gaulin's Journalism Job Board):

Mitchell Axelrad, Managing Editor
Ottawa Sun
6 Antares Drive, Phase 3
Ottawa , ON K2E 8A9


Thursday 10 May 2007

Television guides

Picked up a few 1960s copies of the Toronto Telegram's TV Weekly at an auction last week and suddenly pined for those days of handy little TV guides.

TV Weekly from four decades ago and the Toronto Sun's TV Magazine were five times the Sun Television guide being offered in the Sunday Sun in 2007.

Our 1966 issues of TV Weekly, at 102 pages, were roughly the size of the popular TV Guide and provided programming for 17 TV channels: 2 - WGR Buffalo; 3 - CKVR Barrie; 4 - WBEN Buffalo; 5 - CKSO Sudbury; 6 - CBLT Toronto; 7 - WKBW Buffalo; 8 - CKNX Wingham; 8A - WROC Rochester; 9 - CFTO Toronto; 10 - CFPL London; 10A - CFCH North Bay; 10B - WHEC Rochester; 11 - CHCH Hamilton; 11A - CKWS Kingston; 12A - CHEX Peterboro; 13 - CKCO Kitchener; 13A - WOKR Rochester.

Designed by Andy Donato, TV Weekly issues were filled with TV-related stories by Kathy Brooks and other Tely writers; wire service stories; a TV Comment column by George Anthony; Movies on TV by Charles Dennis; A Guest Column by actress Barbara Stanwyck; a Crossword puzzle; Focus - summaries of TV programs; episode details for most listings; a page for TV specials, another for sports.

In a nutshell, informative, helpful and handy.

Most of the people who packaged the Tely's TV Weekly were among the 62 Day Oners at the new Sun in November of 1971 and worked on a new TV magazine for Sun readers when the Sunday Sun was launched in 1975.

Thanks to Kathy Brooks, Gord Stimmell, Jim McPherson and many other Sun staffers, TV Magazine was a professional, 80-plus page publication enjoyed and appreciated by tens of thousands of Sun readers.

TV Magazine in the 1980s had feature stories, several columnists, including Jim McPherson (Movie Scrapbook, plus Channel Hopping); Eli Witmer (You Asked Us), John Cosway and later, Jim Thomson (Video Clips), Rob Langley (Sports Pulse) etc., numerous ads, episode descriptions etc.

One by one the features in the Sun's TV magazine disappeared and in 2007 it has been whittled down to one cover story, Soap Suds, TV Trivia and a Crossword puzzle, plus bare bones listings.

TV Guide in Canada, ignoring the thousands of television viewers who (a) do not have computers (b) do not surf the Internet (c) still prefer a handy printed guide, killed off its print edition last year.

The Sun has all but killed off the usefulness of its TV magazine.

Newspaper readers who buy their weekend papers for a dependable and informative television guide are now getting more for their money from the competition, including Gord Stimmell's meaty StarWeek at the Star.

Call it a generational quirk, buy we have a computer, we surf the Internet, we have satellite TV, but we still want and need a dependable weekly TV guide to thumb through daily.

Tuesday 8 May 2007

Dunlop Awards

Are the days of the annual in-house Edward A. Dunlop Awards of Excellence numbered?

The Dunlop judges are now sifting through the 2006 entries from all Sun Media newspapers, with the winners to be announced in the next month or so.

TSF has been told entries from staffers who have since left Sun Media will be considered for the 2006 awards. That would be the gentlemanly thing to do, but time will tell.

The odds of winning a Dunlop certainly favour survivors of the wide-scale Sun Media/Quebecor newsroom staff cuts at all of the papers. Quite a few talented staffers and previous Dunlop winners have left Sun Media in the past few years.

So the pickings are thinner than ever for judges looking for worthy submissions.

Sun vets remember the grand old days of the Dunlops, first awarded in 1985 in the name of the Toronto Sun's first president, who died from cancer at 61 in 1981.

Once upon a pre-Quebecor time, the annual awards night was a black tie affair held at the posh Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto and considered by winners as the Sun party of the year.

Winners from sister newspapers were flown to Toronto for the awards night and winners who did not have a tux or evening gown for the awards, were reimbursed for the cost of a rental.

Winners received a $2,500 travel voucher, $1,000 in cash, two weeks paid vacations, framed certificates, videos and souvenir awards programs.

Winners of the first awards for 1984 were: Jeanie MacFarlane - Feature Writing; John Robertson - Columns; John Geiger - Spot News; Gorm Larson - Spot News, Photo; Fred Thornhill - Feature Photo.

The list of winners and recipients of honorable mentions grew over the years, with new categories being added and more entries arriving from sister papers.

The biggest winner in our books was Doug Creighton, who launched the Dunlops to upstage the National Newspaper Awards. He knew how to say thanks to the writers, photographers and editors who excelled in all Sun departments year after year.

