Tuesday 30 September 2008

Paul Heming -15

Updated 2/10/08

Thursday, Sept. 30, 1993

It was another day in the Toronto Sun newsroom until Ed Monteith, the managing editor, began talking about Paul Heming, a copy desk editor with a passion for clever headlines and baseball.

Ed's discussion at city desk didn't register at first, but it soon became clear the news was not good. Paul had been found dead at his Simpson Avenue home earlier in the day. His big, lovable and generous heart had failed him at 53.

A day earlier, Paul and like-minded Blue Jays fans had chatted about the Jays and their chances of repeating their 1992 World Series win, a major high for the tabloid and Jays fans.

Paul worked most nights on the rim, along with an enviable copy desk crew over the years that included Lew Fournier, Darren McGee, Tim Fryer, Lloyd Kemp, Rick VanSickle, Howard MacGregor, Luke Betts, Rob Paynter, Kathy Vey, Alan Parker, Mike Patton, Kaarina Leinala, Dave Rawlins, John Fracassi and the news desk posse leader, Sandra Macklin.

What a team - the Jays, as well as the rim. (Lew and Kaarina are the last of that copy desk crew, still working their nightly magic.)

Not wanting to miss any Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth play-by-plays of the Jays' home games, Paul bought himself a small used radio and taped his name to it.

That little radio and Paul's desk were left untouched after his funeral out of respect for the masterful wordsmith. Nobody felt comfortable claiming his turf.

A small group of colleagues hatched a scheme to spread Paul's ashes on the field at the SkyDome, but that plan grounded out when the word got out. It seems players from the Islands would have refused to play there for religious reasons

Sandra Macklin, longtime friend and baseball buddy, took his ashes home to wait for the right moment and the right ball diamond. She is still waiting for the perfect field.

"Paul was the backbone of our news desk, the hardest worker, the most dependable," Sandra said in 1993.

The kid from Guelph left us 15 years ago today, but we can still feel his energy and his passion for the news business.

Paul, along with Ben Grant, another copy desk legend who died young, are not forgotten. Awards in their names are awarded annually by Ryerson.

The Toronto Sun has had its share of premature deaths since the tabloid was launched in 1971. Sometimes, when you take count, the ratio seems higher than average.

The important thing is that they all be remembered.

Paul remembered his Toronto Sun Family colleagues, leaving $1,000 in his will for a wake.

Monday 29 September 2008

Where's Bono?

A month without a Mark Bonokoski column in the Toronto Sun raised some red flags, but all is well. Mark is on assignment.

As for our previous "Where's Dunf?" posting, Mark says Gary is alive and well and doing his share of kayaking in the wilds of Ontario.

"He's not writing a book as far as I know," says Mark, who once shared an office with Gary at 333.

The former Page 6er hasn't severed all ties with his Sun years. Gary's e-mail address is pagesix@aol.com

Happy kayaking, Gary.

Where's Dunf?

People keep asking, "where's Gary Dunford?"

We haven't a clue.

He was up north feeding his Dunf In Space blog for a couple of years, but he hasn't posted since Aug. 22, 2007.

"Maybe he's holed up in a cabin writing a book," said one TSF reader.

We can only hope.

Gary, hired by the Sun in 1973, was the King of Page 6 until some daffy editor decided to relocate his unique column deeper into the bowels of the tabloid.

His departure from the Sun in the summer of 2005 after 7,127 columns was one of many blows faithful readers have endured since Quebecor bought Sun Media in 1999.

(Gary, Bill Brioux and Val Gibson are the three most sought after former Toronto Sun staffers in TSF site traffic.)

So while Gary might be gone from 333, he's not forgotten.

Rabid fans who need a fix can find his final Sun column on his blog and other tidbits online, including a priceless item from Aug. 12, 1997, telling the titillating tale of columnists Christie Blatchford and Rosie DiManno going topless on the golf course. It is classic Dunf.

Hopefully, Gary is working on a book.

If there have been any Dunf sightings recently, e-mail us so we'll have something to tell TSF readers who keep asking about him.

Lost & found

The global reach of the Toronto Sun has ended a Toronto man's 25-year search for his mother in less than 10 days.

Thanks to Mike Strobel's Sept. 18 column, Mark Sardar, 31, and the mother he hasn't seen since he waved goodbye to her at age six in Hungary, have been reunited.

A radio station in Budapest picked up Mike's story about the search for Zsuzanna Toth and bingo, her nephew hears the report.

A Budapest TV station sets up a webcam so mom and son can bridge the distance.

The headline for Mike's column Sunday was: "We found her."

What an amazing tabloid lost and found story.

"Some days, I just love my job," Mike said in his column yesterday.

You said it, Mike.

New Margolis book

Eric Margolis' new book, American Raj: Liberation or Domination, hits the book shelves today.

The 400-page hardcover book from Key Porter is the Sun Media columnist's latest analysis of the Middle East and Asia.

If you want to avoid traffic, Amazon.ca has it for $20.67.

Eric's op-ed column in the Sunday Sun gave readers a sneak peak. The Sun's intro says Margolis "brings his lifetime of insight into the complex reality of the way the Muslim world really operates."

Sun readers appreciate Eric's style, avoiding the popular and rather stale political propaganda and objectively presenting both sides of a story.

"He identifies the historical, political and religious factors that have played such a huge role in generating hostility towards the West," says a summary at www.ericmargolis.com.

"More important, it offers a comprehensive roadmap to a workable and lasting peace."

Memo: Rush copies to Obama and McCain

Sunday 28 September 2008

Ottawa blues

The Ottawa Sun turned 20 on Sept. 4, but there is little joy in Hooterville, insiders tell TSF.

When the Toronto Sun marked its 20th year in 1991, the Sun gang booked the SkyDome for a party to end all parties.

Doug Creighton, Peter Worthington et al also celebrated when the Ottawa Sun was launched in 1988, but they were the glory days Quebecor would prefer us all to forget.

John Paton was editor-in-chief and Peter W. was editor when the Ottawa Herald was morphed into the Ottawa Sun in 1988 and all was well.

"This is the happiest, most ambitious start-up we've ever had," Creighton said on the day the first 136-page Ottawa Sun rolled off the presses, all 40,000 copies.

TSF asked recently why the Ottawa Sun is losing good people who are leaving by choice, not the result of pink slips. Two photographers and an assistant city editor in the past month or so.

Well, we got an earful.

"So, you ask, what's happening at the Ottawa Sun with the latest of a long string of departures being two extremely talented young photographers leaving recently — with no full-time jobs to go to — and an assistant city editor leaving within the last two weeks?" a reliable source writes.

"It's because, like many of them before them, they just can't stand it anymore," says the source. "Apart from many layoffs in the past several years, plus the most recent departures of rich talent and valuable experience, at least two dozen very good staffers have also left on their own accord in the part couple of years."

"And that’s from a small newsroom. And they are all much happier in their new lives.?

The remaining staff are "bitter, angry, cynical, demotivated and demoralized."

