Thursday 27 August 2009

Sherri Woodstock 2

Sherri Wood wasn't a quitter and neither is her mother, Debbie.

Debbie has organized Sherri Woodstock II, a fundraising music fest in memory of her late daughter, a Toronto Sun entertainment writer who died of brain cancer on March 24, 2008.

The second annual Sherri Woodstock will be held this Saturday night at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern at 370 Queen Street West. Tickets are $10 at the door and the fun begins at 9 p.m.

The bands include The Little Millionaires, Brigid Dineen, Clarkson Go and Bowman The Broke Ass Rockstar.

Last year's successful music fest in Sherri's memory was held at the Opera House, with proceeds going to a variety of causes.

Tuesday 25 August 2009

OttSun -2

Updated re farewell bash etc
Ottawa Sun reporters Shane Ross and Beth Johnston are leaving the tabloid for greener pastures, says a TSF tipster.

The tipster didn't say if the departures of the husband and wife are voluntary, but word is they are moving to Charlottetown "to pursue other opportunities."

"Shane was good since he had so much experience. (He) could do news, entertainment, sports and even pinch-hit as the city editor," says the tipster.

Mike Carroccetto, an Ottawa newsman, says there will be a going-away sendoff at the Clocktower Pub on Bank St. this Thursday, "8 p.m. until closing, or sunrise, whatever comes first."

Mike writes: "The two are salt of the earth people - friendly, professional, fun - and great reporters, too. Beth broke many stories, and got people to talk, many of them in distressing situations.

"Shane, as mentioned, sports, arts, pinch-hit wherever needed and does everything at a very high level. Had a chance to work alongside both many times over the past 15 to 16 months (mostly with the competition)

"It's very sad to see them go."

Downing's view

Why did the right-leaning Toronto Sun support Liberal Gerry Phillips over Conservative Jim Brown, a Sun business office Day Oner, in the 1999 provincial election?

John Downing, a Day Oner and former editor, tells TSF:

"There was no great conspiracy involved in the Sun backing Liberal Gerry Phillips over Conservative Jim Brown. It was actually due to the honourable Sun tradition that began right at the start.

"I was involved with the slate editorials from the beginning, and even though I stepped aside as Editor in 1997, I may have still been offering advice when this decision was made. I certainly think it was the right one.

"Jim Brown wasn't just one of the 62 Day Oners, he was considered a key employee and was one of the nine given a special stock deal better than everyone else. But he left early after he was part of a rebellion. That left a bad taste with other Day Oners like Creighton, Worthington, Downing etc.

"He made a fortune and left without doing all the hard work through the 1970s. He did stay in contact with some staffers, but when he started being a political candidate, he acted as if he had a relationship with all of us and should get special consideration. There was no staffer who thought that.

"The bosses, led by Creighton and Worthington, always thought that the Sun political recommendations would have more credibility if we just didn't back conservative/Conservative candidates. Most of our slate choices were Tories, but there were always Grits and socialists.

"I once supported a Communist, and even Worthington agreed that Oscar Kogan, one of the leaders of the party in Canada, was the best choice for trustee in the borough of York. (Kogan told me later he spent considerable time telling voters to vote for him but to ignore everything else the Sun said.)

"I supported Liberal Elinor Caplan over Tory Paul Sutherland, who was merely Paul Godfrey's favourite (and maybe even his godson). Lorrie Goldstein had to weather the storm that Sunday because Godfrey couldn't find me at the cottage to give me shit. When he did find me, I pointed out that Caplan also was a close friend of his family.

"Gerry Phillips was, and is, a Liberal that the Sun likes. He had been chair of the Metro school board, he was active in kids' hockey in Scarboro, and he was sensible. Gerry introduced me to Dalton McGuinty at a party and Dalton stalked off when I told him I thought Gerry would make a better premier.

"So of course the Sun would support Phillips over Brown because we liked Phillips and didn't like Brown, who got more money out of the Sun than 56 Day Oners. And then he left.


And that, as they say, is the rest of the story.

Thanks again, John.

Saturday 22 August 2009

Pembroke -Kelly

Paul Kelly, a Pembroke Observer columnist since 2003, says he will no longer write for the Sun Media newspaper after a second piece on Wal-mart was "silenced."

