Monday 30 June 2008

Pride traffic

It is not the increase in TSF traffic to Sue-Ann Levy's out-of-the-closet lesbian column from June of 2007 that is surprising.

Being able to read her complete column online a year later without being asked for 12 bucks for the PKP piggy bank is the pleasant surprise.

So you can catch up to her 2007 outing column and her 2008 first anniversary open gayness column in the Sunday Sun in one keyboard sitting.

Pride week, proud woman.

It is ironic that in the 1970s and into the 1980s, homophobic Toronto Sun reporters and columnists lost the respect of Toronto's gay community to the point of hatred.

The Sun was widely known on the street as anti-gay and anti-union. Today, it devotes a lot of space to Pride Week activities, has an openly gay city hall columnist and it has a union.

Can't we all just get along? Yes, Rodney, we can once the bigots and racists make their exits.

Dunlop dunces

And the winners are . . .

That headline on Page 36 of the Sunday Sun gave us hope. Perhaps this would be the day Sun Media will name ALL of its 2007 Edward Dunlop Award of Excellence recipients.

But no such luck.

The Sunday Sun devoted a full page to the Dunlops banquet Thursday night, but there were few words about winners at other Sun Media newspapers.

Sun Media, the largest newspaper chain in Canada, won't win any awards for its handling of the annual in-house Dunlop Awards.

No overall press release when the awards were announced in April and no press release on the day of the awards banquet.

It's amateur night compared to most media awards presented across North America. Check out the 25 or so media awards links on this blog. Full lists most of the time, not to each his own.

Cynics could get the impression Quebecor wants to downplay the Dunlops, the awards being from the "old ways" days and all. Dump the Dunlops, launched in the 1980s by Doug Creighton? Who knows, but they sure aren't being promoted properly.

If there is a complete list of 2007 Dunlop Award winners online, it is elusive.

But congrats to all of the Dunlop recipients, whoever you are.

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Kathy Brooks

Kathy Brooks, the late J.D. MacFarlane and much of the Toronto Sun newsroom from the Doug Creighton years get a big thank you from Sandy Naiman in her Coming Out Crazy column in the Toronto Star this week.

Sandy, a manic depressive who worked for the Toronto Sun for 30 years, decided to go to the source and interviewed Kathy, a former entertainment editor who hired her in the 1970s. Why was she hired and how did the Sun cope with her mental illness for so many years?

The blogger gives most Sun vets a bouquet for caring and understanding during her turbulent years at the Sun.

Tuesday 24 June 2008

George Carlin

Seven words for the late, great standup comic George Carlin:

Innovative - pioneering - brilliant - unrepentant - hippy - dippy - weatherman.

Thank you George Carlin for fighting the good fight on the language front.

For those who have been living on Mars for the past half century, this is how George says in his most famous - and literally arresting - routine in the 1970s:

"There are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are seven of them you can't say on television. What a ratio that is: 399,993 to seven. They must really be bad."

While most of those seven words, and their variations, have since become common on television and in a few liberal Canadian newspapers, few Googled news coverage links provide the words.

The Village Voice in New York is an exception, providing not only the seven words, but Carlin's complete monologue.

The Independent in London, England, caps its lengthy tribute to Carlin with the seven words, preceded by a caution not to read them if easily offended.

We were not alone in our search - says searches for the seven words spiked after George's death on Sunday.

George Carlin - 1937-2008.

Who would have thought the forever young George Carlin would go (.) (.) up at 71? He should have kept us laughing into his 80s or 90s.

We'll miss ya, George. Thanks for the laughs and the logic.

Monday 23 June 2008

I is a newsmun

Who needs copy editors in computerized, 21st century newsrooms?

We all do.

Many thanks to Lyle Harvey, a former Calgary Sun rim pig, for e-mailing a link to Gene Weingarten's brilliant commentary on the diminishing role of copy editors in newsrooms.

Read it to the end and then try to meet Weingarten's challenge in the final paragraph.

