Thursday 25 February 2010

5-4-5 hockey front

All five Suns went with the same Team Canada hockey photo front Wednesday and Toronto spiced things up with a boob job tax photo.

More of the same today, no doubt, following the Russia win. It took hockey, but Toronto is finally back in the Olympics front mode.

Close to home

For Carla Garrett, a Woodstock Sentinel-Review crime reporter, a story in her newspaper yesterday was too close to home.

The story by Heather Rivers tells of the battle Carla's nine-month-old son, Xavier, is facing after undergoing major brain cancer surgery, with more treatments beginning today.

Carla, who has been on maternity leave from the Sun Media daily, and her husband, Mark, have been through hell for several weeks.

Their son underwent 12 hours of risky brain surgery Feb. 2 and part of a large tumour partially removed proved to be cancerous. Six weeks of chemotherapy treatments begin today at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton.

Xavier and his twin sister, Mackenzie, were born May 31, 2009.

The story says surgeons who removed about 70% of the tumour told Carla and Mark on Feb. 10 Xavier has anaplastic ependymoma, a high-grade aggressive form of brain cancer associated with a mutation of the brain stem.

Doctors say chemotherapy treatments may not be effective in treating ependymoma.

There is more in the Sentinel-Review story, but our bottom line is a trust account has been opened at TD Canada Trust at Springbank Avenue and Dundas Street in Woodstock - Account 630 8634, transit No. 227.

(The TD mailing address is 1000 Dundas Street, Woodstock, ON, N4S 0A3)

Donations will also be accepted at the front desk of the Sentinel-Review.

Money raised will help cover the cost of travel and accommodation during Xavier's treatments.

Over the years, Sun Media staffers and management have been very supportive of fellow employees in times of need, often anonymously.

Our best to Carla, Mark and young Xavier.

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Paton & profits

While Sun Media begins handing out apparently meaningless points, John Paton announced a profit sharing plan for Journal Register's 3,100 employees in his first memo as CEO.

Paton, hired by the Toronto Sun as a copy boy in the 1970s, worked his way up to management. He remembers the days when Sun co-founders Doug Creighton, Peter Worthington and Don Hunt rewarded employees with profit sharing.

In his memo, Paton says an advisory board is being set up at the U.S. media chain and adds:

"If we do this right we will become a company of ideas where all employees and our communities debate what’s best for our future. And preserve our cherished role of providing checks and balances.

"And because I believe if we do this right we will become a much more vibrant and profitable company with a dynamic future, I want to make sure all employees share in that future. To that end, we announced on Tuesday the establishment of a profit sharing plan for all employees.

"If the company wins our employees win. We will all win."

Paton includes his e-mail address in the memo, a clear sign he is approachable.

Journal Register employees have been through some tough times in recent years. Paton's memo and profit sharing announcement should promote renewed confidence.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

New Q weeklies

Montreal's Fagstein blogger says Quebecor is launching two new French-language weeklies in Quebec, with reporters and ad staff working together.

The blogger wonders if that means reporters will only be writing about businesses and people who advertise in the free Echo de Laval and Echo de la Rive-Nord.

That scenario sounds like PKP's cup of print media tea.

Sunday 21 February 2010

Tiger appeal

Yesterday's Toronto Sun Your Call online poll question was:

Are you interested in what Tiger Woods had to say on Friday?

The tally was 85% No and 15% Yes.

Well, the 15% got their money's worth Saturday. The Sun devoted nine pages, including the front page and the sports section's front page, to Tiger's staged 14-minute apology.

The 85% had nine fewer pages to read.

Yes, world media were watching, but with 85% saying nyet, you have to wonder just how many newspaper readers, television viewers, Internet surfers and radio listeners give a damn.

In a nutshell, Tiger screwed up, he has apologized, now back to the golf course.

Just in case you missed it:

Con con flick?

As Peter Worthington tells it in a column today, annual visits to see Conrad Black behind bars in Florida reveal evidence of a changed man.

"I suspect his two years (so far) in the Coleman Complex have made him a better person, and has certainly improved the lives of some inmates who, without him, would not have the beginnings of an education and a better life they have acquired through him," Worthington writes.

"He seems to get along with everyone. His success in teaching English, and leading political discussions, and lecturing on American history, stems in part from his sense of humour and irreverence - but also because he’s an inmate, too."

