Thursday 30 April 2009

Post -Mondays

The first major dent in Toronto's impressive stable of four major paid dailies is the National Post's decision to drop its Monday print edition for July, August and early September.

Grant Robertson, the Globe and Mail's media writer, says in today's story: Canwest could not say how much the move would save, but said it does not involve any layoffs.

The Post's shortened week begins June 29 and ends with Monday publishing resuming Sept. 14.

Canwest is not considering reduced publishing days for any of its other dailies, says the Globe story.

Execs at the 10-year-old Post told Robertson Monday is the paper's lowest day for readership in the summer months. Dropping nine press runs will save on ink, paper and distribution costs.

How about Post employees? Do they work less for the same money during the summer Monday hiatus?

Student request

A student at the University of King's College in Halifax is hoping TSF readers can help her with a story about recent layoffs and buyouts in Canadian newsrooms.

"I am particularly interested in the number of veteran journalists vs. the number of younger, or newer, reporters who have recently left newsrooms," says Bethany Horne. "At the Sun(s), which demographic has been most affected by the recent round of buyouts and layoffs?"

Bethany says many managing editors have been unwilling to speak to her about this subject, "so I am writing to the editors of this blog in hopes of finding a source who will."

If you can help Bethany with her story, send her an email at"

Regret the Error

Craig Silverman's Regret the Error, a popular Montreal-based media watchdog site that repeats newspaper corrections, notes Sun Media newspapers do not have online corrections pages.

It's not that the Sun tabloids are perfect. We could fill a page from recall for the Toronto Sun alone for the past few months. Perhaps they don't want to put a collective spotlight on all of the errors associated with overworked newsrooms and a lack of proofreaders.

The other major dailies in the GTA are owning up to their mistakes with online corrections pages, from the error-prone National Post and the Toronto Star, to daily postings by the Globe and Mail.

Meanwhile, Silverman's annual plagiarism roundups are an eye-opener.

Such as: The new sex columnist for the New York Press resigned after her first column included questions taken from Dan Savage’s syndicated sex column. Link

Weekly axed

ICI, Sun Media's French language arts weekly in Montreal, is toast.

Its last press run is today, the Montreal Gazette is reporting.

The Gazette says Sun Media pulled the plug on ICI because it had no hope of making money from the weekly, which has about 90,000 readers per week. It published in the shadow of Voir, with about 500,000 readers.

The Gazette says ICI's columnists will shift to the 24 Heures and websites. Local arts news and listings will be printed in the Thursday printed edition of 24 Heures.

Another one bites the dust . . .

Wednesday 29 April 2009

Hear, hear

Someone said to us the other day: "You do know print media is dead, don't you?"

In a word, no.

Exhibit A, to balance the flood of doom and gloom print media stories: A scheduled global gathering of print media advocates in Spain next month for the World Association of Newspapers conference on Power of Print.

A WAN news story says "Those who advocate the abandonment of print for a digital-only world might want to look at the roster of speakers assembled by the World Association of Newspapers" for the Barcelona conference May 27 and 28.

The story says "
WAN is bringing together leading industry figures who are proving that publishing success comes from developing the print side, not abandoning it."


Tuesday 28 April 2009

TorSun -1

Bev Bester, described as "one of the top-performing ad reps in the history of the Toronto Sun," has been axed, sources say.

An incredulous former veteran Toronto Sun employee, also a layoff casualty says: "It's pretty shocking that the Sun would get rid of such a solid performer.

"Then again, they axed some ad reps who not only made their budget target for 2008 last September, but were some of few reps to make their target at all."

Something tells TSF Bev won't be on the newspaper sidelines for long, not with her ad skills.

Pembroke -30

The Pembroke Daily Observer is losing its mailroom to Ottawa, with seven full-time and 23 part-time workers being told by Sun Media today they are out the door in 60 days.

The former Osprey Media daily will see its mailroom operations transferred to Sun Media's Ottawa operations effective June 27, says the Observer story.

The story says the pink-slipped employees can apply for jobs "at other plants operated by Osprey and its parent company, Sun Media."

Slim chance of that happening. Sun Media's track record of rehiring laid off workers is dismal, starting with the loyal Toronto Sun pressroom and mailing room workers axed when the presses at 333 were silenced.

Meanwhile, the Observer story says the mailroom move to Ottawa is "part of a regional re-organization and consolidation of operations at a number of Sun Media publications, in addition to the Daily Observer."

We call it minimalist print newspaper publishing.

Monday 27 April 2009

The Moonlighters

Toronto Sun columnist Mike Strobel is on a roll with his popular Moonlight Ladies columns and photo shoots, but Sun Media appears to be reluctant to commit to a regular feature.

Slotting in a day or two each week for a Moonlight Lady to appease the growing population of baby boomers seems warranted judging by reader reaction to Strobel's post-40 babes to date.

As we have said previously, it is so refreshing to see attractive women posing for Sun cameras without belly bling.

While not yet committed to a regular feature, Strobel's mature ladies will get a lot more exposure May 6 in an eight to 12-page special section being packaged as we type.

The question is, could the Shaky Lady become a Moonlight Lady?

Lost and found

The Toronto Sun never shines brighter than when it helps reunite long lost relatives.

Veteran columnist Mark Bonokoski has done it again, helping a daughter find an adventurous father she hadn't seen in 20 years.

And it took less than a week.

Columnist Mike Strobel reunited a son in Canada and a long lost mother in Budapest last fall.

It took less than 10 days.

Talk about the power of the press.

The joy of bringing families together after decades, all from a single column read in print or online?


This is tabloid content faithful Sun readers can't get enough of these days. Feel-good stories with happy endings and written by the pros.

Sunday 26 April 2009

AMW & Tori

If you PVR your way through commercials you probably missed the brief Victoria "Tori" Stafford missing child alert on America's Most Wanted last night.

The brief clip, with a photo of Victoria, was wedged between commercials. Viewers were asked to call the AMW hotline if they have any information about the eight-year-old Woodstock girl, missing since April 8.

While it might disappoint family wanting more AMW air time, some of the AMW cases have been solved with information gained from similar brief clips aired during commercials.

We're sure host John Walsh wants to do more with the abduction on television, but it is that time of year for NASCAR races on Fox and AMW was preempted last week and for the next two Saturday nights.

Walsh, the father of a murdered young son, and his AMW crew deserve full credit for highlighting and updating the search for Victoria on the AMW website. They have included the surveillance video, the composite sketch and numerous other details.

It is Day 19.

Google "Victoria Tori Stafford" and you get more than 80,000 web results, more than 900 news results, almost 500 images results and 33 video results. Canadian media coast to coast have provided daily coverage and now, the abduction has received attention in the U.S.

Police are working overtime to bring Victoria home. Most print, broadcast and Internet media are doing their job in providing on-the-scene blanket coverage of this most baffling vanishing.

Saturday 25 April 2009

Weekend reading

Recommended reading:

First in a weekly series of Canwest News Service reports on

David Akin writes: In the first of a series we look at the siege mentality that is gripping the newspaper industry as once-mighty publications stop their presses for good.

He also writes: Many newspaper divisions in Canada, including Canwest's, continue to report an operating profit. Publicly traded companies like Torstar Corp. or Quebecor Inc. are not required to report financial results for individual titles but say that, by and large, their newspaper operations are more than covering the cost of paying their bills.