We doubt PKP and other Quebecor Media execs who have never worked in a newsroom will get the point of Weingarten's piece.

But it speaks volumes for journalists who still care about the quality of the end product.

WinSun dilemma

Two CEP locals at the Winnipeg Sun went in opposite directions in strike votes Sunday, creating a unique scenario for the unionized employees.

The Winnipeg Free Press says CEP Local 191 voted heavily in favour of a strike, while Local 900G voted in favour of accepting Sun Media's offer by a narrow margin.

Local 191 represents about 100 editorial, advertising, mailroom and bindery workers and Local 900G represents about 50 pre-press, art department and the paper's commercial press operators, says the Free Press story.

Paul McKie, a national CEP rep, says the union has to abide by the votes, but a strike by Local 191 members won't be called until the split vote dilemma is discussed later this week.

The old union slogan "solidarity forever" could be put to the test if Local 191 employees do go on strike and Local 900G members face a picket line.

McKie told the Free Press individual members of Local 900G could refuse to cross a picket line.

Stay tuned for the outcome of that interesting development.

Sunday 22 June 2008

Odds & ends

Duelling corks
Gord Stimmell, master Toronto Star television guide packager and connoisseur of fine wines, and his former Toronto Sun colleague, Mike Strobel, are duking it out over Mike's comments about snobbery among wine critics. It started with Mike taking on those "hoity-toity" wine critics in his June 1 column. Gord followed with yesterday's Saturday Star commentary, which included a wine tasting challenge. Mike being on the wagon, perhaps they could settle it with a duel - wine cork tossing at 20 paces. We await Mike's comeback in this fun media spat.

Danielle's digs
Former Toronto Sun colleagues often wonder how life is for Danielle Crittenden since she moved to Washington, D.C., with hubby David Frum in the 1990s. One way to catch up to the life and times of Peter Worthington's stepdaughter and mother of three is her new weekly National Post series about renovating their 1905 house. They purchased the "gloomy grey clapboard house" during a snowstorm in 1995 when Marion Barry was mayor and Washington was a crime-plagued community. It wasn't love at first site, but the house quickly grew on them.

Oh God, Oh God?
Paul Berton, editor-in-chief at Sun Media's London Free Press, in a column about words in the media - yes, it's that Young People Playing Scrabble movie title thing again - says: "Earlier this month, for example, I asked that 'Oh, God' be removed from a story because I felt it was unnecessary and may offend people who oppose 'using the Lord's name in vain.'" That is scary, folks. So, Paul, how would the Freep publicize that hilarious 1977 George Burns movie? Oh, G--? Oh, G-d? Paul also says the Freep has decided to go with "Young People F---ing" in describing the movie, while the Globe and Mail, Ottawa Citizen and the Canadian Press, are calling it what it is - Young People Fucking. Are readers thinking F, dash, dash, dash, i, n, g when reading F---ing, or the actual word, which has lost its bite from overexposure in books, television and movies? It is a word. Get over it. If you want an offensive four-letter word, try B-u-s-h.

Journal de Quebec
As of today, it is one year and two months and counting for the 252 Journal de Quebec employees who have been locked out and on strike at the Sun Media newspaper. Despite the continued support of millions of union members across Canada and thousands of Quebec City residents who pick up their free weekday MediaMatin paper, the lockout/strike drags on. Quebecor has shown little interest in ending the stalemate.

Tim & Woody missed
The reason for the recent abrupt departures of Toronto Sun newsroom vets Tim Fryer and Darren "Woody" McGee remains clouded in rumour, but astute readers can tell their nightly news pages layout magic is missing. A typo in a heading? Bland news pages? Not when Tim and Darren were hands-on assistant managing editors. We've heard rumours about who lowered the boom on Tim and Darren and why. If the why is true - they were among the few remaining "old way" staffers at the flagship Sun - it doesn't bode well for others who were around in the glory days. The "new way" is sever all ties to the Doug Creighton era. Sell 333, weed out the remaining vets and Quebecor will have succeeded in killing the Miracle on King Street.

