Wednesday 30 April 2008

Gambling site

While media conglomerates in Ontario busy themselves with print edition makeovers and web site additions, they continue to ignore the interests of gamblers.

More than a billion dollars spent annually on gambling and the cupboard is bare except for the occasional story about a multi-million-dollar win and a Rama concert review here and there.

There are pages and pages of content for movie fans, sports fans, television fans, computer game fans, music fans, concert fans, car buyers, condo shoppers, investors, travellers etc.

But not one newspaper in Ontario, including the Toronto Sun, Star, Globe and Post, is providing a service for gamblers, despite the large number of gamblers and the wide range of available material.

Lotteries: News and views on lottery odds, new tickets on the market, unclaimed prizes, player Q&As, lottery oddities, news about charity lotteries, complaints etc.;

Casinos: Odds of table games, slot payouts, a show calendar for live performances at the casinos, celebrity interviews and reviews, poker tournament news, player profiles etc.

Race tracks: News and columns about all levels of horse racing in the province, interview the race track characters Paul Rimstead used to write about etc.

Online gambling: Updates on the status of online gambling around the world, stories and columns about online gambling and gamblers, safety tips etc.

Be objective, provide a focal point for Ontario gamblers in print and online, with news and views, pro and con, and it wouldn't be a gamble. It would be a sure bet.

Talk about a target audience.

Hot stuff

Photojournalism 101: How to snap the perfect fire photo, courtesy of John Hanley and his Exhibit A on the front page of today's Toronto Sun. Take a big bow, John. It's a winner.

Toronto Star
Globe and Mail
National Post

Tracy's response

Tracy McLaughlin/McConkey has posted the following comment in response to TSF's query about the same stories in the Barrie Examiner and Toronto Sun with different bylines:

Tracy McLaughlin has left a new comment on your post:

"Hi readers, I posted my reasons for the "2 Tracys" earlier, but don't see it on the blog so I will post it again.

Yes, we are one and the same. I recently was married for the first time at the age of 50. I had planned to do the old-fashioned thing and go by my new married name of McConkey, but after some 20 years of being a news writer/photographer, I discovered that suddenly going by a different name will pose a problem for many of my contacts.

So I have decided to use my married name locally in the Barrie Examiner and my tried and true name of McLaughlin for all other media, including the Toronto Sun.

In fact, I have many different personalities so only going by two names seems really quite simple. But I'm open to suggestions/critisism (sic)."

If Sun Media doesn't object, discussion over. Traditionally, female journalists have kept their maiden names professionally, or have become hyphenated.

Using your maiden name and married name on the same stories for two different newspapers is one for the books.

Baron skate fame

George Gross skated through more than five decades of sports journalism with the confidence of the beloved Canadian skaters he often wrote about in his columns.

His final column, written the day before he died, was about Canadian skating legend Kurt Browning.

So fitting, it is, that the late, great Toronto Sun founding sports editor, who died on Good Friday at 85, is being inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame.

George is in good company. Other Skate Canada inductees are Jim Proudfoot, a Toronto Star sports writer who died in 2001, and skaters Marijane Stong and Donald Knight.

A Canadian Press story says "Knight will be inducted into the athlete category, Stong into the professional category as a coach while Proudfoot and Gross will be inducted into the builder category as sport journalists."

Another deserving honour for The Baron.

Tuesday 29 April 2008

Dave & Conrad

Updated 05/10/08 re NNA win
It was a gesture that lasted a split second, but veteran photographer Dave Chidley was there to capture it forever.

Conrad Black, the disgraced media baron, giving a finger salute to the media during his fraud trial in Chicago was a still photo exclusive for the Canadian Press photographer.

To date, the former Sun Media photographer's photo has won first prizes in the 2007 News Photographers Association of Canada awards and the 2007 National Newspaper Awards.

TSF asked Dave - a Sun Media vet with more than 23 years at papers in Toronto, Calgary and London before Quebecor's cutbacks cost him his job in October of 2006 - to replay the day Conrad made his day.

Says the winner of a 1997 NNA and numerous other national and provincial photo awards:

"I was asked by Canadian Press to cover some of the Hollinger executive's trial in Chicago as the jurors deliberated. I had been there for a couple of days the previous week and was fortunate enough to be there the week it all wrapped up.

Most days were extremely boring. There was a "Media Compound" in the middle of the courthouse lobby, where most of us waited. CBC, CTV, Global all had their areas, the locals on another piece of marble and the still photographers crowded in one corner.

Most of the reporters gathered and waited on the upper floor, where the courtroom was situated. All of the still photographers had folding lawn chairs and some had foot rests. A lot of reading and Internet surfing helped to kill the time. If the jury came back for any reason, the accused and the lawyers would have 30 minutes to get back to the courthouse.

During my seven days covering the trial, that only happened twice. So you would go from many, many hours of painfully boring waiting to extreme chaos in a matter of minutes. If the key players were nearby (as in across the street in the lawyer's office) it might take just a minute or two for them to make it to the courthouse. So being ready, despite the tedium, was essential.

The day of the finger photo, Conrad appeared in a taxi at the front doors of the courthouse. I was waiting there and relieved because the courthouse had a side entrance a half-city block away and to make it there was a long sprint to have any chance of a shot. There was a great scrum of media at the front door by the time he arrived and exited the taxi.

My strategy was to get a couple of shots as he opened the door of the taxi, then run around the scrum and position myself by the revolving entrance door to ensure I'd get him walking straight towards me. Getting stuck in the scrum sometimes gets you in way too close and if you get behind, you are never going to get back out in front.

I got several good, quick shots as Conrad exited the taxi. There were four or five of us who stepped out onto the street and got the right angle for his exit out the left side of the vehicle. One of those photographers was the photographer for Reuters. He also took the same plan of attack as I did because, as Conrad approached and passed me to enter the glass revolving doors, I felt the Reuters guy brush past me just in front of Conrad's path.

As Conrad pushed on the door and moved into the circular glass-enclosed revolving door, he hesitated and turned back. I saw the anger, or fire in his eye, directed to my left to where the Reuters photographer had moved. I am only guessing, but I believe the door was snug and perhaps Conrad believed the photographer was blocking the door.

It all happened in a split second and when I saw the fire in his eye I pushed the shutter for two quick frames before he turned his head away and made it through the door. I didn't realize exactly what had happened until I checked the images and could see the middle finger had also been directed next to me in the direction of the Reuters shooter. It was visible in both frames. You can see a bit of a reflection of the hair of the other photographer just above Conrad's head.

There was certainly not any expectation of making a usable photo once he entered the revolving doors. There was a flat pane of glass on the exterior and then the curved pane of glass of the revolving door inside that. The double layers of thick, tinted glass are obviously not the obstruction one would try and shoot through.

If it weren't for the fact he turned my way and I saw that intense expression, I wouldn't have shot either. Only the video shooter for CTV, who just kept shooting as Conrad disappeared into the dark door, got another image of the finger and it was only visible when my flash lit it up.

