Saturday 31 January 2009

25 & counting

, one of 600 Sun Media employees pink slipped on Black Tuesday in December, writes about looking for a second career at 25 in today's Toronto Star.

The former Sault Ste. Marie Star reporter says Sun Media's cuts have left it "without the very junior reporters best suited to the task of helping print jump on the digital bandwagon."

But Sun Media is history for her - and possibly journalism. She writes in the Star:

"I'm 25 and it has been barely two years since I earned my journalism degree. It will be several more before I can pay off my OSAP loan. But I am already looking at new careers."

The new car has been returned to the dealer, her designer purse is on eBay and she has moved back to her mother's home. Dreams of a career in journalism delayed at 25.

When today's vets were 25, they were like kids in a candy store, with hundreds of weeklies and dailies across the country in need of young and energetic journalists.

Corina's insightful piece in the Star tells a different story.

Woodstock centre

A YouTube video clip explains the new pre-press and ad production "centre of excellence" that opened a few months ago in Woodstock.

The centre, with up to 35 employees, is churning out ads for Sun Media papers in south central Ontario. The 47-second clip shows a lot of the young faces fresh from college.

This is the new Sun Media - pockets of people in Woodstock, Barrie, Ottawa, Calgary etc. piecing papers together far from the readers of local print newspapers.

The Calgary centre is producing the Money page. We're not sure what all is being produced in Ottawa and Barrie, but knowing about them gives us a disjointed feeling while reading the Sun.

Isn't "centre of excellence" just another way of saying outsourcing?

Friday 30 January 2009

Cruise news

Peter Worthington says he hasn't been on an extended cruise since he shipped off to the Korean War in the 1950s.

The Toronto Sun's co-founder and founding editor sets sail again Sunday aboard the new Celebrity Solstice out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the National Citizens Coalition 2009 Cruise.

It is a paid Caribbean celebrity cruise gig - a first for Peter, who writes in today's column:

"Thanks to my son-in-law, I'm about to go on a Caribbean cruise as 'bait' for about 60 National Citizens Coalition fans who'll be subjected to the enlightened views of myself, David Frum, the National Post's Lorne Gunter, and conservative TV's John McLaughlin who, I think, has been around even longer than I have.

"Frankly, I'm a bit uneasy about what the venture entails."

Talking politics and the economy for seven days aboard a luxury cruise liner far from Ontario's deep freeze?

A breeze.

Bon voyage, Peter.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Ian & Law Times

Ian Harvey, a Toronto Sun vet laid off in 2001, has found a new gig as the Queen's Park columnist for Law Times.

Several former Sun vets have contributed to Law Times over the years, including the current editor, Gretchen Drummie.

Ian, laid off at the Sun after 21 productive years in the newsroom, fills a column vacancy left by Derek Nelson, who has retired to Florida.

"My mug shot runs right next to Alan Shanoff’s mug shot and column, so I’m in good company, though I know I’ll never match Alan’s insight and style," Ian tells TSF.

Not one to sit still, Ian has been freelancing since his exit from Sun Media, with the Star, Globe and Reader's Digest on his list of story buyers.

"I will say that otherwise, the freelance biz is feeling the pinch as several clients shut down sections, freeze freelance budgets and, in some cases, fold publications as the recession erodes ad lineage," says Ian. "It’s tough out here and getting tougher by the minute."

In his spare time, Ian vents on his blog.

Maybe we can talk Ian into writing a TSF piece on freelance writing in the toughest of times.

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Buyouts bash Feb. 11

While colleagues hoisted a few glasses for Lew Fournier Friday night following his last shift at the Toronto Sun, another sendoff for seven other departing vets is scheduled for February.

Sun organizers have booked The Jason George, 100 Front St., for Wednesday, Feb. 11, 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. A $10 donation per person is being requested to cover costs.

Lew, leaving the print biz after 45 years, was apparently anxious to sink his toes into warm beach sand far from the deep freeze called Ontario.

But the others, including Bob McConachie, Kaarina Leinala, Melinda Kryk, Sheila Chidley and Sarah Green will be on hand Feb. 11 for their sendoff.

Buyouts seven and eight haven't been announced.

As for jobs saved by the buyouts, TSF sources say reporters Don Peat, Bryn Weese and Jenny Yuen are back from the brink, as are photographers Ernest Doroszuk and Dave Abel.

More to come as the end of the eight-week notice period from Black Tuesday (Dec. 16) nears.

Monday 26 January 2009

Garf memories

Updated 29/01/09
Memories of Garfield "Garf" Webb, a Toronto Sun production vet who died Friday from a heart attack in his Newtonville home at 61.

Chance Webb, son of John, nephew of Garf: "I have many great memories of my Uncle Garf. In particular, he offered unbelievable support when my dad (John) died at too young of a heart attack.

After several golfing trips with Garf and some free golf lessons he gave continually, my game was much better and I had coped with the loss of my father. It is an absolute tragedy that a similar fate awaited Garf.

He will be sadly missed by all of us.

I have truly enjoyed reading all of your posts and I would love reading any "Webb" stories that any of you are willing to share.

Thanks for the memories."

Andy Donato, Toronto Sun Day Oner editorial cartoonist: "It was Glen Woodcock and I that hired John Webb in 1971 to start the comp room. Garf was the duplicate of his brother when it came to production.

I was a close friend of John's and still miss him today when I walk the halls of the Sun. Garf was more the quiet type, but a great guy."

Lorrie Goldstein, senior associate editor of the Toronto Sun: "While I 'knew of' Garf more than I knew him personally, what I knew impressed me tremendously.

While we journalists like to think the paper couldn't get out without us, without Garf it literally would never have gotten out, period.

It's very sad to hear of the passing of yet another legendary member of the Sun family who was so instrumental to our success. All of us here at the Sun owe him a great deal and I extend my sincere condolences to his family."

John Downing, Day Oner and former editor of the Toronto Sun: "There was a feeling as the Sun rose that we could do anything. Especially in production. Especially because of the Webb brothers.

John and Garf were woven into the web of the paper. Too irreverent for the brass, perhaps, because they knew where all the bodies were buried, and not just in the press room. Too often playing golf when a command performance was requested. Too often with the quizzical look at the Tuesday afternoon meeting where the department heads plotted the rest of the week, and occasionally against the establishment, both outside and inside the walls of 333.

In an operation where even a new typewriter was a luxury, new presses, especially new presses installed in-house without rented experts, were mysterious wonders understood only by the Webbs.

The production problems were enormous. We had just finished putting together some sort of composing room in the basement of the Eclipse building when there was a huge rain storm. The basement flooded. The Webbs said we could put out a paper if only we could get rid of several feet of water. I called the fire chief and asked if his men weren't too busy, could they come down the street and pump out our basement and, ahem, I hope there's no charge.

Done instantly. No charge.

