Thursday 31 December 2009

A union recap

As decades go, this one wrapping up tonight has not been kind to union and non-union Sun Media employees and print journalism in general.

And as years go, 2009 was more of the same as Quebecor continued to downsize and reshape the way Canadian newspapers have been doing business for more than 250 years.

Brad Honywill, president of CEP Local 87-M (SONG), provides TSF readers with a recap of 2009 and a hint of what to expect in 2010.

He writes:

Sun Family Members,

This has been a difficult year for members of the Sun Media family, both union and non-union.

There’s been a gradual erosion of our numbers over the course of 2009, climaxing with the announcement that the Belleville Intelligencer mailroom will be closed this January and the work transferred to Kingston, resulting in the loss of 50 jobs.

And we’re all shocked by the nature and severity of the cutbacks at the Toronto Star, likely affecting many former Sun Media members. The union is awaiting a response from the company on our alternatives to the downsizing, but the general trend of outsourcing is a worry for all 3,200 members in the 34 workplaces serviced by SONG (CEP 87-M).

Sun Media has taken a somewhat different tact, “insourcing” the work to centralized, non-union, centres in places like Barrie, Brockville and Woodstock.

But there have been some victories over the past year in preserving member jobs and rights.

We organized the Sarnia Observer as 2008 came to a close and, in 2009, the spin-off centralized pagination centre in Dresden. Later, we succeeded in getting the Dresden unit re-united with the Sarnia unit as a result of an agreement reached in a hearing before the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

The Board also ruled this year that Sun Media is the “common employer” for members at the Toronto Sun, London Free Press and Ottawa Sun, giving members more rights in defending the transfer of their work to non-union entities.

And the London Free Press unit has succeeded in attracting many jobs as the most recent “Centre of Excellence” for production and pagination work.

As we enter 2010, several Sun Media contracts are in negotiation and several more come due at the end of the year.

Currently in negotiation are the following units: London Free Press editorial; Chatham Daily News; Pembroke Observer; Belleville Intelligencer; Simcoe Reformer; Brantford Expositor, Niagara Falls Review, Stratford Beacon-Herald advertising and the Sarnia Observer.

Coming up for renewal at the end of 2010 are: the Owen Sound Sun-Times; Toronto Sun; Ottawa Sun; St. Catharines Standard and the Stratford Beacon-Herald editorial/composing/mailroom unit. The contract for the Local’s largest unit, the Toronto Star, also comes up at the end of 2010.

These are tough times to be in negotiations. But we’re fighting hard to preserve jobs and working conditions, specifically elements of Quebecor’s recently-introduced Flex Media benefit plan which provides virtually no protection against escalating health care costs.

In this environment, I think it’s important that an experienced leader, with the broad support of the unit chairs and the local executive, be at the helm of our Local. Consequently, I intend to seek another term as SONG president at our nomination meeting on Jan. 20.

As we start 2010, I wish all the members of the Sun Family a very happy New Year. No matter what gets thrown at us, we remain a family of hard-working, skilled, dedicated employees who can be proud every day of our contributions and support for fellow members.

Brad Honywill
President, CEP Local 87-M (SONG)

Thank you for your comments, Brad.

Happy New Year to you and all members of the Toronto Sun Family, from Day Oners to novices.

We look forward to another year of your TSF postings and comments.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Weekly sameness

Weekly newspapers across the Sun Media chain will all be required to use almost identical layouts, from front page to back, beginning in mid January.

Weekly editors will be told how their newspapers will be laid out, with little variation other than the name of the newspaper in the flag/masthead/nameplate.

Editors will be told where copy and headings go, the size and style of fonts to be used and where ads will be placed.

A TSF reader sent us samples of the new format and we feel for weekly editors who treasure freedom of choice in the newsroom.

It is sanitized, cookie cutter sameness that eliminates the need for creativity.

Happy 2010 weekly editors.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Torch reality

A TSF tip of the hat to Paul Berton, editor-in-chief of the London Free Press, for remembering Ian Robertson in his blog posting on London's pending Olympics torch visit.

Ian, 61, was hospitalized with a concussion Friday after falling during a scuffle with torch security in Newmarket. It followed other incidents in Toronto and Peterborough involving torch security staff and media reps trying to do their jobs.

On Saturday, the Toronto Star's coverage of Ian's injury was a single paragraph in the print edition. The Globe and Mail, zilch. How many incidents does it take for media to realize there is a problem with security tactics?

But we digress. This is what Berton had to say:

The torch is coming! Yippee! I expect The London Free Press will treat the event with all the pomp and circumstance due such a thing, more or less.

Whether that's because a lot of people seem genuinely interested and excited by this elaborate publicity stunt, or because it's Christmastime and the news is getting slower by the hour as we approach the 25th, it's hard to say.

I must note, however, that was a nasty business in the Toronto area Friday, when a Toronto Sun photographer covering the torch relay was sent to the hospital with a concussion.

According to news reports that quoted a spokesman for the union representing journalists, security officers "shoved" Ian Robertson to the ground.

Sure, some crowd control is necessary for the safety of the torch bearer and others, but this sounds as if someone went overboard. The photographers were simply trying to get a good picture.

Besides, this is an Olympic torch (apparently available for sale by the dozen), and the event is simply a procession, heavily controlled by corporate sponsors such as Coca Cola. It's not as if it's a state secret and we're at war.

End of blog posting, but hopefully not the end of media analysis of what occurred in Newmarket, Toronto and Peterborough.

Monday 21 December 2009

Journal Xmas

Two French-language YouTube posts by the 253 locked out Journal de Montreal employees.

The first clip is from the start of the lockout last January.

The second, posted this week, is from the CBC:

January: The faces:

Christmas 2009, 11 months later:

You don't have to be bilingual to sense the frustration.

MediaMatin for the streets of Montreal?

Bylines etc

Sun Media is out in bylines, QMI Agency is in.

But not always for QMI Agency.

If John Smith of the Toronto Sun writes a story, "Toronto Sun" will be beneath his byline.

But if John Smith's story is used in another Sun Media newspaper, it will be John Smith, QMI Agency.

Your own story, the name of your paper. Shared story, QMI.

Except for bylines for parliamentary bureau staffers. They don't change. It is John Smith, Parliamentary Bureau, in all of the papers.

As 2009 winds down and the countdown to Sun Media sans the Canadian Press next June continues, it is time to think QMI Agency.


For decades, media have abbreviated Associated Press (AP), United Press International (UPI), Canadian Press (CP) etc. to save space after first mention. QMI will surely follow.

Dropping "Sun Media" in editorial content is yet another slice of the chain's roots being trimmed and discarded.

Friday 18 December 2009

Photogs flamed

Updated re Peterborough and Toronto incidents
Two Toronto Sun photographers were roughed up by security staff during the Olympics torch run in Newmarket today, says a CEP union press release.

Ian Robertson 61, required treatment at hospital for a head injury after being pushed to the ground, says the press release. Dave Thomas was shoved around but not injured.

The press release calls for criminal charges to be laid.

Ian, one of the most laid back guys in the Sun newsroom, no doubt never thought he'd be injured while trying to shoot video at an Olympics torch relay event. A George W. speaking engagement, perhaps, but a torch run?

"This is an outrage," said Brad Honywill, president of Local 87-M of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. "The Olympics are supposed to represent the highest of human values but the behaviour of the security officers represents nothing less than brutality and cowardice."

There were also reports of media reps being roughed up during Olympics torch coverage in Toronto and Peterborough.