Thursday 23 April 2009

Poker section

The 12-page Let's Play Poker section in yesterday's Toronto Sun should convince Sun Media there is ample interest among readers and advertisers to warrant a weekly gambling page in print editions.

Gambling is a billion dollar industry in Ontario, but most mainstream media devote little space to the lotteries, casinos, horse races etc. There are gambling-related advertising dollars to be made by print media and we can't think of a better time to try something new.

Weekly Moonlight Ladies and a gambling page are two innovations the Toronto Sun should consider.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Flashback '78

Found a Toronto Sun tearsheet from Wednesday, October 4, 1978, with a Page 47 Kevin Scanlon story announcing:

That's how many Suns you're buying every day.
Thank you!

Scanlon, now at the Toronto Star, wrote:

Well, with your help we did it - the daily Sun has passed the 200,000 circulation mark.

Not bad for a little paper that started as a dream in the nightmare wake of the old Toronto Telegram almost seven years ago.

More nostalgic than the circulation figures 31 years ago were the Norm Betts photos of Ronnie Tonks, one of the Tonks brothers, hauling papers in the pressroom, and a row of vans outside in the loading dock.

Scanlon, Tonks, Betts, the presses, the pressroom and the circulation vans are long gone from 333, as is the giddiness of the 1970s when the sky was the limit at the tabloid.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

NBC heroes clip

We missed this Brian Williams NBC Nightly News report on Ontario's Highway of Heroes, which gives credit to Sun Media's Pete Fisher and the thousands who line bridges for every Canadian war casualty.

It aired in November, but is worthy of mention at any time because rarely do major American networks acknowledge Canada's involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

The body count was 97 when NBC aired the report, not 117 as it stands today, and since then the Obama government lifted the longstanding ban on media coverage of the return of American casualties.

Fisher is interviewed and given full credit for his dedication to photographing the return of every Afghanistan casualty. His own YouTube tribute to the fallen has been viewed by almost 18,000 visitors since it was posted in January.

Pulitzers & style

The prestigious 2009 Pulitzers were announced yesterday, with the New York Times faring well with five prizes.

The Chicago Tribune's coverage focuses on wins for print media in troubled times, including mention of one Pulitzer winner who is a layoff casualty.

Meanwhile, we would give the webmasters at Pulitzer a special award for providing access to every Pulitzer price winner since 1917.

Providing easy access to awards presented from 1917 to 2009 tells its own story about the peaks and valleys of print journalism.

The same can't be said for Sun Media's Dunlop Awards since the 1980s. There is no online master list for the awards, which have been cancelled for 2008.

If someone can provide a master list of Dunlop winners, send it by e-mail.

Teagan Stewart 2

The Toronto Star's Linda Barnard, a former colleague of the late Toronto Sun crime reporter Mark Stewart, writes:

"Wonderful to hear from Teagan.

"Mark was a good friend and a joy to work with at the Sun. He was such a devoted husband and dad. His family meant everything to him. It must have been hard for her to grow up without him.

"Fill us in on what you're up to Teagan.

"All the best,

"Linda Barnard."

Monday 20 April 2009

Centres update

A TSF tipster update:

"Another 'centre of excellence' is being set up in Dresden, Ontario. Pagination of The Observer, Chatham Daily News and a variety of other southwestern Ontario Sun weeklies will be moved there.

"There will be seven jobs, but nine people applying so two people will lose jobs, probably in either Sarnia or Chatham.

"Since April 2007, layout of The Observer and Chatham Daily News has been done out of the Sarnia Observer's office. These paginaters will be going to Dresden.

"The Observer's press was shut down last week, with printing for Chatham and Sarnia and sundry weeklies being done at the London Free Press. (Observer pressmen were offered jobs in London).

"Print quality is terrible with black and white photos consistently underexposed and type at times barely legible. On Saturday, The Observer printed a classified page of The Expositor. Maybe they had to fill a hole."

Baby Herbie +30

The feel-good story of the year in Toronto in 1979 was the life-saving operation on baby Herbie Quinones at the Hospital for Sick Children.

Those big, Brooklyn eyes melted hearts and those selfless Toronto surgeons, doing what New York doctors wouldn't, made Canadians so proud.

Baby Herbie is all grown up now and thanks to a weekend story from New York by the Toronto Star's Dale Brazao, we know how he looks and how he feels about Canada.

Brazao says Herbie, at 30, is healthy but unemployed since January, so he can't afford to fly to Toronto for Herbie Day on June 5, as proclaimed by Toronto Mayor David Miller.

Herbie Day without Herbie? Can't let that happen. If the Star, or city officials can't foot the bill for Herbie's visit, take it to the public and pass the hat for the jobless mail clerk.

First is first and, as Brazao reports, Baby Herbie was the first of more than 600 children from 88 countries to benefit from funds raised for the Herbie Fund.

15 more jobs?

Another 15 or so Sun Media jobs in Ontario are being chopped at Tillsonburg-area newspapers, says a TSF tipster.

"All ads and newspaper composition for the Simcoe Reformer, Tillsonburg News, Delhi News-Record and Lake Shore Shopper are being moved to Woodstock," says the tipster.

That would be the Woodstock "centre of excellence."

Smalltown newspapers that have been focused on the personal needs of local readers and advertisers for years are being reduced to impersonal, storefront operations.

And that, in more ways than one, is not good news.

Saturday 18 April 2009

AMW & Tori

Tonight's America's Most Wanted program on Fox has been preempted by a NASCAR race, but John Walsh's web site is updating the search for Victoria "Tori" Stafford almost daily.

Walsh has been a friend to Canadian police during his 20-plus years as host of America's Most Wanted and as the father of an abducted and murdered young son, missing children anywhere get his attention.

The "Top Story" file on the missing eight-year-old Woodstock girl includes details of her disappearance on April 8, the widely-viewed surveillance video and photographs.

Victoria's disappearance, declared an abduction by OPP yesterday, is now an international news story.

Made our day

A comment from Teagan Stewart, posted this week, made our day:

"Thank you so much for this page. My father was Mark Stewart and I was just a baby when he passed. I appreciate this more then you could know . . . it's so good to know that my father has not been forgotten.

"From the bottom of my heart, Thank you!"

Thank you for your comments, Teagan. We have fond memories of working with your father in the Toronto Sun newsroom from 1982 to 1995.

Have you been in touch with Rob Lamberti, the Sun's veteran crime reporter who worked with your father on the police desk for 13 years? If not, give him a call or e-mail him at

We're sure he will be delighted to hear from you and your family.

Friday 17 April 2009

Bono on Paton

Today's Mark Bonokoski column is devoted to the rise of John Paton from Toronto Sun copy boy to Editor & Publisher's Publisher of the Year.

From Ryerson to Manhattan. And it all started with John snapping a photo of Paul Rimstead dancing with a belly dancer in the 1970s.

A fascinating read about journalists who were/are print media to the bone.

Speakers Corner

Speakers Corner, Citytv's popular speak-your-mind-for-a-buck video booth, bit the dust last August, but it is not forgotten.

This YouTube rant posted yesterday by Brian Vollmer, Helix's veteran vocalist in response to a Darryl Sterdan entertainment story, reminds us of Speakers Corner.

Brian, there are two "rs" in Darryl, but you do get your point across loud and clear.

We might have missed it, but have any online newspapers set up a Speakers Corner via YouTube or their own video feedback forum? That would be an Internet draw.