There has always been a wonderful relationship between the firefighters and the newspapers, but there has never been a wonderful relationship between city council and the Sun. Some aldermen from the old council before amalgamation dreamed up a scheme that would accomplish three things: show how "green" they were, punish the Sun and get rid of one of those damn newspaper boxes on main corners. So they cooked up a bylaw that said that the Toronto newspapers had to use a certain percentage of recycled newsprint before they could use public property for their boxes.

These aldermen just knew in their smug arrogance that the Star and Globe would meet such a requirement but that the upstart Sun wouldn't do such a sensible thing. Except they should have checked. Turned out that the Toronto Sun had contracted to buy every last tonne of recycled newsprint in Ontario and the Globe and the Star not only didn't recycle, they wouldn't be able to.

I marched into Garf's office to congratulate him. I said I knew he had built and lived in a log cabin, but I had no idea that he was so "green" as to make the Sun the poster newspaper for the environmental movement that generally hated us.

Turned out that he really wasn't listening to the environmentalists, he just thought "it was a good idea." There was no preening about how you had to be sensitive to nature, just an aw-shucks pragmatic approach that it seemed to make a lot of sense.

That was Garf Webb, and that was John, who was always the more tempestuous. I wish they had never left us. The fact that they didn't finish at the Sun is more a condemnation of the Sun brass than of them."

Len Fortune, former Toronto Sun graphics chief: "I had the privilege of working with both of the Webb brothers: Both gentlemen - actually, John was known as "Gentleman John."

John hired me in December 1977 and I started on January 9, 1978 - and it was on that day that I was introduced to Garf.

Ironically, it was Garf who was always there to support me when Gentleman John would utter those overwhelming words, "Correct me if I'm wrong, Len."

In those days, through the generosity and the vision of Doug Creighton, John, Garf and I were regularly sent out of town to seminars, and in the process I was always teamed with either John or Garf.

I still have great memories of those trips, the bulk of them in the States.

As I was shocked when John died so young, I'm equally moved by the passing of Garf, whose integrity, dedication and talent complemented a rising Sun."

John Iaboni, Day Oner and former Toronto Sun sports writer: "We are saddened to learn of the passing Garf Webb, another cherished member of the Toronto Sun Family.

The Webbs, John and Garf, were of great assistance to me. They and their crew willingly shared their production room expertise with editorial stiffs like me whenever my shifts called for late-night work and clearing pages.

More importantly, they were really good, fun-loving guys, always wanting to share a joke, talk sports or discuss the wacky news of the day.

The sight of either John or Garf looking at the first pages to come off the press was always something to behold because for them it was the completion of another day and night job well done.

They took pride in their work and did their part in making the Sun a family and fun place to work."

Memories of Garf can be e-mailed to TSF.

Chatham -Mondays

The Chatham Daily News has announced today's print edition is its final Monday paper.

"Today's Chatham Daily News is a souvenir of sorts, as it is our final Monday print edition," says the paper, one of the Osprey Media dailies picked up by Quebecor in 2007.

"Due to economic conditions affecting the entire newspaper industry, papers across North America are being forced to make changes. Your Daily News is not immune to the economic realities facing the print news industry"

The announcement notes the London Free Press has dropped its Sunday edition and also mentions the "St. Thomas Times-Journal and Kingston Whig-Standard have already cut print days or are planning to do so in the near future."

Fewer days at the Times-Journal and Whig-Standard are news to TSF, but Quebecor's axe has been busy since PKP became Sun Media chief.

Sunday 25 January 2009

30 - Garf Webb

Garfield "Garf" Webb, one of the two Webb brothers instrumental in the Toronto Sun's production department for a couple of decades, died Friday of a heart attack in his Newtonville home. He was 61.

His brother, John Webb, who moved on from the Sun in 1991 to work at the Los Angeles Daily News and the Chicago Sun-Times, died of a heart attack in Chicago in 1997 at age 55.

The brothers were, from the 1970s, loyal and dedicated Toronto Sun employees, first in the early Eclipse Building composing room and later in the pressroom of the new Sun building that opened in 1975.

Garf, former production manager, wrote about the rising of the Sun from a production point of view for the tabloid's 25th anniversary edition in 1996.

He wrote, in part:

"For all of us who were a part of Production in those early years, growing up with the Sun was the experience of a lifetime.

"It was, depending on the situation of the moment, exciting, frustrating, exhilarating, annoying and fun. Looking back, I am sure that not one of us would have had it any other way.

"It all began on a cold March day in 1972 when John Webb hired 15 of us to form a composing room at the Eclipse Building at 322 King St. West.

"A huge step for production came in April 1975 when Goss installed two presses in our new building at 333 King E. In typical Sun style, the installation was completed three months earlier than projected.

"On that first evening, the presses were started without first running a print test, but to our credit we had the foresight to have Web Offset back us up and they completed half the run."

That is the loving relationship the Webb brothers had with the Sun and it earned them the highest respect from management, particularly founding publisher Doug Creighton.

John Webb worked for the Toronto Telegram but left a year before the Tely folded and the Sun was launched. Desperate for a composing room in the Eclipse Building, he was hired by the Sun in 1972 and set up shop in the basement.

John left the Sun in 1991 after almost 20 years to work as production manager of the Los Angeles Daily News. In June of 1997, he was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times as director of production, with a new press facility due to open in 1999.

But 10 days into his Sun-Times job, the father of two grown sons died of a heart attack. It was not his first heart attack. John was hospitalized while at the Sun in 1975. He is buried at the Bethesda Cemetery in Bowmanville.

The Toronto Sun presses Garf and John once nurtured were silenced last year with the opening of a new Quebecor printing plant in Islington. All of their former co-workers went their own way.

Garfield Gilbert Webb, born in Bowmanville on Sept. 12, 1947, is survived by his wife, Brenda, a son, Sebastian, a sister Heather Myles, and mother, Hilda Webb.

Visitation is Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Morris Funeral Chapel, 4 Division Street, Bowmanville, with funeral service in the chapel at 1 p.m. Interment at Bowmanville Cemetery.

Donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation or a charity of your choice.

Memories of Garf can be e-mailed to TSF.

Joe & Lew

Sun's fun puns
Walk with Lew
A tip of the fedora to Joe "The Scrawler" Warmington for saying farewell to Lew Fournier, the ace headline writer who worked his last shift at the Toronto Sun on Friday.

Joe paid tribute to the 45-year print media vet with a paragraph and a photo, which is more than what most exiting Sun vets have been given in recent years.

Says Joe in his Saturday column: "Also congrats to Lew Fournier, the Toronto Sun headline writing legend who worked his last shift of a 45-year journalism career last night and is heading for a well-deserved rest on a beach. Well earned."

TSF seconds Joe's best wishes to Lew, one of eight recent vets to take buyouts at the shrinking Sun. We hope he and the others have one wingding of a sendoff party.

There won't be the same zing and wit in Toronto Sun headlines with Lew's departure.