Wednesday 18 June 2008

Press operators

When the Toronto Sun presses at 333 King Street East were silenced after 30 years, so were the voices of the 100-plus press operators who were not transferred to Quebecor's new plant in Islington.

Nobody said goodbye to the dedicated press operators, including Frank Dorsay, Martin Blanchard, David Hvisc, Stu Warren, Bill Smolsky, Glenn Gillespie, Larry Crake, more eloquently than columnist Mike Strobel, who wrote this farewell in September.

(The presses were to shut down the day after this column, but problems at the new plant gave the press operators a reprieve for several months.)

Mike's column:

I knew of a newspaperman in Calgary who claimed he achieved an erection every time the presses started up.

Well, whatever turns you on.

Usually, the effect is higher. Stomach. Nostrils. Heartbeat. Only a zombie could be unmoved by 500 tons of steel three-storeys high roaring to life.

Every midnight, more or less, for three decades, it has happened in the bowels of the Sun building on King St.

No more. The last official run here is tomorrow night, though the five old Goss Metros will be emergency backup.

The transfer to our new presses in Islington is nearly done.

For the first time, the newsroom will be cut off from the ink-stained men who put our work on paper.

True, when the kinks in Islington are worked out, your newspaper will be crisper and more colourful.


But who will hustle out to the newsroom to tell us a headline says "Tronto."

To whom will we yell, "Stop the presses!"

(Actually, that rarely happens. In my years running the newsroom, "Hey, Kenny, can you shut 'em down?" was about as dramatic as I got.)

Who will repair the SUNshine Girl's high heels? Or the cafeteria's soup-pot lid? We are always bringing broken things to the press hall's mechanical maintenance department.

There's the rub. We are losing brethren. More than 100 have been packaged off and will not go to Islington.

And we will miss the midnight throb, the tang of ink and clang of bells that drift even into the newsroom.

Those of us who sometimes wander down to see startup will miss the cries of "Scummer on 2!" or "Need more red here!" and the intense checking of register.

We will miss P1 banner heads in ink barely dry. "The King Dies." "Bastards!" "Weir So Proud." "We Found Karla."

"Blackout!" That dark day in August 2003, we were the first to get a paper on the street. Crews wandered in from all over and downtown got 100,000 copies.

A year earlier, those pressmen doused a blaze roaring up one of the five Gosses, while the rest of us fled the building and firefighters raced to the scene. We made deadline.

"It's quick-thinking minds like this that have helped build the success of The Sun," said then-publisher Les Pyette.

Les meant guys like Glenn Gillespie, 53, longest serving pressman, an apprentice in 1974.

"I consider myself very lucky to have worked here," says Glenn, one of umpteen Gillespies who have done the same. I suppose you will miss that heady smell of ink and oil, eh?

"What smell?" Glenn says.

I guess after 33 years . . .

"One thing I'm looking forward to is clean hands."

He folds me a classic pressman's cap. That is a dying art.

The Parsons brothers, Randy, Rudy and Ricky, fought regularly among the great rolls of paper. Full-fledged fisticuffs.

"We never disciplined them," says Larry Crake, 53, the classy pressroom boss.

"We figured they were sorting out family business."

I have known Larry for most of his 28 years here.

A press start, he says, "is like getting in a fast sportscar with that once-in-a-lifetime chance to go 200 miles an hour. Except it's massive and it's hauling in tons of paper.

"That initial startup is the buzz."

Larry will work on his dream house on Georgian Bay for a while, then scout out another job.


Bill "Rizzo" Smolksy, 51, was The Singing Pressman, before someone complained.

"I'm gonna miss everything," says Rizzo, in rare serious mode. "I grew up poor and this job is the best thing ever happened to me.

"I loved it from the first day and I'm sorry to see it go."