A Toronto Sun story says Frank Gunn, a Canadian Press photographer, was "also on the receiving end of police aggression when a group of officers apparently took issue with him trying to photograph the torch near Front and Church Sts."

Meanwhile, two Peterborough Examiner employees covering the torch run in Peterborough were also roughed up by security guards, says a TSF reader.

"Peterborough Examiner staff reporter Andrea Houston and staff photographer Cliff Skarstedt were also roughed up but not injured during the Olympic Torch Relay in Peterborough as Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey ran the final leg of the relay," says the TSF reader.

"Other media covering the same event also witnessed the security guards rough treatment to Examiner staffers."

(TSF could not find mention of the Peterborough incidents in the Examiner's online coverage.)

It is all kind of a bummer after Toronto Sun vet Mark Bonokoski was pictured on the front page of the Sun proudly carrying a torch in Lakefield.

The Olympic flame has dimmed along its Ontario trek, with a Grafton bypass, a demonstration by aboriginals in Toronto and rough play in Newmarket, Toronto and Peterborough.

PKP & Xmas

TSF winds up Cutback Casualties Week with PKP's 2009 Christmas holidays greeting for employees who survived another year of cutbacks.

"I'm grateful for the dedication to the cause," says PKP.

He also says:

"I hope you come back fresh and rested for 2010 promises to be as full of challenges as the year that has ended."

The challenge in 2009, say TSF readers still employed, was to keep your head low, nose to the grindstone and not be caught commenting on Sun Media matters.

They expect more of the same in 2010.

As for PKP's Christmas 2009 video, we give it a one ho rating for sincerity.

Our thanks to all of the cutback casualties who provided updates on their post-Quebecor lives.

Thursday 17 December 2009

Cutback Casualty 4

This is Cutback Casualties Week at TSF, representing a decade of Quebecor cutbacks at Sun Media newspapers and at former Osprey Media newspapers since 2007.

We invite former employees affected by the massive Black Tuesday staff cuts last December, or any other layoffs and firings, to update TSF on their post-Quebecor lives. E-mail your stories to TSF.

Ian Harvey, a 2001 casualty, writes:

"I knew it was coming. I was officially working on the side, though I was actually in the Sun newsroom running, which was supposed to be the Sun's local portal on canoe.

"No one had a clue what we were doing. I never once saw a business plan, a marketing plan or anything that would give us direction. It was seat of the pants with Montreal running things.

"John Paton was GM of Canoe and then he left and Jose Leal took over. The confusion continued and bodies started going over the side of the canoe.

"I was on vacation in August when I got a call asking me to come in to a 'meeting.' Right then I knew I was gone. My staff too.

"I knew I couldn't go back to the Sun because there were too many cuts already underway, so took my package and jumped.

"That was Aug 22, 2001. It didn't hit me until Sept 11 when I saw the live footage on CNN and realized I wasn't in the news media biz anymore.

"That was the turning point. I started half-heartedly looking for a job and freelancing while still enjoying the late summer weather. Dave Blizzard called me a few weeks later to say there was a job going at Air Miles.

"I applied, got it and it lasted 30 months. (After Air Miles) I went back to school at the Canadian Film Centre New Media program. In September 2004, I started freelancing and fell into a part time gig teaching at Centennial College.

"In 2005, I panicked, With no teaching gig to back up my freelancing, I needed income and took the news editor's job at the Daily Commercial News, but by then I knew freelancing was what I wanted to do.

"My freelance work suddenly picked up and I quit the DCN after eight days. It really wasn't me. I can't ride a desk. They (DCN) have turned out to be one of my best and more dependable clients. I go there a couple of times a month to do layout and I write a lot of stories for them too. Still great people to work with.

"Funny how it all turns out.

"Until last January, I was doing well. Since then, not so well. I was down 60% some months from my highs of the year before. Magazines folded, clients cut freelance budgets, the competition increased. On average, I'd say I was down 50% on the year.

"But I'm surviving. Looking to do more corporate work and getting some here and there. It's slow, but going in the right direction. I've learned not to panic and use the slow days to look for new clients, pitch new work or just take a day off and enjoy the sunshine.

"I miss the people at the Sun, but in many ways I still see them. Al Cairns, Ganley-Man, Captain Mike and Dave . . . we all run into each other at events, here on the blog or on Facebook.

"What was will never be again, but then that's life. I was privileged to have enjoyed the best years of the Sun (I joined Jan. 1, 1979) and worked for, and with, the best people.

"I never felt we needed a union because if you had a problem you talked to someone and they listened. They may not always have changed things, but you felt someone listened.

"And there was one time I typed a letter to Doug Creighton complaining about the miserly raise the newsroom got and how the gap at the Star was getting bigger.

"Doug responded and we got more money.

"Try that with PKP.

"If there now, I would be a loyal and proud union member. In fact I am. I am a member of CEP local 2040, the Canadian Freelance Union, part of the same family as CEP local 87M SONG.

"I shudder to think how things might be without union representation today.

"Hey, golden days right? We all have to move on.

"Now I know how all those Tely guys felt and what they were always on about. I didn't get it at the time. But I get it now.

"There is life after the Sun. We all shine in our own way and we all carry the spirit that molded us, made us and formed us into what we are and who we are today.

"No one can take that away from us. No one. PKP and his bean counters can do what they want, but they will never, ever recreate a place where people would come in on their day off just to help out when the shit hit the fan.

"You cannot buy that kind of loyalty. You have to earn it.

"Good luck everyone. Stay in touch."

Thank you for your update, Ian.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Cutback Casualty 3

This is Cutback Casualties Week at TSF, representing a decade of Quebecor cutbacks at Sun Media newspapers and at former Osprey Media newspapers since 2007.

We invite former employees affected by the massive Black Tuesday staff cuts last December, or any other layoffs and firings, to update TSF on their post-Quebecor lives. E-mail your stories to TSF.

Wayne Newton, former editorial coordinator/national comment editor:

"I was shocked and caught totally off guard when my job as editorial coordinator/national comment copy editor was eliminated in October.

"I thought it was a job of the future, largely cyber-commuting with editors across the country, and I miss it very much.

"Now, with the help of a career counsellor and the support of family and friends, I am ramping up my search for a new, suitable position in London and am optimistic something good will come up in 2010.

"My exit was eased by the class shown by Glenn Garnett, Paul Berton, Rob Granatstein (who took the time to create a hilarious "tribute" page), Lorrie Goldstein, and several other comment editors and writers who called or e-mailed.

"There are many good, classy people in the company and I wish them all the success in the world. As for me, I'll keep plugging away with my resume polished and my fingers crossed.

"Meanwhile, I'm Twittering and building my Linkedin connections.

"Thank you (TSF) for maintaining this blog.

"Wayne Newton"

Thank you for your update, Wayne.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Cutback Casualty 2

This is Cutback Casualties Week at TSF, representing a decade of Quebecor cutbacks at Sun Media newspapers and at former Osprey Media newspapers since 2007.

We invite former employees affected by the massive Black Tuesday staff cuts last December, or any other layoffs and firings, to update TSF on their post-Quebecor lives. E-mail your stories to TSF.

Derrick Cracknell writes:

"I had worked (with media for) 28 years, starting out with Thomson Newspapers and ending January 2008 with Quebecor as general manager at Georgian Web in Barrie.

"At one time, Georgian Web was running three shifts, printing about 35 products per week and employed 22 full time and 35 part time staff. This plant has since been shuttered.

"During my 28-year tenure with the various ownership companies, I was treated very well and made lots of friends and business contacts along the way.