A few of his many classics:

Queen of Mean has room in tomb re 2007 death of New York hotels billionaire and ex-con Leona Helmsley

Pink Finks Sink Rinks re 2008 re left-leaning councillors closing outdoor municipal hockey rinks

Firefighters save farmer's ass re AP story about Minnesota firefighters saving a donkey from the bottom of a farmer's well.

Meal almost becomes cereal killer re story about a Hwy. 401 motorist who lost control of his car while eating cereal.

Propane watch

Ian Harvey, a former Toronto Sun staffer, comments on TSF's gas watch postings.

"Most people probably don’t notice, but propane prices are still stuck on full throttle," says Ian.

"I haven’t checked the propane price at the pump for taxis, but for BBQ refills it’s $15, whereas when crude was at $40 it was around $8 to $10."

Meanwhile, at the gas pumps, we've heard regular dropped to 57 cents a litre in Brockville recently.

We remember a day when buying gasoline was reasonably stable and not a daily game of gas pump roulette. Where is the justification for these wild swings in prices?

As mentioned, Shell and Petro-Can jumped from 69.9 to 82.9 overnight before falling back to 69.9 later in the day, while the price of oil on the world market continued to fall.

Tens of thousands of Ontario motorists are not only getting hosed, they are getting hoodwinked.

A new lockout

And so it begins, another management lockout at a Sun Media newspaper in Quebec.

The 253 reporters, photographers, copy editors and office employees at the profitable Montreal de Journal were locked out at midnight Friday after contract negotiations failed.

The Montreal Gazette quotes union members as saying they will fight any attempt by Quebecor Media to use scab labour in the daily publication of the Journal.

A Journal spokesperson said scabs will not be used.

The Gazette says the locked-out workers have launched a French-language site to publicize their cause, but will not publish their own newspaper, as Journal de Quebec did during its 16-month lockout/strike.

MediaMatin, a free weekday tabloid, was published by the 252 Quebec City employees from the day after the lockout/strike to the settlement last August.

Saturday 24 January 2009

Mona memories

More Mona Winberg memories from Sandy Naiman, former Toronto Sun columnist, now a Coming Out Crazy blogger at the Star's site:

"My first memory of Mona Winberg is interviewing her and introducing her to Toronto Sun readers, prior to the launch of her column. I believe Mike Burke-Gaffney assigned the story to me and it ran in my Women on the Move column, but I'm not sure of that.

It was sometime in 1986.

I remember driving to her small North York flat in a house, east of Yonge, north of Sheppard, where she lived alone and spending a great deal of time with her, several hours, on at least two occasions, "to get her story."

She lived very close to me, so it was no trouble and in fact, a pleasure to visit her. She was warm and welcoming. She always offered me something to eat. Cookies and instant coffee. We had many common connections in the Jewish community, even though she was 16 years older than me.

I can see her apartment now in my mind's eye. Very small, so she could get around easily, without taking too many steps. Very cluttered. But orderly. She received meals on wheels, at that time.

What I remember most was her determination. Her passion. She would get very angry talking about the injustices that people like her with physical disabilities had to endure. At the same time, she loved to laugh.

Still, it took me hours to do the interview because of her garbled speech which was difficult to understand. Many of her statements had to be repeated. Sometimes she had to spell a word for me so I could write it in my notebook to see it and comprehend it.

Her accomplishments even back then were remarkable. We also shared our "dis-abilities." Her cerebral palsy and my mental illness. So we connected. Became soul-mates during those interviews.

I remember returning to the newsroom and raving about her before even beginning to write my story.

I write this memory with enormous sadness, but in a spirit of celebration of Mona, an invincible crusader with a powerful voice and faltering speech. Her strength lay in her intrepid service to others and her cause. Her advocacy, fueled by her empathy, was for human rights - rights she, herself, had been denied because of her cerebral palsy.

Through her exquisite mind, her tenacity and the platform Mike Burke-Gaffney and the Toronto Sun wisely gave her, she became a change maker, educating so many, through her column. This small woman moved mountains with her words. She proved "the power of one."

She rightly deserved her Order of Canada and I realize now, in some subliminal way, that she inspired me in my mental health advocacy. Although I always spoke out, after profiling Mona, my voice grew louder."

Friday 23 January 2009

One look . . .

An Osprey Media source says all of the Osprey papers purchased by Quebecor in 2007 will soon be redesigned to match the image of the London Free Press.

The source says the changes, to the exact style and fonts used by LFP, will be made as early as Feb. 1 "to make the use PDFs from the Barrie central office easier."

"So, in essence, all of the Sun's newest papers will essentially look the same - save for the local content (assuming it survives the Sun Media centralization push.)

"I weep for the future."

Thank you for the update.

We got a taste of Sun Media's new sameness mood Wednesday when all five Sun tabloids used the same Barack Obama inaugural front page photo.

Thursday 22 January 2009

Barack O'Bama

It felt so right typing Barack O'Bama for blog postings and e-mails before making the corrections. Must be the Irish in us, we thought.

And then we read John Doyle's TV column in Tuesday's Globe and Mail and O'Bama didn't seem so out of place after all.

According to Doyle, there is Irish in Obama, circa 1850s with the exodus of maternal ancestors from Ireland during the great potato famine. A fascinating read. Catch it while you can.

The Corrigan Brothers song Doyle references is on YouTube:

Meanwhile, the Sun's Mike Strobel wondered Wednesday if Obama is truly the first black president, considering the ancestries of some presidents.

What TSF would like to know is has there been any aboriginal blood in any of Canada's prime ministers. If not, perhaps that is a goal for Canada to achieve in our lifetime.

The PKP shuffle

A few confirm or deny tidbits for Sun Media chief PKP from the rumour mill:

Is the Monday print edition of the Chatham Daily News being axed, leaving Tuesday to Saturday distribution?

Beginning this month, will PKP be personally signing all expense cheques for Toronto Sun employees?

Did PKP really walk into one of his sparsely-staffed newsrooms and ask: "Where are all the reporters?" Was "This is it" the reply?

Is Journal de Montreal days away from a lockout?

Just asking.

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Obama Sun fronts

So much for individuality and freedom of choice at the Toronto Sun and its four sister tabloids.

The Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Edmonton Sun, Calgary Sun and Winnipeg Sun all went with the same Barack Obama swearing in photo.

Quite the opposite for the tabs in November after Obama won the election.

But it's a sign of the times for Quebecor's cookie cutter newspapers.

Our favourite from the dozens of North American fronts: The Birmingham News.

The man, his wife and Abe Lincoln's bible - all on the front page of a newspaper in a city that was a focal point of the often violent civil rights movement 50 years ago.

A city in Alabama where Mr. and Mrs. Obama would once have been refused service at segregated restaurants, would have been drinking water from "coloreds only" fountains and would have had them sit in the back of municipal buses.

