Wednesday 31 March 2010

Re Tamara Cherry

-3Tamara Cherry has been getting good ink this week thanks to her award winning Toronto Sun features on human trafficking in the city.

Even in the Toronto Star, where she worked as a newsroom intern for 16 months, from May of 2006 to September of 2007.

The 25-year-old police reporter, awarded Walk With Me's Glendene and Jesse Award in the media category, first wrote about human trafficking in January 2008.

"I feel very humbled to be recognized among the other award winners, many of whom have dedicated their lives to combating this issue," Cherry says in the Star story.

CP-less preview

Sun Media editors and readers will get a taste of CP-free newspapers next week.

A TSF tipster says Sun Media editors have been told not to use Canadian Press content from April 5 through 10, not even a file shot.

"It is a dry run for when they go AP/CP free on July 1," says the tipster.

Judging by QMI copy in the Toronto Sun in recent months, the papers will be watered down with weak QMI stories and photos.

We have noticed QMI content from other provinces that surely left Toronto Sun readers wondering, "who cares?"

In QMI's case, sharing is not always a matter of caring. It is a matter of filling news slots with QMI content. It will be quantity, not quality.

A recent routine snow photo from Alberta comes to mind. And weak local stories from other Sun Media communities have been laughable.

Readers in smaller Ontario communities are pissed off now with Toronto Sun content filling pages of their newspapers. They don't want more outside QMI content.

But PKP will be saving money in dumping CP and AP. That's the bottom line in the dumbing down of Sun Media newspapers.

The biggest losers without CP and AP? Readers, of course.

St. Thomas -1

In 1990, the St. Thomas Times-Journal newsroom had 18 journalists - now it has six.

A TSF tipster says the latest casualty is Ross Porter, who was managing editor until Sun Media pulled the plug on that position recently and sent him packing.

Porter was with Bowes Publishing/Sun Media/Quebecor for 30 years.

Our tipster says the St. Thomas newsroom "will now be overseen by the London Free Press managing editor."

Community newspapers with long distance management sounds so foreign.

Tuesday 30 March 2010

CBS cuts Canada?

Was it something Canadians said?

CBS Radio has excluded Canadians interested in listening to its online radio stations on the Internet - and possibly the rest of the world.

"We're sorry, CBS Radio is unavailable from your current location," is the new message that popped up tonight instead of the all-night Steve Leveille show on WBZ in Boston.

You get that all the time with online American TV content, but we have never seen it for radio programming.

CBS fired Leveille last year but quickly rehired him after a major, and we mean major, revolt by listeners. Now they are messing with Steve's audience again.

We also tried WCBS radio in New York. Same roadblock.

If it is not a temporary glitch, CBS has lost its world audience and has taken the network back into the dark ages.

Saturday 27 March 2010

Re Rob Smith

Memories of Rob Smith:

Greg Oliver, former Toronto Sun staffer:

"I worked at the Sun library from 1991-1993 or so. Rob, Julie Hornby and Sue Dugas made working evenings (4-11pm) at the Toronto Sun library fun for this summer student, and later as a part-timer who filled in all kinds of shifts. They were always supportive of me, and each other.

"There were more than a few times - especially for this Ryerson student - when perhaps there was something better to do than be at work, and they'd cover for me.

"Rob had a real dry sense of humour. Never got worked up or angry about things. Back when the library was the centre of things, and requests would be coming from every direction as we got closer to deadline, that was an important trait to learn from.

"After he left the Sun, I'd run into him here and there. I think the last time, I was out for drinks with my wife and ex-Sun staffer and librarian Catherine Flannery at Pauper's, at Bloor & Bathurst. Rob was somewhere else in the bar and I brought him back to share some laughs about the old times.

"R.I.P. Rob."

Memories of Rob can be e-mailed to TSF.

EdSun photo noms

Updated 29/03/10 re all nominated photos
Congrats to two Edmonton Sun photographers who have been nominated for 2009 National Pictures of the Year Awards.

Jason Franson
is nominated in Canon's Pictorial category for his entry: John Percy Page High School student Cory Womacks walks past a hoarfrost-covered tree on a cold February morning.