CTV did a freeze frame on it when my flash fired. None of the other 20 or more shooters in the vicinity of the door got it. It really was totally unexpected in one of the ugliest spots for it to happen. I'm sure if Conrad had done it before entering the revolving door, there would have been numerous great shots of the gesture.

It's debatable if the flash reflection and the poor quality as a result of the glass add to, or detract, from the photo. I personally feel it gives the image the newsy edge that illustrates the split -second nature of spot news photography. Yes, it would have been great for him to be out front in good light and not to have two panes of glass to shoot through, but I certainly wouldn't have had the exclusive still shot if that were the case.

I am happy to trade quality for exclusivity. It really was a split second in the very lengthy trial and I only covered a small portion of the many months it went on. I was lucky to be in the right spot at the right time to react to his expression.

Despite how fast the expression and gesture happened, I was fortunate to get it and as one of the photographers who unfortunately missed the shot lamented, that's the shot that's going to get all the play and be "the shot" of the trial.

The fact that AP didn't transmit the photo on their system to the USA and the rest of the world is another story.

I am thrilled that here in Canada, it has received the News Photographers Association of Canada (NPAC) Spot News award and a National Newspaper Award.

Earl McRae's column in the Ottawa Sun focused on the Conrad finger photo and Joe Warmington wrote about it in the Toronto Sun.

Here are some varied and interesting reactions to the photo and to it being awarded first place in the NPAC Spot News category.

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun Times columnist forum

Everyone has an opinion it seems."

Thanks for the replay Dave. Best of luck at the NNAs.

Richard Roeper. Isn't he a TV critic? Or is it movies? He certainly earns a big thumbs down as a spot news photography critic.

One exclusive shot is what it takes to separate you from the crowd.

Sunday 27 April 2008

More Dunlops

Sun Media's promotion of its 2007 Dunlop Awards winners won't win any awards.

Several more newspapers have reported their wins - Winnipeg Sun, Barrie Examiner, Brantford Expositor - but still no online link to a complete list of winners and honorable mentions.

Announcing the awards in dribs and drabs after they were released on Tuesday is a strange way for Canada's largest newspaper chain to handle the Dunlops.

Flaunt the complete list, don't hide it. The 2006 Dunlop Awards list was readily available.

Last night, the Winnipeg Sun posted its wins online:

Entertainment editor Darryl Sterdan won first prize in the critical writing category for his Music at the Crossroads series, which "explored the phenomenon of digital downloading and its effects on the music industry.

Andrew Pollreis, a graphic designer, won first prize in the layout and design category for his "two-page spread rating the CFL's best quarterbacks," viewed by Sun Media readers across Canada. It was a repeat Dunlop win for Pollreis.

"I'm pleased with the results and extremely proud of Darryl, Andrew and the entire Sun editorial team," said Stephen Ripley, the Winnipeg Sun's editor-in-chief.

On Saturday, the Barrie Examiner publicized its win, a "We'll Be There" award for its news team coverage of the extensive Five Points blaze in downtown Barrie in December.

"When we heard about the Five Points fire we understood just how important it was to tell our readers not only what happened, but also what it meant to our community," said Mike Beaudin, managing editor.

"Our entire news team worked to tell the story through the eyes of firefighters, victims and downtown residents. The photos of the devastation were extremely powerful."

The Brantford Expositor announced its Dunlop Award honourable mention winner on Friday.

Vincent Ball, a reporter, earned the honours in the community daily writing category for Undercover: An inside look at Brantford's Drug Trade, a "three-part series about the city's drug trade and the police officers who battle it daily."

(The Expositor said that category was won by Frank Armstrong of the Kingston Whig-Standard for his piece When Crime Does Pay.)

More Dunlop Award announcements to come? Hey, maybe we'll have them all before the awards are presented in Toronto on June 26.

It's good PR, guys.

Friday 25 April 2008

Sun to Post

Updated 04/27/08
Calgary Sun photographer Brett Gundlock won a couple of Dunlop Awards this week, but he won't be a Sun Media staffer when the awards are presented June 26.

The National Post has snatched Brett away from the Calgary Sun and he'll be shooting for the Toronto-based daily beginning May 7.

No more SUNshine Girls for Brett.

Another loss of promising young talent for Sun Media.

The multimedia whiz kid, who started at the Edmonton Sun as an intern a couple of years ago, has been a motivated doer.

He won a 2007 Dunlop in the multimedia feature category for his acclaimed 18-month Josh: At Home on the Streets project that documented the life of a drug-addicted homeless man.

(The same project also earned Brett third prize in the Multimedia category in the 2007 National Photographers Association of Canada competition.)

Brett also shared an honourable Dunlop mention in the same category for a team effort audio slideshow, Remembering a Hero, a tribute to Calgary's Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, killed in Afghanistan.

Phil Snel, deputy photo editor at the Post, announced Brett's hiring on the NPAC forum yesterday

"We're pleased to announce that the newest addition to the National Post photo department is Brett Gundlock. Brett, who hails from Alberta, will begin his position as staff photojournalist in Toronto on May 7, 2008."

"Sad to see Brett leave Alberta," Tom Braid, the Edmonton Sun's photo editor, told the forum. "Would have rather seen him head north 300 kms to our department than heading more than 3,000 kms east.

"Hard to believe that it has already been just over two years since Brett walked through the door as a student on placement," says Braid. (See Braid's posted comment re Brett's job spree.)

"Brett has been a tireless worker, a very good team player and one who has not let anything or anybody hold him back from breaking into this business."

Brett has received numerous other congrats on the forum, where he says he is "very excited" about the move."

He's also looking for accommodations in T.O.

"If anyone is looking for a roommate, let me know," says Brett.

Thursday 24 April 2008

Dunlop focus

The Dunlop Awards - to each his own.

It is puzzling why the Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary Suns and the London Free Press all chose to restrict online coverage of the winning 2007 Dunlop Awards entries to their own turf.

Links to a complete awards list were not provided. If there is a Sun Media list of all Dunlop Award winners and categories online, it is not easily accessible.

What we got, over a period of hours, were separate stories from Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and London. Did any other Sun Media newspaper win an award or receive an honourable mention?

When the annual National Newspaper Award nominations and winners are announced, all of the finalists and winners are posted on the Canadian Newspaper Association web site.

The News Photographers Association of Canada announces its complete lists of National Pictures of the Year Award nominees and winners via CNW Group press releases.

Life should be so simple with Sun Media.

While we're at it, kudos again to the Calgary Sun for providing links to winning multimedia entries. Ottawa, Toronto and London didn't provide any links, but TSF located a few.

Some newspapers have miles to go before they grasp the full potential of the Internet.

Papers pimping?

A buck is a buck, but during the early Toronto Sun years, the line was drawn when it came to sexually oriented classified ads.

In the 1970s, there were a few reluctant Sun text ads for massages, but nothing more explicit, especially after the 1977 sex slaying of 12-year-old Emanuel Jacques above a Yonge Street body rub parlour.

Somewhere along the way, the bean counters won out against those who argued the newspaper could do without adult ads. What began as a trickle of ads soon became a flood.

The Sun caved to get a share of the cash cow other media were receiving.