The source says the Ottawa Sun newsroom has become "a highly dysfunctional and toxic environment."

"What does it say about an organization when the best people continue to leave because they are not valued or respected, they literally can’t stand it anymore and, worse yet, the organization lets them leave or encourages them to leave because they know they can get cheaper, more obedient, more grateful replacements?

"It’s a ‘50s-style management mentality hardly becoming of a corporation that claims to be enlightened and progressive.

"It is such a tragedy that so many skills, talent, knowledge and experience are lost to the Sun forever . . . Just about everyone there is looking to leave, which is never a good sign."

The source says Sun Media boss Michael Sifton "needs to know that the exodus will continue and experience and talent will continue to bleed out of that newsroom as long as the toxic, negative, dysfunctional environment" remains.

Sifton talks to management but "doesn't talk to the grunts when he visits," says the source.

What a depressing and sad picture of a sister tabloid that was cause for joy when launched on Sept. 4, 1988 when Doug Creighton was at the helm.

What a 20th anniversary year scenerio for a major daily.

Friday 26 September 2008

e-edition questions

Now that we are in the second week of the Toronto Sun's 14-day e-edition free trial, it is time for the tabloid to be clear about its future.

Will the paid e-edition include every single page of the daily print edition, sections, inserts and all? And how much will it cost per month?

We've been thinking the cost to every e-edition subscriber will be the $4.99 per month being flogged in the advertising.

But the wording in Quebecor's latest online Thinkmedia issue makes it sound like the $4.99 is strictly for current seven-day subscribers of the print edition.

"The e-edition will be offered at a small additional cost to existing subscribers (except for 24 hours which will always be free). The e-edition will be an option for subscribers suspending delivery for holiday trips and, with a 14-day free trial, will also be a marketing tool to interest new subscribers.

"It will also be offered as a stand-alone product that complements the print newspapers, which continue to be the most “mobile” way to our content, using the technologies currently available."

So how much will the e-edition cost someone who is not a print subscriber? If it is still $4.99 per month, excellent. If not, where are the e-edition rates for non-subscribers?

(Mobile downloads are another pricing issue.)

We Googled Transcontinental Media, another Canadian media chain that joined Sun Media in the past week in launching digital e-edition newspapers, both designed and managed by NewspaperDirect in Vancouver, B.C.

The format for the Sun's e-edition and Transcontinental's SmartEdition are almost identical, but the pricing is not.

We checked out the SmartEdition for the Western Star in Newfoundland and found the monthly subscription rate is $16.18, print or Smart Edition. Saturday only for three months is $17.97.

A single Western Star SmartEdition copy is $3.75. Yowser!

Will the Sun's e-edition prices for anyone other than print subscribers be in that ballpark or higher?

Stay tuned.

Sherri gems

Updated 28/09/08
The Toronto Sun is repeating some of Sherri Wood's entertainment reports as part of the countdown to the Oct. 5 Sherri Woodstock music fest.

Thursday's repeat was Sherri's amusing April 2004 first-person account of her 16-hour experience leading up to an audition for Canadian Idol.

Sherri was a journalism intern at the time, but in her case, the writing was on the wall. She had style, hustle and flow. A natural for the tabloid.

More of The Best of Sherri Wood over the next few days.

(Note to the entertainment editor: Why have her byline linked to her old e-mail address?

2 - Sherri interviews Sex in the City actor Kim Cattrall, from Nov. 18, 2004

(Note to Joan Sutton Straus: Can you find a word Sherri used in her Kim Cattrall story that Ed Monteith banned from one of your Lifestyle columns?)

3 - Sherri interviews Coldplay's Chris Martin prior to CD release, from May 29, 2005

4 - Sherri reviews an Arcade Fire concert at the Music Hall Theatre

Thursday 25 September 2008

Oldest reporter

Peter Worthington still has a couple of decades to go before matching the work record of Mildred Heath, 100, recipient of the 2008 America's Oldest Worker award.

But if any Sun vet can do it, it is Peter W.

A ScrippsNews.com story says Mildred is an Overton, Nebraska, correspondent for the weekly Beacon-Observor, a newspaper her family owns.

The story says "Mildred Heath has been getting the scoop in her central Nebraska community between the much larger towns of Lexington and Kearney for 85 years."

Her first job at 15 was working a Linotype machine.

"I've got scars from the Linotype," she says. "It's wonderful not to have to mess with machinery like that."

Mildred, who still puts in a 30-hour work week, has also been made an honourary member of the National Press Club, which also turned 100 this year.

Kathy Morrison 2

Memories of Kathy Morrison:

John McArthur vice-president, sales & marketing PAG Canada, Ltd.: "I was watching the Leafs game last night when I heard the news of Kathy's passing on TSN. A pain shot through my soul, the instant the words were spoken.

"Kathy’s personality was very lasting. I worked with Kathy at CKFM, she was in promotions and I in production. We stayed in touch when she went to the Toronto Sun, then lost touch about two years ago.

"The last time we spoke was at a going away party for Linda Barnard. Kathy was so kind and so proud of her family. This is very sad news.

"Rest in peace Kathy. Strength to Scott & Mark. As well, strength to the Stinson family.

"My best."

R.S. Kane Funeral Home condolences are here. Memories of Kathy can also be e-mailed to TSF.

e-edition FYI

Sun Media's new e-edition newspapers are now available at the following dailies:

Barrie Examiner, Belleville Intelligencer, Brantford Expositor

Calgary Sun, Chatham Daily News, Cobourg Daily Star, Cornwall Standard-Freeholder

Edmonton Sun

Kingston Whig-Standard

London Free Press

Niagara Falls Review, North Bay Nugget

Orillia Packet & Times, Ottawa Sun, Owen Sound Sun Times

Pembroke Observer, Peterborough Examiner

Sarnia Observer, Sault Star, Simcoe Reformer, St. Catharines Standard, Sudbury Star

Timmins Daily Press, Toronto Sun

Welland Tribune, Winnipeg Sun, Woodstock Sentinel Review

Plus the free 24 hours dailies in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Sherri Woodstock

A new blog has been set up to promote Sherri Woodstock.

The one-day music fest on Sunday, Oct. 5 will celebrate the life of Sherri Wood, the Toronto Sun concert reviewer who died of brain cancer last March at 28.

It is 11 days and counting to The Opera House music fest, running from 4:30 p.m. to whenever and the $20 tickets are moving fast.

Bands on tap: Classic Albums Live (performing Led Zeppelin), Five Blank Pages, The Little Millionaires, Dani Strong, The Overtones and Franky Moonlight.

Buy your tickets here. Proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Sherri Wood Memorial Fund.

The "family" in Toronto Sun Family was highlighted once again a few days ago when Sun staffers Peter Worthington, Joe Warmington, Brett Clarkson, Michele Mandel, Jonathan Jenkins, and Alan Shanoff donated the $1,000 they won in June at the Sun Media Dunlop Awards to the Sherri Wood Memorial Fund.

They won the Dunlop for joint coverage of the Conrad Black trial.