"I have since found employment with Winchester Print and Stationery in Winchester, just south of Ottawa. This is a family run, full service printing company and stationery store. They are awesome to work with and we print many community papers and magazines. We also have sheetfed, bindery, folders, cutters, laminating and shrink wrapping equipment, as well as prepress services.

"I would encourage any former newspaper employees thinking of starting up a community paper to contact us as we can accommodate most requests and currently do some work for newspaper start ups that have gone on to be quite successful.

"I have been a reader of this blog for several years and appreciate the work that goes into it.

"Cheers and all the best to you and your readers for a happy, safe and prosperous holiday season.

"Derrick Cracknell, Winchester Print and Stationery, 613-774-3186."

Thank you for your update, Derrick.

Monday 14 December 2009

Cutback Casualty 1

Let's call this Cutback Casualties Week, representing a decade of Quebecor cutbacks at Sun Media newspapers and at former Osprey Media newspapers since 2007.

We invite former employees affected by the massive Black Tuesday staff cuts last December, or any other layoffs and firings, to update TSF on their post-Quebecor lives. E-mail your stories to TSF.

Bill Hodgins, former features editor at the Peterborough Examiner:


"I know its cliché, but that’s how I felt cleaning out my desk a year ago. In the minutes that followed, there were other editors asking where I kept things. Could I show them how to do things? F**k you.

"For the next few days, weeks, I was embarrassed, and frustrated because I had nothing to be embarrassed about. Only weeks earlier, I had one of the best performance reviews of my career.

"Almost 20 years with the same company. A lifetime in journalism stolen away. For a while, I clung to the hope of finding another paper, another chain. Then - cliché time again - there were roses to smell. I had the best summer with my kids.

"I did a little freelance and some personal writing. And just this week, two days before the anniversary, I am set to start a new career in communications. I know I’ll miss the newsroom buzz, but it wasn’t a bad year.

"With my severance, my writing and with help from the feds, I’m actually money ahead - we’ll see how that goes at tax season.

"And I hold no real grudges. My old M.E. was good to me when I worked there, and I think he’s happy to see me working again. And I’ve always been one to embrace change.

"For better or worse, I don’t think my old paper - or the dozens of others like it in the chain - will ever be the same. But for me, it’s time to move on. It’s time to get going.

"Bill Hodgins"

Thank you for your update, Bill.

Sunday 13 December 2009


Bruce Urquhart, a senior Woodstock Sentinel-Review reporter whose byline was seen often during the Victoria "Tori" Stafford abduction/murder case, is the paper's new managing editor.

A Sun Media news release says the award-winning reporter has been a WSR staffer for eight years.

"The breadth of Bruce's reporting experience in Woodstock gives him an unique insight into the community and its issues," say Andrea DeMeer, publisher.

"Bruce is well regarded in the industry as a talented professional with a fierce passion for newspapers. We are extremely fortunate to have him in this role."

Congrats, Bruce.

Freep cuts scoop?

Rockin' On: The Blog says the London Free Press is facing a major shakeup this Christmas season.

Butch and the boys down London way usually are ahead of the twitter at the Freep, so TSF will wait for insider announcements of any staff cuts.

But the contents of the other blog, which also hint of more changes at Sun Media's Woodstock and St. Thomas papers, do make an interesting read.

Who is dangerous?

All is not fair and balanced in the Toronto Sun newsroom this holiday season.

Thursday: The names, ages and hometowns of 10 men arrested in a week-long Brampton "johns" sweep are published.

Friday: The names of 10 women arrested and charged with being inmates of a common bawdy house in Toronto are not published.

Saturday: A drunk driving suspect arrested after an accident in Clarington had his three-year-old son and an open case of beer in the car. His name was not published.

Poll time:

Who scares the hell out of you more and should be identified in the media:

The "johns", the bawdy house inmates or an alleged drunk driver witnesses say swerved into oncoming traffic before his car crashed into a ditch?

We'd want to know the name of the alleged drunk to stay out of his way and to follow up on the welfare of his family.

As for the editors who got on their high horses and published the names of the "johns" on Thursday, Merry Christmas.

BTW: Have you been reading your sex-related classified ads?

Friday 11 December 2009

New CUPE video

CUPE has released a 23-minute bilingual documentary on the 16-month Journal de Quebec lockout, with an inside look at how the 252 employees published their free and popular MediaMatin tabloid.

MediaMatin was published weekdays and handed out on Quebec City streets by the locked out employees throughout the dispute. Circulation was about 40,000 daily.

Meanwhile, the 253 locked out Quebecor's Journal de Montreal employees are approaching the first anniversary of their January 2009 lockout.

The Montreal employees have a web paper, Rue Frontenac.

Comment balance

For Toronto Sun readers finicky about symmetry, the execs on the Comment page are balanced once again.

To the left:

Mike Power, publisher; James Wallace, deputy editor (don't you need an editor to be a deputy editor?); Rob Granatstein, editorial page editor, and Lorrie Goldstein, senior associate editor.

To the right:

Brandon Grosvenor, added yesterday as VP advertising sales; Steve Angelevski, VP reader sales & services; Piero Menicucci,VP finance, and Julie Kirsh, director, electronic information.

How many of those lefties and righties would we trade for another J. Douglas Creighton, QC, founding publisher, as noted below the execs? Well, suffice to say the symmetry would be extremely out of whack.

Bob's cause

The first fall of snow brings to mind the thousands of down-and-out men and women the late, great Bob MacDonald helped as a hands-on supporter of the annual Regent Park Christmas Dinner.

Last Christmas, more than 1,300 people enjoyed a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, thanks to donations, many in Bob's name.

Bob's involvement was much more than lip service. He would leave Christmas Day comforts of family and home to man the chow line at Sacre Coeur Church on Sherbourne Street.

He would be on that chow line until everyone got fed and then scoot home for his own Christmas dinner with his wife and his daughter, Moira.

Bob, an AA member, had empathy for the down-and-out men and women helped by the good work of the dinner's organizers.

After Bob died on Feb. 26, 2006, Moira, a Sun columnist, took up the cause. She wrote about her father's selfless efforts last December.

There is still time to make a donation in memory of Bob. Mail a cheque to

Regent Park Christmas Dinner,
P.O. Box 30085, 2365 Warden Ave., Unit 4,
Scarborough, Ontario M1T 0A1.

We know it would put a smile on Bob's face.

Sarnia DOA?

A writer up Sarnia way says Sun Media's Sarnia Observer building is up for sale with a $1.9 million asking price. He's calling the paper DOA.

"Okay. It's official. The Sarnia Observer is dead," writes Chris Cooke, a blogger who worked for the competition, the Gazette.

"After 156 years the owner of Sarnia's daily newspaper has killed it one cut at a time. As I write this the building that has housed the paper at 140 Front Street since 1977 is being sold. The asking price? $1.9 million."

Cooke also writes:

"Four years ago The Observer sold to Quebecor for about $17 million. What do you think it's worth today? What do you think a sinking daily without staff, building and presses is worth? That's pretty much what we thought too."

Interesting read.

Thursday 10 December 2009

Black Tuesday +1

Next Tuesday is the first anniversary of Black Tuesday, the day 600 Sun Media employees across the chain were laid off.

Some jobs were saved by others taking buyouts, but within weeks most of the men and women pink-slipped were suddenly former employees.

Hundreds had been laid off before Black Tuesday and hundreds have been laid off since Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008. And the cuts keep coming.

If any of the 1,500 or so Quebecor layoff casualties from the past decade want to share their post-Sun Media stories, signed or unsigned, we'll post them next Tuesday. How did being laid off affect your life? Have you found a new job?