As a “teacher,” Conrad Black has shown a patience and empathy that previously one didn’t associate with him, says Worthington.

An interesting, recommended read.

From a Lord and media baron to a low security prison inmate/teacher/columnist affecting the lives of his incarcerated students, that true story has all the makings of a Hollywood movie.

Oscar material.

How the movie would end is another story. Black is awaiting an appeal of his 6 1/2 year sentence.

Saturday 20 February 2010

Front points

We don't want to flog a dead horse, but the Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg Suns all went with Winter Olympics gold fronts on Friday.

The Toronto Sun went with Gordon Lightfoot, 71, not being dead after all, despite Thursday's radio, online news and tweet reports of his demise.

Lightfoot's front page smile delighted longtime fans of the iconic Canadian singer/songwriter, so the front was good for 5 points.

Clearly, the Toronto Sun is not in a Winter Olympics frame of mind. Did the assault on reporter Ian Robertson during the torch run sour editors?

As for comments to TSF about the hometowns of medal winners making a difference in front page news decisions, the athletes are not representing their hometowns or provinces.

They are representing Canada.

Did Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg hesitate because the gold in Friday's front went to Christine Nesbitt, a skater from London, Ontario? Nope.

Winnipeg Sun

Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa same photo/headline

Friday 19 February 2010


Confirm or deny department:

We thought we had heard it all from TSF tipsters after three years of Sun Media/Quebecor postings, but stop the presses, folks.

A tipster says Sun Media has decided to award performance points to newsroom employees, but the motivation remains unclear.

"I presume it's to compare reporter performance from paper to paper, although it has not been made clear to us," says the tipster.

Reporters earn points for how many stories they file each day. You also get points for things like photos, videos, tweets, briefs, special features.

The tipster provided a partial list of points to be awarded:

A story is 2 points; A photo is 2 points; A brief is .5 points; Special features are 4 points; Columns are 3 points; Videos are 2 points; Web posts are .5 points; "Writethroughs" are .5 points; Tweets are .5 points (minimum 5 tweets).

If Sun Media is serious about this, how will the accumulated points awarded to overworked journalists in understaffed newsrooms be used? Will top performers win a trip to Disneyland? Will bottom performers be shown the door?

It is not clear if the new point system launched in Ontario will become chain-wide or is restricted to selected newsrooms, but one newsroom is one too many in our books.

It sounds humiliating.

Earn those points, people, earn those points.

Shades of Glengarry Glen Ross, especially the last few words in the following YouTube clip.

30 - John Babcock

Today's Kingston Whig-Standard lead by Ian Elliot says it all:

And then there were none.

Elliot is talking about John "Jack" Babcock, Canada's last known First World War veteran, who died Thursday at 109 in Spokane, Wash., two years after regaining Canadian citizenship.

The story says Babcock, born in Holleford north of Kingston in 1900, marched down Princess Street in Kingston on his way to war at age 15. He turned 109 last July.

Elliot does Babcock justice in his lengthy obit.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Olympics spirit?

Wednesday's Sun fronts.

So who had the Winter Olympics spirit with Canada's second gold win Tuesday by snowboard cross competitor Maelle Ricker of North Vancouver?

Well, let's see:

Edmonton Sun (our fave)

Calgary Sun

Winnipeg Sun

Ottawa Sun

Toronto Sun

Wednesday 17 February 2010

May media month

The talk of the town in Toronto on May 13 and 14 will be newspapers.

But from internal memos sent to Sun Media employees recently, few, if any, Sun reps will be in play for the 2010 Ink & Beyond conference, the National Newspaper Awards, Canadian Community Newspaper Awards and Ontario Community Newspaper Association Awards.

A CNW Group press release says CCNAs will be awarded at the Sheraton Centre Hotel on May 13 and the NNAs and OCNAs will be awarded May 14.

If any Sun Media employees are in attendance as potential award winners, it will be on their own dime and time.

More than 300 CEOs, publishers, editors and corporate executives are expected to attend the Ink & Beyond conference.

John Paton, a former Sun Media exec named Editor & Publisher's 2009 Publisher of the Year, will be one of the guest speakers.