The Bulletin, a downtown T.O. publication, doesn't pull any punches in an editorial that suggests that Now, the Star's Eye, the Sun and other publications are pimping when they publish sex ads.

Pimpin', just like the biker gangs.

"Do the publications investigate each ad placement to ensure that a creep who captures runaway children and forces them into prostitution isn’t behind it?," the Bulletin editorial asks.

Good point. We think not.

As for the Sun, the raunchy, often illustrated "adult" ads, a few pages past the comics, have always been a contradiction for a tabloid that wants to be accepted as a family newspaper.

But a buck is a buck.

Wednesday 23 April 2008

Dunlops: London

The London Free Press picked up an investigative reporting win and four honourable mentions in the 2007 Dunlop Awards.

Jonathan Sher won for investigative reporting for a series of stories on lead levels in drinking water in London and beyond.

Honourable mentions, as reported in a London Free Press story, go to:

Kelly Pedro in the investigative reporting category for a series examining a homicide investigation.

Sue Reeve in the feature photography category.

A team of Free Press reporters won honourable mention in the spot news category for coverage of the Jesse Imeson case.

A team of reporters and photographers and graphic artist Juanita Sims, in the We'll Be There category for a series on human health and the environment in Southwestern Ontario.

Dunlops: Toronto

The Toronto Sun, the flagship tabloid in the Sun Media chain, has won nine Dunlop Awards for achievements by 13 reporters, photographers and editors in 2007.

The four category wins and five honourable mentions, as announced in a story by Ben Spencer, are:

Michele Mandel, for a column on the Robert Pickton serial murder trial in Vancouver.

The veteran Toronto Sun columnist also won a shared spot news award along with Peter Worthington, Joe Warmington, Jonathan Jenkins, Sarah Green, Brett Clarkson and Alan Shanoff for Conrad Black coverage entitled "Just call him Con."

Stan Behal, a veteran Sun photographer, won a sports photography award for a photo of Saskatchewan Rough Riders quarterback Kerry Joseph after winning the Grey Cup.

Mike Strobel won a humour award for his a column on McMaster University's close look at his brain.

Honourable mentions go to:

Dave Abel
in the spot news photography category for a photo of a grandmother who had the wrong leg cut open during surgery at Brampton Civic Hospital.

Mark Bonokoski in the columns category for "A victim and her rapist - 25 years later."

Steve Buffery for his "It's a Living" column.

Michele Mandel in feature writing for a story about the 10th anniversary of Princess Diana's death.

Jim Slotek in the critical writing category for his story on Canadian comic Russell Peters.

Joe Warmington was also recognized as runner-up in the prestigious J. Douglas Creighton Award for editorial excellence, which was won by Rick Bell of the Calgary Sun.

Lou Clancy, editor-in-chief, said the awards reflected the newspaper's strong standing both in Toronto and Canada as a whole.

"The breadth of them speaks to the depth of staff that we have," he said in the Sun story. "We have won right across the board, from columns to sports to photography."

Dunlops: Ottawa

The Ottawa Sun's Earl McRae has added another Dunlop Award for sports writing to his collection.

An Ottawa Sun story by Elisabeth Johns says McRae won his 11th Dunlop for a June 2007 story titled "This Isn't How a Legend Should End."

It detailed J.I. Albrecht's "journey from his life as a (CFL) football star to his life at a Toronto nursing home, where he spent his last six months bedridden and in pain."

Sun editor-in-chief Mike Therien said McRae was able to "peel back the layers of a complicated" legend, the story says.

Jeff Morgan, a copy editor, picks up a Dunlop Unsung Hero Award.

The awards will be presented June 26 in Toronto.

Tuesday 22 April 2008

Dunlops: Calgary

The Calgary Sun is first off the mark to post its share of Sun Media's 2007 Dunlop Awards, announced today.

Stuart Dryden won the national spot news photography award for his exclusive photo of three-year-old Kate Williams, the sole survivor of a fatal plane crash near Golden, B.C.;

The prestigious J. Douglas Creighton Award goes to Rick Bell, a 16-year veteran reporter/columnist;

Al Charest, photo editor, won a top multimedia award for an audio slide show following the Virginia Tech shooting spree that left dozens of students and teachers dead;

Cherest and members of his staff - Brett Gundlock, Darren Makowichuk and Jim Wells - earned an honourable mention in the same category for their Remembering a Hero audio slideshow, a tribute to Calgary's Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, killed in Afghanistan in September.

Brett Gundlock also won in the multimedia feature category for his Josh, at home on the Streets, documenting the life of a drug-addicted home man;

Jim Wells also earned honourable mention for his A Year in His Life piece about a young man left paralysed after a quad accident.

Jose Rodriguez, editor-in-chief, says in a story by Nadia Moharib he's pleased with the Calgary Sun's performance in the annual awards.

“I’m very, very pleased at how our team did,” he said. “We absolutely cleaned up in multimedia.”

Click on the highlighted links to view the winning multimedia entries.

The awards, in honour of Edward A. Dunlop, founding president of the Toronto Sun, have been awarded annually since 1985. feature documenting the life of drug-addicted homeless man.

Journal milestone

Updated re CBC report
Media reporter Grant Robertson writes a first anniversary piece for the Journal de Quebec lockout and strike in today's Globe and Mail.

Robertson says to mark the one-year anniversary, the 252 locked out and striking employees will print more than 70,000 copies of their free MediaMatin tabloid today, up from 40,000.

"By comparison, Le Journal's circulation is roughly 100,000," says Robertson, who talks to both sides in the dispute.

Meanwhile, a CBC report about the one-year anniversary says the newspaper employees blame Quebec CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau for the standoff.

It is a father and son thing, one veteran Journal employee told the CBC. There was never a lockout or strike with Pierre Sr. at the helm until he died in 1997.

Monday 21 April 2008

Ott presses

You can almost hear the Ottawa Sun presses starting up again with the latest Help Wanted ad for four printing press operators.

The Service Canada ad posted Monday is more detailed than most Help Wanted ads when it comes to "skill requirements," but the message is clear - they want applicants to start work ASAP.

Ottawa Sun readers will benefit from the return to sanity after printing the tabloid two hours away in Mirabel, Que. for more than a year. Fewer distribution delays, later deadlines etc.

As described, working conditions for printing press operators include excessive noise, standing for extended periods, physically demanding, requires working under pressure etc.

So who would want to be a printing press operator?

Guys like the now unemployed Toronto Sun press operators, a dedicated crew described by the late, great Doug Creighton as the best of the best and essential to the success of the Sun.

Doug made sure annual reports and special supplements reporting on the inner workings of Sun newspapers always included the unsung heroes who manned the presses.

When the presses at 333 King Street East were silenced recently, many of the pressmen putting their final paper on the streets had 25-plus years on the job.

It is an end of an era for Toronto Sun editors, who were always in control of press runs into the early hours of the morning.

Odds & Ends

A Canadian Press story in the Toronto Star yesterday said Sun Media had laid off 16 editorial employees in November "as it continued the technology-driven centralization of its newspaper group's operation." Say what? News to us. Who and where?