Feel free to vent at length.

E-mail your comments to TSF or you can post them as comments .and we'll hold them for Tuesday's posting. Please include the name of the paper you worked and the number of years you were with Sun Media.

If you wonder where a lot of media jobs are going, take a read of this Computerworld story. Companies around the world are clamouring for North America's outsourced newspaper jobs.

And be sure to visit this link in the story by Patrick Thibodeau.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

NPAC: David Lucas

David Lucas, one of the Toronto Sun's good ones that got away, participates in the latest NPAC Q&A.

Lucas, now photo editor at the Globe and Mail, talks about freelancing in Ottawa, being hired by the Canadian Press, quitting the turbulent Sun in 2007, being hired by the Globe.

All the while holding on to his passion for the lens.

If there are any unemployed news photographers out there feeling blue, this Q&A should be motivating. The message: Never give up.

Intel -mailroom

More Merry-Christmas-you're-fired news, this time at the Belleville Intelligencer - a week shy of the first anniversary of Black Tuesday.

Out are the paper's mailroom and an undisclosed number of the 55 employees and in is a new depot-style facility at another location.

A story in today's paper calls the mailroom closure in January "part of a larger corporate plan to become leaner and more flexible."

The story says "a number of employees from the current facility will move to the new depot. The mailroom currently employees about 55 people; the number to move is still being determined."

The current mailroom is used to insert flyers in the Intelligencer, Community Press, Trentonian and County Weekly News.

The story says the new facility will be responsible for co-ordinating local delivery of the newspapers while the insertion process will be done at facilities outside the region.

Intelligencer publisher John Knowles says: "No one ever wants to let people go, especially the kind of hard-working dedicated people we have had the privilege of having work for us."

But he is "excited" about improvements being made for readers and customers.

Our crystal ball sees more and more Sun Media newspapers becoming glorified flyers in the next decade. Money over responsible and dedicated community news.

Perfect timing for the launching of new and independent newspapers run by people who give a damn.

Media conglomerates have sure made a mess of things.

Jay Leno material?

Updated re YouTube visits and Gawker coverage

Penisgate has helped TSF set a new daily hits record Tuesday - almost 2,000 by midnight.

Meanwhile, the YouTube views count for MTV Canada's coverage was 350 on Tuesday, and more than 2,200 today.

And Gawker readers are having their say.

Not sure if Jay Leno has checked it out personally, but we're sure Penisgate will reach NBC TV for use in his Monday night headlines bit.

Santa Claus parade and hot tub float penis exposure. They don't mix at all, but the photo has put Peterborough on the map.

It is incredible that the photo went from a Peterborough Examiner photographer to the photo desk, if the paper still has one, to layout editors, to the webmaster and presses, on to the Canadian Press and its editors, and then to Metro and its editors - all without penis detection.

What are the odds of that happening?

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Penis play

Updated re Examiner's apology
MTV Canada's hilarious coverage of Penisgate is now on YouTube, with 305 views and counting, with thanks to a TSF tipster for the link.

No mention of Sun Media's Peterborough Examiner, where the photo originated (see apology below). MTV zeroes in on the editors at Metro and asks why they didn't catch the over exposure snapped during a Santa Claus parade.

Line of the day from co-host Daryn Jones:

"Who knew if you are a photo editor you also have to worry about, is there a dick in the picture."

"At least he's stacked," says co-host Nicole Holness. "So it's kind of good press for him."

Have to wonder how the Peterborough Catholic school student fared during classes today.

And whether any children or parents waiting for Santa Claus are now in therapy.

The Peterborough Examiner's apology:

Sometimes in life there is no other, or even better, word than sorry.

In Monday's paper a photograph was published that shouldn't have appeared as it did and we are sorry. It certainly was not published intentionally.

Some of our web readers did notice and we immediately took the photo from our website and electronic edition as soon as we were made aware of the problem but the print edition had already gone out.

We apologize to everyone who may have been offended.

Penis power


Mention "penis" in this blog and the hits set a new record - almost 1,200 by midnight yesterday.

It's a long way from the hundred or so daily hits in the first weeks after Toronto Sun Family was launched three years ago today.

Almost 400,000 hits later, we are humbled by the growing audience. It is sufficient incentive to scrap plans to restrict TSF postings to the Toronto Sun, where it all began 38 years ago.

A lot of comments and e-mails supporting the status quo came from 333, a clear message from T.O. that employees across the chain are part of the family.

Besides, PKP's baffling game plan for his chain of newspapers as Sun Media approaches a new decade is too intriguing to abandon midstream.

Venting is healthy and Sun Media employees have been venting here for three years, so vent on.

All of your comments, anonymous or not, are welcomed, as long as they do not attack fellow employees. To the reader who recently called a Toronto Sun employee an arrogant motherfucker, are you wondering why your comment was rejected?

Let's try to be more civil in 2010. Fellow employees, union or non-union, are not the problem.

Last, but not least, memories of the glory years of the Sun papers are always welcomed.Today's employees owe a huge debt to the vets.

Changing news

Recommended reading today is the first article of a five-part series by Nick Fillmore (see his impressive media credentials below) focusing on the need for more independent media in Canada. Print, broadcast and Internet-based.

The intro reads:

Editor's Note: This is the first of a five-part series that will address the need to develop independent media - print, broadcast and Internet-based - in Canada. All five articles will appear on This first article explores the reasons why traditional media or corporate media - that is, corporate-owned newspapers, TV, and radio - no longer provide reliable news and information to the Canadian public. The next article, to appear on December 15, will look at how for-profit corporate media have filtered and censored the news for decades.

Is your community poorly served by the traditional media? Would you like to become involved in a group to see if an independent media project could be launched? It is hoped that this series of articles will encourage public-minded groups to set up new media projects in their city, town, or region. Interested groups and individuals are invited to send us their comments on the series along with any ideas on how to establish independent media projects. Send your comments to and

End of intro.

About the author:

Mr. Fillmore, formerly was an editor and producer with the CBC for 18 years, which included the position of Canadian Desk Editor at The National TV News, and head of an investigative journalism unit at CBC Radio’s Sunday Morning program. He’s a former member of the THIS Magazine Editorial Board, a regular contributor to The Globe and Mail from the Maritimes, and a former staff member with Reuters in London. Nick is a founding member of the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE). He’s now a freelance journalist and media fundraiser based in Toronto. He can be reached at:

Monday 7 December 2009

PKP fired Santa

Link to blog updated

PKP once fired Santa Claus.

That's the inside scoop from former Toronto Sun editor John Downing in his latest Downing's Views blog titled "I Got Fired as Santa."

Downing recalls how, at six feet tall, weighing 300 pounds and bearded, he was often called upon to be Santa, including appearances at Toronto Sun Christmas gatherings. the Ex etc.

His Santa adventures, including how PKP came to fire him as Santa in a ride up the elevator at 333 soon after buying Sun Media, are a hoot.

Downing, a Day Oner who not so affectionately calls PKP Pete, also recalls eventful and sometimes painful Santa sessions at the Ex and other gigs.

Merry Christmas Santa.

Peterborough penis

Editors at the Peterborough Examiner overlooked one minor detail in a staff photo before it was published today.

A high school student's very visible penis on a hot tub float during a Santa Claus parade.

"They've pulled all issues from the newsstand, but will surely be hearing from the kid's family," says a TSF tipster. "Not enough staff on the desk up there?"

Another tipster writes:

"Another result of the hacking and slashing by PKP in newsrooms . . . The photog had no idea and the reduced number of editors working the weekend unfortunately missed it."