Deepest in the building are the men who tenderly tune the Gosses and other machines.

"It has been magic to work on them," says mechanic and supervisor Jozef "Joe" Hvisc, 63. For 30 years, he has helped bring you your paper with wrenches, screws, masking tape and anything else handy.

Those presses have personalities and names. B press is "Bob," smooth and friendly. F press is nameless and finicky. Nobody likes F press.

Still, we will miss it, and the men who ran it, when it is carted away.

Not to mention, if I wish to be aroused I will have to drive all the way to Islington.

Tuesday 17 June 2008

Mr. Anonymous

As Toronto Sun movie critic Jim Slotek once said, there sure are a lot of Mr. Anonymouses posting on the Toronto Sun Family blog.

When Jim speaks his mind, he puts his name to what he has to say, which has been a healthy, but rare, avenue taken by TSF readers who still work for Sun Media.

Freedom of speech doesn't have the same solid foundation it had during the first two decades of the Sun and that is lamentable.

There have been the numerous rejected anonymous comments containing libel, slander or just plain mindless cheap shots aimed at Sun staffers, Sun management and TSF.

But most worrisome since TSF was launched in December of 2006 have been the number of legitimate comments posted anonymously by employees too fearful to be named.

They fear losing their jobs for being critical of their bosses, Sun Media and Quebecor.

Canadian journalists fearing to speak their mind.

What a long, dark and debilitating road Sun employees have travelled since the 1990s.

Which brings us to, a web site mentioned recently in Ian Harvey's blog. The moderated comment site, launched in February, recently passed the 5,000-comment mark.

Blogger Kiyoshi Martinez says while he was impressed by Roger Ebert's personal policy that he signs his name to anything he writes, he decided to promote anonymity to allow journalists to vent freely.

" is for the underpaid, overworked, frustrated, pissed off and ignored media professionals to publicly and anonymously vent their anger," he says. "Share your story. With any luck, you’ll feel better.

"Granted, since it’s all anonymous, specific papers will never know they’re being discussed or ranted about (unless someone wants to name names, which I recommend against for obvious reasons), but the larger goal is to change the perception across the industry."

In a word, that is bullshit. Anonymity defeats all of the principles of journalism in democratic countries.

Why would any self respecting journalist work for an employer who does not respect his or her right to voice an opinion?

Why work for any employer you don't respect, period?

Numerous Sun Media journalists who lost all respect for Sun Media in the aftermath of Doug Creighton's ouster as CEO in 1992, and Quebecor's takeover in 1999, have walked out the door.

Journalists to the core, one and all.

Vent all you want anonymously, but don't consider it beneficial for you or for journalism.

We've said it before, but our favourite stand-up-and-be-counted moment in 40 years of newsrooms occurred minutes after Paul Godfrey announced Doug Creighton was out and he was in as CEO.

"Fuck this," said Christie Blatchford, standing at her desk in the Toronto Sun newsroom.

And so began the almost unanimous employee protest, highly visible in a full page "Why?" ad in the Sun, "Why?" buttons designed by Andy Donato being worn in the building and columns speaking out in support of Creighton being published.

We say almost unanimous because there were a few people who opted out of signing the "Why?" ad fearing their jobs would be in jeopardy under the new regime.

The "why?" of Creighton's ouster was never answered. but we have never felt more proud of colleagues than the hundreds throughout 333 who didn't hesitate to speak their minds in support of Creighton.

Creighton, who died a disillusioned man in 2004, wouldn't recognize his beloved tabloid today, diminished in size, in heart and in spirit.

And we're confident he would be repulsed by the need for anonymity among so many Sun employees wanting to speak their minds.

Friday 13 June 2008

Lamberti shuffle

Google "Rob Lamberti" and you get pages and pages of GTA murder and mayhem stories by the award winning Toronto Sun crime beat vet.

A pleasant surprise in Thursday's Sun was a Lamberti story about the aftermath of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apology to aboriginals in the House of Commons.