Talk about change.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Sun front, repeated in all of the other Sun tabs, with banner variations:

Mona memories

Updated re memorial guestbooks
Memories of Mona Winberg, who died Monday at 76 (see Star obit) after a lifetime of advocating or the rights of the disabled:

A message from David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario: "I was saddened to learn of the death of Ms. Mona Winberg, long-time Toronto Sun columnist and disability rights activist.

"Mona was known throughout the disability rights community as one of the few media voices who regularly provided insights and information on what was happening on the disability front.

"When she began writing in the Toronto Sun, just over 20 years ago, there was almost no coverage of disability issues; if you were disabled and wanted to know what was happening, you turned to Mona's column.

"Mona was a constant source of inspiration to me and I would extensively quote from her columns when I would give speeches on disability issues. Her perspective on these concerns was relevant and important. She overcame significant adversity to become a role model for all people with disabilities.

"I join all Ontarians in extending my deepest sympathies to Mona's family."

John Downing, former editor of the Toronto Sun: "What a cheery lady! Always a smile. A wonderful evangelist for her cause. And a better memory for names than I have.

"There are already comments in the Toronto Sun Family blog from David Crombie and Linc Alexander. The three of us really got to know her as members of the Terry Fox Hall of Fame selection committee, which the Tiny Perfect Former Mayor still chairs. Mona was one of the first recipients of the honour, which started in 1993, and despite her humble status, one of the most deserving.

"I was happy to back her because she made such an impression on me and everyone else in the Sun newsroom. And she had a stalwart supporter in Mike Burke-Gaffney. Good for him. Good for him to get her to write that column - and just writing it down was a monumental task that would have disheartened many of us.

"When Mike Harris was premier and came to the Hall of Fame luncheon announcing new entries and honouring former recipients, he and David Crombie and Vim Kochhar, the hall founder, were chatting with me as Mona made her way by. I introduced her to the premier. Then Crombie kidded her about something.

"We were all laughing when we were told to sit for the meal. So there was a final round of handshakes, which was never easy for Mona, and when we turned to sit down, Mona went sprawling from her wheelchair with an awful thud. The premier said to the former mayor, "I thought you had her." Crombie was horrified at what we had done. So we picked Mona up and, of course, she said she was fine. What a trouper! And after a few awkward moments, events moved on and Mona's faithful companion took her to her table.

"I told Harris and Crombie that I would keep an eye on Mona since obviously they couldn't be trusted to be around her without knocking her over. (Exactly what happened no one knew. Perhaps Mona tried to stand out of her wheelchair in honour of the premier.) After a few minutes, it was obvious she was in some pain. So her loyal friend and I discussed this because Mona's trip home was with Wheel-Trans, and the scheduling of those trips seems to have to be carved in granite days in advance. The pain grew worse, although Mona never said anything.

"Finally, I ordered a cab, we got Mona to the door of the hotel, I loaded her into the cab and off they went in the cold, armed with a Sun cab slip. (I made up some explanation about a murder in North York to justify the cab slip because who knew what bean counter might complain about me shipping our disabled columnist to North York General after the premier, or maybe Crombie, had sort of dropped her from her chair.)

"Mona never mentioned it, although for the next few years when she came to that luncheon, we handled her as if she was made of the finest china. And, of course, she was. Oh yes, she broke her arm. It must have caused her extraordinary difficulty considering how hard ordinary tasks for her were, but she never never brought it up.

"There are many people who immediately think of Terry Fox when they think of a Canadian hero who didn't flinch when he faced tremendous medical problems and the hurdles of the gauntlet that life puts in the path of the disabled. I think of Terry . . . and Mona."

Memories of Mona can be e-mailed to TSF.

New print era

North American newspapers are rethinking, revamping and reshaping, but Wednesday's Toronto Star is said to be something completely outside the box.

The special Barack Obama inaugural edition will include Star coverage plus "a special section produced by the Washington Post."

Hands across the border. Interesting. We'd like to hear the mechanics of that project.

Today's newspapers should see major spikes in sales as North Americans buy extra copies to tuck away for their children and grandchildren.

Jan. 20, 2009, an uplifting and positive day for people around the world, is another day print media will mark as a milestone in history.

Be sure to check out print media coverage from around the world on, including hundreds of front pages.

Later today, TSF will repeat its comparison of the Sun tabloid front pages as we did when Obama was elected in November.

Tuesday 20 January 2009

30 - Mona Winberg

When you think of a Toronto Sun with heart, you think of Mona Winberg, a woman with cerebral palsy who wrote to the tabloid in the 1980s advocating a column for the disabled.

Mike Burke-Gaffney, Sunday Sun editor at the time, hired Mona to write a weekly Disability Today column, which she did, with considerable effort, from 1986 to 1999.

Along the way, Mona, who died Monday at North York General Hospital at 76, earned an Order of Canada, the respect of readers, the admiration of the disabled and high praise from politicians and civic leaders.

When Mona was born in Toronto in 1932, her mother was told she would never walk or talk. Her mother, Sarah, and Mona would have none of that and Mona's determination to overcome was her strength throughout her life.

Sadly, Mona died a few weeks before the release of Solitary Courage: Mona Winberg and the Triumph Over Disability, a book by J. Patrick Boyer.

The book is a tribute to Mona and the inspiration she gave countless disabled Canadians through her Sun columns, speaking engagements and community efforts.

Boyer was an MP chairing the parliamentary committee on the status of disabled persons when he first met Mona in the 1980s.

As his book promotion says: He "now tells Mona Winberg's story and, through her own writings from the Sunday Sun, brings this remarkable woman's hard-hitting messages and compassionate insights, her wisdom and experiences, to inspire a new readership."

Reporter Amy Chung says in today's Sun former Toronto mayor David Crombie called her a "tough little fighter."

And Lincoln Alexander, former lieutenant-governor, called her "one tough bird" in advocating for the rights of the disabled.

How tough and how determined? Sid Troister, a nephew, told the Sun yesterday it would take Mona 16 hours to write one column. That is commitment trumping a physical disability.

Amy Chung's obit for Mona:

Mona Winberg wasn't afraid of anyone.

Despite her small frame and difficulty in speech and mobility from severe cerebral palsy, the long-time Sun columnist was remembered as someone who took many high-ranking politicians to task.

Winberg, the Sunday Sun's Disability Today columnist from 1986 to 1999, passed away yesterday at North York General Hospital after complications from pneumonia. She was 76.

"Mona's accomplishments as a journalist and her many honours brought the Sun great recognition," said managing editor Mike Burke-Gaffney, who was Sunday editor when he hired Winberg after she wrote the Sun advocating for a disability columnist.

"She loved to introduce herself to an audience saying, 'If you were expecting a SUNshine Girl, I hope you are not too disappointed.' Her eyes would sparkle as she watched their reaction. Mona defined what inner beauty is all about," Burke-Gaffney said.

Her work drew many honours - including the 'King' Clancy and Fred Gardiner awards and the Order of Canada. Former mayor David Crombie, who inducted Winberg to the Terry Fox Hall of Fame in 1995, remembers her as a "tough little fighter" for accessibility reforms.