The same photo was picked up by Canadian Press and used by Metro, with the name of the student in the cutline.


Or, as Torontoist headlines it: Peterborough Peter.

"Today's Metro contains something of a cock-up," says one of those very clever Torontoist staffers.

Star cuts

At least three Toronto Star employees with Toronto Sun history have decided to take buyouts or are expecting to be downsized.

"Kathy Vey, Deborah Read and Margaret Bream will be gone," says a TSF tipster.

More to come?

Stay tuned.

Star's D-Day

If the Toronto Star is on schedule, today's the day employees will be told how many staffers have taken buyouts and how many will be laid off, if any.

Management announced in November the newspaper was required to chop 100 jobs, through voluntary buyouts and layoffs if needed.

A staff memo said the broad reworking of the paper "will affect every job in every corner of the organization."

Hopefully, Sun staffers who have fled to 1 Yonge Street over the years ducked and covered. If not, we're asking tipsters to name casualties.

Friday 4 December 2009

TorSun split

It seems the grand plan of having all Toronto Sun employees share second floor leased space at 333 won't work as planned.

A TSF tipster says employees were told today by e-mail not all employees can be accommodated, so some will have to move to a new building on Yonge Street near the 401.

The tipster says it sounds like "editorial, CSO and some IT along with Canoe will remain at 333."

Circulation, corporate IT and all others who won't fit on the second floor are moving to the Yonge St location, says the tipster.

The downsizing of what was once six floors of Toronto Sun activity to renters scrambling for elbow room is beyond pathetic.

Especially at Christmas time, for those with fond memories of 333 in its prime, when Christmas brought office parties, a hefty Christmas bonus and sincere good cheer, not downsizing and pink slips.

The selling of Sun Media buildings, presses and anything else of value, including the expertise of once valued veteran employees, would make Wall Street's fictional Gordon Gekko proud.

From cash cow pickings to a carcass in 10 short years.

As one saddened vet recently told TSF: "It's over."

Presses to Peru

Ship the presses!

Sun Media presses no longer in use at its newspapers have been sold to a group in Peru, says a Niagara Falls Review story.

Presses from the Review, the Welland Tribune and Sarnia Observer are included in the group sale, says the story by Ray Spiteri.

"We're now getting printed in Toronto and we had this structure, obviously, that we no longer needed," says Review publisher Dave Martineau. "They'll be reassembled and used as newspaper printing presses in Peru."

Martineau notes the paper's seven-unit Urbanite presses were installed in 1979 and only two years ago there were plans to add two units to the presses.

As a TSF tipster noted the other day, fewer printing presses in Ontario, fewer opportunities for start-up community weeklies and dailies to compete against Quebecor Media.

Thursday 3 December 2009

OT: NY Post

Taking liberties with a stock photo of Tiger Woods and his wife left a TSF reader wondering: "Is this for real?"

The New York tabloid crosses the line into supermarket tabloid territory with this photo of a well-bandaged Woods.

Loose, very loose.

Hazard pay?

Toronto Star photographer Steve Russell took one for the photog team Monday night at the ACC when a fluke puck off of a goalie's stick hit him in the face.

Buffalo's Ryan Miller, who took time to check on Russell immediately after the shot, gave the photog his stick when the 3-0 shutout game against the Leafs ended.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Jobs update

During our search for a Help Wanted ad for a Peterborough Examiner reporter, as mentioned by a TSF tipster, we discovered our job hunt links were woefully outdated.

The page has been updated and several obsolete links deleted, leaving the following active sites for job hunters to scan daily:

Canadian Press;

CEP/Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild;

CTVglobemedia; Jeff Gaulin's Job Board;;

Masthead Online;

Media Job Search Canada;

Metroland Publishing;

Osprey Media;

Sun Media.

While we couldn't find the Peterborough posting, we did notice the Sudbury Star is looking for a news editor; Canwest is looking for a national crime and punishment writer; the Globe and Mail is looking for a web developer; Toronto Community Press needs an editor in chief; Metroland needs a reporter in the Ottawa area etc.

The Guelph Mercury has next summer in mind with an ad for a summer 2010 reporter-photographer intern, a paying job.

Meanwhile, the Red Deer Advocate in Alberta is looking for two "temporary" reporters.

"Position #1 is a five-month full-time position from Jan. 4 to May 31, 2010. Position #2 is a three-month position from April 1 to June 30, 2010."

Is that what Canadian journalism is coming to - temp jobs?

Good luck in the hunt. A new decade is coming.

Monday 30 November 2009

Freep -1

Marnie Lanning, a London Free Press staffer for more than 20 years, was pink-slipped by Sun Media today to the amazement of fellow employees.

Marnie, manager of online and classified inside sales, joined the Free Press in August of 1988.

"It's an odd move, considering as head of online sales she is integral to the web operation," says a TSF tipster. "This from managers who say online is the priority. It makes no sense. There is no one who knows the web, or print sales, better than Marnie.

"The advertising staff is shocked," says the tipster. "She was hugely popular. They are left wondering who's next."

Yet another "Merry Christmas, you're fired" casualty.

Voice's voice

The Hinton Voice in Alberta, one of Canada's newest independent weekly newspapers, posted this comment on TSF today. It reads:

Just a clarification on the Hinton Voice - this start-up is owned and operated by Robin Garreck and Sarah Burns (we are both former Hinton Parklander employees).

With that said, Tyler (Waugh) is a great community newspaper guy and his editorial background and overall knowledge are a definite asset.

The Hinton Voice started publishing in June 2009 and we are doing great. We've received ongoing support from some businesses who wanted to see a more community-oriented approach to their local paper and who appreciate the fact that the profits stay here in Hinton and are not siphoned off to some corporate headquarters out of province.

Customers and readers have also appreciated the quality of our printing . . . and we feel a debt of gratitude to Roger Holmes and his good people at Star Press in Wainwright, AB, whose consistent work quality and continued guidance have been a great help.

The Hinton Parklander went total market coverage in September, but we stuck to our guns with a paid circulation on the belief that there is value in what we do and that people will pay for it . . . that has continued to be the case.

Subscriptions continue to grow steadily, with the Parklander move to a free paper actually pushing people to our office for subscriptions when Quebecor refused to refund money for those who had already paid for home delivery.

Just as an update, we won the Newcomer Award at the Chamber Small Business Awards in October and we were recently awarded the contract for a writing and design project for early 2010 that will be a welcome boost to the bank account.

It has been a lot of hard work, but we feel it is paying off.

Anyone who wants to check us out online can do so at (we are planning to do some redesign work in the coming months) or check out our Facebook page.

Anybody who really wants to support these independent movements can buy an ad or get a subscription.

We are happy to hear the news out of Strathmore . . . and wish Mario (Prusina) and his crew all the best. We want to thank TSF for connecting the people who care about accountable journalism, whether they be large daily papers or small weeklies like us.

We hope you reconsider changing your focus back to primarily the Toronto Sun and instead keep your network available to all of us trying to keep the spirit of your 'Day Oners' alive.

All the best,

The Hinton Voice

Thank you for your update.

TTC suicides

The Toronto Sun's fourth day of coverage of TTC suicide stats leaves us wondering what mental health professionals have to say about the motivations behind very public suicides.

Why do so many people inflict their traumatic and indelible deaths on TTC drivers and passengers when they can off themselves quietly and privately with a bottle of pills?

The TTC suicide stats the Sun fought to have released clarify all of those brief radio reports of subway shutdowns aired over the years.