You've got to be 19 and over to attend the seven-plus hour Sherri Woodstock because The Opera House, at 735 Queen Street East, is licensed, but there is no age limit on donating to the cause.

Amy Doary at MuchMusic, who worked with Sherri on concert assignments, has just posted a countdown update on the fest blog.

You can also follow the countdown on the Sherri Wood Facebook page.

30 - Kathy Morrison

Kathleen "Kathy" Morrison, a former Toronto Sun staffer and wife of veteran sports writer Scott Morrison, died Sunday at her home. She was 45.

"As Scott was a great sports editor in his days at the Sun, Kathy was a great human being and a classy lady who also worked at the Sun," says former Sun staffer Len Fortune. "This is truly a sad day for the Sun family."

Don Daynard, a radio vet, said in a Southern Ontario/WNY Radio-TV Forum posting. "I worked with her at CKFM when she was the assistant to promotions manager Brenda Burns. "Very sad news."

Kathy leaves her husband and a son, Mark.

The funeral service was held Thursday at Donway Covenant United Church.

Donations can be made to the Gerry and Nancy Pencer Brain Tumour Centre at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Memories of Kathy can be e-mailed to TSF.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Post times

A quick poll.

When it comes to post times for online news and sports stories, which format do you prefer?

(a) Last Updated: 22nd September 2008, 11:24am (Toronto Sun)

(b) Updated 3 hours ago (Osprey newspapers)

(c) Sep 22, 2008 11:47 PM (a mix with 38 min. ago) (Toronto Star)

(d) Published: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 (National Post)

(e) September 22, 2008 at 9:33 PM EDT (Globe and Mail)

Osprey's "Updated 3 hours ago" has our vote. It is tight and bright with a sense of news being posted as it is happens. You don't have to do any time math to determine the freshness of a story.

Torontosun.com's post time format is too lengthy, as is the National Post format.

It is surprising how convoluted web minds at the flagship Toronto Sun can get when they are not thinking KISS.

Last Updated: 22nd September 2008, 11:24am makes no sense if you are trying to convey up to the minute news.

It also fails Sun Media's new style guidelines.

Monday 22 September 2008

e-edition feedback

Doug Smith, the Toronto Sun's IT manager, says the complete Sunday Sun should have been online in the tabloid's new e-edition but "technical issues" were experienced.

He posted the following comment:

"Re: Sunday e-thin

"I am part of the e-edition launch team. I appreciate your e-feedback. I can tell you that the TV Guide, ENT, Travel, Sports, Comics, Homes and Special Sections should all be part of the e-edition.

"The mentioned e-sections appear as pullouts as in the printed version. Currently, the Select Title button gives access to these sections. There were some technical issues with producing some of the sections this weekend.


Keep the suggestions and comments coming."

Will do, Doug. Thanks for elaborating on the e-edition game plan.

TV guide

A Sunday Sun purchased yesterday in a Port Hope variety store had a television guide in it and it felt like a mini-lotto win.

We thought the Sun had changed its mind about eliminating TV guides in all but selected areas, but all of the other Suns in the store didn't have a guide.

So it was a fluke. A welcomed fluke, but still a fluke.

Next Sunday, it will be back to more for less.

ENT editor

The Toronto Sun's entertainment department is looking for a full-time copy editor.

It is a one-year contract gig with union membership and occasional night and weekend shifts.

The new kid on the block will be working with a fun bunch of people.

Requirements include previous copy editor experience at a daily newspaper, strong writing skills and be proficient in PC and Macintosh applications.

Deadline is Oct. 1.

Gotta love those help wanted ads. Keep 'em coming.

Resumes to:

Angela Zito, Supervisor, Human Resources
Sun Media Corporation
333 King Street East
Toronto, ON M5A 3X5

Or e-mail: careers@sunmedia.ca

Sunday 21 September 2008


Tamara Cherry's second paragraph of her "Victim screams ignored" story on Page 7 of Saturday's Sun left us breathless.

It wasn't the content that left us breathless, it was the word count in the one-sentence paragraph - 64.

That could be a record, folks.

We're talking big city daily, with experienced editors who should know better than to let an awkward 64-word sentence appear in the tabloid.

A veteran Ottawa Sun staffer, reacting to a previous TSF comment about a 45-word lead, says: "I don't even write 45-word paragraphs, let alone a lede."

Sunday e-thin

Toronto's Sunday Sun e-edition is mighty thin - no sports, no ENT, no Comics, No TV guide etc.

They squeezed the popular Comment section in, but in all, just 46 pages from the Sunday Sun.

Isn't a new and bold business venture supposed to knock your socks off, with all of the bells and whistles on show out of the gate?

Will it be more of the same Monday when 32 other Sun Media newspapers go e?

Sun Media needs to do some PR if they want to sell e as the real Sun, page for page.

For starters, will the complete Sun be online once you subscribe at $4.99 a month, or was it never Sun Media's intention to mirror the print edition down to the last page?

Saturday 20 September 2008

Koreen returns

Mike Koreen, a former 10-year Toronto Sun staffer, has returned to Sun Media as sports editor of the Kingston Whig-Standard.

Mike, a sports reporter and copy editor in Toronto before exiting during the 2007 carnage, had been York University's sport and recreation officer and a Canadian Press freelance sports reporter since his departure.

A Whig story says the sports-minded Koreen also spent the past year appearing in "the Oregonian, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Inside Lacrosse, Score Magazine and the Toronto Argos, Toronto Marlies and Toronto Rock game-day programs. "

A big welcome back to the Thornhill-born Ryerson journalism grad.

Radio Joe

An interesting idea for Sun Media's e-edition interactive radio feature comes from TSF reader Michael Cassidy of Port Hope: Why not have Sun columnists read their columns? 

Mark Bonokoski does a fine job of reading his Moose Country blog entries on radio and Peter WorthingtonMichele Mandel, Joe Warmington, Rachel SaChris BlizzardMike StrobelLorrie GoldsteinEric MargolisLinda Leatherdale and some of the sports and entertainment staffers all have radio and/or TV experience.

"What would it take to read a column?" asks Cassidy. "They would know the tone to take and the words to emphasize."

Personalized readings by the columnists would be an improvement over the monotone computer-generated female voice with the occasional electronic stutter.

And what a bonus for the visually impaired - the ultimate personal touch.

If not within the interactive radio structure, provide an audio option for columnists who want to participate. We'd tune in for readings while working on the computer.

Of course, senior management would have to preview digital recordings by Strobel and Bono for proper Sun profanity style guide dashes.   

With print media jumping across the electronic threshold into multitasking with gay abandon, go for it all and see what sticks.   

Radio Joe has a ring to it. 

e-expansion Monday

The Toronto Sun's e-edition is barely a week old and Sunday Media has announced 32 more papers will go e on Monday.

Major beefs with the Toronto version in its infancy is the absence of the sports section and Friday's entertainment section, along with other assorted pieces of the paper.

A page count comparison for the Sunday Sun's e-edition should be interesting. 