Random thoughts

Isn't ironic that Toronto Sun editors don't consider Olympic silver worthy of a front page, but devote countless words and numerous fronts to the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs?

The Leafs haven't been front and centre on the Stanley Cup podium since 1967 and so far this season continue to embrace the basement in overall standings.

But Leafs fronts keep on coming.

What is the logic in devoting so much time, energy and space to a team that has been out of the No. 1 spot for more than four decades?

Meanwhile, here's to Sun sportswriter Alison Korn for putting Steve Buffery in his place in yesterday's Sun. You can come second and be proud of your performance.

We would applaud second place for the Leafs, or third, or fourth and be proud of their performance, but it just isn't happening.

Sun logic says the Leafs should not be front page material until they are No. 1, but Sun editors are an illogical bunch these days.

No front for a silver medal winner, but yet another Leafs front Tuesday announcing a multi-part series on blunders in Leafland.


Wake us when the Leafs are out of the cellar and contenders once again.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Self-Googling 2

Mike Strobel's recent self-Google column prompted Bruce Corcoran at the Chatham Daily News to do a little name Googling, with some interesting results.

"I must admit, the notion for this column is courtesy of Mike Strobel of the Toronto Sun," says Corcoran. "And I remind him that plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery.

"I'm not stealing his column and making it my own, but just his idea."

His Bruce Corcoran finds include an American doctor, an AIG executive and an Australian blogger.

Lamothe launch

There is an open invite from former Toronto Sun vet Lee Lamothe to Thursday's launch of his latest book.

The former Sun crime reporter will hold court at Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay Street, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Finger's Twist, published by Turnstone Press, has been receiving positive reviews. It is his second crime novel.

You can read some of the reviews here.

Monday 15 February 2010

Suns go gold

When you scan the front pages of North America's daily newspapers at, the iconic front pages of Sun Media tabloids dominate on most days.

Today is no exception. Winter Olympics gold, five for five with front page layout variations, indicating editors still do have some freedoms.

Sun golds:

Toronto and Ottawa Suns

Winnipeg Sun

Edmonton Sun

Calgary Sun

TSF hasn't received a response from Toronto Sun editors re Sunday Sun's lack of a Jennifer Heil's silver win front, or any coverage of Heil's win inside for that matter.

If ridiculously early Sunday Sun deadlines are to blame, how do they manage to get losing Leafs on the front the morning after Saturday night games?

A TorSun WTF

Sunday Sun readers pumped by Saturday night's cliffhanging silver medal win by Jennifer Heil must have been wondering what the Toronto editors were smoking.

We were impressed by Sun fronts for most of the week, but Sunday's Get Lost! front page story about e-mails left us befuddled and just plain duddled.

What were they thinking? Apparently, they weren't.

Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg and Edmonton editors got it right and all of their fronts were submitted to's selection of world-wide front pages.

And, as you will notice, there was variation in their "silver" front pages

Toronto did not submit its front to Just as well because its embarrassing front page would have been surrounded by impressive Winter Olympics fronts.

Winnipeg Sun

Edmonton Sun

Calgary and Ottawa were almost identical

Ottawa had Heil's silver win on its front, so Toronto can't blame deadlines for the blunder. Or can it? Perhaps PKP's print plant priorities have pushed Toronto's Sunday deadline back to 7 p.m.

All of the Suns will no doubt go front for Canada's first gold medal in Monday's editions, but then we thought Heil's performance rated no less.

Deadlines, bad judgment, whatever, the Toronto Sun blew it.

Meanwhile, twice in the past week the Toronto Sun surrendered all of Page 2 for an ad. What next?

The Toronto Sun has been much too erratic since the seasoned tabloid pros left for various reasons.

Give us the glory days when the men and women on the job were more consistent.

TSF invites the editors who packaged Toronto's Sunday front to explain this one away, anonymous or not.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Niagara squeeze

The Sun Media traffic flow down Niagara Falls Review-Welland Tribune way has been dizzying in the past year and there's more to come, says a TSF tipster.

The tipster writes:

"Apparently Sun Media in Niagara is going ahead with a plan to consolidate its editorial services, meaning several more hard-working reporters and editors are victims - but not in St. Catharines, where a silver spoon resides in the mouths of employees there.