The dawn of a new day tomorrow marks the first anniversary of the lockout and strike at the Journal de Quebec in Quebec City. No celebrations for the 252 Sun Media employees involved, who continue to publish the free weekday tabloid MediaMatin while waiting for Quebecor to resume talks.

The Edmonton Sun is the first Sun Media newspaper that we know of to provide links to award winning photographs in online stories. Bravo. It's about time. The same should apply to all award winning Sun Media photographs, stories, features and columns.

The Toronto Sun lost its dedicated pressroom employees and on site presses at 333 King Street East when operations recently moved to Quebecor's new plant in Islington. But on the positive side, employees gained a couple of dozen precious parking spaces in the loading dock area.

Why are Andy Donato's editorial cartoons not always in colour?

A TSF reader left a comment about our 2 Tracys posting saying there is nothing wrong with a freelance reporter filing to more than one newspaper. True, but how may freelance writers use different last names for their bylines? Are we alone in thinking it's odd?

The Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton Suns are participating in this week's Gutenberg Media Grab, with media providing discounted online space in support of adult literacy in Canada. The online sale of media space runs through Friday.

Out Calgary way, Glen Wheland, former assistant managing editor at the Calgary Sun, has been hired by Hill & Knowlton Canada as account director. The firm deals with "crisis communications clients." Is that like dealing with reporters at deadline?

Conrad's finger

Updated 04/22/08

Dave Chidley
says Conrad Black can give him the finger anytime, anywhere.

Chidley, a former veteran Sun Media photographer now with Canadian Press, snapped up a first prize at the News Photographers Association of Canada awards in Vancouver yesterday for a photo of Black's finger flip.

The award-winning photographer won $500 for the best 2007 Spot News photo of the year, snapped in Chicago last July during one of Black's numerous court appearances on fraud charges.

It's doubtful the disgraced media baron will be flipping his finger at media any time soon. He's serving 6 1/2 years in a Florida prison.

Chidley worked for Sun Media for more than 23 years, first as an intern at the Toronto Sun in 1982, then fulltime at the Calgary Sun for 17 years and six years at the London Free Press.

In October of 2006, Quebecor's erratic cutbacks cost the 1997 National Newspaper Award winner his job - one of many talented people lost to Sun Media.

Meanwhile . . .

Sun Media photogs from Edmonton, Calgary and London were front and centre at NPAC's second annual National Pictures of the Year awards banquet in Vancouver. (CBC story)

Edmonton Sun photographers Jason Franson, Darryl Dyck and Tim Smith cleaned up in the Feature/Enterprise category, winning first and second prizes and an honourable mention in a crowd of 221 entries.

First: Franson - Swinging soldier; Second: Dyck - Trees and skaters; Honourable Mention: Smith - Swimmer.

Dyck also picked up an honourable mention in the Sports Action category for a rodeo photo.

Brett Gundlock of the Calgary Sun won third prize in the Multimedia category for his Joshua Sager - Homeless in Calgary entry.

And in the Pictorial category, Derek Ruttan of the London Free Press earned an honourable mention for his "water drop" entry.

Congrats to all.

Hopefully, photographers from the Toronto and Ottawa Suns will be in the running for the 2008 awards.

A CNW Group press release lists all of the winners and honourable mentions chosen from more than 2,200 entries submitted by 123 photojournalists.

All of the winning photos can be viewed online at

Sunday 20 April 2008

The 2 Tracys

There they were again, twice in the past week - almost identical stories in the Toronto Sun and Barrie Examiner by Tracy McLaughlin and Tracy McConkey respectively.

We are befuddled. It's kinda like a Joe Warmington column here and a Joe Warming column there, or a Peter Worthington column here and a Peter Worthing column there. Can't say we've ever seen this before.

Readers of the Sun Media newspapers in Toronto and Barrie probably couldn't care less, but what's the story from a newspaper's point of view?

Re Bruce Huff

Out of the blue, the e-mail arrived. Another Toronto Sun Family member updating TSF on his whereabouts since his exit in 1994 after 14 years.

Bruce Huff, a local baseball and hockey legend in his own time, was hired in 1980 by the late, great George Gross and served as assistant sports editor for eight years.

Bruce e-mailed to add his profile to our Hired '80s posting.

"From the wilds of London, Ontario, here's a voice from the past," said Bruce. "Thanks for letting an old guy indulge in a bit of nostalgia."

No grass has been growing under Bruce's shoes since he left the Sun in 1994, as his profile shows.

Bruce is in the Who's Who of Canadian Sports for writing for good reason.

Prior to the Sun, he worked at the Chatham Daily News for two years and London Free Press for 11 years. After leaving the Sun, he penned an Off the Cuff column for the Toronto Star and London Free Press.

"Sun times were fun times," says Bruce, father of two and grandfather of four. "Laughter amid chaos. Pride amid crisis. Thanks for the memories."

Bruce, who
plays oldtimers hockey and is player/manager of an elite seniors slo-pitch team that plays across North America, has a birthday coming up on June 22.

All the best, oldtimer.

Saturday 19 April 2008

LFP's new look

Paul Berton, editor-in-chief of the London Free Press, responds to bouquets and barbs from readers responding to the redesigned paper in his column today.

The changes were introduced on Monday. Barbs have included moving the news section, placement of obits and "our new way of lettering the sections."

Berton notes nothing is written in stone "so next week, we'll go back to a simple A, B, C system. We apologize for the confusion."

Meanwhile, the Ottawa Sun, in its 20th year, opened the phone lines to readers this week. Management took calls for two hours.

"Many callers were relieved to hear that reopening the Sun presses in Ottawa this month has meant a return to earlier and more consistent home deliveries, with improved sports scores," says Rick Gibbons, publisher and CEO.

Among the reader requests: Larger print in TV listings for seniors and more obituaries.

People love their obits. As the late, great comedian George Burns used to say, he reads the obits every morning and if he's not in them, he gets out of bed.

Writing obits is beneath a lot of reporters, but if properly researched they can be the better reads of the day. Nobody does it better than the Globe and Mail.

Zen an ACE

Zen Ruryk, a veteran Toronto Sun reporter and city hall bureau chief, is moving back into the newsroom as an assistant city editor.

The one-year contract position was advertised recently as Gord Walsh was preparing to make his exit from the newsroom for a second time.

Gord, a Sun vet was managing editor when he made his first exit in February of 2007. He returned later in the year to help out on city desk after ACE Dave Ellis was seriously injured in a bicycle accident last fall.

Zen, a Sun staffer since 1984, will be working with Kevin Hann, who was named city editor last May.

No word yet on who will replace Zen as city hall bureau chief.

Thursday 17 April 2008

TorStar -122

Update 04/19/08
It appears former Toronto Sun staffer Joey Slinger's departure from the Toronto Star this week is only the first of many newsroom employees making their exit.

A Globe and Mail story today says 122 of the Toronto Star's 1,790 employees have accepted voluntary buyouts in the trimming of Torstar's staff of 6,200.

The Canadian Press says the 122 Toronto Star job losses includes "the entire Internet production staff."

TSF tipsters have provided a few Toronto Star newsroom names soon to vanish, but we'll wait until their departures are official.