"For the second time in two weeks the Pembroke Observer has silenced one of its own local columnists," Kelly writes on his blog.

"I have written a locally focused column on-and-off since 2003 - over 250 published columns - and have decided to leave the paper permanently due to censorship."

Kelly says previously, only one column had been pulled and that was in 2005, "ironically over a column condemning Wall-mart's service. And now twice in a row in 2 weeks - but no more."

"This week's and last week's column dealt with Pembroke's opposition to the Wal-mart expansion in Laurentian Valley. Both were stopped."

Kelly said no official reason was given for the refusal to publish either column.

Friday 21 August 2009

CP vs Sun Media

Publishers of some Sun Media community newspapers have had their wrists slapped for using too much Canadian Press copy this summer.

The quote of the day in an internal memo sent to us by a TSF tipster:

"It has become increasingly evident that our relationship with Canadian Press is rapidly deteriorating, it's therefore imperative that we eliminate CP completely from our editorial line-ups."

While many publishers have done an "excellent job of eliminating CP from our papers at the local level," the memo's author says:

"I have, however noticed that a few papers have allowed more CP content to creep in over the last few weeks - no doubt due in part to staffing cuts and vacations, but we must discontinue."

We abhor creeping CP content, but what to do when it is superior to Sun Media efforts?

Sun Media's CP edict must be aimed at papers other than the Sun tabloids because Toronto Sun use of CP stories and photos has been as strong as ever this summer.

With some smaller Sun Media newspapers being managed by employees working out of their homes and numerous other newspapers coping with bare bones newsrooms, how do editors not resort to wire copy that is available?

News is news. If and when QMI develops into a news agency capable of providing nothing but Sun Media copy, then there will be no excuses for the use of external domestic wire copy.

Pardon us if we sound like a broken record, but we doubt QMI will ever fill the CP void with Sun Media newsrooms operating as they are with minimal employees and on shoestring budgets.

Delivery delays?

Confirm or deny: Flooding at Quebecor's Toronto printing plant during yesterday's storm delayed delivery of regional newspapers today?

"So much for putting all the papers under one roof," says a TSF tipster.

Meanwhile, Sun Media is shutting down the presses at Tillsonburg Web on Sept. 11, with at least a dozen pressmen losing their jobs.

Tillsonburg Web, purchased by Sun Media about six years ago in a bidding war against Osprey Media, had been printing 30 to 40 newspapers a week, says a TSF tipster.

With Sun Media moving area newspaper printing to Quebecor's plant in Toronto, Tillsonburg Web's printing press has become dispensable.

"What a shame," says our tipster. "When other plants were closed, Tillsonburg was busy and hired a third shift. This (closure) will account for at least 12 pressmen gone in a very short period."

The tipster wonders about Sun Media buying Tillsonburg Web "for a premium" and then dumping it.

One observation: Buying and closing available printing presses reduces the risk of new independent print newspapers being launched.

Control the presses, minimize the competition.

OttSun -EIC

Mike Therien is stepping aside as the Ottawa Sun's editor-in-chief after five years to focus more on his duties as national editor, employees were advised today.

Therien was EIC at the Toronto Sun before moving to Ottawa.

In a memo to employees, Rick Gibbons, the Ottawa Sun's publisher and CEO, said the responsibilities of national editor "are about to expand significantly for Mike as Sun Media joins its QMI partners in an ambitious project to build and manage a new, cutting-edge bilingual national news agency serving the diverse multi-media content needs of our corporation."

No word on a new fulltime EIC.

Therien will be working fulltime from Sun Media's Parliamentary bureau, with Mitch Axelrad left to manage the newsroom and "other managers will also be expected to take on expanded responsibilities."

Expanded responsibilities: Newsroom chiefs at the ever-shrinking Sun tabloids are hearing that more often these days.

Welcome to the club.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Re Jerry Gladman

Martin Resnick, a writer, says the Toronto Sun's late, great Jerry Gladman should be considered a contender for the 2010 International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Resnick, a seasoned boxing writer, offers a few names for consideration and says this about Gladman, who died from ALS on June 21, 2004, after writing an award-winning series on living and dying with the disease:

"Would also put forward for induction Jerry Gladman, great boxing writer from Toronto, Canada. I feel Jerry was the foremost boxing authority in Canada. He wrote for the Toronto Telegram, Toronto Sun, worked as a young lad for the Toronto Star.