"With Steve Gallagher's departure for Brantford, Gord Howard from Niagara Falls Review's night news desk moves to the St. Catharines Standard as his replacement. Gord has indeed fallen on his feet.

"The Review loses wire editor Brian Mann and community editor Lisa Rind, who is concerned her columnists and special weekly features, including an entire page written and produced by high school and college students, will fall by the wayside.

"The Welland Tribune loses reporters Maggie Riopelle, Mark Tayti and Wayne Campbell - three fewer experts to cover the Welland community.

"All will be missed as soon as the terminations take effect, which Sun Media says may not be until the end of February or early March.

"The Review's newsroom is apparently in contract negotiations right now. Brian and Lisa are two editorial union members. Let's hope they get their signing bonus, if negotiations wrap up before their termination takes effect.

"Since Gord moves to STC as early as next week, how long can it be before more reporters and editors find themselves in the same position as those mentioned here?

"Why do STC editors and reporters get to keep their jobs, with no open competition? Hardly fair, is it? But that's how SM operates - get used to it.

"Won't be long before there is only one paper in Niagara, but good luck on selling to three very different communities."

Thanks for the updates.

One regional paper instead of three community newspapers? That sounds familiar.

As in the Port Hope Evening Guide (Est. 1878), Cobourg Star (1831) and Colborne Chronicle (1959 from the ashes of the Colborne Express (1866) and Colborne Enterprise, (1886) being blended into one Northumberland Today paper last February.

Lots of flyers and Toronto-based Sun Media content, but minimal local news for the three communities to share.

Community newspapers that survived the Great Depression are falling like dominoes in PKP's tunnel vision world of force-fed centralization.

Buying respected, established community newspapers and reducing them to glorified shopping flyers is not new. Dave Radler and his Sterling Newspapers did it in the 1970s.

What is it they say about what goes around, comes around?

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Killer Sun fronts

All five Sun tabloids went with the same photo and "The Devil Himself" front page Tuesday.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, the national story being killer tabloid fare.

Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg jumped all over the story and kudos to all involved.

And it has only just begun.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Print power

New Orleans Saints fans wanting to preserve the ecstasy of the team's first Super Bowl win Sunday turned to a reliable source - the Monday print edition of the Times-Picayune.

Forget printouts from the Internet. They lined up to buy print newspapers - by the tens of thousands, to be read, framed or tucked away for years as cherished souvenirs.

They lined up at the newspaper office, corner stores and newspaper boxes Monday morning, pushing sales to a record 500,000-plus for the 173-year-old newspaper.

"The newspaper, featuring a 5-inch-tall 'Amen!' headline to celebrate the Saints' Super Bowl victory, has already sold well over half a million copies, more than triple a normal Monday," says a story in the paper.

When the demand didn't ebb, the newspaper decided to keep the presses rolling and advised readers more copies would be available this morning at selected locations.

Dozens of copies of Monday's paper were quickly listed on eBay starting at $5 to $20.

A great and reaffirming day for print media, as written earlier in the day in Editor & Publisher.

Starweek stays

There are times when TSF is delighted to be wrong and wrong we were in saying the Toronto Star's Starweek TV guide is being dropped from Saturday store sales.

The wording in Saturday's Starweek made it sound like only home subscribers would have access to the guide as of March 13.

The Sunday Sun went that route last year and we haven't seen a Sun TV guide since last February. But for Starweek, not so and that is good news.

If we had read all of the online story as well, we would have seen the comment from publisher John Cruickshank, who said Starweek "will still be included in all single copies sold in stores and newspaper boxes."

Starweek, the only TV guide being printed by the Toronto dailies, is the work of Gord Stimmell, the Toronto Sun's former TV guide editor, a tireless newsman who knows and loves the business.

We reach for our Starweek daily because Bell's on-screen satellite grid is hopelessly outdated in synopsis detail and is not always reliable. Like Diane Sawyer is no longer an anchor on Good Morning America, people.

A printed guide is our preference and we appreciate Stimmell's dedication to providing television listings for countless newspaper readers - for much of his 25 years at the Sunday Sun and all of his 11 years at the Star.

His new and improved Starweek is now a healthy 56 pages, up from 36, and we're lovin' it.