We have yet to read or hear whether the exclusion of sports and other pages is strictly for the 14-day free trial period, or will it be a permanent condensed online tab? 

If permanent, the $4.99 a month subscription offer doesn't sound half as appealing.

Sun Media should make it clear one way or the other before signing people up for paid services.

A Marketwire press release yesterday announcing the expansion to 32 other Sun Media newspapers says the e-editions are the work of a Vancouver company.

"The Sun Media e-edition was developed in cooperation with NewspaperDirect, a Vancouver-based company that works with 750 newspaper and magazine publishers from 80 countries around the globe to market and sell hardcopy and digital editions their publications worldwide."

So Sun style to describe the service will be e-edition, not E-edition? Good to know. 

"The service delivers e-editions of all the Sun dailies in major urban markets plus other daily and non-daily publications."

They include free e-editions of the free 24 hours newspapers.

"After the free trial, the e-edition will be offered at a nominal fee to existing subscribers; the 24 hours free dailies will be accessible at no cost."

Style again. Does the Sun's new style guide mention 24 Hours, or is it 24 hours? 

Speaking of style, would the e-edition thumbnail index subheads not look more Sun-ish if they were iconic Sun red with bold white type instead of fuzzy green with white type?  Just a thought.

NADbank stats

This week's Newspaper Audience Databank (NADbank) press release paints a positive picture for print newspaper readership across Canada.

Numbers make us dizzy, so we'll take NADbank's following heading as gospel:

"Readership of Canadian daily newspapers remains strong; new data for the top six Canadian markets confirms that over 75% of adults read a daily newspaper each week," it says.

The press release includes readership results for Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa-Gatineau, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. There are a lot of Fall 2007 through Spring 2008 figures for readers of Sun Media dailies to read and digest.

(The Toronto Sun's spin on the numbers consisted of five positive paragraphs in Friday's paper. We haven't noticed updates in the Star, Globe and Post.)

There are no comparisons with the matching 2006-2007 period, so only insiders can grasp the positive and negative performances of the newspapers.

But in a nutshell, NADbank says print remains strong in the habits of Canadian readers and that is comforting news.

Friday 19 September 2008

Odds & ends

Wow, a 45-word lead in a Sun news story Thursday, followed by an even longer second paragraph. It's a long way from the 20-word max edict that city editors in the 70s and 80s enforced, with beneficial "tight and bright" tabloid reading results. Lengthy leads are cumbersome, lazy and lack creativity. And where are the editors?

What's happening at the Ottawa Sun? It has lost two promising young photographers and an assistant city editor in recent weeks. The exodus is beginning to sound like a replay of early 2007, when TSF was posting almost weekly layoffs and voluntary departures at all of the Suns.

The new torontosun.com just isn't grabbing us as a 24-hour as-it-happens online newspaper. Lack of staff, most likely, leading to periodic block uploads rather than urgent, Bulletin-type postings. So that initial A+ we gave torontosun.com gets knocked down to a B- until they become more competitive in the online news department.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Sun's new E-edition is making improvements in its first week. It has added thumbnail page tabs for easy access to different sections, plus a links menu. Still getting used to the zoom features for the pages. If all else fails, read the Quick User Guide at the bottom of the home page.

Mike Strobel's column about a son's search for a long lost mother in Hungary highlights the global village potential of an online newspaper. It just seems like yesterday when exposure for a GTA newspaper column was confined to the province of Ontario.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Metro No. 2?

A Metro Canada web site story says the free commuter daily has more readers in the GTA than the Toronto Sun based on new 2007/08 NADbank readership figures.

"Metro Toronto’s readership has surpassed the Toronto Sun to become the second-most-read daily in Canada’s largest city," says Metro.

Metro also says Newspaper Audience Databank figures released Wednesday show Metro has broken the one-million reader mark in Canada and remains the most read free daily in Canada.

It says NADbank's figures show Metro now reaches "1,091,800 readers every weekday and 2,253,200 readers weekly in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver."

"This represents an increase of 26 per cent, or 223,600 more weekday readers over NADbank 2006/07."

The Metro story includes Metro numbers for Edmonton, Montreal and Ottawa but not Toronto.

We await Sun Media's spin on the latest NADbank figures.

More on E

We are signed in for the Toronto Sun's 14-day E-edition free trial and open for feedback from TSF readers.

Sports section?
One TSF reader asks where is today's 20-page sports section? Good point. There are 72 pages online, but no sports that we could find.

Other sections MIA
Also missing in today's E-edition are the 12-page Jobboom section, the eight-page Your House & Home section and the eight-page Busy Bee Tools insert.

So it's not quite the complete Toronto Sun. Will there be exclusions after the free trial period? If so, it will not be a true page-for-page E-edition.

Will all of the Sunday Sun be online during the free trial? Stay tuned.

Listening to the Sun
We are fascinated by the Interactive Radio feature, with what sounds like a computer-generated female voice reading the content of every news story and column.

As we type this, the female voice is reading, word for word, and dash for dash, Mike Strobel's complete and hilarious Page 2 column on the new guidelines for the use of profanity in the Sun.

Hmmm, the way the computer-generated voice says "balls, testicles, family jewels, clippers" etc. Don't sex chat lines charge for that kind of talk?

It takes Strobel's frequent comedic views of the sexier side of life to a whole new level.

Visually impaired
On a more serious side, the visually impaired will benefit from interactive radio, or those who want to catch up on the news while working on other tasks at the computer.

Different E program?
A few months ago, the Ottawa Sun put its complete paper online after experiencing press problems. The program used a different platform than the Toronto Sun E-edition. Is there a tech guy who can compare the two E-edition formats?

Accessing thumbnail pages
Page thumbnails make it user friendly but is there a way to highlight key pages, for easier access, such as page tabs for Comment, Classifieds, Money, Entertainment etc? (18 Comment, 57 Money, 64 Showbiz etc.)

Sun goes E

The Toronto Sun launched its digital E-edition this morning for online viewing, or for downloads to your computer, BlackBerry or iPhones.

Free is always good and this E-edition - a complete daily Sun, ads and all - will be free for 14 days. After that, it is $4.99 a month.

The Winnipeg Sun launched an E-edition months ago and the response encouraged Sun Media to expand the online service to other Suns and the free 24-Hours newspapers.

It really is a huge bonus for Sun faithful who don't want to miss an issue but don't live in the delivery area and because of ill health or age can't always get out to buy the paper.

Steve Angelevski, Sun Media's corporate VP of reader sales and service, says in a Sun story: "It's a great way to stay in touch with the Toronto Sun when readers go on vacation - especially for snowbirds who go south for the winter."

The online edition will also appeal to Sun readers around the world, including some former staffers now living in distant lands.

What is a giant leap in media communications in this computer age is readers will be able to "translate Sun stories into 12 different languages including Spanish, Italian, Mandarin and French."

And, by golly, the E-edition also has a news ticker.

We still prefer to buy the paper daily out here in the boondocks, so we're hoping the E-edition is not the death knell for distribution of the print edition beyond the GTA.