Laid off, wins big

Corina Milic, one of 600 Sun Media layoff casualties in December, has won a major newspaper award for a portfolio of Sault Star assignments.

The former Star staffer has won the 2008 Hon. Edward Goff Penny Memorial Prizes for Young Canadian Journalists at newspapers under 25,000 circulation.

Corina, now freelancing in Toronto, submitted entries for her features on youth in Wawa, her experiences as an intern in Rwanda and the aftermath of a child's drowning at a local city pool.

James Bradshaw of the Globe and Mail won the Penny Award for newspapers over 25,000.

The competition is open to journalists between the ages of 20 to 25 working for Canadian Newspapers Association newspapers.

Congrats to Corina, yet another young talent lost to Sun Media cutbacks.

In January, Corina wrote a first person Toronto Star story about being laid off just when she was starting in journalism. Here's hoping this talented young journalist lands a full-time newsroom job.

CAJ finalists

The 2008 Canadian Association of Journalists awards finalists were announced Thursday, but don't bother scanning the list for Sun Media nominees.

Sun Media picked up awards in previous CAJ awards, but there are no finalists for 2008. Which means (a) There were Sun Media entries that did not make the finals or (b) Sun Media's withdrawal from a variety of awards, including its own Dunlop Awards, extended to the 2008 CAJs.

We're thinking (b) for the CAJs. PKP has been advising publishers to pull out of media awards.

The closest to a Sun mention is a freelancer portfolio entered by Darryl Dyck, a former Edmonton Sun photog who is a finalist in the Photojournalism category, which he won for his work in 2007. He left the Sun in May 2008 after 10 award winning years.

The 2008 winners will be announced May 23 at the CAJ Awards banquet in Vancouver.

Thursday 16 April 2009

30 - Wendy Darroch

Although never a Toronto Sun Family member, Wendy Darroch contributed to the start-up of the Toronto Sun's court bureau with guidance and a sense of humour.

Wendy, who died from cancer April 9 in Nanaimo, B.C., at 70, spent more than 20 years in the Toronto Star's court bureau. She was always professional, but never too busy for a joke and a smile.

Wendy and Gary Oakes were the Star's crack court bureau team when Sun city editor Les Pyette decided it was time the tabloid set up its own court bureau in the 1970s.

The Sun had a justice columnist, Alan Anderson, but relied on the wire services for major court stories coming out the numerous downtown Toronto courtrooms.

Fiercely competitive, Wendy and Gary surrendered no information that would jeopardize cases they would be covering, but both were generous in providing general information about contacts and the daily process.

Wendy and Gary, 67 and now retired, took a lot of pressure off the Sun's court bureau start-up process and it was much appreciated.

Once settled, the two-person Sun court bureau had to be on their toes daily to keep up with Wendy, Gary and the Globe and Mail's court reporter.

The competition was tough - and motivating. Sun readers were served well with daily court coverage that continues today with Sam Pazzano in charge.

OT: Simply Susan

A feel-good moment to share.

LFP shuffle

You would think a panel discussion in London with a Sun Media op-ed columnist among the guest speakers would be a lock for coverage in the London Free Press. Not.

Editor-in-chief Paul Berton has explained why his Sun Media newspaper did not assign a reporter to the April 13 panel discussion on free speech with speakers Ezra Levant, Kathy Shaidle and Sun columnist Salim Mansur. The event attracted about 300 people.

Berton's reply, in part, to the sender of one letter to the editor:

"The event was discussed and considered. It was never actually rejected, but simply didn't make the cut, for reasons, as you have so astutely observed, mostly related to staffing.

"That is not unique. You should know there are dozens of other events each year attended by 300 or more people that we also do not cover, mostly for similar reasons, although space and timing are also factors."

So yes, booking a Sun Media guest speaker does not guarantee you Sun Media press coverage.

How are sparsely populated Sun Media newsrooms affecting the quality of news coverage? Let us count the ways . . .

Say what?

TSF isn't sure if this anonymous comment about the Toronto Sun's coverage of the Woodstock story is from management, but if it is, we stand by our news judgment comments, here and here.

The posted comment:

"Beg your pardon, but don't question our "news judgment."

"We have been covering Tori's disappearance, but as per the convergence mantra, the Toronto Sun doesn't send its staff to cover something in one of our sister papers' locations.

"Unfortunately, the London Free Press writes stories geared for the broadsheet London Free Press and not for the chain. So sometimes we've used CP copy, yes.

"As for the website, remember there's only one person working on it."

We rest our case.

Sun Media owns the Woodstock Sentinel-Review, London Free Press and the Toronto Sun and as a team effort, there should be blanket coverage of the search for Tori in all three print newspapers and the Internet.

Admitting the London Free Press is writing for the LFP and not for the chain, and only one person is working on the website, reflects the sad state of Sun Media newsroom manpower and we feel your pain.

But with what manpower has been available in Woodstock, London and Toronto, and the Canadian Press for backup if needed, why the slow start and minimal Sun coverage of the national story? (London content has been used in the Sun.)

The minimal Sun coverage - it didn't begin in print until Saturday - comes down to news judgment and, in our view, it has been lacking. Somebody finally got Joe Warmington down to Woodstock for a Sun column Tuesday - six days after Tori vanished.

Compare today's continuing Toronto Star coverage from Woodstock by staff reporter at; Christie Blatchford's second Globe and Mail column from Woodstock and today's Sun coverage from Bruce Urquhart, a Woodstock Sentinel-Review reporter.

We're puzzled by the LFP comments from the TSF reader. Is PKP's budding QMI Agency not designed to share the content of all Sun Media newspapers across Canada?

If QMI is going to be CP-free and dependent on shared content, the restrictive, shoestring Woodstock coverage does not bode well for future major news efforts.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Odds & ends

It's official: Pirates in the Toronto Sun sports department have hijacked prime news space, including the front page, to the detriment of major news coverage. Readers have noticed and are writing letters to the editor.

The Calgary Sun introduced its revamped web site today with "a full slate of Internet bells and whistles." Looking good, less claustrophobic. And what is the top story on the Calgary site? The latest news from Woodstock in the search for missing eight-year-old Victoria "Tori" Stafford.

TSF's Trash talk posting on Sunday has attracted 20 comments about newsroom employees in Peterborough being asked to trash their own garbage. We think the bottom line is PKP's lack of respect for journalists and journalism, i.e. creating sweatshop newsrooms under the guise of tough economic times while bidding for ownership of the Montreal Canadiens.

Fagstein, the Montreal Gazette blogger keeping readers on top of the Journal de Montreal lockout (let us know when year one has passed), takes a look at the synergy of Sun Media. "It’s being described as 'synergy', but it basically means replacing local jobs with fewer, lesser-paid jobs at larger production centres." Fagstein is an in-a-nutshell kind of blogger.

The online heading read: Quebecor to slash up to 111 jobs. Not more media jobs, we thought. No, it is a Quebecor World commercial printing plant in Memphis that is being closed. For the record, the Memphis Daily News story says Quebecor World, now in bankruptcy, has 67 facilities in 26 U.S. states, according to its 2008 annual report.

The Globe and Mail gave John Paton a nod this week for being named Editor & Publisher's Publisher of the Year. "From copy boy to top publisher" says the headline in the Nobody's Business feature.

Online comments at are not moderated, but after viewing an erroneous, slanderous comment about a former Sun employee that remained online for several hours the other day, perhaps they should be. If not moderated, viewed hourly for inappropriate content.