Stimmell and Star execs appear to be the only print media people aware that the hordes of baby boomers now dominating the Canadian landscape were raised in front of TVs, eating TV dinners and relying on weekly TV guides.

Old habits die hard with folks long settled in their ways and a printed TV guide remains a habit.

So on behalf of readers who buy their newspapers at stores and newspaper boxes across the province, thank you Gord Stimmell and long live Starweek.

Monday 8 February 2010

Odds & ends

Wayne Newton, pink-slipped in November as editorial coordinator/national comment editor, returned to the London Free Press on Saturday with a guest column about minor hockey. Wayne is also on Twitter. He went with the less Vegas sounding WayneWriteOn.

The CTV Ottawa blaze that destroyed the building and much of its contents leaves us wondering how many print and broadcast media outlets have backups of irreplaceable files and videos. “The news archives are gone,” said one staffer. A TV station without its past.

A fun Sunday Sun column was Mike Strobel's self-Googling, cleverly titled Meet the Strobels. "Ignoring warnings about going blind, I’ve been Googling myself for the past few hours," Mike writes. His "Mike Strobel" hunt produced rock stars, gamers and spies.

Happy 100th to the Boy Scouts of America. As Cubs and Scouts we were taught to Be Prepared and most times we were, but we were not prepared for the media upheaval of the past decade.

Sunday 7 February 2010

Freep -4

Four more London Free Press newsroom employees have taken buyouts and bid farewell to the shrinking Sun Media daily.

Chief photographer Sue Bradnam parted company on Jan. 29, trimming the photography staff to four - down from eight less than a decade ago.

On Friday, staff said farewell to reporter Joe Matyas and deskers Ralph Bridgland and Tom Bogart.

Saturday 6 February 2010

Sunday Globe

The Sunday Globe and Mail.

It has an inviting ring to it, but sad to say the Globe's first Sunday print media market entry will be brief and confined to British Columbia.

A CNW Group press release says the Sunday Globe and Mail will be published Feb. 14, 21 and 28 to expand its coverage of the Winter Olympics.

"The Olympic Winter Games will be an historic moment for Canada and also for The Globe and Mail as we publish a Sunday edition for the first time in our history," Phillip Crawley, publisher and CEO, says in the press release.

We've often wondered why the Globe and Mail was reluctant to publish Sundays after the Toronto Sun entered the market on Sept. 16, 1973, and the Toronto Star on Oct. 16, 1977.

Thursday 4 February 2010

1st Hanson winner

A freelance photographer is the inaugural winner of the Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award.

A Canadian Press story says Adrien Veczan, 24, has had photos in the Toronto Star and Sydney Morning Herald and will join CP later this year as a paid six-week intern.

The award was created by CP and the Canadian Journalism Foundation to "preserve the professional legacy of one of Canada's best-loved news photographers."

Graeme Roy, the news agency's director of news photography, said Veczan's portfolio was selected from a strong pool of applicants.

"We had an incredibly positive response to the award; the volume of submissions we received far exceeded our expectations," Roy said.

The CP story says Veczan received congratulations from Hanson's widow, Catherine.

Hanson, who was with CP for 15 years, died last March. He was 41.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

TV news ooops

Caught on tape.

Watch the computer screen of the man seated behind the financial expert (Martin Lakos) who is being interviewed live by Chris Bath at Australia's 7 News.

You can read the London Free Press story here.

Is that "gotcha" as bad as Sun Media employees being caught on tape reading TSF at work?

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Rimmer on eBay

What is the going rate for Rimmer, Dammit!, the 1987 book penned by the late, great Paul Rimstead?

A current eBay posting by an Oakville seller is asking $16.95US, with free shipping.

The book, a rare find these days, is a collection of Paul's 52 best Toronto Sun columns.

Rimmer, always appreciative of his readers, probably would have delivered it personally, driving up in Rusty Rita with Miss Hinky in the car.

Monday 1 February 2010

Free vs pay

News that the New York Times will be charging for online content sent The Resident's Lori Harfenist to the streets of the Big Apple for a people poll.

It was largely thumbs down for paying for online news, with "so much free news out there."

As one woman says: "No way. We don't have to pay for anything online."

You said it, lady.

Online fees for news will be a hard sell if most mainstream media do not follow the Times and put an end to open access to content.

Take note of the support for print media in the street poll.