Old habits die hard.

Besides, not everyone owns a computer. Look at John McCain.

Just one question for torontosun.com. Can you not provide hyperlinks in your promotional stories? Why have readers go looking for a link to the E-edition?

Link it.


It's not rocket science.

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Leafs return

The Toronto Maple Leafs returned to the Toronto Sun's front page today. Is it premature to say "next year?"

OttSun Ace

The Ottawa Sun is looking for an assistance city editor and, for a refreshing change of pace, qualifications called for do not include education minimums.

The job posting, found at jeffgaulin.com, gives self-educated journalists a fair run for the job. It is a union position, with evening shifts, including weekends.

Qualifications stated:

You have the ability to take good stories and make them great. You spot the holes and get them filled. In addition to superior news judgment, you are a wordsmith, you believe in the value of tight writing. You are able to coach staff and manage them.

Working in a multimedia newsroom, you will also share in the responsibility of editing and posting copy to the web, creating photo galleries, and performing other web duties on a nightly basis.

You are a troubleshooter. You deal with late breaking stories every day and juggle it with longterm projects.

You are a news junkie.

You are details oriented.

You work well in a team environment with other editors.

You have excellent communication skills, both verbal and written.

Those are TSF's kind of requirements, especially having to be a news junkie, a wordsmith and someone who is keen on tight writing.

Tight writing in a tabloid? Reminds us of the old TorSun.

The job posting also advises applicants to submit resumes by e-mail to Donald Ermen, assistant managing editor, Ottawa Sun. No phone calls.

Deadline is Sept. 30.

Monday 15 September 2008

Sun mural

Updated 16/09/08 re mural info site

Al Parker's two-page flashback to 1993 and the unveilling of John and Alexandra Hood's elaborate Toronto Sun mural fails to mention the mural's future.

With the Sun building up for sale, most likely to condo developers, what will become of the siblings' 180-foot wide mural that marked the 20th anniversary of the Sunday Sun and the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Town of York?

(The Old Town Toronto web site provides a slide show and Mike Filey's capsule comments for all 32 of the vignettes represented in the 25-foot high History as Theatre mural.)

"I'm proud of the work," Hood says in the Sunday Sun piece. "It stands up."

The question is where will the 4,000-square-foot mural stand, if at all, once 333 King Street East is sold and vacated?

Can the Front Street mural be moved to a resting place for facades and murals, say Guildwood Village or The Distillery?

Or is it destined to be levelled with the rest of the building?

The mural being a reflection of Doug Creighton's grand way of thinking and the "old ways" Sun, we get the feeling Quebecor would prefer to see it levelled and forgotten.

A Save the Mural campaign should be launched to prevent the much appreciated and historically relevant mural from being demolished.

If it can be saved, secure its future before the bulldozers take aim.

Sunday 14 September 2008

35th for Sundays

The Sunday Sun turned 35 today, but we are reluctant to pop the cork and shout Happy 35th with conviction. It was, and still could be, so much more.

The anticipation factor in picking up the Sunday Sun has diminished considerably since broadsheet thinkers gained control of the tabloid

While the Toronto Sun wasn't the first to publish a Sunday newspaper in the city, as mentioned in a Page 2 story today, it was the most successful launch.

As noted in Ron Poulton's 1976 book, Life In A Word Factory:

"In 1957, John Bassett learned to his sorrow that Toronto readers were conditioned to labor for six days a week and rest with their roast beef on the seventh. He published a Sunday Telegram for 20 weeks in defiance of the Lord's Day Act. Church leaders swooped around his ears, saying: "Do we follow God, or do we follow Baal?" God won and Bassett dropped $750,000."

After the Sunday Telegram hit the streets, Toronto Star carriers were asked if they would deliver on Sundays and apparently most, like yours truly, said sure, why not? But the Star backed off and before you knew it, the Sunday Telegram was history.

You had to live through those repressive Lord's Day Act years to fully appreciate the power churches wielded in restricting Sunday activity. No sports, no movies, no live theatre, no shopping, no serving of alcohol etc. Today, liberals and atheists label it the Dark Ages.

Poulton also noted that a year after the Sunday Telegram experiment was called off, Bassett sent his son, Douglas, to Oakville to launch the Oakville Sunday Sun, an out-of-town trial that lasted 10 months.

Two decades later, on Sept. 16, 1973, less than two years after the launch of the daily Sun, Doug Creighton et al gambled on a belief that Toronto and beyond was ready for a Sunday newspaper.

How right they were, selling out the first 150,000 press run, with Phil Sykes as Sunday Sun editor.

The Sunday Sun enjoyed a frenzied ride over the next two decades, peaking at 550,000-plus in 1992 with Michael Burke-Gaffney as its editor.

That peak in sales, pumped by the first Blue Jays World Series win, was reached just weeks before Creighton, the founding publisher, was dumped as CEO by the Sun's board of diwreckers.

The Toronto Sun, especially the Sunday Sun, has been on a downward spiral since then, with the pace escalating after the takeover by Quebecor in 1999. Sunday circulation is down to about 300,000.

The Sunday Sun in its glory days was unbeatable for content and reader adoration. Reader magnets included Paul Rimstead, Max Haines, Gary Dunford, offbeat feature stories, Page 3 SUNshine Girls, contests etc.

But just about every piece of the tabloid formula that made the Sunday Sun a success story has been squeezed from the paper. It has lost its edge - and tens of thousands of once faithful readers.

And, for thousands of readers who don't live in the mysterious "selected areas" designated by Sun Media, the Sunday Sun has been lighter since the TV guide was dropped.

The strongest draws today are sports and entertainment, which were the priorities of Pierre Peladeau Sr. when he tried, unsuccessfully, to buy into the prosperous Sun in the 1970s.

The Sunday Sun is now No. 2 behind the Sunday Star and the Sun Media rallying cry earlier this year to regain the title are now empty words.

A price hike for the thinning Sunday Sun, due Oct. 6 won't help boost sales.

Meanwhile, news reports say Quebecor Media will invest $1 billion in its newest toy - wireless.

We wonder how Sun Media employees working in bare bones newsrooms feel about that expenditure.

Friday 12 September 2008

Say what?

Users of torontosun.com's Yahoo search engine need to know their French when nothing can be found.

Go ahead, type in exelorf, or any other nonsensical word, as we did after a TSF tipster sent us an e-mail. The search results message reads: Votre recherche n'a retourné aucun résultat.

Pardon our French, which is lacking, but WTF.

We know the Toronto Sun is owned by a Quebec conglomerate, but wouldn't you say 99% of the readers speak English?

English, please, or bilingual messages.

Nick Ibscher 2

Updated 17/09/08 re Joel Colomby, Frankie Thornhill

A celebration of life for Nick Ibscher will be held Sept. 27 at the Toronto home of Noreen Rosbach of the Globe and Mail.