"He and I had long talks about boxing, he knew his stuff. Unfortunately Jerry was taken from us by Lou-Gehrig's Disease at an early age (61). Jerry was 10 years my junior. I miss him.

"He also would be a great addition to the Hall of Fame. I did some work for Jerry when he edited and owned Canadian Pro Am Boxing Magazine. He did most of the writing. I wrote some articles and Jerry published them."

Gladman would be thrilled to be mentioned in Resnick's list.

Around the Toronto Sun newsroom, Jerry talked boxing with the same authority as copy editor Ben Grant talked baseball and sports editor Scott Morrison talked hockey. Walking, talking sports encyclopedias.

As a family man, writer and boxing aficionado, Gladman was never more elated than when all three passions fused when he took one of his sons to an interview with Muhammad Ali. His son ran with Ali during training.

Gladman was a writer, not a fighter, but when he wrote about boxing his prose packed a lot of punch. He was a student of the game back to the 50s and Gillette's Friday Night Fights.

It is heartening to see boxing has not forgotten Jerry Gladman. His family, friends and Sun colleagues certainly haven't. The prolific writer and friend to all is missed.

If Gladman becomes an induction nominee, it would be in the Observers category, which is open to "print and media journalists, publishers, writers, historians, photographers and artists."

Previous Observers inductees include Damon Runyon, Bert Sugar and Budd Schulberg.

The International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y., says members of the Boxing Writers Association of America and an international panel of boxing historians cast votes.

Voters from Japan, England, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Germany, Puerto Rico and the United States are among those who participate in the election process.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Nothing changes

Nick Martin, a Winnipeg Free Press blogger, recalls his days at the Woodstock Sentinel-Review in the 1970s when reporters rewrote London Free Press copy and called it their own.

And radio stations read, verbatim, copy from their local newspapers while trying not to ruffle the papers while on air.

"I’ve been waiting almost 38 years for an editor to tell readers that other media steal our stories and pass them off as their own work," he writes.

"As editor Margo Goodhand wrote Saturday, the area’s largest newspaper is the main source of information — other media plagiarize that information and present it as their own work."

Martin tells some interesting stories, which will mostly ring true to news vets, but scalping the words of the competition is probably as old as journalism itself.

Is blatant scalping ethical? No. Preventable? No. Do newspaper readers, radio listeners and television viewers care? No.

As for the cutting and pasting going on thanks to the Internet, don't get us started. It has become a friggin' free-for-all, especially in sparsely populated newsrooms desperate to fill their online and print news slots.

But if you are going to steal a story, try to be creative.

The trick is to rewrite until all evidence of a story's origin has been removed and, if you have time, get an original quote or two.

It is called covering your asses for the sake of credibility with readers, listeners and viewers.

In our books, a complete rewrite and additional material is not plagiarizing a story. Using content and quotes from another source without revision, that is plagiarism.

TorSun 4 more?

A TSF tipster says 11 Toronto Sun staffers left the building last week, not seven.

If accurate, all the more disheartening.

Any names and positions?

Now, Now

Now Magazine takes a look at Sue-Ann Levy's run for St. Paul's.

Is bad press, good press?

Well, her sit-down on Canoe Live on Sun TV was good press.

Sept. 17. Counting down.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Zink & Brown

Thanks to an anonymous TSF reader, two more former Toronto Sun employees have been added to the list of political candidates: Lubor J. Zink, the late op-ed columnist, and Jim Brown, a Day One business office staffer.

How could we forget Zink's two attempts as the Tory candidate in Parkdale in the 1972 and 1974 federal elections? He came second to Liberal Stanley Haidasz both times. Haidasz, first elected in 1962, ran undefeated until he resigned in 1978.

Brown, one of the Sun's 62 Day Oners who moved from the Telegram after it closed, first ran in the 1990 provincial election as the Tory candidate in Scarborough West, finishing third. NDPer Anne Swarbrick won that election, but lost to Brown in 1995

Our TSF reader recalls Brown running in the new riding of Scarborough-Agincourt four years later:

"Now here's the interesting bit and maybe someone in the ''Sun Family' can provide a background story - in 1999, due to redistribution, Brown and Liberal MPP Gerry Phillips had a head-to-head battle for Scarborough-Agincourt.