Word is Al Christie, another former Toronto Sun staffer, has taken a buyout. He has been national editor at the Star.

“These are people who applied for and were granted voluntary separation packages,” Torstar spokesman Bob Hepburn says in John Partridge's Globe story.

Dozens of other jobs in Torstar's newspaper division will also be cut through "voluntary and involuntary staff reductions.”

Overall, about 160 newspaper division positions will be affected.

CP says the Toronto Star's Internet staff layoffs (10 employees) came as a surprise to Maureen Dawson, an official with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.

"Their message to the world is that they're all dedicated to the Internet, but then they lay off the whole department," she told CP.

BTW: 122 job cuts at the Star represent roughly the size of the Toronto Sun's entire editorial staff. Sun employees tend to gloat after scooping the mighty Star, Canada's largest newspaper.

There has always been a lot of deadwood collecting pay cheques at 1 Yonge Street. Unfortunately, more senior, productive staffers are often lost to buyouts.

Violin saga

The homeless woman in the lost-and-found $77,000 violin saga remains elusive, but she is still in the minds of Toronto Star columnists and readers.

Star columnist Joe Fiorito hit the bricks this week asking homeless people how $500 - half the reward money had the homeless woman received a share - would affect their lives. Apparently, $500 would go a long way in the pocket or purse of a homeless man or woman.

The Toronto Sun has dropped the ball on this story.

Meanwhile, the homeless woman who lost out on a share of the $1,000 reward last week when she surrendered the violin she found for $35 cash and a $40 pinky ring, has not been found.

Fiorito says in his Wednesday column, Wayne Wulff, the guy who collected the $1,000 reward, isn't returning phone calls.

EdSun photog

Congrats to award-winning Edmonton Sun photog Darryl Dyck once again, this time as a finalist in the 2007 Canadian Association of Journalists awards.

Darryl is nominated in the Photojournalism category, along with photographers at the Edmonton Journal and the Independent (St. John's).

The Edmonton Sun says Darryl is "the only photographer to ever win the Western Canadian News Photographer Association’s photo of the year award three times in a row."

Winning CAJ entries each receive a $1,000 cash prize. Awards will be announced May 24 at the CAJ awards banquet in Edmonton.

Wednesday 16 April 2008

Bye ABCs

Updated 04/17/08 re reaction to switch
Bye bye ABCs (Audit Bureau of Circulations), hello Canadian Circulation Audit Board.

Sun Media, TorStar and Transcontinental Media have adopted the new CCAB, says a Marketwire press release today.

Marketwire says Sun Media now has 44 newspapers registered for CCAB auditing, including the Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Ottawa Suns, London Free Press, Sarnia Observer, Beacon Herald (Stratford), Daily Observer (Pembroke), Recorder and Times (Brockville), Times-Journal (St. Thomas), Brantford Expositor, Le Journal de Montreal and Le Journal de Quebec.

The newspaper publishing companies believe such an advisory board is needed to ensure that the Canadian newspaper industry has the flexibility and control necessary to better manage business in changing times and to reflect unique Canadian perspectives on the future of the newspaper industry, says the Marketwire story.

Reaction to the switch from ABC drew negative response from "industry leaders."

We await the release of Sun Media's first CCAB figures.

Byline oddity

While surfing Sun Media online newspapers last night, discovered a Toronto Sun/Barrie Examiner byline oddity that raises a "what's the story?" question.

Toronto Sun
By Tracy McLaughlin, Special to Sun Media
Barrie - An Etobicoke man who once called himself the "Cut King" and bragged about his skills as a street racer hung his head in shame in the prisoner's box yesterday as he apologized for killing another man during a wild highway race.

Nauman Nusrat, 20, begged for mercy and forgiveness after pleading guilty to street racing causing the death of David Virgoe, 48, of Innisfil, during a frantic 44-km race against two buddies on Hwy. 400 last June 17.

He'll be sentenced May 18.

"I am a sinner, a murderer," Nusrat said to the Virgoe family, who sat weeping in the courtroom. "It was stupid . . . I did not know it would end in a nightmare."

As he spoke, his mother sat alone, silently weeping, in the front row of the court.


Barrie Examiner:
Posted By Tracy McConkey
A man who once called himself the "Cut King" and bragged about his skills as a street racer hung his head in shame in the prisoner's box, yesterday, as he apologized for killing a trucker during a wild race on Highway 400.

Nauman Nusrat, 20, of Etobicoke, begged for mercy and forgiveness after pleading guilty to street racing causing the death of David Virgoe, 48, of Innisfil, during the frantic 44-kilometre race, June 17, 2007.

"I am a sinner, a murderer," Nusrat said to the Virgoe family, who sat weeping in the courtroom. "It was stupid. I did not know it would end in a nightmare."

As he spoke, his mother sat alone, silently weeping, in the front row of the court.


Two almost identical Sun Media stories, one by Tracy McLaughlin and the other by Tracy McConkey.

So what's the story?

Is it time to call in the plagiarism police, or are the two Tracys one and the same?

If one and the same, why two different bylines?

Just asking.

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Slinger retires

Joey Slinger, with 31 years of Toronto Star reporting and columns on his resume, retires today.

The former 1970s Toronto Sun gossip columnist turned 65 yesterday, which makes us wonder if the media vet's exit is voluntarily, or was he nudged out the door, cough, Jim Bawden, cough.

At the end of his final column today, Joey simply says: "This is my last column. I'm retiring. I will miss you. Nobody has ever had such glorious readers."

You don't quit journalism cold turkey. Joey no doubt has another 25 years in him, so we await word about why he's leaving the Star and what his next keyboard adventure will be.

We do know Joey's departure gives us another reason to not pick up the Star.

Sun vets have fond memories of the easy-going journalist, who got his start at the Guelph Mercury and made several stops along the way before joining the Sun.

As says in today's Star story, he impressed all of his poke-and-hunt colleagues with his touch typing.

"I never counted on growing old, that was the surprise thing," Joey says in today's Star story, but 65 ain't old these days. It's a springboard into a few more decades of writing.

Joey, a Star columnist since 1979, must always have seemed like a cub reporter to Star sports legend Milt Dunnell, who died just recently at 102.

So here's hoping Joey's exit is 100% voluntary now that forced retirement at 65 is no longer in favour or warranted.

All the best, Joey.

Hey, how about a return to your old Sun digs and the poke-and-hunt crowd? You are too much of a Toronto icon to fade to black.

Sun fronts

Toronto Sun readers have had a love affair with the tabloid's unique front pages for almost four decades.

Thanks to Newseum's online daily front page submissions, Sun readers in Toronto and other Sun cities can create their own fave fronts collections.

Collect and catalogue the best of the best for free with a daily visit to the Newseum front pages site. Select North America in the "chose region" box.

Click on the newspaper's name or front page for a larger image, right click and save the image to your computer.

You can print them in full colour for framing, or create online slide shows. One regret is we didn't have this function during the first 30-plus years of award-winning front pages.

For media types, nothing tops framed front pages on the walls of rec rooms and home offices, especially if they are fronts with your line stories and/or photos.