The Sun's online comment notice reads: Comments posted to are not moderated. The Toronto Sun reserves the right to remove all comments that violate these guidelines and/or the Toronto Sun's terms and conditions. By posting a comment on this website, you agree that you will comply with the Toronto Sun's terms and conditions, which may be found here. In particular, you agree that you will not post comments containing defamatory or obscene material or any material prohibited by the laws of Canada.

But what if the terms and conditions are not met. How soon will someone at the Sun notice?

White towel?

The Toronto Sun appears to have thrown in the towel with its coverage of Woodstock's missing eight-year-old girl.

The only online story this morning on is a Canadian Press story by Allison Jones. No Sun Media input from its own Woodstock Sentinel-Review, London Free Press and Sun, just CP. So pardon us for once again asking where's the news judgment?

Joe Warmington's journey to Woodstock produced a column Tuesday - six days after Victoria "Tori" Stafford vanished. Is that it for Sun input?

Meanwhile, other Toronto media have not given up on the national story:

Today's Toronto Star coverage by , a staff reporter;

The Globe and Mail's Christie Blatchford reports today from Woodstock;

The National Post has a Canwest story today by Jordana Huber.

It is week one without Tori for her family, friends and the community. Kudos to Sentinel-Review staff for videos being viewed by hundreds of YouTube visitors.

Tough job, but

Positive media:

If all goes well on the cabin-booking front, 10 Globe and Mail executives and writers will join several hundred other passengers in August for a 14-day Globe and Mail Mediterranean Odyssey.

A recent glossy brochure in the Globe outlined the agenda for a maximum of 400 passengers, costing $9,999 to $31,449, including air fare, food and beverages etc. The cover reads "Only 400 people in the world will be able to tell this story."

Passengers paying $14,549 to $31,449 get their own butler for the journey to Turkey, Crete, Malta, Sicily, Italy, Corsica and Monaco. (Last year, the Globe's 10-day odyssey was to the Caribbean.)

Globe hosts on board from Aug. 21 to Sept. 4: Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO, Edward Greenspon, editor-in-chief, and writers Christie Blatchford, Ian Brown, Beppi Crosariol, Eric Reguly, Elizabeth Renzetti, Lisa Rochon, Doug Saunders and Lucy Waverman.

After months of doom and gloom coverage of the faltering economy and print media woes, what a perfectly positive adventure to rise above all of the negativity.

Bon voyage.

Doug Creighton, for one, would have floated this media-inspired cruise, joining his best writers without hesitation. Media management is much more than the bottom line.

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Travel limits 2

Ian Harvey, a former Toronto Sun vet now freelancing, recalls our 1970s limits that were ignored when the story demanded travel by the troops:

"Well, it is kinda back to the future, when the Sun first started - and even when I joined Jan 1, 1979 - travel was tight, the phone was king.

"We even had a standing order for reporters who traveled on junkets, for the paper or even on vacation, to bring back phone books for the library from the city or country they were visiting.

"That way, we could use them on stories without having to go through directory assistance, which eventually also started charging for numbers.

"Then we got the long distance billing thing in which we had to go through an operator every time we made a long distance call. Frustrating, when you're chasing a big one by phone.

"Pinching back was how the Sun started. It was on a shoestring. But it wasn't by choice, it was by necessity. They just didn't have the money.

"Even then, when big stories hit somehow the money was found and we sent people . . . the top people . . . because travel was a perq.

"And you know what? It carved out the Sun's rep as a paper that would go the distance to get the stories that mattered first hand.

"Not a bad business model.

"As John Paton is quoted in the Globe this morning celebrating his award by E&P as Publisher of the Year: "If you commit bad journalism, you're not going to be around very long."

"Money or no money, there is no one size fits all rule . . . if the story is big enough to matter, it's big enough to cover . . . cost be damned. And you can't cover a big story without a photog and a reporter at ground zero.

". . . Not going for the story, or not going for other stories because they're too far, costs too much.

"If the story matters to the readers, it matters to the bean counters because no readers means no ads. No ads means even the bean counters lose their jobs."

Thanks for your input, Ian.

Travel limits

Sun Media's stranglehold on travel expenses has noticeably affected coverage of the missing eight-year-old girl in Woodstock, a national story fumbled big time by the Toronto Sun.

Not one Sun columnist was assigned to Woodstock in the days after Victoria “Tori” Stafford vanished last Wednesday, but we hear that might change today with a column by Joe Warmington.

If Joe is on the scene, it's about bloody time.

The Sun has been using mostly copy from the London Free Press, which a source says has been limited to telephone calls instead of on-the-scene coverage in Woodstock - a half hour away.

Meanwhile, Woodstock Sentinel-Review staff have been multi-tasking non-stop, with little credit for the coverage in other Sun media.

"Sun Media's new 'territory' rules has left Woodstock's Elliot Ferguson reporting, shooting video and shooting stills for the past three days on the story," says a source.

"Elliot has done an admirable job, actually a great job virtually by himself," says the source. "He should be royally commended for his efforts.

"LFP people have been working phones and writing, but are not allowed to travel the 30 minutes to Woodstock territory. So anything the LFP writers have done is over the phone."

The Sun is also hesitant to use text or photos from the Canadian Press.

It appears if a major story doesn't fall on Toronto's doorsteps - as did Michele Mandel's national story about the baby heart transplant drama - newsroom staffers are being told to stay put and use the phone.

It is theatre of the absurd.

Sunday 12 April 2009

Trash talk

Peterborough Examiner employees have been asked to take out their own trash now that the veteran cleaning lady's hours have been slashed, says a TSF tipster.

The tipster writes:

"Employees at the Peterborough Examiner have now been asked to be custodians as well as writers, editors and photographers. The contract cleaning lady who has been at the Examiner for years and years just had her hours cut way back.

"To compensate, the publisher has asked that staff take out their own trash. In the hallway leading into the newsroom, there are several big blue bins labeled 'paper, plastic and garbage.'

"A number of employees are insulted and disgusted at this latest cost-saving measure. Last we checked, custodian wasn't in our job description.

"On top of this, it's rumoured we are losing our water cooler. I guess they would rather us pay $1.50 for water from the vending machine."

Nothing PKP does to squeeze more nickels and dimes out of his newspapers surprises us these days. Slashing the hours of a cleaning lady is just another insult.

When, oh when, are Sun Media employees going to stop what they are doing and shout "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore."

Howard Beale would be oh, so proud.

As he said: "All I know is that first, you've got to get mad. You've gotta say, "I'm a human being, goddammit. My life has value."

Twitter Tim

Columnists for the Globe and Mail and the Vancouver Sun say Twitter has jumped the shark and is beginning to fade into the sunset.

Just when we got started.

But from what we have viewed this week, there are still ample interesting tweets to read if just for a quick laugh or a video to view.

Here's what Toronto Sun cartoonist Tim Peckham has to say about Twitter:

"I love twitter! (@timpeckham)

"As a cartoonist, I first felt that Twitter was an exercise in creative writing. Each tweet I tried to make like a little cartoon. Then I got the idea to create a cartoon character and twitter as him like an actor in character. (@shrago)

"It feels the same as cartooning. I write a little joke here and there as the day goes on. But I don't have to draw anything."

Saturday 11 April 2009

Sarnia's changes

The publisher of the Sarnia Observer updates readers today on recent changes to the daily newspaper and announces the paper's printing operations are moving to London.