What happened to tens of thousands of aboriginal children at government-sponsored residential schools was a crime, but the well written story wasn't Lamberti's normal tabloid crime fare.

His lead was classic Sun - tight and bright:

"The apologies have been made.

Now it's time to heal."

The big city cop desk beat tends to burn out most reporters after two or three years, with the steady diet of the grim side of city life. Lamberti has been chasing ambulances for more than 20 years.

Thursday's story shows Rob can change lanes, leave the streets of Toronto and write a sensitive piece that keeps you reading from beginning to end.

More to come?

Thursday 12 June 2008

Silverman/SUN TV

Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington scores again today with an instant replay of Peter Silverman's sudden ousting from CITY-TV.

Joe interviewed Silverman, CITY's popular, award-winning consumer advocate for almost 20 years, a week after CITY showed him the door.

Silverman deserves all of the attention Joe devotes to him in the full column. He has helped thousands of little guys fight the system and he's got more to offer.

As Joe writes, ". . . how about finding another home, like the Hockey Night in Canada theme song did this week by going to CTV?

"I am all ears," said Silverman, who says that, as an old boxer, he still has some fight in him.

Well, Joe, how about suggesting Quebecor step in and offer Silverman a weekly half-hour slot on SUN TV? Squeeze him in between American reruns and B movies and watch the ratings go up.

Little need for a major ad campaign to promote him because Silverman already has a substantial audience, judging by the thousands of letters he has been receiving at CITY.

Snapping up Silverman would be a smart move for a budding TV network that insists it is a player.

Sun boxes

When Quebecor confirmed it was selling the Toronto Sun headquarters at 333 King Street East, we thought what more can the tabloid lose in self esteem?

This week, we learned the iconic red newspaper boxes, highly visible throughout Toronto since the 1970s, are an endangered species, thanks to city hall.

There were, no doubt, more cheers than boos when the city unveiled its new line of street furniture that will include 500 grey, multi-publication boxes. (Above photo from

Cheers because the Sun's red newspaper boxes, once the pride of co-founders Doug Creighton, Peter Worthington and Don Hunt and dedicated staffers, have largely become embarrassing, rusty eyesores since Quebecor arrived in 1999.

Creighton, always one to check for well-shined shoes, felt the same way about the hundreds of Sun boxes in the public eye. Keep 'em clean and fully operational and that will reflect the tabloid's commitment to efficient reader service.

For the launching of the Sun in November of 1971, the 62 Day Oners hustled to position former Telegram boxes at transit stops around the city. New generations of Sun boxes followed and boxes past their time, or mangled in traffic accidents, were quickly replaced.

Sun box maintenance is no longer a priority and with the proliferation of other boxes for free papers and speciality publications, along with the Star, Globe and Post, city hall cried uncle.

And rightly so.

As Mayor David Miller said of today's newspaper boxes: "They're rusting, chained to poles all over the place. That's one of the reasons we're bringing in the new ones to create less clutter. They're raised so you can clean underneath. They're extremely well designed."

But removing the iconic red Sun boxes from the landscape eliminates another memorable link to the glory days of the Little Paper That Grew. Ask Sun vets how they felt in the early years while driving by one sold-out Sun box after another.

Spotting Suns in the new multi-publication boxes from a distance will be more difficult.

We don't condone stealing, but wouldn't one of those red Sun boxes be a rec room or patio conversation piece?

Perhaps Quebecor should sell the outdated Sun boxes, or auction them for charity.

We'd leave a bid.

The pie caper

Steve Tilley, Sun Media's tech guy, and Cate Simpson over at Torontoist, have had a blogging good time with Rogers' peculiar apple pie approach to promoting Apple's 3G iPhone due here next month.

Tilley says he received two apple pies from Rogers, no doubt a tasty booty that will bode well for Rogers, should Tilley ever get the real thing to review.

We're kidding. Sun journalists can't be influenced, no matter how damn fine a payola pie is delivered.