Newseum's archival pages have some Sun fronts for major events:

The July 2005 London, England bombings;

The April 2007 Virginia Tech massacre;

The Barry Bonds' August 2007 historic home run, overshadowed on the front by a Kate Hudson summer romp exclusive;

The December 2007 tsunamis etc.

The 9/11 "Bastards" Toronto Sun front from 2001 is not in the Newseum archives, just fronts from the Globe and Mail and National Post.

Nat Press Club

The majority of press clubs in Canada have downsized or bolted their doors since the 1990s, but not the National Press Club of Canada.

The National Press Club in Ottawa turns 80 this year with a new location, a new membership drive and 14 newly elected board of directors.

"After some very difficult years, the National Press Club was saved through the efforts of many but particularly through the commitment of Tim Kane, Rosaleen Dickson, Ed Murad and Spencer Moore," Rennie MacKenzie, incoming president, said yesterday.

Tim Kane, outgoing president, says in a CNW Group press release: "The goodwill toward this Canadian institution is strong. We have a membership that now exceeds 100 persons, there is money in the bank and a great new location in downtown Ottawa."

The press club's web site tells the history of the club,

"It all started in January of 1928, when two young reporters, Francis Rowse of the Ottawa Journal and Guy Rhoades of the Ottawa Citizen, were drinking coffee in a Sparks Street lunchroom," says the site.

"They mused over the lack of any place in town to meet after work, a place for fellow journalists to rendezvous and talk shop. What Ottawa needed, they felt, was a club for newspapermen."

And the rest is history.

Monday 14 April 2008

TorSun snoozing

The Toronto Sun newsroom has been snoozing since it published Kevin Connor's story about a $1,000 reward for a lost violin on Thursday - but not the Star.

The Sun appears to have abandoned the story about a homeless woman who found Jim Wallenberg's cherished $77,000 violin, but received only $35 and a $40 pinky ring from middleman Wayne Wulff instead of a larger share of the reward.

It is a tabloid story if there ever was one, but not a word in the Sun since Thursday.

The Star has published letters to the editor daily since Thursday; Kathy English wrote about it Saturday in her Public Editor column and Joe Fiorito devotes his column to it today.

All but one of the Star's letters to the editor in the print edition said the homeless woman, living out of a shopping cart in downtown Toronto, wasn't treated fairly and should receive a larger share of the $1,000 reward.


Sunday 13 April 2008

New Freep

Paul Berton, editor-in-chief of the London Free Press, has devoted a full column to what readers can expect when picking up tomorrow's redesigned newspaper.

The first revamping of the Sun Media paper since 2001 will include cosmetic and content changes, but word is it won't be a new tabloid format. Advertisers apparently nixed the tab idea months ago.

"The headline fonts have changed, but the print you're reading now is exactly the same as it will be in Monday's paper," says Berton. "The same size, the same type, the same space between the letters and the lines."

The news pages will be moved up front, new features will be introduced etc.

Saturday 12 April 2008

Naiman zone

When Sandy Naiman left the building in January of 2007 after 30 years at the Toronto Sun, we knew this Lifestyle writer wouldn't gather any dust.

As of this week, Sandy, a tireless mental health advocate, is a featured writer on the Toronto Star's new web site, writing a mental health column every Tuesday and Thursday.

Sandy's lifetime battle with a mental disorder that doctors rebranded several times is an open book and her Coming Out Crazy column introduces HealthZone readers to her experiences.

"So, welcome to my world," Sandy tells readers. "Twice a week, I'm going to explore all kinds of mental health issues, news and views. Mine and yours. I invite your comments, questions, concerns and criticisms."

Sandy's world in 2008 also includes being a public speaker, Seneca College instructor and freelance writer.

She is one busy - and productive - journalist.

JDM would be proud of his former Ryerson student.

Bag lady blues

Toronto Star readers were quick to react to Wayne Wulff's shamefully orchestrated and opportunistic "bag lady" con to collect a $1,000 reward for a lost $77,000 violin.

Seven of the Star's letters to the editor yesterday all dumped on Wulff for collecting the reward after giving the homeless woman $35 and a $40 pinky ring for the violin and case she found on the Queens Quay W. a week earlier and kept in her shopping cart.

We were hoping for a Toronto Sun story yesterday saying the homeless woman had been found and a wrong would be made right, but not a word. Rabble and other web sites are receiving a flood of comments about the story.

The only proper ending to this sad tale is for the homeless woman to be found and properly compensated. Brighten her day, make her feel special for a brief moment in time instead of victimizing her once again.

Had this woman not picked up the case at the streetcar shelter, someone else might have walked off with Jim Wallenberg's cherished violin - made for him by his mother in 1972 - never to be seen again.

Or, as one of the Star readers said, the homeless woman possibly prevented vandals from finding and destroying the violin.

Wallenberg, a Toronto Symphony Orchestra violinist, handed Wulff a $1,000 cheque on Wednesday. Wulff said he would be flying off to Las Vegas with his loot.

Wulff told the Sun, the Star and the National Post he would give the homeless woman something if he sees her again. Anything short of 50% of the $1,000 reward - less the $75 he gave her - will not do.

It was, indeed, a dark and stormy night in Toronto last night. Somewhere, a homeless woman slept close to her shopping cart carrying her worldly possessions and a $40 pinky ring.

The big difference last night? She was in the hearts of newspaper readers who went to bed in their comfy homes hoping Wulff will do the right thing.

If not Wulff, let's pass the hat.

Friday 11 April 2008

Newseum opens

Updated re Bloomberg piece
Washington's glittering $450 million Newseum has been the news story of the week, leading up to today's grand opening.

The block party on Pennsylvania Ave. kicks off at 7 a.m. and events are planned throughout the day and well into the night. There will be Canadian content, in addition to the display of front pages from Canadian newspapers.

The 2 p.m. Newseum dedication ceremony guests will include Newseum founder Al Neuharth, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the New York Times, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, and for Canadian content, Michael Wilson, Canadian ambassador to the United States.

Today's piece by Karen Leigh compares media tools of the trade being used when the first Newseum in Arlington, Virginia, closed in 2002 and today's methods.

"When the Newseum was last open to the public in 2002, a prominent feature was Walter Cronkite's hulking TV camera," says Leigh. "Today, when the journalism museum reopens in Washington, a spotlight will be on Jamal Albarghouti's phone.

"Albarghouti used his mobile phone's camera to record video during last year's massacre at Virginia Tech University. The graduate student e-mailed his footage to CNN, bringing the news to the nation before the networks got anywhere near the scene."

Meanwhile, headline writers have had a field day this week:

The New York Times - Get Me Rewrite: A New Monument to Press Freedom

The Washington Post - Read All About It: Visitor-Friendly Tips for Navigating the Newseum

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: Museum Fit for Print

Baltimore Sun: All the News Fit for a Museum News You Can Peruse: Newseum

The first Newseum in Arlington, Virginia, opened on April 18, 1997, and closed in 2002 after the new building project was announced.

Newseum's online front pages were first posted in September of 2001. The daily online version of "Today's Front Pages" began in August 2002.