"As a member of Sun Media, the Observer has taken advantage of many corporate synergies in recent weeks," says Daryl C. Smith. "The Observer's printing operations are moving to the London Free Press. In order to accommodate these changes, we will be making your Saturday newspaper flyer-free which will allow us to complete home delivery in the city by noon."

(Sarnia is about an hour's drive from London in favourable weather. Winter storms? Ask Quebecor how the Mirabel-Ottawa deliveries worked out in winter before the Ottawa Sun regained its press operations. )

Complaints about Sun Media's new slate of comics have been widespread, but what is Smith saying about the comics here?

"Many of our readers have commented on recent changes to our national comics page. Many of you have expressed concerns about the difficulty of our new crossword puzzle. We have taken your concerns to heart and you will be seeing some changes in the puzzle beginning soon."

Just changes to the puzzle, not the comics lineup?

The lone comment below the lengthy online story reads:

"Yet not a single word on how many people will lose their jobs. The ranks of the unemployed continue to grow."

Friday 10 April 2009

Another farewell

Sue Capon, the one and only editor at Sun Media's weekly Picton County Weekly News, is calling it quits this week.

The paper's lengthy online farewell says Capon has been an editor at Prince Edward County newspapers under various owners for 25 years and was founding editor of the County Weekly News when it was launched in 2000.

The following quote speaks volumes for why she has decided to quit:

"Coming changes to the way the newspaper will be created presented me opportunity to embrace change in my own life. So while I leave the County Weekly with a heavy heart, I am optimistic there will be exciting, interesting adventures yet to come."

Ross Lees is the incoming editor of the former Osprey Media weekly.

Kudos to staff for giving Sue a proper sendoff.

Good Friday? Not

Noticeably absent in today's Toronto Sun print edition: An update on the search for an eight-year-old Woodstock girl who vanished Wednesday and also Mark Bonokoski's column.

Upfront space was available for stories about cats and dogs and the continuing bad economy, (yawn), but not for the desperate search for Victoria “Tori” Stafford, 8, and news that Oxford police have video of the girl walking with an unidentified woman.

It is a national story. The Sun should be all over it, including columnist coverage, or are they assuming everyone will read the updates online?

We were looking forward to reading Bono's promised piece about Moe Jiwani, a missing Oakville millionaire, but it was MIA.

Bonokoski Twittered today: "The "new" world of newspapers. Today's scheduled column held back because of "space reasons," despite a "news" angle. Very frustrating."

Solid front page story about the Stoney Creek kids being "held prisoner," but news judgment lacking elsewhere.

Missing girl vid

Visited a couple of online media sites today that reported the availability of police video in the disappearance of a missing Woodstock girl, but did not provide a link to the video.

The London Free Press was on top of it, leading with a Breaking News story and the video. The Toronto Sun, instead of providing the video, sends its readers to the LFP site. The Sun did not have a story in the print edition today.

Victoria “Tori” Stafford, 8, has been missing since Wednesday. The more eyes that see this video, the better. Not including the video online is shabby news coverage.

Note: A correction is included above the video, saying the suspect is wearing a while jacket and black pants.

A Black farewell

The Edmonton Sun steps up to the plate to bid farewell to David Black, 58, a Day Oner who retires today as publisher and CEO.

Today's story reads, in part:

The Edmonton Sun is bidding farewell to a good friend.

Publisher and CEO David Black is retiring after nearly four decades in the newspaper industry.

"After 37 years, it is time to sit back and let someone else captain the ship," said Black, who began his career as a junior ad salesman at the Toronto Sun in 1971.

Meanwhile, a Calgary Sun story today fails to mention Black's exit in announcing the appointment of Gord Norrie to the new executive role of Senior Group Publisher for Calgary and Edmonton.

The story says Norrie will be publisher and CEO of the Edmonton Sun, the Calgary Sun and the 24 hours dailies in both cities.

It also says Norrie has served as publisher of both papers in the past.

A heavy workload, nonetheless.
Click here to find out more!

Great Ideas awards

Sun Media's Northumberland Today, the three-in-one paper out Cobourg way, has won three Canadian Newspaper Association Great Ideas Awards.

Kudos, with information from the story, for a:

First place in Advertising Print (small market under 25,000) for Secretly Followed Santa: A new approach to the annual Christmas Gift Guide, a hit with local businesses.

Second place in Special sections/Magazines for Beautiful magazine: Launched in December, it features profiles of innovative, successful county women in entrepreneurial businesses. Written by staff writer Valerie MacDonald. Sales Manager was Marcia Atkinson, photos by Ted Amsden, magazine layout by Darren Catherwood. Editorial director was Mandy Martin.

Third place place in the same category for the Highway of Heroes section: A four-page photo feature last Remembrance Day, featuring photos by Pete Fisher, and individual DND portraits of every fallen Afghanistan soldier. Sponsored by Thomas Pontiac, with a full-page, 1940s wartime ad from their archives. Editorial director was Mandy Martin.

The three awards were from 110 submissions.

"These awards reflect not only on the creativity and vision of our small staff, but on the faith that our readers and advertisers have in us," publisher Gordon Brewerton said. "For our small group to better media giants such as the Toronto Star, the Montreal Gazette, and the Calgary Herald, is something that the entire County of Northumberland can be proud of."

Excellent, positive community newspaper input by one and all. We're wondering if any of the employees recently trimmed from the staff worked on the winning entries.

Moonlight Ladies

Male Toronto Sun readers who are beyond the demographics are probably clicking their heels over the first cheeky, innovative idea at the tabloid in years.

Moonlight Ladies.

If you missed it, catch Mike Strobel's column on Thursday for the backgrounder on a suggestion from a female reader that older women be featured SUNshine Girl style. (Why is the Moonlight Lady photo in the print edition not online? The absence of key photos online is irritating.)

A regular Moonlight Lady, say Monday, Wednesday and Friday, would certainly be a refreshing break from pole dancers, aspiring models and other younger women, most photographed with dangling belly bling.

The Sun has dabbled with older women over the years, but not as a regular feature.

Is there an interest in older women? Google "mature women" and you get 15,000,000 results, although poses in 14.99 million of those sites would not be suitable in print.

Hugh Wesley, the award-winning former Toronto Sun photographer/photo editor, can provide guidelines for shooting older women. He snaps an annual fundraising calendar featuring women in a retirement home.

We've lost some favourite features in the tabloid. It is time to try something new, like the good old days.

Thursday 9 April 2009


It is been a fruitful day after signing up for Twittering.

Seven Toronto Sun Family Twitterers have sent their links: Mark Bonokoski (TorSun), Darren "Woody" McGee (Star), Rob Tripp (Whig), Kate Dubinski (LFP), Neate Sager (OttSun), William Wolfe-Wylie (?), Steve Groves (LFP).

(See our new sidebar links list.)

We also discovered CanMediaLayoffs, which is focusing on print and broadcast media layoffs across the country. The host provides a brief heading for layoffs announced, followed by links to original sources, includingTSF, which earns our immediate respect.

The Vancouver Sun's Peter McMartin wrote a column about Tweeter this week. His conclusion after two weeks of tweets at the goading of his boss: More "noise" for a noisy 21st century. He has signed off.

Our initial take on Tweeter is, much like blogging, Facebooking, MySpacing etc., there will be some gems among the many stones. It is weeding out the stones that consumes more computer time.