Former lieutenant-governor Lincoln Alexander said she "encouraged people to do what they can with what they have. She looked so vulnerable, but she was one tough bird."

Accomplishments did not come easily.

"To write one column would take her 16 hours," nephew Sid Troister said.

Yes, Mona was a "tough little fighter" and for a good 13 years, she was in the Sunday Sun's corner with a faithful following.

If you have memories of Mona to share, please e-mail TSF.

In our lifetime

For older generations of Deep South travellers, there are tangible souvenirs of their journeys tucked away in drawers and boxes.

There are also indelible mental souvenirs that have lingered since their journeys well into the 1960s - signs reading "whites only" and "coloreds only."

We saw a few of those signs outside service station washrooms during an early '60s journey through Tennessee to visit Graceland in Memphis, with slim hopes of catching a glimpse of The King.

The South also had segregated water fountains, segregated schools, segregated restaurants, restricted seating in buses and movie theatres.

Anything segregated was foreign to Canadians, but seeing the signs up close and all too personal drew the civil rights movement closer to our hearts.

Throughout the 60s, we were deeply saddened by news of lynchings, church bombings, police with their batons, dogs and fire hoses, burning crosses and KKK murders in the dark of night. All of this in the United States of America.

It was a painfully slow struggle, but the civil rights movement, heroic blacks refusing to accept the status quo, outspoken black and white celebrities speaking out along with print and broadcast media and politicians, all made a difference.

The United States has been cleansed of segregation since our first 1960s visit, and today, almost five decades later, Barack Obama becomes the first black president.

It seems surreal, given the history of racism in the United States, but it is so welcomed.

And it happened in our lifetime.

President Obama. Eloquent speaker. Excellent communicator. Internet savvy. Source of inspiration and hope. A happily married family man.

The day after the most depressing day of the year is looking much more positive.

Monday 19 January 2009

Donato & The Prez

Toronto Sun cartoonist Andy Donato has seen eight American presidents come and go since his first editorial cartoon appeared in the Toronto Telegram in 1968.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, William Clinton and George W. Bush.

On Sunday, the award-winning cartoonist bid adieu to George W., as a gun-toting cowboy riding out of town leaving a path of destruction and chaos.

"I will miss George W. as I believe he was the worst president in my lifetime," Andy tells TSF on the eve of Barack Obama's swearing in as the 44th president.

So of all the past presidents, who was Andy's favourite at the drawing board?

"The best to draw was Nixon. but looking back, I loved drawing them all: Stumbling Ford, Rambo Reagan, Slick Willie, Chickenshit Carter, Cowboy Johnson and the War Criminal Dummy George W. The least of them to draw was George H."

Andy says he has warmed up to Obama as a cartoon subject and a man. Several Obama cartoons drawn during the lengthy presidential run were instant Donato classics.

"Obama will be easy to draw (as president), but hard to be critical of at least for the time being. I am a big fan. In all my years covering politics, I've never seen anything like this guy.

"He is the Tiger Woods of politics. He's got it all. I really hope he does well because America needs it right now after eight years of neocons."

Tomorrow will be a new day for editorial cartoonists focusing on the White House from media sources around the world.

And a new day for all of us sans George W.

Sun farewells

We are still trying to understand the Toronto Sun's lack of consideration for tabloid vets who are making their exits without a word of thanks in print.

The Sunday Sun had a front page story about a paramedic retiring after 40 years, but a growing number of departing Sun vets are receiving no recognition, some after decades on the job.

Vets like John Downing, Valerie Gibson, Linda Leatherdale, Al Cairns, Bill Brioux, Len Fortune, Tim Fryer, Darren McGee and other loyal Sun employees who got the silent treatment.

What is that all about? As we have said numerous times, that is not the respectful Sun we knew in the pre-Quebecor years.

There have been a few exceptions, most notably Mike Strobel's tribute to departing pressmen in 2008, Mark Bonokoski's catchup column on the quiet departure of Hartley Steward in 2007, and John Kerr's farewell in December after 27 years of Outdoors columns.

But for many others, the silent treatment.

We're waiting to see if the most recent buyout vets will be thanked in print for their years on the job, including Lew Fournier, Bob McConachie, Kaarina Leinala, Sheila Chidley, Sarah Green and Melinda Kryk.

We have our doubts.

So good on Calvin Reynolds, the photo desk vet who does the Sunday Sun's Brain Drain with Professor Calvin quiz, for including a question about Sheila Chidley, with an excellent photo.

Perhaps it was Calvin, who was on the list of Black Tuesday layoff casualties in December, saying his goodbye to Sheila, a much admired colleague who is taking a buyout after two decades on the job.

Sheila's photo reminded us of her effervescence and contagious smile.

TSF would appreciate photos of all departing Toronto Sun vets.

Sunday 18 January 2009

Buyout: Kryk

When Melinda Mantel arrived at the Toronto Sun in May of 1988, she was an assistant to Gary Blackwood in building operations.

A couple of years later, she replaced Ingrid Hamilton as executive assistant to both George Anthony, the executive entertainment editor, and Kathy Brooks, entertainment editor.

Melinda, one of the eight most recent employees to take a buyout, was later an assistant to George Gross, the founding sports editor. She kept George's Variety Village Christmas Fund books in order throughout the 1990s.

Along the way, the dedicated member of the Toronto Sun Family married John Kryk, an entertainment department staffer and current entertainment editor.

Her most recent labour of love was assisting the Comment editors.

Half of Melinda's life has been spent working at 333. She has been one of numerous Sun employees to stay on the job for decades.

As the late Doug Creighton used to say, secretaries/assistants were the backbone of the Toronto Sun, taking care of business and the fine details of a daily newspaper.

All the best, Melinda.

Buyout names to date: (1) Lew Fournier (2) Bob McConachie (3) Kaarina Leinala (4) Sheila Chidley (5) Sarah Green (6) Melinda Kryk (7) ??? (8) ???

TSF will profile more of the eight employees taking buyouts when identified.

With Sun Media's recent track record, they will probably go quietly without a word of thanks in print.

Farewell messages for any departing Sun employees should be e-mailed to TSF.

Buyout: Green

Updated 19/01/09

Sarah Green covered a lot of bases during her Sun Media years in Ottawa and Toronto, highlighted by a 1995 National Newspaper Award nomination for feature writing in Ottawa.

When Sarah earned an NNA nom, she was in excellent company. An NNA nom for editorial cartooning was the Toronto Sun's Andy Donato. She would soon move to Toronto to become a colleague of the Day Oner cartoonist.

During her years at the Toronto Sun, she wrote fashion stories, covered city hall, wrote medical stories and a variety of other assignments.

Sarah was the Sun's official reporter for Pope John Paul II's visit to Toronto in 2002 to commemorate World Youth Day, reporting from a crowd of 800,000 during the Downsview Park Mass.

She was presented to the late Pontiff for her excellence in reporting of World Youth Day and John Paul's stay in Canada.