To clarify content of previous TSF posts regarding Newseum's front page submissions for online display and at the museum, TSF contacted Kate Kennedy, Newseum's Front Pages editor.

"We invite general-interest, daily newspapers from around the world to participate in the gallery," says Kennedy. "Every front page that is sent to us is included in the online exhibit.

"The exhibit is accompanied by a weekday 'closer look' or analysis of the front pages.

"The Newseum receives more than 575 front pages each day. Today, we have more than 600 from 60 countries in six continents. From the 600, we select 80 front pages for a gallery on the sixth floor of the Newseum. Each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia is represented.

"The gallery also includes three national newspapers (USA Today, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal) and about two dozen international papers.

"Front pages (for the gallery) are chosen for their geographic diversity. We also include front pages from among the top 20 papers in circulation size. We try to include tabs as well as broadsheets. We represent big-city journalism as well as community journalism.

"I find the international newspapers especially fascinating from a design standpoint.

"In addition to the inside gallery, we also display up to 64 front pages in cases outside the building along Pennsylvania Avenue. Some front pages appear in both the inside and outside galleries, although visitors might find a few different front pages."

Re Incredulous

TSF isn't perfect, although numerous reporters, columnists and editors in our audience prefer that we get it right the first time.

We appreciate criticisms and corrections, but we do have to challenge the sender of the following comment regarding the use of the word "incredulous" in our "Take a Flyer" posting.

"Suggest you investigate the difference between incredulous and incredible," writes Vic Deboni.

We were confident when we used "incredulous," but off we went to Merriam-Webster and the online dictionary agrees:



: unwilling to admit or accept what is offered as true : not credulous : skeptical

: incredible

: expressing incredulity incredulous stare>
in·cred·u·lous·ly adverb

usage Sense 2 was revived in the 20th century after a couple of centuries of disuse. Although it is a sense with good literary precedent—among others Shakespeare used it—many people think it is a result of confusion with incredible, which is still the usual word in this sense.

The key word is "usual." Let the countless other blogs be "usual." We prefer to be flexible.

But thank you for your comment, Vic.

Wednesday 9 April 2008

Weepy GWB

Do you think maybe George W. borrowed Denny Crane's fake tear pump for that photo op that appeared in today's papers?

On last night's episode of Boston Legal, the Denny Crane lawyer character (William Shatner) uses a fake tear pump over dinner to impress his great love, Shirley Schmidt (Candice Bergen).

The Toronto Star's full colour photo on Page 3 made us gag while eating lunch on the quiet shores of Lake Ontario. The Toronto Sun's rather large black and white photo of weeping George W. was buried on page 34, where it belonged - if at all.

Hey, tears worked for Hillary Clinton - briefly.

Sherri Woodstock

Bob Bishop
, a former Toronto Sun colleague of Sherri Wood, designed this logo to officially set in motion a tribute concert to honour the late club and concert writer.

Introduction of the perfect logo today by Bob, now at the Toronto Star, is fitting - it would have been Sherri's 29th birthday. She died on Easter Monday from brain cancer.

Bill Brioux, another former Sun colleague, is directing readers of his TV Feeds My Family blog to a new Facebook page set up to solicit ideas and recruit volunteers for Sherri Woodstock.

"To celebrate her memory and spirit, as well as nudge along plans for a fundraising music concert salute, a Facebook site has been launched in her honor," Bill says in his blog. "If you are already a Facebook member, please feel free to check it out. If not, join it, join us, and help make this event happen."

Bill says organizing the concert "will take ideas and inspiration from many sources."

Judging by the flood of emotions and online tributes to Sherri, there will be no shortage of ideas, inspiration and volunteers.

Stay tuned to Bill's blog, Facebook and TSF for updates.

TorSun awards

A TSF tip of the hat to Toronto Sun crime beat vet Rob Lamberti, reporter Don Peat and freelance photog John Hanley for winning Toronto Professional Fire Fighters' Association awards.

It is a bittersweet win for Rob, 50, and Don, 26, in the print media best story category - coverage of a townhouse fire that killed a mother and two young children.

John, 22, a Loyalist College journalism student, won best news photo in print for newspapers with circulation over 100,000 for a rooming house fire last fall.

The awards will be presented May 20 at the Palais Royale.

Take a flyer

Sensitivity 101: Drinking and driving and running down pedestrians is not the least bit amusing.

The above cartoon for a Winnipeg Sun used car dealership flyer clearly indicates the anti-drinking and driving campaigns of police and MADD still have miles and miles to travel.

In 2008, this ad is beyond belief. We'll let the description of the McDougall Auto Superstore ad by Winnipeg Free Press reporter James Turner set the scene:

"The full-colour, letter-sized cartoon insert depicts five red-nosed people partying in a car being driven irresponsibly by a wild-eyed man.

"As the driver speeds through a red light at a crosswalk, a police officer appears to be fleeing for his life as the vehicle tries to run him down.

"Passengers in the vehicle are also depicted to be consuming what appears to alcohol and smoking - others vomit out the car’s window into the street.

"The flyer, placed in the Winnipeg Sun by McDougall Auto Superstore, a city used auto dealership, asks readers to “steal a deal off our lot.”

What is more incredulous is the ad appeared a week after Tony Lanzellotti, 55, a Winnipeg cab driver, was killed when a stolen SUV ran a red light and crashed into his taxi.

Readers complained to the Sun; Winnipeg police complained to the dealership; Sam Katz, the city's mayor, said it was "in very poor taste"; Kevin Klein, Sun publisher and CEO, apologized to readers and the car dealership cancelled plans to repeat the ad.

"We certainly apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this ad," Klein said in Tuesday's Sun.

Klein said the Sun doesn't review insert ads for content but "we need to review our policy for inserts."

Say what, Kevin? A hard core porno flyer, hate literature or other objectionable material could be inserted without the knowledge of management?

OK, but what the hell was the "outside agency" that created the ad for the car dealership thinking and the dealership for approving it?

Yes, sad to say, police and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have a lot more work to do.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

OttSun countdown

The Ottawa Sun has launched a five-month countdown to its 20th anniversary on Sept. 4.

"We plan to celebrate right up to our anniversary date, beginning today with a 20th anniversary slash affixed to our front page," Rick Gibbons says in today's Ottawa Sun.

"In the course of the next few months, we'll highlight some of this newspaper's many achievements, including some memorable front pages. We'll even plan a party or two to mark two decades in Ottawa."

Gibbons also updates Ottawa Sun readers on the refurbishing of its printing press, abandoned with the questionable move to a new Quebecor printing plant in Mirabel in 2006.

"In the past few months, we've been busy refurbishing and re-opening the Ottawa Sun's printing press so that Ottawa's best tabloid is again printed in Canada's best city," he writes.

Gibbons also says the Ottawa Sun wants reader input and next Tuesday "a senior manager" will be taking calls from readers from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

A 20th anniversary, a return to Ottawa presses, an open line for reader feedback. Positive news in 2008, in contrast to the downturn in staff numbers and morale in previous years.