Tilley does say on his blog: "I'm with Ms. Simpson on one thing though - next time, Rogers and Apple, forget the pie and just send the iPhone."

Unsolicited food deliveries take us back to the 1980s when a gent we came to know as the Unknown Lottery Freak would send fish and chips, cutlery and all, to the Sun by snail mail.

But most of the time he would just send crisp $1 bills to this lottery columnist, and to Mark Bonokoski and Peter Worthington, with a little note saying: "Buy yourself a coffee and a danish."

Cash in the mail beats cold fish and chips, hands down.

Our address is . . .

Wednesday 11 June 2008

Globe job

FYI Tim Fryer and Darren "Woody" McGee, the Globe and Mail is in need of an assistant news editor.

The Globe and Mail appreciates talent and these two Toronto Sun assistant managing editors, abruptly shown the door recently by Quebecor, would qualify for the job, says a former Sun exec who worked with Tim and Darren for years.

"Both would qualify," says the former exec. "They are very talented."

The Globe ad reads:

"The successful candidate will play a key role in shaping the front page each day. As such, he or she will be a top-notch editor with a keen intellect and an enthusiasm for the challenge of showcasing the best stories of the day.

"This job demands excellent headline-writing abilities and a familiarity with the fundamentals of newspaper design."

Tim and Darren were responsible for much of the daily magic showcased in those award winning Toronto Sun front pages and inside news layouts over the years.

They are too gifted to be on the outside of the competitive Toronto media market looking in, individually or together as part of a talented news team.

Tuesday 10 June 2008

Passion history

Last month, Susan George of Wiarton sent a letter to the editor of the Owen Sound Sun Times that tore a strip off the Sun Media newspaper.

"If I were a food critic served a plate of The Sun Times my comment would be that the newspaper is most often bland and boring, not unlike lumpy lukewarm overcooked oatmeal," she told the editor.

She asked where the passion had gone.

An anonymous TSF reader posted this reply yesterday:

"Where has the passion gone? Hmmm, my guess is it disappeared when we finally clued in (after repeated hints) that our employers didn't care what kinds of articles we wrote, as long as the paper made money and lots of it.

"It was also around the same time that we learned beyond a shadow of a doubt that the loyalty street in journalism only went one way - and it wasn't our way.

"I know journalists used to live and breathe their jobs with a passion few of us, if any, would comprehend today. Many of them also used to cope with the job and its stresses by regularly boozing themselves into a stupor, but I digress.

"The world has changed, Ms. George, and idealism must be tempered by a healthy dose of what we like to call "reality." Go on, getcha some.

"And if you're reading this, you're certainly welcome to come and hang around our newsroom for a couple of weeks. Let's see how long you last before you start chewing your own leg off, trying to escape the steel-jawed trap."

The anonymous TSF reader says it for a lot of vets in mentioning journalists who "used to live and breathe their jobs." It was that way for many of us for decades.

Print media conglomerates headed by bean counting non-newspaper people have squeezed much of the passion and the joy out of journalism.

Blatchford line

Is Christie Blatchford, the iconic Globe and Mail columnist, on the move?

Over at, we found this heading on a posting dated June 9, 2008: "National Post: Christie Blatchford has left the building."

But not a word about Christie can be found in the body of the post. The topic is about the use of straps in schools.

We would have dismissed the heading as an error if not for Christie's May 31 Globe column about feeling sad and depressed after attending retirement parties for two older friends and she goes on to describe her life as a single, shy columnist.

"Lots of the reporters I know are, like me, a little shy, a little messed up, the sort of people who at a party are like a cat, sticking to the edges of the room, a bit wary," she wrote. "That's the only distance we need to have in my view, whether we are writing about war or sport or politics."

That's our Christie - an open book, whether she is writing for the Globe, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun or National Post. She has covered all of those print media bases in her lengthy newspaper career.