You can RSVP Noreen for the 1 p.m. wine and cheese gathering by e-mail at nrasbach@globeandmail.com

And Jan Murphy, news editor at the Kingston Whig-Standard, says friends and former colleagues played a round of golf in his honour in Kingston."

Nick, a 1970s Ryerson journalism student, worked at Canadian Press in Toronto before hired by the Toronto Sun in the mid 1980s. He made a detour to the Toronto Star in the late 1990s, for about a year, then worked at the Kingston Whig-Standard from 2000 to 2005 and joined the Calgary Herald in 2006.

Always friendly on the job, always professional.

(Our thanks to Sandra Macklin, a friend of Nick's since their Ryerson years, for the photo, taken at the SkyDome during a Jays 1992 World Series game.)

More memories of Nick;

Frankie Thornhill, Calgary Herald: "Happily, Nick's kitties are learning the joys of outdoor life and how to get along with two dogs and one or two other cats at Nick's sister's in Ontario.

"I also golfed often with Nick and his enthusiasm for life was infectious. I miss him."

Joel Colomby, veteran Toronto Sun sports department staffer: "Like everyone who knew him, I was stunned to hear this tragic news.

"My fondest recollections of Nick go back to our days at Ryerson in the early 1970s, when we were the 1-2 punch on the Journalism 30s intramural ball hockey team. Don't laugh. Ball hockey was a huge deal at Rye back then with more than 30 teams competing.

"Nick owned the league's most fearsome slapshot. He used a slightly worn-down Blaine Stoughton Sherwood that, to this day I maintain, is the nicest hockey stick I've ever held in my hands. Nick's shot was not only hard, but he could make that red rubber ball-hockey ball dip and curve when he let it go.

"The moment that will stick with me is a game in which we were tied with three seconds to go and a faceoff in our own end. I took the draw while Nick stood, stick already drawn back, beside our own net. I won the faceoff cleanly back to him and he one-timed it the length of the floor and into the net for the winning goal. Typically, it dipped under the goalie's glove at the last second.

"Another time, during a team practice, he rifled one of his patented blasts off the bare back of teammate Terry Bell (who was working out in Vancouver last time I checked) standing about 10 yards away. The welt is probably still there.

"Nick and I renewed our friendship when he joined the Sun and he and Sandra (Macklin) were part of our first fantasy baseball league in the 80s. Their team name fittingly was The Sandranickstas.

"That Nick. Always a way with words."

Tim Fryer, former veteran Sun news desk staffer, now at the Star: "I was sad to hear of Nick's death. I was talking with Nick earlier in the year and he seemed upbeat and confident that things would work out.

"I first met Nick in 1988 when I arrived at the Sun, sat down at a terminal, and was quickly kicked out of my chair by this crazed editor who bore a striking resemblance to Barry Manilow. He insisted on using my desk since he was working on G8 spreads and needed rapid access to the comp room.

"That was Nick, of course. Intense, passionate, one of those gifted maniacs that populate newsrooms.

"He was generous to a fault and incredibly funny. He also had a rarely seen touch of self-deprecation that belied his innate perfectionism. This, of course, allowed him to regale us in tales of the occasional foul-up.

"Newsroom screw-ups are the best. We've all had them, and their legends have kept bars in the Front Street newspaper loop in business for years. One of my all-time favorites featured Nick's handiwork.

"After a rather intense replate, our man came in the next day and was quickly motioned into one of the "pooh-bah's" offices, as he liked to call bosses. Of course he's thinking a pat on the back was forthcoming, especially for his stylish entertainment page remake for the Liza Minnelli concert.

"Much to his horror, there it was, the word mocking him at the end of Ed Monteith's pointing finger, in bold, 200 point, ignominious glory. With an exclamation mark no less: LISA!

"That was Nick, though. Go big or go home.

"Everything he did, he did intensely, including golf. I used to hit the links a lot with Howard MacGregor, Lloyd Kemp and Nick. Howard, of course, would offer unsolicited advice on your game despite having one of the worst swings any of us had ever seen.

"Lloyd just loved the game nearly as much as the news game itself. (As an aside, I still laugh when I think of Lloyd carrying his microwave out to the curb when we were picking him up to golf on a cold, October morning. He had attempted to warm his golf balls and, fortunately, wasn't watching closely when the explosion shattered the microwave window.)

"Nick, naturally, was the best of the bunch, despite starting the game late in his adult life. Like most things Nick put his mind to, it was pedal to the metal. And now, they're all gone.

"My newsrooms and golf courses will never be quite the same."

Jan Murphy, news editor at the Kingston Whig-Standard: "I worked with Nick Ibscher for five years, side by side, at the Kingston Whig-Standard.

"I was in my early 20s when Nick joined the Whig. Over the course of the five that followed, Nick taught me the importance of editing copy, how to write an interesting and accurate headline and the importance of our jobs as editors.

"More importantly, though, Nick and I became close friends. I came to appreciate Nick's ability to enjoy the simpler things in life and just how much he appreciated those things. Even after Nick left Kingston for Calgary, he would always phone with updates.

"When he became ill, the phone calls slowed, but never stopped completely.

"I'll always cherish my years with Nick and I'll never again write a headline that Nick isn't in some way responsible for.

"RIP Nick. Gone, but never forgotten."

Rob Lamberti, veteran Toronto Sun crime reporter: "What awful news. It's so sad to learn we lost Nick at such a young age. Nick was a solid copy editor, dependable and steady, but of course what remains engrained in my memory was a hilarious error.

"He had cut out the middle of a story I wrote to fit a small news hole but didn't check to see if the identities of the people I quoted remained intact. He kept the identity of a homicide detective but cut out his quotes and kept the quotes of a plumber. The plumber's quotes became attributed to the detective. I didn't realize until the detective called and asked me if I was demented and if I shouldn't take up a career in retail.

"Ah, the abuse reporters take for the sins of others.

"On behalf of the editorial and pre-press members of the Toronto Sun unit, we want to pass on our condolences to Nick's friends and family."

Len Fortune, former veteran Toronto Sun colour lab whiz: "Absolutely stunned by the news of Nick Ibscher's death, but I guess some of us are at that stage where many of our contemporaries are walking towards the light.

"Nick, as you know, was part of the most amazing and talented rim in Sun Media's short history and it's disconcerting that the better part of that rim has left us:

"Paul Heming, a lovable and saintly newsman, although he did love a Jameson as I do;

"Ben Grant, small in stature, but huge in heart and talent;

"Howard MacGregor, a first-rate editor who asked all the right questions;

"Lloyd Kemp, who joined the rim later in his career, a no-nonsense journalist;

"And Nick, who was gifted, but because of his nonchalant style, was often overlooked for deserved praise.

"The unflappable Sandra Macklin led this unique band of wordsmiths and, as you know, is still with us, hopefully for years to come."

Rick VanSickle, former Sun staffer, now city editor of the St. Catharines Standard: "I am so saddened to read about Nick Ibscher passing away. He was a brilliant, caring and principled editor, the last attribute contributing to one of my favourite Nick stories.