Scribes invasion

Downtown Toronto will be thick with newspaper types in the week leading up to the May 9 National Newspaper Awards ceremonies at the Westin Harbour Castle.

The large number of publishers, editors, columnists, reporters and photographers from across Canada will be gathering for two events: the Canadian Newspaper Association's annual conference, May 7, 8 and 9, and the annual Canadian Press dinner on May 8.

Sun staffers feeling left out in the cold in the NNA nominations department can still mingle with the print media masses on awards night for $175, or book a table for 10 for $1,750.

"The evening offers an excellent opportunity to meet and mingle with people from the daily newspaper industry," the CNA says in a CNW Group press release.

While no Sun entries are up for awards, one of two guest emcees on awards night will be Christina Spencer, Sun Media's parliamentary correspondent.

Spencer will be sharing emcee duties with the Toronto Star's Linwood Barclay, a Stephen Leacock award nominee and best-selling mystery writer, says the CNW press release.

The gala begins with a reception at 5 p.m., followed by a banquet dinner at 6:30. and then the awards, with "prominent newspaper personalities from the past and present" presenting the NNAs.

The NNAs, with 63 finalists in 21 categories, are being held in Toronto for the first time since 2003.

For awards night reservations, e-mail Bryan Cantley at or Lee White at

Monday 7 April 2008

We're OK Jack

You would think all of the media gloom and doom south of the border would be mirrored in Canada, but not so says a new Canadian Newspaper Association report.

A CNW Group press release says Canada's daily newspapers remained stable in 2007, "with robust growth in online ad sales offsetting a mild decline in print advertising."

"This is in sharp contrast to the U.S., where a contracting economy helped drive print ad revenues to the biggest year over year fall in more than half a century," says the CNA report.

The CNA report contains revenue results from circulation, print and online activities from 93 daily newspapers, representing over 95% of daily circulation in Canada.

As a TSF reader says: "Maybe the sky isn't falling after all."

Chinese link

Sun Media is buying into another Toronto newspaper - the Chinese-language Toronto Daily News, the corporation announced today.

A Marketwire press release says Sun Media and Toronto Daily News have inked a deal that allows Sun Media to buy 50% interest in the newspaper, "subject to certain terms and conditions of closing."

Toronto Daily News, launched in 2005, caters to the estimated 500,000 Chinese-speaking people living in the GTA.

"The profile and growth of the Chinese community in the Greater Toronto Area is impressive," says Kin-Man Lee, Sun Media's executive vp and Toronto Sun publisher. "The partnership with Today Daily News helps us become a larger part of that community."

Lee also says the deal will also allow for "synergies in distribution services, editorial content, advertising opportunities and promotion and marketing."

Multicultural media holdings. An interesting concept.

Re John Walsh

It is time for us all - media, police, law-abiding citizens, TV viewers, parents, victims of crime etc. - to salute John Walsh.

Walsh, an untiring crime fighter since his six-year-old son Adam was abducted and murdered in Florida in 1981, is closing in on his 1,000th capture as host of America's Most Wanted.

Saturday's program included the latest of AMW's 995 captures: murderers, rapists, child molesters, bank robbers, con artists, kidnappers, street thugs and assorted other criminals.

It would be fitting for print and broadcast media to mark the milestone 1000th capture in this, the 20th anniversary year of AMW, with a unified thank you for all he has accomplished.

When his son was abducted, murdered and beheaded, Walsh, a builder of high-end luxury hotels, and his wife, Reve, sought justice. Frustrated by the bureaucracy of child abduction investigations, he sought a better way.

The better way, a weekly venue with millions of armchair crime fighting viewers, was as host of Fox TV's America's Most Wanted, launched in 1988 with him at the helm. Except for the program's brief time off the air, his passion for the job has been unrelenting.

AMW case profiles are televised across North America and viewed world wide on AMW's web site. Decades-old cold cases have been solved; long forgotten John and Jane Does have been identified with the slimmest of clues; dozens of abducted children have been reunited with their parents.

The "America" in the program's name is truly America, including Canada and Mexico. Walsh and his AMW staff have been good to Canadian police forces and Canadian viewers have been instrumental in the captures of numerous criminals on the run.

Dennis Melvin Howe hasn't been apprehended for the 1983 sex slaying of Sharin' Morningstar Keenan, 9, in a midtown Toronto roominghouse, but John Walsh did his part in profiling the case numerous times. Other Canadian cases have had repeated airings.

While AMW broadcasts have directly been responsible for the apprehension of 995 criminals, the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh remains open. A prime suspect, Ottis Toole, died in prison while serving life for other crimes.

So there has been no justice for Adam, but his legacy is a safer and more enlightened society, thanks to a father who refused to surrender to red tape and numerous roadblocks.

John Walsh, father, author, the driving force behind the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act and widely honoured by community and police organizations, turns 63 in December.

Someday, he will retire as host of America's Most Wanted and when that day comes, John Walsh will be sincerely missed by all but the criminal element.

The pending 1,000th capture in his 20th year as AMW host is the perfect time to collectively praise Walsh for fighting the good fight.

Sunday 6 April 2008

New LFP look

The London Free Press is being redesigned and the new look will be unveiled April 14, says editor- in-chief Paul Berton in a blog he shares with other editors.

"Lots of changes, many new features, a new look, but the same paper at heart, with a focus on local news and local events," Berton tells readers.

"And more references to, videos, special features on the web, etc."

One cynical blogger at From My Bottom Step wonders if the Sun Media newspaper has the manpower to make a difference locally after all of the cutbacks and staff losses in recent years.

"The real truth is that the LFP out-of-town corporate owner did a hatchet job on staff in order to increase profitability and the paper is incapable of delivering more than a small fraction of the local coverage that it once could," says the local blogger.

EdSun bash

The Edmonton Sun's 30th anniversary bash in a hangar at Fort Edmonton Park Friday night drew about 500 current and former staffers and guests.

“It was fantastic," Edmonton Sun publisher and CEO David Black says in an EdSun story. "It was after 1 a.m. when people started piling out of there.”

Among the guests, Pierre Karl Peladeau, Quebecor's CEO, Sun Media president and CEO Michael Sifton and Bill Bagshaw, the Edmonton Sun’s first publisher.

One lucky couple, Frank and Sheri Landry, won the grand prize for the evening draw and wrote about the entire evening on their blog, Landry's Laundry.

"Frank/we won a 4 day, 3 night Pacific Northwest cruise from Seattle to Victoria to Nanaimo and back, including airfare in October," says the posting. "We are pretty excited as neither of us has been on a cruise."

Black said having Bagshaw and other former Sun notables at the party was a highlight.

“It was nice to just look back and take a trip down memory lane."

The anniversary bash was held in the Blatchford Field Air Hanger at Fort Edmonton Park.

It's encouraging to see Sun Media do it up right for the 30th after the Edmonton Sun shared in cutbacks and staff cuts all of the tabloids endured prior to last summer.

Shades of the traditional pre-Quebecor Sun parties Doug Creighton used to throw to thank loyal employees.

The next milestone for Sun Media tabloids is the 20th anniversary of the Ottawa Sun on Sept. 4.