"The Sun, despite its pro-Mike Harris, pro-Tory leanings, endorsed Phillips in the contest against Brown. I've always wondered what the real story is there."

Good point. Is there a Sun vet out there who knows why the Sun did not back Tory Brown, a former Sun employee?

Saturday 15 August 2009

One more Levy

Were Toronto Sun editors ticked off with Sue-Ann Levy for taking a leave of absence to dabble in provincial politics as a Tory candidate in a by-election?

How else do you explain the absence of a story or column about her by-election bid in the print editions of the Sun Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. All we have seen in print is one sentence tacked on to the end of Sue-Ann's column on Thursday.

Ian Robertson's online story Friday was not in our print edition.

The Toronto Star broke the story on Wednesday and followed up with a Jim Coyle column on Friday and the Globe and Mail had a story on Friday.

But hold the phone. This just in. Joe Warmington apparently has a column item in Saturday's Sun.

Friday 14 August 2009

More Levy

The Toronto Sun today catches up to the two-day-old Toronto Star story about its own city hall columnist, Sue-Ann Levy, venturing into provincial Tory politics.

The Sun's Ian Robertson plays it straight, newsy style: Toronto Sun city hall columnist Sue-Ann Levy fulfilled her long-standing political ambitions today filing nomination papers as the Progressive Conservative candidate in the provincial St. Paul's riding.

It is not a lengthy Sun story, but it does note Sue-Ann has taken a leave of absence from the Sun, a move no doubt applauded by her favourite dart board, Councillor Howard Moscoe.

The Star's Jim Coyle takes a well-researched fun look at media people who have ventured into politics and says: Why anyone would willingly give up newspaper columning to take on anything like a real job is a puzzler.

He writes: That anyone would willingly swap being the disher of easy criticism, second-guessing, amateur psychoanalysis, pious lectures and sundry other grief to become the dishee is probably cause for an intervention. Friends don't let friends do such things.

Meanwhile, no column from Sue-Ann about her decision?

For an in-house Sun story, the tabloid was mighty slow out of the starting gate.

TorSun -7

While PKP was touring his newspapers in Eastern Ontario this week, seven Sun Media corporate sales office employees were packing up their belongings at 333 in Toronto.

A TSF tipster says the following were ousted by Tuesday's merger with Canoe, TVA, and TVA television to form an integrated sales team:

Olya Lawryshyn, national account manager;

Steven Hoke, national account manager;

Laurie Sakamoto, national account manager (repositioned back to TVA);

Claire Walker, customer service rep;

Ashley Wyatt, customer service rep;

Esther Williams, sales assistant;

Mike Minarik, office assistant.

Seven fewer bodies inhabiting 333.

PKP preaches expansion to the troops, but continues to shrink the numbers.

How low can those numbers go?

Stay tuned.

Thursday 13 August 2009

MPP Levy?

Updated re Joan Sutton Straus e-mail and 'married' lesbian heading

The Toronto Star beat the Toronto Sun to its own story - political columnist Sue-Ann Levy is being wooed by the provincial Tories to run in St. Paul's riding.

Interesting story, but today's Sun noted it only briefly in one sentence at the end of Sue-Ann's column, a column that was not about her being wooed.

Was Sue-Ann, or the Sun, caught napping?

Anyway, should Sue-Ann decide to run in the by-election, she won't be the first Toronto Sun columnist or reporter to venture into politics.

The late, great Paul Rimstead ran for mayor of Toronto in the 1970s; Peter Worthington was a federal nominee in Broadview-Greenwood twice in the 1980s; Mark Bonokoski had a run at politics while in Ottawa; Dick Chapman was a municipal candidate.

Joan Sutton Straus, a Day Oner and former Lifestyle editor, tells TSF:

"I, too, was asked to run for the Tories, in the late 70s, to replace Roy McMurtry. There were many reasons why I chose not to do it, but one of them was Peter Worthington's decree that if I did so, I would have to take a leave of absence from the paper without pay."

If memory serves us correctly, the only successful Toronto Sun staffer in an election bid was Garth Turner, the finance writer who was first elected as an MP in 1988 and has been making waves on and off since then.

Meanwhile, the heading for the story at says Sue-Ann is a 'married' lesbian and we emphasize it is their quotes for married.