You would say to yourself "another suicide" when hearing of subway shutdowns, but you didn't keep count. The actual numbers are much higher than estimated.

Kudos to the Sun for removing that veil of secrecy. Time now for proposals to reduce deaths by subway, including trains slowing to a crawl when approaching each station.

Has the TTC considered emergency alarms at both ends and in the middle of each station, with warnings of substantial fines for misuse? There are emergency stop strips inside subway cars, why not exterior alarms linked to the control centre?

If used for a fall of suicide jump, the extra seconds could prevent deaths. If misused, no harm done, except for the loss of a few seconds in the service schedule.

Substantial fines for misuse could help the TTC with its annual budget woes.

Meanwhile, other secretive stats we'd like to see the Sun pursue are the number of suicides attributed to all forms of gambling in Ontario, including casinos. We have heard those stats would be equally staggering.

Sunday 29 November 2009

Re new weeklies

Don Sinclair, a retired newsman and former Bowes executive now living in St. Albert, Alberta, comments on new weekly newspapers being launched in western Canada:

"I continue to read with interest about new weekly newspapers sprouting up in the west. They are, of course, the result of the changes in operational functions of existing weeklies owned by Sun Media (Quebecor).

"My congratulations to the latest venture in Strathmore. Long may it prosper.

"The opportunity for start-ups in rural Alberta are, of course, a gift from Quebecor to former employees, although I very much doubt that they even know it.

"As publisher after publisher bites the dust and more and more publications are being managed by a single publisher living in another community, the window of opportunity for former employees to compete with Quebecor opens wider.

"That is because senior management at Quebecor seems to lack any basic understanding of the products or the markets they serve in communities with weekly papers.

"And while the western management team should know, they are either feigning ignorance, or are towing the company line with little or no protest.

"Having been in the weekly and small daily game from 1962 until my retirement in 2001, I have an intimate understanding of how a paper in a small community works. And as former Executive VP and COO of Bowes Publishers for a dozen years, I was instrumental in acquiring many of the papers Quebecor is set on destroying.

"A weekly is only as good as the people who work there and the publisher, editor and ad manager are key members who liaise with the community every single day.

"Unlike a major city daily, these people know everyone in the community due to their positions. Relationships are formed at the council meeting, the county meeting, the chamber of commerce meeting, the hockey rink, the curling club, the minor hockey league, the local school, the local pub and dozens of other places too numerous to mention.

"The staff in total become part of that community, led by the publisher. When you tear the heart of that relationship out of a community by removing key staff members and managing from afar, you leave a void in that community.

"So naturally, the community loses any sense of feeling for the publication being a real part of their lives, and considers it an outsider since the changes. Throw in the word Quebec and you will find a certain, not unexpected reaction, by many small town western residents. In short, they never thought about who owned it before, but the new owners, and former employees, will now be sure to remind them often.

"And when a new publication comes along, with a few familiar faces from the days they felt the paper represented them, the loyalty is instantly transferred to the new publication. And so are the advertising dollars.

"It is sad to see a management team so blind to the concept that they are unwittingly destroying their revenue stream, bit by bit, community by community.

"But destroy it they will. Sit back and watch it happen over the next few years.

"Don Sinclair
St. Albert, Alberta
Visit my web site:"

Thank you for your comments, Don.

Saturday 28 November 2009

New Alb. paper

The newest independent Canadian weekly staffed by former Sun Media employees is Alberta's Strathmore Times, launched a few days ago.

One TSF tipster says the publisher, ad manager and production manager are former employees of Sun Media's Strathmore Standard.

Another TSF tipster writes:

"A birdie whispered in our ear that former Strathmore (Standard) publisher Mario Prusina, axed in the last round of (Sun Media) cuts, has started up a new weekly in Strathmore.

"The fledgling newspaper apparently launched this week. It's nice to know that even though the company no longer believes in newspapers, that employees who have given their hearts and souls to the business still do.

"God bless Mario! You give us all hope."

Thursday 26 November 2009

Donato tax wins

Today's Globe and Mail says Andy Donato's charitable ways took him to court on tax charges involving big bucks, but the award-winning editorial cartoonist and Toronto Sun Oner has won his battles.

Paul Waldie's lead reads:

Andy Donato has been skewering politicians, bureaucrats and public figures for nearly 40 years in his editorial cartoons in the Sun newspaper chain. But for the past seven years, Mr. Donato has been waging a personal battle with the government, and federal tax officials in particular.

Waldie's lengthy story details the tax turmoil Andy has been experiencing for seven years and describes his determination to fend off the federal Canada Revenue tax hounds.

In a nutshell, the Globe story says the court cases involved tax credits and capital gains after Donato generously donated 710 cartoons to universities in 1999 and 2001, valued at close to $500,000. He fought both tax battles all the way and won.

Congrats, Andy.

The last paragraph of the story should delight fans of Donato and the Bird:

His contract with the Sun expires next year but he hopes to renew it and keep going. For how long? "As long as I can," he said. "There's so much going on."

You said it.

Macklin's photos

Sandra Macklin, a former news editor, has posted a dozen or so nostalgic "old Sun pics" of fun moments in and out of the Toronto Sun on her Facebook page.

Quite the amiable crowd, circa 1980s and 1990s. Got the job done, partied. Won awards. Enjoyed profit sharing, an annual reflection of the excellent work they were doing.

Sad to say, but just about everyone in the photos is long gone from 333. A few have died. - Nick Ibscher, Lloyd Kemp and Paul Heming - Most of the others have been axed or took buyouts.

Thanks for sharing Sandra. Great to see those familiar faces again.

Say what?

TSF could devote a daily post highlighting typos and other editorial faults in the Toronto Sun, but the underlying cause is lack of staff and overworked employees.

But we can't get past the lead of Don Peat's news story on Page 20 of Wednesday's Sun. If it is still online by the time you read this, click here to see what we mean.

The heading is: Brit boss sued by Mississauga woman sent lewd e-mail: Intern

The lead is: I don't think that's loving your enemies.

No quotes, no attribution.

We consider Peat a competent, productive reporter, so the personalized lead is quite puzzling.

It is a news story, not a column or an op-ed effort.

Did an editor rewrite the story and add the personalized comment?

Is this the "new" Sun, with reporters trying to be cute with the news?

Or are we missing something?

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Odds & ends

David Richie, a freelance photographer, got excellent mileage out of photos of an Oakville police takedown of two women. Almost identical photos appeared Monday on the Toronto Sun's front page; the Star's Greater Toronto section front page and Page 11 of the Globe and Mail.

A Canadian Press story says Toronto Star management has filed notice with SONG that 121 jobs in editorial and pre-press will be cut, saving Torstar more than $4 million a year. How many Toronto Sun refugees will be among the bodies cut next month? Stay tuned.

Re the sale of 333: The Toronto Star has quoted sources saying the new owner of the 34-year-old newspaper building "is likely Toronto developer First Gulf, a division of the company that recently purchased the 1 Bloor condominium site in Toronto."

With the sale of 333 and the Sun becoming a tenant in the building it built in 1975, what becomes of the Andy Donato mural on the wall of Red's cafeteria and John and Alexandra Hood's 180-foot-wide commissioned outdoor mural unveiled in 1993?

A TSF tipster says Sun Media's Dunnville Chronicle, once "a mighty community newspaper with its own presses," is down to 1.5 employees - one ad rep and a part time receptionist. A freelancer is being used as M.E.-reporter-paginator, says the tipster. "How long will it last?"