Another favourite gig: The 2003 Rolling Stones SARS concert in Downsview Park attended by 450,o0o people.

What can we say, Sarah thrives in a crowd.

"A wonderful gal," a Toronto Sun colleague says of Sarah, one of eight veteran employees taking a buyout. She has been on maternity leave, an assignment she wants to make a full time job.

"Sarah was/is a great journalist and I have no doubt that she'll be a great mom," says former Sun graphics vet Len Fortune.

All the best, Sarah.

Buyout names to date: (1) Lew Fournier (2) Bob McConachie (3) Kaarina Leinala (4) Sheila Chidley (5) Sarah Green (6) Melinda Kryk (7) ??? (8) ???

TSF will profile more of the eight employees taking buyouts when identified.

With Sun Media's recent track record, they will probably go quietly without a word of thanks in print.

Farewell messages for any departing Sun employees should be e-mailed to TSF.

Buyout: Chidley

Toronto Sun columnist Mike Strobel was forever praising the "lovely and talented Sheila Chidley" during his first Variety Village Christmas Fund campaign.

Sheila compiled the weekly list of contributions to the fund and when all the counting was done, she had it nailed down to the last penny - $30,517.93.

But Sheila's contribution to the Toronto Sun predates her work with Mike. She has been a sports department assistant for about 20 years, and was an asset to the late, great George Gross, founding sports editor, who died last March.

"The Lovely and Talented Star (With Cluster) goes to the lovely and talented Ms. Sheila Chidley, without whom I'd still be counting pennies, deciphering cheques and botching names of donors. I see why George worshipped her," Mike wrote in one of his Variety columns.

Sheila, one of eight veteran employees who have taken buyouts this month, has been one of the behind the scenes staffers contributing to the well-oiled sports department.

She is a cousin of former Sun photographer Dave Chidley, a National Newspaper Award winner who worked in Toronto, Calgary and the London Free Press before laid off in 2006.

The Sun without a Chidley in the house won't be as bright for remaining colleagues.

All the best, Sheila.

Buyout names to date: (1) Lew Fournier (2) Bob McConachie (3) Kaarina Leinala (4) Sheila Chidley (5) Sarah Green (6) Melinda Kryk (7) ??? (8) ???

TSF will profile more of the eight employees taking buyouts when identified.

With Sun Media's recent track record, they will probably go quietly without a word of thanks in print.

Farewell messages for any departing Sun employees should be e-mailed to TSF.

Saturday 17 January 2009

Buyout: Leinala

As mentioned previously in TSF, the Toronto Sun would have had less heart in the glory days if it frowned on office relationships.

Mike Patton and Kaarina Leinala, who worked together on the rim for years, were among the employees who found love in the newsroom.

Kaarina, a Sun copy editor for more than 25 years and the last of the married duo to leave 333, is one of the eight senior staffers who have taken buyouts, sources say.

Mike worked at the Sun from 1986 until laid off in 2001, returned in 2006 and left in March of 2007 for a government job.

The ever-pleasant Kaarina, who also wrote op-ed pieces and numerous travel stories, is another copy editor who was a member of the A Team throughout the 1980s and most of the 1990s.

The tabloid's newsroom was always a balance of talented men and women, with women in key positions from Day One in November of 1971.

Kaarina was among the women who made a difference in the newsroom.

All the best, Kaarina.

Buyout names to date: (1) Lew Fournier (2) Bob McConachie (3) Kaarina Leinala (4) Sheila Chidley (5) Sarah Green (6) Melinda Kryk (7) ??? (8) ???

TSF will profile more of the eight employees taking buyouts when identified.

With Sun Media's recent track record, they will probably go quietly without a word of thanks in print.

Farewell messages for any departing Sun employees should be e-mailed to TSF.

Buyout: McConachie

Last fall, the Toronto Sun decided to revive the rewrite desk, a newsroom post dormant since January of 1994 when the departing rewrite staffer wasn't replaced.

The perfect man for the job, of course, was Bob McConachie, a dedicated Sun veteran who had made a difference for almost three decades as a copy editor, Ottawa desk editor and city editor.

But, sources say, this unsung hero of the Sun newsroom has taken a buyout, one of eight senior newsroom staffers who are calling it quits, cutting 200-plus years of experience from the roster.

Bob, an easygoing consummate newsman, co-author of Odyssey 77: The Great Gold Toothpick Caper (1981) and pool player extraordinaire, has been a mentor to numerous newcomers in the newsroom since the early 1980s.

Knowing Bob is to know he would take a buyout to save the job of another employee.

During his decades as an editor, clarity of mind shaped the copy and columns of sometimes erratic Toronto Sun reporters and columnists filing their efforts from near and far. He was a tabloid editor and the Sun copy shone because of his talents.

While city editor, Bob's unique gift of calmly dealing with egos while under the gun at deadline time deserved applause. It was a kinder, gentler city desk when Bob was at the helm.

One of the few remaining editors from the Toronto Sun's glory years, Bob no doubt still has a lot to offer as a newspaper editor.

Perhaps, he will write his overdue second book.

Or open a pool hall and write his book there between games.

We know whatever Bob decides to do, it will be done professionally.

All the best, Bob.

Buyout names to date: (1) Lew Fournier (2) Bob McConachie (3) Kaarina Leinala (4) Sheila Chidley (5) Sarah Green (6) Melinda Kryk (7) ??? (8) ???

TSF will profile more of the eight employees taking buyouts when identified.

With Sun Media's recent track record, they will probably go quietly without a word of thanks in print.

Farewell messages for any departing Sun employees should be e-mailed to TSF.

Buyout: Fournier

If you notice a decline in clever and witty Toronto Sun headlines, you will be noticing the departure of veteran copy desker Lew Fournier.

Sources say Lew, a 25-plus year Sun vet, is one of eight senior Toronto Sun newsroom staffers taking buyouts, which will save the jobs of eight employees on Black Tuesday's layoff list.

Lew, a soft spoken news pro and king of the headline writers, is one of the last of the Sun deskers from the glory years.

Four of TSF's Top 10 favourite headlines were written by Lew.

In 2008, the National Newspaper Awards committee honoured Lew as an "unsung hero for his great career on the desk."

To wax nostalgic, our memories of the Toronto Sun newsroom during the 80s and early 90s was working several feet away from the most talented band of deskers in T.O.

They were friendly, laid back ladies and gents, with puns galore in print and during newsroom banter. They knew more about packaging tabloids than PKP and his "centres of excellence" will ever know.

Pros like 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 news desk posse leader Sandra Macklin.

Sadly, the Sun newsroom just ain't what it used to be and Lew's departure is yet another nail in the coffin.

All the best Lew. If headlines in the Star or Globe suddenly show signs of the classic Fournier state of mind, we'll know you have moved on to greener pastures.