Was the story written by a 'married' man or edited by a 'married' woman?

In Canada, married is married.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Whig & PKP

PKP has been busy touring and talking this week.

Another stop on his tour, the Kingston Whig-Standard, where the Sun Media chief sat down for a Q&A with reporter Jordan Press.

PKP's comments include:

"Something we will need to grow in the future (is in-house coverage). We should be sending our own reporter to cover the prime minister in Mexico. We should not rely anymore on (the Canadian Press) or Reuters because it's our business to do that. We would like to send someone who is going to share content for the entire (chain)."

Exactly, but you need manpower and expense accounts.

Odds & ends

Al Cairns is hosting Steve Payne's bon voyage party Saturday, Aug. 22, at his place in Mississauga. Anytime after 2:30 p.m. Munchies, pool etc. E-mail Al for info and directions.

Recommended reads from the Canadian Journalism Project: Why the Free Press still stands tall and (John) Stackhouse announces major management changes at Globe and Mail.

PKP dropped by the Pembroke Observer yesterday on his tour of papers and told employees he is optimistic and excited about the future of media, particularly community papers.

Editor & Publisher has released its 2009 list of 10 U.S. newspapers "That Do It Right." Check out the Las Vegas Sun's new existence in Sin City. You do, what you've gotta do.

TSF readers are advising anyone required to work from home to claim any and all expenses. Rob Lamberti. Chair, Toronto Sun Unit, CEP Local 87-M, writes:

"For those who have to pay out of pocket to do your job: Keep the receipts and insist that your employer fill out a T-2200 tax form for you. This allows you to claim personal expenses to do your job, such as a portion of your Internet fees, insurance and phone bill if you work from home, that are not covered by the employer on your income taxes. Distressing, but your best avenue to at least get credit for it on your income tax form."

Tuesday 11 August 2009

CP's $7 million

If PKP wants to be master of a self-sufficient national news agency next year, he should use the $7 million saved annually in dumping Canadian Press to beef up lean newsrooms in his domain.

QMI Agency could become a serious contender if Sun Media newspapers across the country were adequately staffed in time for CP's departure next June. As is, good luck in filling the shoes of CP.

Pumping up a print-based QMI Agency in the next year or so makes more sense than flogging online news.

Let's face it, Internet newspapers are not the advertising bonanza media conglomerates thought they would be a decade ago. Time to rethink news service strategies.

For starters, aging baby boomers who grew up with print newspapers in their hands should be considered the demographics of choice.

For example, the majority of people who began reading the Toronto Sun when it was launched in 1971 are just under, or past, the Sun's current under 50 demographics. A 10-year-old reading the Toronto Sun since Day One would be 48.

Let today's younger generation dabble in new media and all of the related electronic toys that are providing vast amounts of free news and information.

Canada's 10 million or so baby boomers should be sufficient to carry print newspapers that are adequately staffed and focused on community affairs.

Conduct a survey of those 10 million - a third of Canada's population - asking them their preference: (a) A print newspaper (b) An online newspaper.

Our money would be on the majority opting for print media, paid for or free.

PKP says he believes in newspapers. That is news to us, but if he has seen the light, it is time for him to reverse the decline in staff numbers and morale.

That $7 million a year would be a good start.

Monday 10 August 2009

PKP interview

Today's Brockville Recorder and Times has a lengthy interview with visiting PKP - in English.

Written by reporter Michael Jiggins, the piece notes Sun Media pays the Canadian Press $7 million a year, which PKP says would be better spent elsewhere.

PKP disagrees with Rupert Murdoch when it comes to charging for newspaper content on the Internet "when it has been (free) for so many years?"

He also says “we certainly believe in (print) newspapers,” noting construction of $250 million printing plants in Toronto and Montreal. and Osprey Media's purchase in 2007.

But he says it's no time for print nostalgia, thus the charge into electronic media.

It is refreshing to hear PKP say he believes in print media, but his actions in the past decade, first with the Sun tabloids and then the Osprey newspapers, contradict that sentiment.

And those $250 million printing plants are no doubt focused more on contracts for flyers and directories than newspapers.

In the years we have been blogging, this is the first lengthy interview with PKP in English we have seen online.

Love him or hate him, he's on the right path in sitting down with reporters and expanding on his game plan.