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Peter W & Oswald

Newsmen who gathered in the basement of the Dallas city jail on this date 46 years ago thought it would be a brief, uneventful perp walk for Lee Harvey Oswald.

Peter Worthington, dispatched to Dallas by the Toronto Telegram after President John Kennedy was assassinated two days earlier, was standing a few feet from Oswald when it all went deadly wrong.

And there is ample television footage of Peter at the scene.

In the first minute of one clip, Peter can be see up close as print and broadcast newsmen jockey for positions before the perp walk.

Later in that footage and in others, Peter can be seen standing to the left with his hands in his pockets while waiting for Oswald to be walked to an armoured car for transfer to a maximum security cell. The same footage shows him wincing when Jack Ruby's gun is fired.

Other footage viewed in a documentary, but not found online, shows Peter interviewing a cop after the shooting. He was in the thick of it for the Telegram that day in Dallas and, as always, did the paper proud.

Dallas cops involved in the perp walk are another story.

Forty-six years later, the visible lack of security for an accused presidential assassin still boggles the mind. And take note of how accommodating the cops were for the cameras in the hectic aftermath of the shooting.

Friday 20 November 2009

TorSun staffers

The mass e-mail Rob Granatstein sent to editorial employees at the Toronto Sun this week included the names of men and women still on the job in editorial at 333.

TSF has mentioned some of the names of current staffers and the names of a lot of former staffers, but let's salute all of the editorial workers putting out the Sun daily.

There are a few bodies on Rob's e-mail list we thought were long gone. Glad to see they are still on the job. The list might not be complete, but here goes, in no particular order:

Al Maffei; Alex Urosevic; Andrew Mair; Andy Donato; Anne Bacani; Antonella Artuso; Bill Lankhof; Bill Murray; Bill Pierce; Bob Elliott; Brian Gray; Bruce Kirkland; Chris Doucette; Christina Blizzard; Craig Robertson; Cynthia McLeod; Dave Ellis; Dave Fuller; Dave Thomas;

Dean McNulty; Don MacPhail; Donald Duench; Ernest Doroszuk; Frank Zicarelli; Gary Loewen; Greg Henkenhaf; Harry Langford; Ian Robertson; Jack Boland; Jane Stevenson; Jim Baine; Jim Slotek; Jim Thomson; Jim Wilson; Joe Warmington; John Coulbourn;

John Fitz-Gerald; John Kryk; Jonathan Jenkins; Jonathan Kingstone; Julie Kirsh; Ken Fidlin; Ken Winlaw; Kevin Hann; Lance Hornby; Liz Braun; Lorrie Goldstein; Marilynn Figueroa; Mark Bonokoski; Mark Oneill; Michael Peake; Michele Mandel; Mike Ganter; Mike Strobel;

Mike Zeisberger; Pam Davies; Pat Job; Rita DeMontis; Rob Granatstein; Rob Lamberti; Rob Longley; Robin Robinson; Sam Pazzano; Steve Buffery; Steve Simmons; Sue-Ann Levy; Sue Dewar; Terry England; Terry Koshan; Tim Peckham; Tom Godfrey; Veronica Henri;

Wayne Janes; Bill Harris; Brett Clarkson; Tamara Cherry; Don Peat; Bryn Weese; Zenon Ruryk; Rolf Rimstad; Mike Rutsey; Joel Colomby; Irene Thomaidis; Jack Romanelli; James Wallace; Dan Bilicki; Paul Ferguson; Dave Hilson; Richard Mauntah; Ryan Wolstat; Alan Marshall;

Jon Mccarthy; Dave Abel; Stan Behal; Jenny Yuen; Sharon Lem; Kevin Connor; Jolene Gallant; Kurt Larson; Emily Barker; Davina Biln; Adam Bishop; Susan Dugas; Clarisa Feliprada; Jillian Goddard; Julie Hornby; Danielle L'Ami; Selena Ladd; Kevin Naulls; Sarah Reeves;

Augusta Shaw; Glenna Tapscott, Joyce Wagler, Katherine Webb-Nelson; Holly Wiseman.

Contributors, one and all.

For corrections and updates, please e-mail TSF.

Thursday 19 November 2009

Peter W interview

The Canoe Dossier's David Newland sat down with Peter Worthington, the Toronto Sun's founding editor, this week for a chat about Conservatism - with a few surprising results.

Newland writes: "Did you know, for example, that Worthington is basically pro-choice? Or that he's for gay rights? Did you know that he's a fan of Michael Ignatieff - the leader of the Liberal party of Canada? I sure didn't . . ."

The Canoe Dossier posting includes a four-minute video of Peter W. talking with Newland at 333. The video leaves us wanting to hear more from the TorSun Day Oner, including stories from his long and distinguished career in journalism.

It is time for another book or a video bio on the life and times of Peter Worthington to update his 1984 book, Looking for Trouble. Or a P.W. blog, perhaps? John Downing, also a Day Oner and former editor, is getting good mileage out of his Downing's Views blog.

Next Tuesday, Peter's thoughts will no doubt go back to Nov. 24, 1963, when Jack Ruby gunned down Lee Harvey Oswald only feet from where the Telegram reporter was standing.

Just one of the many print media experiences he has logged in his six decades as an award winning newsman.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Behal honours

What an honour it was for veteran Toronto Sun photographer Stan Behal to have a photo chosen for the book 100 Photos that Changed Canada.

It was his 1988 photograph of sprinter and soon-to-be-disgraced Ben Johnson crossing the finish line at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. It can be viewed here.

Stan, an NNA winner still on the job, showed up for the Toronto book launching this week, a copy of Mark Reid's hardcover book in hand.

After giving Stan a silent thumbs up for well deserved recognition, we began searching for the names of all the photographers who took those 100 photos that changed Canada.

We are still searching online for the complete list, so we have to agree with some critics who say for a book celebrating photos, the photographers who took them are downplayed.

TSF will post all 100 names and their print media publications and news agencies if someone can provide the complete list.

If you are going to take the time to celebrate Canadian photographs, provide a pedestal for all of the men and women behind the lenses - in the book and during pre-release publicity.

Lamothe's new book

The Winnipeg Free Press has given Lee Lamothe's latest book - The Finger's Twist - a rave review, calling the "breakout mystery novel" the best Canadian release this year.

Lamothe, a former veteran Toronto Sun cop desk staffer, has written 10 crime-themed books since 1995.

John Sullivan, a Free Press book reviewer, writes:

"Genre-busting in the extreme, The Finger's Twist is a love story, a character study, a wheel-within-wheels whodunit, a social commentary, a political treatise (though nowhere a drum-beating polemic) and a police procedural (the title refers to a signature bomb-making technique that’s key to the resolution).

"But, beyond that, it’s bang-up storytelling, a compulsive, read-it-over-dinner, take-it-to-the bathroom cure for what ails ya. No higher praise possible, except maybe this: Once finished, you may be tempted to read it again. Indulge."

Congrats, Lee.

The 256-page paperback whodunit is available at

Tuesday 17 November 2009

333 sale changes

The sale price and identity of the new owners of the Toronto Sun building have not been released, but employees learned yesterday how "massive changes" will affect their working lives.

Rob Granatstein, editorial page editor, sent a mass e-mail to editorial employees updating last week's announcement by publisher Mike Power that 333 King Street East has been sold.

In a nutshell, the newsroom will be moved to tighter quarters on the second floor, where it will share space with executive, accounting and advertising; Red's cafeteria, named for Doug Creighton, will be closed; free parking for employees will be drastically reduced.

Rob's e-mail reads:


It’s come to my attention that many people aren’t aware of the announcement made last week by Sun Publisher Mike Power that our building has been sold.