Buyout names to date: (1) Lew Fournier (2) Bob McConachie (3) Kaarina Leinala (4) Sheila Chidley (5) Sarah Green (6) Melinda Kryk (7) ??? (8) ???

TSF will profile more of the eight employees taking buyouts when identified.

With Sun Media's recent track record, they will probably go quietly without a word of thanks in print.

Farewell messages for any departing Sun employees should be e-mailed to TSF.

Friday 16 January 2009

TorSun -1

Another veteran Toronto Sun advertising department employee was pink slipped Thursday.

That makes 60 employees trimmed from 333 since early December.

Meanwhile, the jobs of at least eight editorial employees on the Black Tuesday layoff list have been saved by other staff taking buyouts.

Two other jobs have been saved temporarily, one on a one-year contract and the other a fill-in for a leave of absence, a source says.

When the dealing is done, TSF we'll update the who is going, who is staying list.

Word is those who have taken buyouts represent a huge chunk of veteran newsroom talent.

Snail e-mail

You occasionally hear about a piece of snail mail taking forever to reach its destination, but 17 months for an e-mail?

That's how long it took an e-mail from Don Hawkes to TSF in August of 2007 to arrive. His e-mail was dated 17/08/2007, but we thought it must have been his computer clock.

We posted the contents and let Don know about the date.

"Hi, Dox here - and there is nothing wrong with my computer date," says Don. "I really did send that e-mail in the summer of 07 just after I came back to Toronto. Have read the Sun Family religiously ever since and have even spoken a couple of times to (John) Downing.

That is a first for TSF. Well then, Don, a much belated welcome back to T.O.

If computer geeks can explain the 17-month delay of an e-mail, please do.

Sandra Macklin, a former Toronto Sun news editor who operated an ISP service for six years, says:

"There's no sense to Don Hawkes' email at all. In fact, having been an ISP for six years, it's not possible. He's been trolling through his old email, sent one off again by mistake, that's the only answer."


Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington replays a very strange two days, interviewing the caring neighbor of a slain senior Monday, then writing about his arrest for the slaying 48 hours later.

"A strange set of circumstances for sure," Joe writes in his column today. "It's not every day you have a conversation with an alleged killer, just 48 hours before he would be charged with the crime.

"But I did - as did Sun cop reporter Chris Doucette and CTV reporter Naomi Parness, who with veteran cameraman Brian Weatherhead were actually called and invited up to the 12th floor apartment on 5 Shady Golfway, at the Don Valley Parkway and Eglinton Ave."

The headline is "A suspect with a smile."

Journalists can spend a lifetime on the job and not come close to that TV movie of the week scenario.

Great local tab fare.

Thursday 15 January 2009

Re Don Hawkes

Don Hawkes, former Toronto Sun associate editor and former Ottawa Sun editor, e-mailed TSF to say he's back in the GTA.

"I tried to post a comment . . . reacting to John Downing's latest e-mail," says Don. "I couldn't because the box that popped up was all in French and I couldn't understand any of it.

"I was fascinated to discover I had been the subject of much discussion between (Doug) Creighton, (Les) Pyette and Downing. None of this was known to me. I had been editor of the Ottawa Sun and wanted badly to get back to Toronto.

"Ottawa always struck me as a very pretty KGB town. My next-door neighbour was a spy. The neighbour on the other side MAY have been a spy too. He was definitely an American. All the intrigue left me cold - or should I say, out in the cold. So I wanted to come home.

"I always want to come home. Indeed, after 13 years away, I have come home to Toronto once again. I'd have told Downing, but I don't know how to contact him on the Trent canal. Maybe this will help.

"As for the Sun being fluff in the old days, saying that is pure sillyness."

Good to hear from you, Don.

BTW: Downing is blogging now.

The numbers

10 - Toronto Sun ad builders in pre-press pink-slipped Tuesday

327 - Total years of media experience they dedicated to the Sun

59 - Jobs trimmed throughout 333 since early December

32 - Editorial jobs cut since early December

120 - Editorial jobs cut since 2001

80 - Editorial jobs remaining at the "major" Toronto daily

0 - Degree of respect Sun Media/Quebecor has for loyalty

0 - Degree of morale and loyalty remaining inside 333

150 - TSF members at the November 2006 Save Our Sun reunion

0 - Chances of Saving Our Sun, as we knew it

350 - Days remaining in 2009, Quebecor/PKP Sun morphing time

179,657 - TSF blog visitors since Dec. 8, 2006

1 million - Number of thanks to TSF contributors who care as much as we do about celebrating the Sun years when loyalty, dedication and heart emanated from all floors at 333

??? - Number of days, months or years before TSF pulls the plug in surrender, realizing we can never go home again as long as Quebecor owns the house

News judgment

So the Toronto Sun devotes two full pages to Toronto's Top 10 bank robbery suspects' photos and a reader's tip leads to an arrest the same day.

Sun reader's tip nabs suspect in three bank heists - one down and nine to go. Good Sun story, right? Worth more than a brief Sun Flash?

Not these days. Editors threw it away as a Page 6 News Flash.

No tip of the hat to the anonymous Sun reader who made the call Monday and no mention of Rob Lamberti's work on the 2008 bank bandit photo spread the same day.

How about Toronto Police? Were they not pleased to see such a quick arrest after Monday's print edition hit the streets? Please note "print" edition.

If the anonymous reader was strictly a reader, the quick arrest wouldn't have happened. No photos accompanied the story online, just text.

Another vote of confidence for the power of print media.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Nugget jobs

A TSF reader wonders why Sun Media hasn't offered laid off Sudbury Star composing room employees two comp jobs available at the North Bay Nugget.

The e-mail reads:

"With the whole comp room laid off on Black Tuesday at the Sudbury Star, you would think the company would have the common decency to let them have first crack at the two comp room jobs being created in North Bay, (they will be posted this week).

"Sudbury's comp work will be done in North Bay, a little more than an hour's drive from Sudbury. It would appear people making decisions really could care less about the people that worked so hard to make these newspapers what they are today."

TSF's guess is the new comp room workers will be paid less than what the experienced, laid off Star workers would expect to be paid.

Lay off experienced, higher paid employees, hire novices for lower wages. The new reality at Sun Media.

Paperfree Steve

Blog Watch: A former five-year Osprey Media staffer has his say about the restructuring of Sun Media newspapers on his paperfreesteeve blog.

"Not to get caught up in the negativity of it all, but it’s so hard to watch as Quebecor gut the papers it purchased from Osprey Media and not say anything," says the blogger.

"I spent five years working for two of Osprey’s key papers in Ontario, and although they were small they sometimes produced ridiculously good local journalism."

The remainder of his posting is recommended reading.

TorSun -10

Ten more Toronto Sun employees were laid off yesterday as Sun Media's restructuring continues to claim jobs in the now cavernous 333 King Street East building.

The 10 ad builders in the pre-press department, which is unionized, were given eight weeks notice, Brad Honywill, president of the Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild, told TSF.