Sunday 9 August 2009

The big pinch

Sun columnists are feeling the pinch since the downsized tabloids introduced a 650-word maximum for most columns.

The old "tight and bright" call from city editors for news stories now applies to the men and women commenting on local and worldly matters.

We hear Sun columnists would need more than 140 characters on Twitter to express how they feel about feeling the pinch.

There are egos involved in writing a column and take it from this former rewrite desk vet, you don't want to tamper with the creative prose of columnists.

We once felt the wrath of Christie Blatchford following a little rearranging and it wasn't pretty. The rewrite of a gossip column? It was man the lifeboats.

Come autumn, when all of the big guns are back from vacations, it will be interesting to see how they conform to tighter quarters on the printed page. There are already rumblings of discontent.

Most columnists prefer the open range, being allowed to set the stage, kick-start the minds of readers and have the space to build on and then close without leaving anything untold.

When you consider some news stories from staff and wire services have 50-word leads, for a column, that is a fair chunk out of 650 words.

Professionals that they are, most Sun columnists will adapt if they do not mount a successful unified protest against their verbal girdles.

But we fear 650 words just aren't enough for columnists to do justice to subjects that have long earned the Suns, especially the Toronto Sun, the hearts of readers.

Columns about real-life heroes; the plight of people in need of a light at the end of the tunnel; families of murder victims seeking justice; the search for lost sons and daughters; mistreatment of seniors and vets.

Size does matter when you are telling their stories.

When a tabloid columnist has the passion for a story that will touch the heart - or the pocketbook if that be the case - he or she is best left unbridled.

There are just under 350 words in this posting. For a columnist, that is a warm up.

Saturday 8 August 2009

The Glory Years

There is a cluster of TSF readers who sigh and groan anonymously whenever we talk about the glory years of the Toronto Sun.

As if anything of interest could ever have happened prior to 2001.

But what was the best read in the Sun and other dailies this week? The reunion of the back-to-back World Series Blue Jays from 1992-93.

Great stories, great photos, great memories.

Dave Abel's photo of Joe Carter and Cito Gaston on the front page of today's Sun sports section is a keeper.

Those were the days when the Toronto Blue Jays - and the Toronto Sun - were the pride of Toronto and there is always something positive in talking about winners.

Toronto sports fans haven't had much to cheer about since 1993.

Elsewhere in today's Sun stories about the Argos losing, the Toronto FC losing, the Blue Jays losing.

We'll always have 1992-93 and, for those old enough to remember, 1967 for the Toronto Maple Leafs' last Stanley Cup win. And the occasional Argo Cup.

Meanwhile, Toronto's habitual losers sure do get a lot of ink in the media. So much so that the Sun's ever-shrinking news slot is being invaded by sports coverage, no doubt a PKP edict.

Wouldn't you think the teams might improve if the media and fans gave them the cold shoulder for a while? Let the seats cool until the teams get hot?

Or is Toronto filled with masochists gleefully doomed to paying big bucks to see also-rans year after year?

Friday 7 August 2009

Delivery deal

Yesterday's announcement that Quebecor and Canwest have agreed to deliver competing newspapers takes us back to the 1950s.

Way back when newspaper carriers in Toronto were allowed to deliver both the Toronto Star and Toronto Telegram.

They were both afternoon newspapers and all was harmony until the Toronto Star gave carriers notice they could no longer deliver both papers.

It was the Star or the Tely. Most carriers at the 22 Barton Street agency opted for the Star.

The Star always showed an interest in what carriers were thinking.

During Hurricane Hazel in 1954 carriers were given the option to deliver, or not deliver. We opted to deliver and one customer - there is always one - complained about her paper being wet.

In the 1950s, the Star also asked carriers if they would deliver papers on Sundays if the Star published a Sunday paper. We're not sure of the results of that survey, but a Sunday Star was put on hold for 20 years.

Details of yesterday's Quebecor/Canwest agreement weren't released, so we don't know if it is strictly printing plant to distributor deliveries in Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary, or home deliveries as well.

And it is not known how many Quebecor distribution jobs will be lost.

But it certainly does appear to be an opening for Quebecor to take control of Canwest newspaper assets down the road.

Last, but not least, net income for the not-so-struggling Quebecor Media were up 33.6% in the second quarter ending June 30.