Here’s the grossly abbreviated summary.

* The Sun has sold the building.

* The buyer’s name has not been released yet as there are still conditions attached to the sale of the deal.

* The Toronto Sun is not moving. We’ve signed a 10-year lease to stay in the building.

* There will be massive changes now that we’re becoming a tenant.

* First, all Sun operations – executive, accounting, advertising - will join us on the second floor.

* The newsroom will be moving. The exact location isn’t clear, but we expect to move to the north side of the building.

* The newsroom will be the first to move. A new digital newsroom, likely costing well into the millions of dollars, will be built for us, including new furniture. Say goodbye to the ’80s-era desk you have now.

* The physical space of the newsroom will be far smaller than the footprint we have in the building now.

* The newsroom’s move will be done by the end of March, according to the schedule we have now.

* As a tenant we won’t have the same access to parking. We will have some spots, but not all the spots.

* The cafeteria will be closed.

* The presses will be removed.

* The library is staying where it is.

* Retail shops will likely move into the main floor on King St.

* Commercial offices will move into the building, too.

* Expect the building to become a huge construction site as the new owners change 333 King from a one tenant newspaper building into a building for many other uses.

* A sale price for the building has not been released.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask me, James Wallace, or ask Mike Power directly. He stated he can’t answer all the questions will (sic) the sale of the building is not yet final, but will answer what he can.


We never thought the day would come when the Toronto Sun would be a tenant at 333, downsized from six full floors to one floor, with no presses, no cafeteria and minimal parking.

Employees who lose their cherished free parking spots inside and around 333 will be looking at costly daily parking fees if they decide to continue driving to work. What is the going daily rate for downtown T.O. parking these days?

Outside meals will also add to the cost of working for the Sun.

Will the added costs be a union issue when the next contract rolls around?

As a tenant, the Toronto Sun has a 10-year lease, which is mighty optimistic considering 10 years of Quebecor ownership has reduced the once thriving tabloid to a storefront operation.

Most disheartening is the sale of 333 is not out of necessity due to tough economic times. This is minimalist, cash cow greed on the backs of employees.

PKP might be a hero to shareholders, but he has never looked so small in the eyes of his employees.

Toronto Sun employees will no doubt carry on doing the best they can with what they have left because they are pros.

TTC suicide

Rob Lamberti's front page story the other day about a TTC subway driver "reliving the nightmare" of a suicide received the tabloid play it deserved.

Can't say we have ever read such a haunting story - a TTC driver replaying a traumatic suicide by subway train and the emotional aftermath for everyone involved.

The Page 3 story was in Thursday's paper and five days later the imagery of that deadly moment in time lingers. Kevin Pett, the driver, and the victim, eye-to-eye beyond the point of no return.

The victim was a school teacher in the news for two days, but details of most subway suicides are rarely published, except to explain delays in service.

Lamberti's story put readers at the controls of the subway train as it entered the High Park station and humanized Pett's nightmarish experience and the toll it has taken on him and his family.

Credit is due to Pett, his wife and the TTC for allowing the story to be told.

It is a Sun story by a Sun vet we won't soon forget.

Intell hiring

The rare hiring of reporters at Sun Media newspapers these days calls for red carpet treatment and so it is at the Belleville Intelligencer.

The paper's website has a story by Chris Malette, city editor, and a photo of the new staffer to go with it, welcoming Jason Miller, a Durham College grad formerly of the Toronto Sun and Toronto Star.

Malette says the native of Jamaica developed his skills by freelancing for Metroland papers in Oshawa, Clarington and Whitby while in college. He has also done freelance coverage for the Calgary Sun.

All the best, Jason. You are working with print newspaper vets who speak their mind and still give a damn.

Monday 16 November 2009

Sunday notes

A few Sunday Sun notes:

The Page 2 news slot in Sunday's paper was used for a Holiday Gift Grab promotion. Another indication editors at 333 have lost the news edge and the bean counters are in control.

Noticed Greg Oliver, a former Sun staffer, has a new book on the shelves. Published by ECW Press, SLAM! Wrestling: Shocking Stories from the Squared Circle is a collection of stories from the website, including Sun stories from Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Toronto.

The first Toronto Sun mention of Pat Surphlis since the 25-year promotions vet was turfed recently, was found Sunday in a column by Steve Simmons. He writes: Life at the Toronto Sun just isn't the same without Sheila Chidley, Pat Surphlis and Trudy Eagan, three of the great newspaper women of all time.

Kudos to columnist Mike Strobel for honouring the late George Gross by spearheading his Variety Village Christmas Fund for a second consecutive year. Mike's first effort raised more than $30,000 for the Baron's favourite cause. Sun colleagues are supportive. One newsroom staffer chipped in $1,000 won in a watermelon eating contest.

That Othello

A TSF reader recently took a jab at a newsman saying: "Ya, but he doesn't know the difference between WHO and THAT."

The offending sentence in the critic's eye: "More importantly, whatever happened to the editor that would back him or her?"

We have noticed an increase in the use of "that" over "who" in print and broadcast media, but to question "that" is to question William Shakespeare, who, for Othello's swan song, wrote:

(To speak) "Of one that loved not wisely, but too well."

That was four centuries ago.

"Who" gets our vote, but if you go with the Bard, "that" is OK too.

Saturday 14 November 2009

Anonymous 2

The TSF reader who posted the original anonymous "reporter chained to his desk" comment that has generated a lot of feedback, has more to say about Bill Glisky's POVs.

From "the reporter chained to his desk like a dog in a cage . . ."

I fail to understand how Mr. Glisky or anyone else could assume that my distaste for the direction newspapers are heading is any indication of my attitude towards how I go about working a story. That is ludicrous.

I was pretty clear to point out my qualities of being a digger, hard worker, etc are not appreciated. I was also clear to point out that it's bad out there, really bad in some cases, many probably worse than mine. But I spoke out, albeit without attaching my name, but I said it and I stick by what I said.

It's funny, we're hired to ask questions and be critical of everyone but if we do it of ourselves it's blasphemy. As in, how dare a reporter question the state of his newspaper or those running it. Come on.

Moving on.

Even though I found Mr. Glisky's reply way out of bounds and illogical in the sense it missed the point I was trying to make, I still appreciate the passion for which he appears to go about being an editor. I'd take a nasty jerk for an editor with some balls over a dead body at a desk any day. We don't have that way out here. So. Go Bill Go.

However, to attack a reporter for expressing how they feel is proving my point all the more. It's the easy way out. Forget about looking at the issues at hand, let's hammer him with a bunch of nonsense and belittle him for things we assume are correct. That's a great way to go about things and says a lot about a person's intellect.

Our papers are run by editors who, for the very large part, have never been a reporter and would never know what it is like to work a story. Reporters aren't meant to always be at a desk or sifting though the Internet to find stories, they should be out and about digging, talking and meeting with people.

Technology has made the reporter nothing more than a gatherer, like a squirrel collecting nuts or pieces of discarded bread. That's a fact and can't be argued otherwise. If we can't agree with that, we're already dead.

It's a disease that not only hinders Sun Media but Canwest and others. So, say what you want about what I said, I wrote what I felt and I wrote it from the heart. Like, Mr. Glisky, I'll fight the bastards day in and day out.

I appreciate a good debate like anyone else and I'm glad what I wrote has sparked a lively one.

And as for you, Mr. Glisky, if I ever come to Belleville I'll look you up for a pint. I'm sure Belleville has a pub or two.

Long live the reporter.

Long live the newspaper.