The Dunlops are one of the few remaining links to the Sun of old. The Sutton Hotel awards nights are long gone, as are most of the other frills.

It would be a shame to see the Dunlops deep-sixed after 23 years, but you need ample staff to legitimize the competition.

If the days of the Dunlops are numbered, just add them to the list of casualties of Quebecor's centralization plan.

Bye: Gary Dunford

Remember when the Toronto Sun knew how to say its goodbyes to parting vets? A time when the tabloid had heart and an appreciation of the contributions made by its employees?

We do.

On July 30, 2005, veteran Toronto Sun columnist and transplanted Page Sixer Gary Dunford made his exit with a farewell column in his own words. Comments in bold face were posted on his new blog, along with his complete final column.

Doors open.
Doors close.
Sheepdogs sleep.

Just sent column 7,127 down the pipe.
I'm okay with it.
Saved this photo for this day. Sweet.
It looks at me every time I turn on my computer.
These columns kept him in kibble.

Guess I should also save a complete file copy here - in case it's not posted to the Canoe website Sunday. By accident, of course.

EXIT RIFF: This is my last column for the Toronto Sun.

Those who just muttered "Good" can probably stop reading.

The first dunf column surfaced in the third issue of the Sunday Sun. That was September 1973 - about 7,127 columns ago. Not bad for a part-time job.

From Trudeaumania to Prime Minister Dithers and Premier McFib, from the Tiny Perfect Mayor and North York Bananaman to Amiel, the Black Queen of King Street, it has been an all-too-enjoyable ride. Did I hear somebody request the Christmas Glove joke? Too late.

If you remember any of those columns, get to a clinic. You may be what we doctors call "an effin' boomer." Boomers are despised by ad agencies and young alike. Quick, get in the van. Enjoy our ride to the dump.

The clever columnist keeps two file folders.

One is the Alibi File, in which you place any favorable mention. Notes from Allan Slaight, Leonard Asper, Gary Lautens, Jim Carrey and years of in-house high fives. You frantically wave this folder the day you zig when you should have zagged and fear they might fire you. Mercy!

The other folder is labeled Last Column. Here, you save any final effort by a Royko, a Breslin that manages to touch your heart or shows some class, a generosity of spirit. You hope to marshal the same. If you can't, you can always scalp theirs. Hey, just kidding. That would be wrong.

Many exit columns celebrate mentors and guardians. Daily columns can only be grown by master gardeners. Mine would include the amazing Kathy Brooks, insightful pal John Downing, wise Trudy Eagan and quarterback Peter Worthington - who saved me from ever being sacked by a Bassett. And of course, tabloid newsdom's founding god of grins, Doug Creighton.

Barbara Amiel once wrote that to survive at the Sun you have to learn ballroom dancing and how to be a good sport. She danced with Doug. I once danced with Eagan. They were kind enough not to laugh. Or demand to see our Alibi Files. They were good sports. But hey, I've mastered the limbo.

To be a happy Sun reader, you need two things. Good toonz and good teeth. Try the new CD by jazz singer Chiara Civello for the first. And if you fear dentists more than a Liberal majority, find Anesthesia Associates in North York. Superhero "Dr. Dave" was not an invention. Dr. David Isen is real. So is being zonked, dentalphobes. Anyone for pre-med? Me!

I'm sorry we never solved the mystery of Mickey Mouse's dog, Pluto. He's half Mickey's size. Is Mickey a giant mouse? Or is Pluto no bigger than a thimble? Goofy- Mickey's next-door neighbor - is also a dog but walks on two legs. Does Pluto never look over the fence and cry: "Hey, I got a dog house. Look what that dog has! You're my pet now, cheese-breath."

Please, no sobbing, Sparky. There's no key to turn me off. Did I mention I've been blogging for a month? See proof at

Eight years ago, my late, great accountant asked how long I planned to write a column.

"Until they beg me to stop," I joked. "The Sun's been very good to me." Arthur Gelgoot, guru to so many media idiots, let a gentle smile flicker about his cozy Bay St. office. "You can stop any time, you know."

I nodded. He meant financially. I thought emotionally.

Years later, I had a conversation with somebody at the Sun I suspected might be my boss. A freelance writer, I never really knew who was my boss. Nobody ever talked to me about yesterday's column. Nobody asked what was in tomorrow's. They left me alone. AND paid me. Holy crap. Unique.

"Hey, when the day comes, just say the word," I assured one of the editors. "I won't go away mad. I'll just go away."

"Like hell you will," he laughed. "Everybody goes away mad." Wrong, dude. Page Six died screaming. But not me.

Exit laughing. Y'all have a great life. Thanks for the ride, gang.

Beer? dunf

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