"Their work is being transferred to the new regional (non-union) operation in Woodstock, which will produce ads for several newspapers," he said.

The Toronto Sun casualty total since early December stands at 59.

It is full steam ahead for regionalization and employees who remain at the gutted Sun will be moved from 333 to smaller quarters.

Says a TSF reader who read a previous posting that said there were no layoffs Tuesday:

"I was just online reading the blogs, which I now do every day, and yesterday was in fact Black Tuesday with at least 10 Toronto Sun folks who work in ad production let go.

"Seems they will be working till March ( they were given eight weeks notice as they were part of the union). These people have been there for years and years and now they are expected to go back out in a highly competitive work force to look for something new?

"It's a shame.

"Apparently, the Toronto Sun is outsourcing all ad production . . . Is it too early to presume that the Sun will soon be renamed the National Sun? Nationalizing the paper is the only way I can make sense of any of this.

"It's all about saving PKP's precious wallet, one paper distributed across Canada. He makes me sick.

"I was laid off back in December. Perhaps I should send thanks to good ole PKP and let him know that I no longer want to work in this industry."

Bono meet Bono

When people are talking about a column written by Bono these days, be sure to ask: Bono the Toronto Sun vet, or Bono the rock star?

Bono the Sun columnist is our award-winning Mark Bonokoski, affectionately called Bono by colleagues and friends for decades.

Bono the rock star is now a New York Times columnist.

Is there room for another Bono in North American media? No doubt. They both have a lot to offer readers in their appealing and worldly ways with words.

Both sing, but only the Times' Bono gets paid to sing.

Bono the rock star, in New York Times one-upmanship, also reads his columns for the visually impaired and people who prefer listening while at the keyboards.

We are listening to Bono read his column about a Dublin bar and the music of Frank Sinatra as we type and it tells us the New York Times is ahead of most online media providers.

Reading columns online was an idea TSF reader Michael Cassidy of Port Hope had for Toronto Sun columnists a few months ago.

Our Bono has radio experience, so all it would take is a knowledgeable tech guy at to add audio clips.

The photo of Bono the rock star was taken by Deirdre O'Callaghan for his bio.

Daily PDFs roll

A TSF reader who signs his e-mail Disgruntled Scribe says while yesterday wasn't another Black Tuesday, Sun Media did make some key announcements for mainly the Osprey papers.

The changes, says DS, will be made at the expense of local editorials, local letters to the editor, local news slots and Canadian Press wire copy.

And, predictably, it will mean more job losses down the road.

"Hi there,

Just thought I'd share some of the announcements coming down today . . . a Black Tuesday: Part 2. (except no layoffs.)

"Sun Media is rolling out PDF pages of editorial, national news, sports, sports agate and entertainment pages each day in either full or half-pages . . . the biggest is the limitations on editorial pages, which will likely mean no more local letters to the editor.

"As well, all papers are going to have a redesign but will look the same, relying on the redesign the London Free Press recently had. The paper I work for has had the same design/fonts/five columns for decades (change probably overdue) but Sun Media uses six columns and this one has five so readers will need to adjust.

"Advertising ad stacks will likely be a thing of the past with these new PDFs, meaning more frustration for advertising personnel and their clients.

"What it basically comes down to is a phasing out of the wire. We're told now to avoid using Canadian Press as much as possible and I predict in a year or so Sun Media will no longer be associated with CP, or at least at the smaller daily papers. A couple have already cancelled the service in the past year.

"Personally, I see the writing on the wall for more cutbacks with editors getting axed with these new pages coming. And no doubt local copy will once again take a hard hit."

An update from DS:

DS said Tuesday's announcements will impact mainly the Osprey papers purchased by Quebecor in summer of 2007.

"We run five local editorials each week out of six days, but that is going to be reduced to one a week with the rest coming from Sun Media. Local letters to the editor may still run, but that hasn't been finalized (re) how the PDFs will look."

What next?

A CBS2 story in Chicago says key editorial jobs at the struggling Chicago Sun-Times may be outsourced to Canada or India to save money.

The heading on the report by Kristyn Hartman says the jobs would go to "cheaper labor."

In India, perhaps, but Canada? Are we now known as a source for cheap media labour?

Hartman's story says:

"Sources tell CBS 2 the paper is taking steps to cut its unionized copy and layout editors.

"They include people who handle things like headlines, who check articles for accuracy, and who make the pages the way you see them.

"So who would pick up the slack?

"The same sources say the Sun-Times might send the work to a firm in Canada or India."

Tuesday 13 January 2009

EdSun changes

From today's

The times they are a changing for the Edmonton Sun crew.

Beginning today, longtime reporter Andrew Hanon will tackle the Big Story as a Page 2 columnist.

His opinion pieces will run Tuesday through Saturday.

Our veteran columnist Kerry Diotte will move to the legislature as bureau chief, joining columnist Neil Waugh, who together will give the Sun a one-two political punch.

Diotte will continue to write his As I See It column on Page 5 each Wednesday. The column will run alongside his popular video rants and blog postings.

Hanon has also launched a new blog, called Daddy Dearest, which can be found at

A Chicago twist

When the going gets tough in print media, the tough get going.

All of the others bury their heads in the sand with muffled cries of "the sky is falling, the sky is falling."

Down Chicago way, there is something new in the battle against the downturn.

The broadsheet Chicago Tribune will introduce a 75-cent tabloid on Monday for weekday sales in newspaper boxes, newsstands and transit stations. Home subscribers will continue to receive the broadsheet edition.

The story on says: "Tribune executives said they believe publishing near-identical versions of the paper simultaneously in broadsheet and compact editions is unprecedented among major U.S. dailies."

Monday's new street-sale tabloid will be free for the day.

The story says the Tribune's RedEye, a free commuter tabloid launched in 2002, will remain unchanged.

(The publisher's memo to staff.)

Chicago newspaper readers have posted dozens of comments, ranging from "why bother?" to "excellent idea."

The Toronto Sun got it right from the start in 1971 by going tabloid instead of broadsheet.

Monday 12 January 2009

Putting a face?

They've done it again on

Veteran Toronto Sun police desk vet Rob Lamberti puts a lot of effort into the annual roundup of Toronto's Top 10 bank bandit photos and profiles of the holdups.

The tab-style two-page spread in Monday's print edition clearly shows bank camera technology has improved 10-fold since Rob's roundup last year. Clear faces for many of the bandits, a much better chance of arrests being made.

"Putting a face on Toronto's most Wanted" is the headline in print and online - but there are no faces to be seen online, just text.

The absurdity of using text only for a second consecutive year, dear readers, befuddles us to no end.

Do the Sun web guys not get the point of "putting a face on Toronto's most wanted?"

All kinds of directional signs are pointing Sun readers to but with decisions like this being made, they are not going to be too impressed.

The two-page spread in the print edition must be making most of the bank bandits caught on camera extremely nervous.

Their photos online would increase the fear-of-capture factor.

(Update: One arrest, nine to go.)