We don't know what the "National Post: Christie Blatchford has left the building" blog heading means. Could it have been a wayward heading from when she left the National Post?

Hopefully, there's nothing to it and Christie, an award winning author, columnist and broadcast commentator, isn't about to make an exit.

There's only one Christie Blatchford and Canadian media can't afford to lose her.

Tuesday 3 June 2008

$12 for PKP

Toronto Sun Family postings date back to December of 2006, which can be frustrating for newcomers clicking on links to older Sun Media stories and columns.

Most, but not all, Sun links have a short life span. What latecomers often see is a one paragraph teaser followed by a notice to cough up 12 bucks to read the rest of the story or column.

"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)."

Take, for example, the TSF link to Eddie Greenspan's classic "Technology apology? column from two months ago. Instead of Eddie's priceless column, you get a column with a price tag attached.

Other papers do it, but that doesn't make the gouging any less irritating.

With all of the free information on the Internet, few Sun stories or columns warrant a $12 investment, so we wonder what kind of pay-per-view traffic the Sun is getting.

To be clear, TSF is not endorsing or promoting the Sun's feed-the-kitty process, we just haven't been removing links to older stories and columns.

So catch 'em while you can for free and our apologies for the $12 roadblocks.

Monday 2 June 2008

Survey says . . .

Back in the day, when Toronto Sun editors cared what readers thought about the content of their tabloid, thorough annual readership surveys were conducted.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there were full-page surveys to measure the response to content from Monday to Friday and separate surveys for Sunday Sun content. Saturday Suns didn't arrive until 1986.

The published surveys were detailed, to say the least. Readers by the thousands took the time to complete the surveys and many included additional remarks about the paper.

Here are a few results from a 1979 Sunday Sun survey we found among some clippings.

Page 6 columnist Gary Dunford had 84.4% readership, topping all of the columnists. Page 6 is no more in Toronto, although still a popular read in other North American tabloids.

Crime Flashback columnist Max Haines had 80.8% readership. Today, no Max and no crime theme column to replace his column since he retired.

Paul Rimstead came in third for columnists at 80.6%. Sadly, he left us early. Mike Strobel's unique offbeat fare would probably score close to the Rimmer's figures.

News Followup, a weekly feature updating stories from previous years, was rated highly at 85.8%. That popular read was abandoned in the 1990s.

The TV magazine was used by 80.1% of Sunday Sun readers. We shudder to think what the readership is today, with sparse features and 36 pages, down from 80 or so pages.

The Lifestyle section had 90% readership.

All of the above were reader favourites and key segments of the Sunday Sun formula that saw circulation peak at 550,000 in 1993.

On the positive side, Andy Donato, whose editorial cartoon scored 91.6% in 1979 is still with us, as is Mike Filey and his The Way We Were (79%), Mark Bonokoski's column (76.2%), the SUNshine Girl (82.2% on Page 3).

But the Sunday Sun has lost its edged in abandoning features that were part of the proven formula, along with readership surveys that kept the tabloid on course.

Joe & mittens

How long has it been since Toronto Sun readers shared a visit with Joe Clark, mittens and all?

Much too long - but Andy Donato remedied that today with his full colour editorial cartoon.

We have missed Joe and his mittens, ditto for Pierre Trudeau and his rose. There's not much for cartoonists to work with when it comes to Stephen Harper.

Joe and his mittens. The nostalgia makes us weepy. Andy must be hoping Joe will decide to run for PM again.

Speaking of cartoons in colour . . .

Today's Sun was under 100 pages, which again confirms our independent research into why some cartoons by Donato and Susan Dewar are in black and white, giving the tab that prehistoric 70s look, and others are in colour.

We're pretty confident our pet project shows that the new Quebecor presses can't handle colour cartoons on the editorial page when the paper has more than 100 pages.

So, Rob Granatstein, editorial page editor, confirm or deny. Are editorial cartoons in papers topping 100 pages being sent back to the dark ages of black and white because of press limitations?