"Nick was the replate editor back in 1986 and spent most of his nights cleaning up the mistakes of the other copy editors. He took great glee in rewriting already rewritten wire stories and local stories.

"On one particular night, he decided he had had enough of the obligatory beauty queen pictures that were pretty much a must-run in those days. On that night, it was the Miss America pageant winner that he had to get in the paper on the replate.

"Nick decided he'd spice things up a bit. He chose the winner, all in her tears with her new tiara as she was announced the winner. Nick decided that an overlay would be appropriate under the circumstances with the words "Lighten up, you won!" in a thought bubble above her head. It ran for the entire replate.

"Les Pyette, editor-in-chief at the time, was not amused. Nick was booted off the replate shift. The rest of us laughed for years about that one."

Monica Zurowski, Calgary Herald colleague: "A couple of nights before his death, members of the Herald news desk - which was the area in which Nick worked - went to see him after work.

"The hospital opened up the cafeteria and moved Nick's bed into the cafeteria. Although Nick was weak, they had a memorable late-night visit, which gave many of his colleagues here some special lasting memories of Nick."

Paul Harvey, Calgary Herald colleague: "Nick started here in January 2006 and was still in our employ when he died.

"Before he came here, Nick promised to impress us with his professionalism and headline-writing skills. And that he did. He quickly set a new standard for quality heads.

"Nick loved to play golf with his desker buddies, and was always game to share a table of beer and pizza after work.

"Everyone here misses him."

Memories of Nick can be e-mailed to TSF.

30 - Nick Ibscher

Updated 18/09/08

Nick Ibscher
, a veteran editor who had a way with words and was a stickler for proper usage, has died from lung cancer. He was 53.

The former Toronto Sun, Kingston Whig-Standard, Calgary Herald editor, diagnosed with cancer last year, died recently in Calgary.

"Nick was a man who would jump off a roof - farther and higher than the rest of us - than have something printed wrong in the Sun," says Sandra Macklin, a former Toronto Sun news editor.

"His intensity was legendary, whether about golf or baseball, words or commas. He could argue a point, twice in the newsroom, three times at the bar.

"Nick was my baseball buddy. We shared season tickets during the 1990s run-up to the Blue Jays World Series wins.

"But God, he embarrassed me. Way before Dave Winfield said "Winfield wants noise," Nick had done it at every game. One night, he stood on a seat and harassed polite, quiet Blue Jay fans to bloody-well yell.

"I'll miss my old baseball mate. I miss that he wasn't there tonight when the Blue Jays won their 11th out of 12 games. I called him in Calgary to hoot 'n' holler because we always used to do that and to see how he was doing, but his phone was disconnected."

Sandra then searched the Internet and found a Whig column that mentioned Nick had died.

"I didn't call soon enough to have one more laugh, one more swoon about the Blue Jays, one more discussion about the way of the world.

"He loved his two kitties, Homie and Catullus. Sure hope they found a good home."

(Sandy updated her memories after Joel Colomby's comments were posted."

Sandra Macklin: "Joel reminded me of the Sandranickstas, so I have to tell one more story about Nick.

"Nick and I drafted Dave Steib at Brian Gibbs' ping pong table for $25. Later that year, Nick and I took a bus trip to Detroit for the final three games of 1987. No BJ fan needs to be reminded of what happened that year.

"The Saturday game was over, Nick and I had many beers at Lindell's with Benny Grant, who put us to shame with glorious Tiger stories. Two hours after I'd gone to bed, there was a pounding at my hotel room door: Nick said 'get dressed, Dave Steib's downstairs.' The two of us walked up to Steib, Nick stuck out his hand and said, 'Hey, we're the Sandranickstas, we paid 25 bucks for you.'

"You gotta love him. Because of Nick, I got to shake Dave Steib's hand.

More memories of Nick

Memories of Nick can be e-mailed to TSF.

Thursday 11 September 2008


Updated re Mike Jenkinson comment
A Canadian Journalism Project posting today reads:

A group of ten second-year journalism students in Algonquin College's journalism program will be joining the Ottawa Sun’s team of reporters on election night. "

We'll stop there and suggest a rewrite:

Ten second-year Algonquin College journalism students will join the Ottawa Sun's team of reporters on election night.

Sadly, wordy leads are not uncommon. We spotted another 40-word lead in the Toronto Sun yesterday. That reflects a lack of experience and apathetic editors.

Meanwhile, back at the thinning Ottawa Sun newsroom . . .

The 10 j-students will be "collecting quotes from the winners and losers" and assisting with data sorting.

Is that the old school spirit on Sun Media's part, or is it taking advantage of cheap labour?

Mike Jenkinson, media blogger and former Edmonton Sun staffer, fondly remembers his journalism student days with a similar assignment.

"I was part of a group of students from Carleton University's J-school program who did similar work for the Ottawa Citizen on the night of the Charlottetown Accord referendum.

"The paper sent us out to collect vote counts and quotes when the polling stations closed and report them back to the newsroom over the course of the evening.

"It was good, basic reporting experience in a real-world situation - and a fun night, as well."

Thanks for the e-mail, Mike.

So it's a win-win situation for students and the newspapers.

The Brioux deal

Bill Brioux, former Toronto Sun TV critic, responds to our Thumbs down posting:

"Ten years ago, right before I started at the Sun, I shot a pilot with Claire Bickley to do a Siskel & Ebert-style show about television.

We reviewed new shows, giving our thumbs up with an old TV tube tester ("good" or "bad").

We got Peter Mansbridge, Mike Bullard and Steve Smith ("Red Green") to all appear in the pilot, sometimes reviewing our reviews.

The pilot was shopped around the various Canadian networks. The feedback was very positive - as in, they were all positive they wouldn't touch it.

"That was fantastic - I'd never buy that show," was basically the message.

No network wanted to let two critics dare say some show they just paid $200,000 a week to import into Canada wasn't as funny as it used to be.

There was no safe haven for this kind of a show, not even on Newsworld. Nobody wanted to let critics - or any independent voice - do anything but endorse their product.

Programmers today want cheerleaders (see eTalk, Entertainment Tonight Canada, etc). They don't want criticism. They don't even want people suggesting there might be something else on another channel.

It's the same with movie review shows. Movies are made today by conglomerates that also control other media, including television. There's Universal/NBC, CBS/Paramount, Disney/ABC. They "conglom" because they want to control the entire message, not be subject to independent, consumer reviews.

In short, there is no way in hell Siskel & Ebert would ever be launched today. It is grandfathered in and tolerated because, as a Disney-owned syndicated TV show, it still makes money.

But the door is slammed shut on anything else like it.

Although, dammit, I think Doyle and I could kick some ass with such a deal."

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Thumbs down

It's thumbs down for ABC's new At The Movies gabfest unveiled on the weekend.

Hosts Ben Lyons and Ben Manikiewicz, along with a new three-person panel format, make it all too gabby and hyper compared to Siskel and Ebert and Ebert and Roeper after Gene Siskel died in 1999.