Taking time off away from the computer, picking up the papers and a sub and sitting by the lake to catch up on the news is what makes our day. Maybe we'll tweet that. It's under 140 characters.

PKP & BC pols

Straight from the Georgia Straight, a 24 hours shortfall in landing B.C. government ads.

Charlie Smith writes:

In 2005, (Pierre Karl) Peladeau announced a partnership with billionaire Jimmy Pattison to launch 24 hours in Vancouver.

With Peladeau's deep pockets and the strength of the B.C. economy at the time, it probably had reasonable prospects for success.

But there was a problem. The B.C. government and its Crown corporations wouldn't place very many ads in Peladeau's new Vancouver publication. Pattison dumped his interest in 24 hours back to Peladeau's company quite some time ago when he realized it wouldn't generate any big returns anytime soon.

For the rest of the story:

Sarnia -pressroom

A TSF tipster's tip tonight says "Sarnia Press Room CLOSING, moving to London."

That would be Sun Media's Sarnia Observer, a former Osprey newspaper.

Please provide more details re number of employees and whether it is the press room or pre-press.

The tipster's update: "Press room. Most ads made somewhere else. Plate making all done by press staff. Some offered jobs in London."

OK, we're Twits

We just signed up for Twitter input, but not quite sure how we can use it for this blog.

The Twitter address is @TorontoSunFam if that is the info needed to get this into orbit.

The first person we are following is Sun columnist Mark Bonokoski, who at 9:51 p.m. Wednesday wrote: "In a Belleville motel room, with a cold pizza, and watching the Sens put the last nail in the Canadiens coffin."

Ah, the life of a big city daily columnist. Who else at the Sun is on Twitter? Wonder if PKP is into sharing his whereabouts day and night? Surely he is not in a motel room eating cold pizza.

Sun Media employees on Twitter are invited to publicize their handles here. Joe Warmington's day on Twitter would no doubt be eventful. Definitely Mike Strobel.

We can see Twitter being an asset in reporter-reader updates during breaking news stories. Brief updates from the news front etc. Exclusive insights.

Hi tech communication in the 21st century is both a novelty and a nuisance.

Blogger John Downing vents his anger over boors with cell phones in his latest Downing's Views posting. It is an insufferable - and sometimes fatal - epidemic on the streets, in vehicles, on public transit.

Bell loves 'em in the hands of chatty Cathys, but enough, already. Focus on walking, focus on driving, focus on your surroundings.

Back to Tweeting. Sitting here at 1:24 a.m. eating a banana, listening to WBZ Steve talking about newspapers. Exciting, eh?

Perhaps Tweets on the go will be as distracting as cell phone calls and texting.

Time will tell.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Sat. ed saved

Reader and advertiser demand for the Belleville Intelligencer's Saturday edition has secured its future, the newspaper's publisher said today in a story by Luke Hendry.

The Intelligencer’s Saturday edition will continue thanks to overwhelming public demand, and both the Friday and Saturday editions will soon have expanded arts and sports sections, says John Knowles.

That is the positive attitude called for to weather this storm.

Knowles said dropping the Saturday edition "was only under consideration" by the newspaper’s managers, and public feedback made it clear one less paper a week wasn’t the answer.

"Our readers, and our advertisers too, have let us know they like the Saturday product,” said Knowles. “They want us to be six days a week.

“There’s a lot of things we were considering to weather the current economic storm but our first consideration has to be customer service.”

That excellent piece of news for the newspaper and its readers follows a local radio report Monday saying the Saturday edition would be toast as of April 25.

Other good news for Intell readers: Starting April 17, more Friday sports coverage and a larger arts section.

Standing by the Intelligencer, six days a week.

McKay to Barrie

Tim McKay, a former Toronto Sun sports desk editor, has been hired by Sun Media to work at the new Barrie centre, a TSF tipster says.

An internal memo to publishers says, in part: "The addition of Tim will add another level of sports expertise to our staff as well as someone who has worked at a community daily in our chain previously. Once Tim gets up to speed, we will begin adding more shared pages for your use including a half page of business news."

Tim was editor of the Woodstock Sentinel-Review before he moved to the Sun in 2005.

Fowler study

Neil Fowler, the Toronto Sun's former publisher and CEO, will tackle a study of the decline of regional newspapers in England next year, says Guardian blogger Roy Greenslade.

Greenslade says the one-year Guardian research fellowship at Nuffield College, Oxford, begins in October 2010.

Fowler, 52, knows the news biz. Prior to his two-year Sun run, his UK editing jobs included the Lincolnshire Echo, the Derby Evening Mail, the Journal in Newcastle and the Cardiff-based Western Mail.

After leaving the Toronto Sun suddenly in the fall of 2005, he became editor of Which? magazine in January of 2006, returning to his UK roots. He left Which? last November saying he needed a break from editing..

TSF's first Tweet

Confirmation today that Quebecor is actively pursuing the purchase of the Montreal Canadiens prompted TSF's first Tweet.

@enThrall tweeted this about 5 minutes ago:
Lockouts, Canada-wide cuts, the death of print and THIS? RT @calgaryherald Quebecor wants 2 buy the Montreal Canadiens

(I was a freelancer at a Quebecor-owned Alberta weekly who was told "we no longer employ freelancers" about two weeks after the managing editor was canned. All of the town's news is now reported by a 22-year-old who graduated J-school six months ago, and all pieces are edited/laid out in another town.)

Thanks for the Tweet.

The Canadiens - another toy for PKP to play with while his sliced and diced media empire is asked to cope with heavy cutbacks.

EdSun losing pub.

Another key Sun Media player is calling it quits.

David Black, publisher of the Edmonton Sun has announced his retirement effective this Friday, says a memo from Gordon Norrie, publisher and CEO, Senior Group Publisher

"You should also be aware that I will (again) take over the role of publisher & CEO for both Calgary and Edmonton," Norrie says in the memo, sent to TSF by a tipster.

In January, it was Black who confirmed that Graham Dalziel, the Edmonton Sun's editor-in-chief, had resigned.

Dalziel, a Day Oner, was rumoured to have resigned over numerous jobs lost at the tabloid on Black Tuesday.

Black, 58, publisher of the Edmonton Sun since January of 2008, is also an EdSun Day Oner. He got his start in the Sun family in 1971 as a Toronto Sun ad sales rep.

Another Sun vet gone in his 50s, no doubt with still much more to give the newspaper he loved.

All the best, Dave.

Comments about Black and his departure can be e-mailed to TSF.

TorSun award

Take a bow Brett Clarkson, Tom Godfrey, Brian Gray, Rob Lamberti, Don Peat and Jenny Yuen, winners of a 2008 best news story award.

The six Toronto Sun reporters will receive the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters' Association on May 11. It is for team coverage of the fatal Sunrise propane explosion in August.

Two of the recipients, Peat and Yuen, were on the layoff list in December, but their jobs were saved by buyouts.

Congrats to all.

Stand By Us

Two different TSF topics this week - the music video Stand By Me and John Paton's comments in reply to a TSF posting - comfortably merged in our thoughts.

Said John:

"I often wonder what Doug Creighton would do. For sure, he would have taken a much more humane approach to the staff, but it is not clear to me if there would be one more employee at Sun Media than there is now if JDC was still in charge."

Much more humanely, indeed.