Shareholders are content.

Can we say the same for its newspaper employees?

Moment in time

Ken Robertson, an observant former Toronto Sun city editor and veteran sailor now writing books in a countryside chalet with his faithful dog, Missy, notes:

Today, on August 7, 2009, at 12 hours, 34 minutes and 56 seconds, the time and date will be 12:34:56 07/08/09.

Or 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

This will never happen again in your lifetime."

Thanks, Ken.

TSF readers rule.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Kevin Hann

It is probably not a big deal to Kevin Hann, city editor of the Toronto Sun, but we're dizzy from his Page 2 job description changes in the past week.

The new Page 2 "Contact Us" box had him as:

News Editor from Tuesday through Friday;

City Editor on Saturday;

News Editor on Sunday;

City Editor on Monday

News Editor today.

Is it a PDF thing?

Whatever it is, not getting your staff chief titles right is sloppy.

Ontario drive-ins

The author of a book on vanishing ways of Canadian life recently told a Toronto radio talk show host drive-in movie theatres are among the casualties.

She must have been from another province because Ontario is the drive-in theatre capital of Canada, with 26 active outdoor theatres across the province.

And one of them, the Mustang Drive-In in Picton, is owned by Paul Peterson, who became a Sun Family member with the purchase of Osprey Media in 2007.

He writes about movies in four Sun Media papers: County Weekly News in Picton; Kingston This Week; the Gananoque Reporter and the Napanee Guide.

Paul and his wife, Nancy, have been keeping Picton-area drive-in fans in summertime movies for more than 20 years. His comedic pre-movie banter adds to the entertainment.

The drive-in caters to all ages, from babies to grandparents and judging by the summer numbers, the two screens will be humming for years to come.

Drive-ins would have become extinct in Ontario if not for owners going the extra mile for movie fans. They have made a strong comeback in recent years for various reasons, including cost and convenience.

Print newspapers could be in the same transition. Predicted by some to be down for the count, they could remain viable if there are enough believers.

Monday 3 August 2009

No Payne, his gain

Updated 5/8/09

Sometimes, being pink-slipped by Sun Media is a blessing in disguise.

It was for Steve Payne, a longtime Toronto Sun reporter and company man who was shown the door a couple of years ago.

During his Sun years, Payne always let it be known his passions included the Sun and soccer. When he got the boot from the former, he focused on the latter.

Today, Payne and his wife, Deb, are packing their bags in preparation for an Aug. 26 departure for Australia, where Steve has landed a four-year contract as the technical director and game development manager for Tasmania.

"It will be my responsibility to introduce the new Football Federation Australia national curriculum into Tazmania, run workshops, courses and seminars for coaches, coach players, scour the state for young talent and coach one or more of the state teams," Payne says in an e-mail."

Payne noted that the Australians, already ranked 16 in the world, are "very serious about improving and are bidding to host the World Cup in 2018 or 2022."

The Sun's loss, Australia's gain. All the best, Steve.

Meanwhile, Ian Harvey, a fellow soccer player and former Sun colleague, says a sendoff for Steve is being organized for Aug. 20 or 21.

Ian can be reached at

ENT spent

First, it was the name change in April of 2007 - from Showcase to ENT.

ENT? But what's in a name when you have some of the most talented entertainment writers in town featured in a convenient, pullout section, complete with a television guide?

Then last February, the once meaty television guide in ENT was cut for all but Sunday Sun subscribers. Suddenly ENT was thinner, but still a pullout section, a keeper on the couch for a week.

Yesterday, Sunday Sun readers accustomed to tidy and convenient sections discovered ENT, Travel, the comics etc., are no longer pullout sections.

Why would anyone want to mess with much-appreciated pullouts, especially ENT? It is nonsensical. The only reason we can think of is it has to do with Quebecor's presses and saving PKP a few more pennies.

It certainly isn't what readers want.

Sunday 2 August 2009

Vivian Song & Star

An observant TSF reader spotted a Vivian Song feature in the Toronto Star the other day.

"He writes: Looks like Vivian is still out there. Just came across an article she wrote in the Star about Infomercial pitchmen.

"Good to see you're still writing, Viv."

Vivian, a former Toronto Sun reporter, was a Sun Media national bureau writer when fired in May.

We never did hear the full story.