Amber Bracken is nominated in Nikon's Sports Action category for her entry: Dustin Thompson gets run over at Bulls for Breakfast during Big Valley Jamboree.

Former Sun photogs in the mix are Darryl Dyck of the Canadian Press, a former Edmonton Sun photog, and Mike Cassese of Reuters, a former Toronto Sun photog.

All of the nominated photos can be viewed here.

Winners will be announced April 24 during NPAC's 2010 Photojournalism conference in Toronto.

Friday 26 March 2010

30 - Rob Smith

Julie Hornby, a veteran Toronto Sun librarian, writes:

"Sad news for Sun veterans that affable librarian Rob Smith passed away last weekend from cancer.

"Rob was a fixture in the library from the 1980s until the mid-90s when he left to work for fundraising at the East General Hospital.

"Rob loved books, movies and was a big sports fan, well-known to the poolies in our sports department.

"His friend Matt Shorter would like to inform everyone of a wake at the Pilot Tavern on April 10, from 8 p.m. onwards."

Memories of Rob can be e-mailed to TSF.

Thursday 25 March 2010

Peter 1 Cliff 0

Clifford Olson's pension payments are in jeopardy now that the nation knows this senior mass murderer is receiving monthly cheques.

Reaction to Peter Worthington's Sunday Sun column, from taxpayers, families of Olson's victims and Prime Minister Stephen Harper himself, has been swift.

It was Olson, a news hound, who told Worthington he was receiving seniors' benefits.

A story today says figures indicate "about 325 jailed killers, rapists and other assorted criminals over 65 are receiving up to $1,200 a month in old age security."

But not for long, it seems.

Another reason for Olson to remain in solitary confinement.

The Toronto Sun has fared well with crime and punishment stories over the decades.

Worthington's expose would be worthy of a Dunlop Award - if Quebecor still cared enough about rewarding excellence in journalism.

Free speech

A.C. has had her 15 seconds on TSF, but we have to note that of the dozen or so people who responded to TSF's free speech posting, all but four were posted anonymously.

Only Linda Williamson, a former Toronto Sun editor, Ian Harvey, a former Toronto Sun reporter, Wayne James, a Toronto Sun editor, and a guy named Daniel put names to their comments.

Employees of Canada's largest newspaper chain have told TSF they are too intimated by Quebecor management to sign their names. They fear losing their jobs.

But when it comes to free speech, how can you take a stand and wave the free speech banner anonymously? Is that not a contradiction?

Fear not A.C.'s right to speak, fear for journalists who are too intimidated to speak their minds in an open forum.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Olson outrage

Peter Worthington's column about mass murderer Clifford Olson's old age pension cheques has become a national outrage story.

Jack Keating's Vancouver Province story quoting "outraged and disgusted" Vancouver-based victims' rights and taxpayers' watchdog groups is getting national play in Canwest newspapers.

Keating gives full credit to the Toronto Sun and Worthington for breaking the story.

Meanwhile, Olson, now 70, is again lapping up national attention while relatives of his 11 young victims endure the pain of his west coast murder spree.

Coulter cooler

The Calgary Sun reports Ann Coulter's scheduled speech in Ottawa last night was cancelled because of security concerns.

Kudos to the University of Ottawa for pulling the plug. Why is she being booked into Canadian universities, period? She is not pro-Canada, as documented more than once during interviews.

Her University of Western Ontario gig in London on Monday was offensive to some students. More of the same for her Calgary audience tomorrow, if her gig there is not cancelled?

TSF has been wondering why Canadians would want to hear from the likes of the Coulters, Bushes, Palins, Limbaughs, O'Reillys, Savages, Becks, Fox et al and other known divisive, right-wing Americans.

Keep them south of the border, where they managed to orchestrate gullible Americans to the point of spitting and spewing racist comments for the world to witness in disbelief.

Eight years of George W. and the shameful, far-right rants by all of the above have diminished the image of Republicans as a responsible, bipartisan political party.

We're all for free speech, but enough is enough.