To Doug, the Sun was family and he would have stood by each and every one of us, avoiding layoffs if he could. If layoffs became unavoidable, he would do it with sincere remorse and, as was his nature, he would go out of his way to comfort the casualties with words or in letters.

Doug, who died in 2004, would stand by us as we stood by him when he was ousted in a power struggle in 1992. He would not be abandoning the formula he and 61 other former Toronto Telegram employees introduced in November of 1971 that turned the upstart tabloid into a North America print media success story.

Doug would not endorse gutting Sun Media newspapers in favour of regional "centres of excellence" staffed by fresh-out-of-college beginners at the cost of hundreds of jobs in all departments and solely designed to improve the bottom line.

He would probably question the need for any cutbacks at the Toronto Sun when it is profitable.

Doug's passionately loyal employees would certainly stand by him in leaner times, knowing he stood by them through the good times, sharing the profits, providing excellent benefits, sabbaticals after 10 years service, inviting open dialogue and being proud of their personal achievements.

Doug would be encouraging participation in local, provincial and national media awards to allow competitors to feel good about their professionalism and their work. When he felt the NNAs were biased against the Sun, he established the Dunlop Awards to keep employees motivated.

Doug, as a veteran newsman, would not allow newsrooms to become the anemic sweatshops they are today because of endless cutbacks. He would have ventured into the Internet, but not at the expense of print journalism.

In a nutshell, Doug would have stood by his employees. They would not be reduced to mere numbers in a ledger, their lives and careers destroyed at the cold stroke of a pen.

Sun Media would be much different in this economic downturn if run by Doug and other true blue newspaper people. The newspapers would be focused on local news, with adequate staff and the full needs of readers and advertisers in mind. They would be trying harder, with innovations to meet these changing times, not bleeding the papers of all that was right with them pre-Quebecor.

And, we would note, PKP's vision of a centralized media empire came long before this current recession began in 2007. It came years before the current decline in advertising.

What has been happening at newspapers across the chain since Quebecor bought it in 1999 has much more to do with cost-cutting centralization and improving the bottom line than economic necessity. It has eaten up all of the loyalty and dedication spawned in the early years.

Ditto for much of the former Osprey Media chain, purchased in 2007. The Toronto Sun, the flagship tabloid, is a mere pup compared to some of the Osprey papers that are being downsized almost weekly.

The Kingston Whig-Standard turned 175 this year, dammit. It surely has seen previous downturns without being eviscerated.

But the bottom line is Sun Media is PKP's football. He can kick it around until it is flat and useless and there is nothing anyone in the once proud newspaper chain can do or say to change it, although we'd like to hear much more outrage from employees on record and union reps.

People keeping this blog alive can only highlight the ongoing carnage and recall the days when the ship was helmed by people like Doug. People who, to the bottom of their hearts, were newspaper people who cared about the product and the people packaging it.

As for centralization, someone in the Belleville area said it all. He buys the Sun, Belleville Intelligencer and Kingston Whig-Standard, but is enjoying the papers less because a lot of the content now appears in all three newspapers.

It is detached, cookie cutter newspapering, with more to come.

We'll always have Doug and the glory years in our hearts. It is just a damn shame so much of what was right at 333 and the Sun's siblings has been dimmed.

Kirkland's shorts

Bruce Kirkland, the Toronto Sun's prolific film and DVD critic, shows up on YouTube discussing a slasher flick and seven other shorts screened at a recent festival.

The seven-minute Wildsound Feedback Film Festival audience feedback clip is for a short called Cut Down.

Kingston Whig -9

More cuts this week, this time nine employees in the Kingston Whig Standard's production department.

"The Whig lost nine out of their production department today (Tuesday)," says a TSF tipster.

The ever shrinking former Osprey Media newspapers are being hit by layoffs almost weekly as more and more positions are moved to the new regional offices in Barrie, London, Woodstock etc.

Where's the bottom for Sun Media layoffs, closures, papers merging, dropping days from publishing schedules etc?

Much more to come from PKP et al, apparently.

Memo time

This memo, says a reliable TSF tipster, comes from the desk of Glenn Garnett:

Subject: Coming soon . . . national business page

Folks: From the people who brought you the daily Comment and Comics pages comes an exciting new half-broadsheet page looking at the daily catastrophe that is the national and world economy.

This new centralized Money page, produced by your friends at the London Free Press and assisted by our central graphics desk, will include the story and business picture of the day, briefs, market indicators, scary graphics and more, and will be posted to the bulletin board Tuesdays through Fridays.

We expect to begin moving this daily PDF beginning the week of April 20 - more details to follow.


Tuesday 7 April 2009

Att. Peter Hall

Attention Peter Hall re your recent comment posted on TSF:

"Do you have Peter Hall's email? I'd like to contact him about Ray Munro. I've read Ray Munro's fascinating book about his adventures in B.C. etc.

"I also talked to Ernie Miller a few months before he died when I saw him and his wife at a London Majors' baseball game at historic Labatt Park.

"Thanks, Butch McLarty,, London, Ontario."

John Paton 2

In congratulating John Paton, named Editor & Publisher's Publisher of the Year for 2009, TSF made mention of his involvement in the sale of Sun Media to Quebecor.

We wrote: Well, says TSF, nobody is perfect re the sale of Sun Media to Quebecor.

John replied to the comment today, saying:

"I seem to remember wild, and I mean, wild applause when the management group sold the company to Quebecor. Followed by jubilant front pages and a cartoon by Donato with a knife in the shape of a fleur-de-lys stabbing a bow-tie (representing John Honderich of Torstar).

"What does anyone think Quebecor should have done differently from Torstar in the intervening years considering what has been happening to our industry?

"The challenges facing the newspaper industry are profound. Quebecor is trying to face those challenges. As is TorStar and any other newspaper company.

"I think it is more important to assess if those challenges are being met than just giving voice to the anger and pain many - justifiably - feel. We can’t have what he had before. It doesn’t exist anywhere, let alone Sun Media.

"I often wonder what Doug Creighton would do. For sure, he would have taken a much more humane approach to the staff, but it is not clear to me if there would be one more employee at Sun Media than there is now if JDC was still in charge.

"Doug had worked at the Telegram and knew what it meant to work with ownership that would not respond to change."

Meanwhile, the London Free Press congratulates John, former Free Press publisher, in today's paper.

Two quotes from John in the Free Press story:

"I'm smart enough to leave the journalists alone. My job is to make the company strong enough financially to allow them to pursue their craft."


"At the end of the day what's most important is doing journalism well, and the companies that will survive are the ones that fund good journalism."

Creighton or Quebecor?

Soo Star -3

Three Sault Star vets with over 50 years of experience combined have been pink-slipped, their pre-press jobs being moved to the regional centre in Barrie, says a tipster.

"Their computers were moved to Barrie over the weekend," says the tipster. "That's eight jobs lost here to regionalization/cutbacks since mid December."

The tipster didn't name names.

The Sault Star is Joe Warmington's old turf. Don't get him riled.

AP vs pirates

Quote of the week:

"We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under some very misguided, unfounded legal theories," said Dean Singleton, the AP's chairman and the chief executive of newspaper publisher MediaNews Group Inc. "We are mad as hell, and we are not going to take it any more."

Re AP board touts new effort to fight Web news piracy

Monday 6 April 2009

Stand By Me

A big thanks to Ian Harvey for posting this amazing international Stand By Me video on his blog. It was released in November. In case you missed it:

Stand By Me is from the award-winning Playing For Change: Peace Through Music documentary, which goes on sale April 28 along with a CD version.