So we were thinking, Toronto has four major daily newspapers and a number of movie and television critics with credentials. How about pairing two of them for a weekly movie and/or TV critic face-off series?

With cable productions drawing big numbers and numerous awards, movie and television are intertwined on movie/DVD review programs.

So egos aside, who would have the perfect chemistry for a TV duo?

The Sun's Jim Slotek and the Star's Linda Barnard?

The Sun's Bruce Kirkland and the Globe's John Doyle?

The Sun's Bill Harris and the Star's Rob Salem?

The Sun's Liz Braun and the Post's Bob Thompson?

Or mix and match.

Siskel and Ebert, employed by competing Chicago dailies, were a movie theatre balcony combo that raised the bar.

But Toronto, home of a world class film festival, surely has two qualified print media movie critics who could fill the bill and keep movie fans entertained for 30 minutes.

Ditto for objective TV analysis.

ATT Pete Fisher

From a TSF reader: "ATT Pete Fisher who wrote the column about the Highway of Heroes. I wish I had an email addy for him so I could send him the following or maybe you could forward it to him. Thanks

Friday, September 07, 2007, marked the day that a section of Highway 401 was dedicated to our fallen soldiers. Many young Canadian soldiers who have given their lives in the war in Afghanistan have traveled this road. Like most of you, I support our troops and this show titled Highway of Heroes is dedicated to them.


Thank you for the e-mail. We will forward it to Pete Fisher and Joe Warmington, two Sun Media staffers who have contributed many hours, words and photos to the Highway of Heroes.

Pete's web site reflects his dedication to honouring the troops and the many times he has witnessed the return of the casualties of war along the 401.

Lottery results

Tens of thousands of lottery ticket buyers in Ontario would probably appreciate easily accessible results on torontosun.com minutes after the draws are held.

Instant draw results would be another reason to bookmark torontosun.com for visits after 6/49 draws Wednesdays and Saturdays, Super 7 Fridays and Lottario draws Saturdays.

We know results are available within minutes of every draw because the news desk calls the OLG before deadline to get the winning numbers for the morning papers.

Flash the winning numbers on the home or news page minutes after each draw and save visitors from having to find the lotteries link and wade through the canoe.ca site cluttered with every draw held across Canada.

You could do the same with sports scores.

Call it the Return of the Ticker.

In the 1960s, the Globe and Mail had an electronic news ticker atop the Brown Derby on the northeast corner of Yonge and Dundas. Copy boys were assigned to update the ticker throughout the night.

Thousands of passersby were informed of the latest news in brief, much like the Times Square news ticker in New York that still keeps the masses informed 24 hours a day.

News as it happens, not news when it is convenient to upload.

"News" glitch

OK, there has to be a technical glitch with the "News" page at the new torontosun.com.

It is almost 4 a.m. Wednesday and the lead item on the News page is Sunday afternoon's bus stop murder story.

It has to be a glitch, right?

As for the Toronto & GTA news page, Tuesday's bizarre Hwy. 401 murder and body dumping hasn't been updated since 6:18 p.m. and we know there are new developments in the slaying.

We are beginning to think the news at it happens promo was premature. Perhaps, as one TSF reader said in a comment, there's not enough staff to make torontosun.com a news contender.

The web site should have sufficient staff to feed it non-stop around the clock.

Tuesday 9 September 2008

The $1.50 Sun

The cost of the daily Toronto Sun beyond the GTA will be hiked to $1.50 plus tax as of Oct. 6.

The price hike would have been an excellent opportunity to make peace with retailers and readers by charging $1.43, plus tax, or a tidy $1.50.

But retailers have been told it will be $1.50, plus tax, or $1.57, which means more of the same bloody nuisance with the pennies.

The retailer said the Sunday Sun will be hiked to $2.50, plus tax.

That is ballsy of Sun Media to deprive Sunday Sun readers of a television guide in all but "selected areas" then up the price.

Less for more. Quebecor economics.

As for the GTA, it sounds like the Sun will expand its recent Friday price hike to $1, plus tax, to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

News blues

It is 8:45 p.m., the big news on the radio is a woman has been arrested in the bizarre death of a man shot and thrown from a car on Hwy. 401.

But the lead news story on torontosun.com is the bus stop murder that occurred Monday at 3 p.m. and last updated at 10:27 a.m. Tuesday. Are they fixated on that story?

The 401 body dumping is the lead "Breaking News" story on the "Home" page and the "Toronto & GTA" news page, but no mention of an arrest and the last update was 6:18 p.m.

Why is the Hwy. 401 murder the lead story on the "Home" page and "Toronto & GTA" news page, but not the main "News" page? It is confusing.

When you click on the "News" page, it would make more sense to begin with "Canada" on the left and leave it to the visitor to choose "Toronto & GTA."

The way it is now, it looks like there is one too many news link pages.

We gave the new site an A+ (mostly for design and navigation) early today, but if slow news updates on busy news days, as we are witnessing out of the gate, continue a B- would be more realistic.

It might be cheery and easy to use, but news as it happens is the name of the game.

Web site A+

Updated 2.51 p.m.
Wow, the torontosun.com layout whiz kids got it 99% right this time.

The new web site launched Monday is an impressive transformation, from a cluttered and claustrophobic torontosun.com to a web site that shines like the good Sun should.

Lots of Sun red, lots of white background, a breeze to navigate and organized and categorized to the hilt. Surfing the new site is fast and inviting.

But . . .

The text font needs to be nudged up a point for easier reading.

And at 4:10 a.m. Tuesday, the lead news story, accompanied by a photo, hadn't changed since 6:38 p.m. Monday. The 3 p.m. Toronto bus stop slaying was old news at 4 a.m. - and why was it a Canadian Press story and not a Sun story? What's that all about?

(At 2:51 p.m., almost a full day later, the lead news story was still "Shot dead at bus stop" but it is now a Sun Media story, not CP. Gotta move along with news as it happens folks if you want to compete with radio and television news.)

The next three stories at 2:51 were all about the PM.

Also, isn't this awkward: "Last Updated: 8th September 2008, 6:38pm?"

Couldn't it be simplified to "Last Updated: Sept. 8, 2008, 6:38 p.m.?

Or do what Goggle news does: posted 30 minutes ago, 1 hour ago, 11 hours ago.

But it's only day one.

Meanwhile, the Your Scoop page invites readers to submit pictures, video and recordings and includes the following agreement wording:

"I hereby confirm to Canoe Inc. that I am the owner of all rights in the picture(s), videos or recordings (the "Material") that I am sending to Canoe and I am granting Canoe and its affiliated companies, a worldwide, irrevocable, royalty-free and non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast and publish that Material for any purposes, on any material form and in perpetuity. I attest that the Material is an original work and is authentic and that the shooting of this Material did not infringe any law or regulation."

No mention of Sun Media paying for said pictures, videos and recordings, so it is possible a citizen journalist with a major "scoop" will be surrendering all rights to his work for free.

That just doesn't seem right, for Sun Media or any other media outlet.

If a picture is worth a thousand words - pay for it.