We will forward it to Mark Bonokoski. It is his favourite song and he recorded his own version for charity. His duets with Toronto Sun alumni Brian Vallee at parties were memorable.

While watching it, we thought what the perfect song for world leaders to sing at the G20 summit, breaking into song after their group photo.

And that raises this question: Can Barack Obama carry a tune?

Also give a listen to One Love from the documentary, which is a fundraising project to "help build schools, connect students, and inspire communities in need through music."

And Don't Worry.

Paton Pub. of 09

Editor & Publisher has named John Paton Publisher of the Year for 2009, another impressive resume bullet for a man whose print media career began in 1977 as a Toronto Sun copy boy.

Paton, chairman and CEO of the New York based impreMedia, launched the first successful U.S. Hispanic newspaper, print and digital company five years ago.

A great quote from E&P's story explains what TSF members have asked him:

"People ask me, how can this Canadian who can't speak Spanish come in here and think he can fix this company?" El Diario Publisher and CEO Rossana Rosado says in the E&P feature. "I tell them, John doesn't speak Spanish - but he speaks newspaper."

It is the first time E&P has honoured the publisher of Spanish-language newspapers.

The E&P story also says:

He began his career as a copy boy at the Toronto Sun, and climbed the ladder through editorial leadership positions. Paton was assigned to turn around the struggling Ottawa Sun, and was a figure in the $400 million management leveraged buyout of its parent, Sun Media Corp., and its subsequent initial public offering. In 1999, he was instrumental in selling Sun Media to Quebecor for $1.3 billion, creating the second-largest newspaper company in Canada.

Well, says TSF, nobody is perfect re the sale of Sun Media to Quebecor.

Congrats, John.

Woodstock pag. ad

The regionalization of Sun Media newspapers continues, with a new ad for Woodstock's pagination centre.

The classified ad in the London Free Press:

Sun Media is looking for a number of full and part time graphic artists for its Woodstock pagination centre.

Reporting directly to the Woodstock Sentinel-Review managing editor and regional managing editor, this position paginates a variety of news, sports, entertainment, specialty and common pages for a number of Sun Media print publications.

The successful candidate must be available to work a variety of shifts as assigned. The ideal candidate will:

Be self-motivated and work well with others in a team environment possess the ability to organize work to meet multiple deadlines always follows industry "best practices."

Preferred skill set:
Graduate of graphic design program
Minimum two years experience at a newspaper or equivalent in depth knowledge of Adobe products, Mac OSX

Resumes to John Chambers, regional managing editor by April 12.

Interviews will be held the week of April 13.

Intell -Saturday ed.

The Belleville Intelligencer has taken some heavy hits in recent weeks and news today from Mix 97 is its Saturday edition will be dropped as of April 25.

Says the Mix 97 brief:

"What used to arrive daily on your doorstep will be making its way to your home only on weekdays. The Sun Media Corporation’s latest casualty won’t involve staff cuts, but as of April 25 the Intelligencer is cutting its Saturday paper. It’s the latest announcement in a series of cost cutting measures that have seen the axe swing in the editorial and circulation departments in the four Sun Media papers in Quinte."

What did the Intelligencer, a former Osprey Media paper, do to piss off PKP, other than communicate with readers to let them know about staff cutbacks and other changes?

Sunday 5 April 2009

Finally: MBG

Mike Burke-Gaffney, who retired Tuesday after 29 years in the Toronto Sun newsroom, gets a "finally" in Rob Granatstein's column today.

Editor Rob writes:

"Finally, the Sun said goodbye to one of its longest (and longest-serving) drivers this past week. Managing Editor Mike Burke-Gaffney retired and will now restrict his driving to the greens, giving up the daily marathon QEW commute. MBG, as he's affectionately known, is one of the great behind-the-scenes journalists here at the Sun. He also manned the ship on the Sun's most successful nights - Blue Jays' World Series victories. Like all of our recent departees, MBG will be missed in our newsroom. Hit 'em straight, Mike."


Biz notes query

The Toronto Sun's Money page had four "biz notes" on Friday - three with Canadian Press credits and one with an Associated Press credit.

Saturday's Sun also had four biz notes - all with QMI Agency credits.

Are QMI Agency briefs CP and AP rewrites, or original content from the keyboards of Sun Media staffers?

Back in the day at the Sun, copies of the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star would arrive at the city desk by cab fresh off their presses and the city desk would clip and say "make it ours."

Making it ours involved a quick rewrite or some phone calls to add fresh quotes and, most of the time, the rewrites did not credit the competition.

So rewrites from other print media sources are nothing new. We're just wondering if that is how, overnight, all of the biz notes went from CP and AP to QMI.

Fort days trimmed

News from the editor of Sun Media's Fort Saskatchewan Record:

Next week you might notice something different about The Record. We’re re-launching as a weekly newspaper; delivered for free to your doorstep every Thursday and available for free at local gas stations and grocery stores.

The weekly format isn’t a stranger to these pages. For 81 years, The Record was a weekly newspaper – first published on Wednesday, April 5, 1922. We moved to our current twice-weekly format when The Record merged with the This Week in January 2003; just over six years ago.

The re-launch won’t affect the quality of reporting or the photos. It won’t affect the appearance of your favourite columns and features either. Also, as part of the re-launched Record, we’ll be unveiling a new logo, which will reflect the history of this city as well as this newspaper.

We’ll also be adding new features for you to enjoy every week, one of which will look back into our lengthy archives. We know you’ll enjoy the changes. We look forward to continue serving Fort Saskatchewan as its only local Alberta Press Council member for years to come.

See you next Thursday.

Conal MacMillan/Record Editor

Saturday 4 April 2009

Re Ernie Miller

Peter Hall in England has posted a TSF comment on the life and times of Ernie Miller, the late London Free Press sports writer who died in 2007.

He writes:

"Sad, sad, sad. But the memories make up for it.

"Ernie was a pal of mine in 1958 on the Chatham Daily News, where he was sports editor under Ray Munro, Peter Gzowski, Joe Emmott and Dave Shepherd (anyone know what happened to Dave?)

"Ernie and I, an 18-year-old cub reporter sharing a flat at the time with Air Farce's John Morgan, were virtually forced by Ray Munro into some ridiculous journalistic ideas.

"One of them, in which Ernie was cajoled by Munro into promoting and structuring the story of a flying saucer landing in a Chatham field, prompted Morgan to quit after refusing to "cover" such a story, complete with matchsticks around a burned grass circle that had been engineered, allegedly.

"Another time, Munro had Ernie and I stretch a 50-foot long rope pulling a kid's wagon to have the picture run over the top of two pages. Why?

"But we were young and naive and those were the days my friend.

"God bless Ernie.

"And me? I went on to the Brantford Expositor, then Fleet Street where I travelled with the Beatles for a while, and eventually published an English newspaper in Haiti of all places, where few spoke English, and 95% of the population couldn't read anyway.

"I must have been infected with the Munro bug, because it all turned out well in the end, despite Papa Doc's henchmen, 14 invasions, getting thrown out of the communist PM, getting invited back by Baby Doc, and being rescued from house arrest by the Canadian Charge d'Affair . . . and so on.

"There is a book there somewhere. Ernie would have loved those stories."

Thank you for your posting, Peter.