Monday 22 March 2010

Paton's blog

John Paton, the new CEO at Journal Register Co. in the U.S. and former Sun Media exec, has a new blog directed at JR employees and the public.

Employees are responding to Paton's positive company rejuvenation postings and not all are commenting anonymously.

Imagine, a CEO blogging for the benefit of employees and the public.

And a CEO who has introduced profit sharing to motivate employees.

Paton's mentors at the Toronto Sun taught him well.

Over to you, PKP.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Peter W & crime

For a veteran Canadian newspaper columnist not known as a crime writer, Peter Worthington has been involved with some of North America's most famous jailbirds.

He was a witness to the 1963 murder of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby.

His columns helped Lawrencia "Bambi" Bembenek get a new trial and her freedom.

He writes about his annual visits with Conrad Black in a Florida prison.

Multiple columns calling for the release of Leonard Peltier, now in his 35th year in a U.S. prison.

And he has a pipeline to Clifford Olson, Canada's most notorious serial killer.

His Sunday Sun column today is all about Olson, now 70.

Count on a lot of seniors going ballistic after learning Olson, who murdered at least 11 young males and females, is collecting $1,200 a month in old age benefits and reportedly has $100,000 in a bank account.

Worthington writes:

"Olson also says he has over $100,000 in his local bank in Quebec. When I was skeptical, he said he gets Old Age Pension of close to $1,200 a month. He mailed me copies of Old Age Security payments from Revenue Canada: $7,735.41 (retroactive) in 2005; $8,716.59 in 2006; $6,082.23 in 2008. “Why do they put the small change in?” Olson wondered.

"I think most Canadians would be outraged if they knew Olson, who has contributed nothing to this country, is getting over $1,100 a month for simply being alive in prison."

You said it, Peter.

Friday 19 March 2010

P 3 for ladies?

Noticeably absent in yesterday's Toronto Sun was any kind of spin on the 2009 newspaper readership and circulation stats released Wednesday.

Not surprising, considering the predictable, declining numbers.

But there was a ray of hope that the errors of Sun editors past and present in morphing the feisty, unpredictable tabloid into a broadsheet in tabloid form might be corrected.

Returning the SUNshine Girl to Page 3 would be a good start and columnist Mike Strobel, who banished her to the back pages 20 years ago when editor-in-chief, agrees.

"Some schmuck banished her to a back page, starting with the Sunday Sun, in January 2001," he wrote in his Toronto Sun column yesterday.

"That schmuck was me. I was editor-in-chief at the time and, coincidentally, drinking quite a lot."

The SUNshine Girls were given more breathing space this week, but two decades and countless well-hidden SUNshine Girls later, Strobel says it's time to return the ladies to Page 3.

Hear, hear.

Back to the roots, when readers were on a pedestal and the tabloid Sun catered to their interests based on an elaborate annual readership survey.

Top survey hits every year included the Page 3 SUNshine Girl, Max Haines' crime stories, Gary Dunford on Page 6, Andy Donato's cartoons etc.

Max is retired, but you could have the award-winning crime reporter Rob Tripp up Kingston way write a Sunday crime column for the chain.

Dunford was unique, but there has to be a tabloid gossip columnist worthy of a revival of Page 6.

Donato remains on the payroll, but limiting him to Sundays only during the winter months is insane.

Enough with space-filling, eight-page news features. Leave those to the broadsheets. Back to shorter stories, offbeat stories and other tabloid content.

Be a tabloid, dammit.

That is what made the Suns.

WinSun downer

A child pornography bust news story yesterday was too close to home for the Winnipeg Sun.

One of its veteran editors was netted in an international crackdown on child pornography, the newspaper reported yesterday.

The paper didn't hedge on the details, leading with "A Winnipeg Sun editor is facing child pornography charges."

“We are shocked by the charges,” Kevin Klein, Sun publisher and CEO, says in the story. “We are fully co-operating with Winnipeg police.”

Mark Perry, 58, with the paper for 22 years, was suspended by management on March 1 and appears in court April 26.

Criminal charges against Sun Media employees have been a rare occurrence since Day One of the flagship Toronto Sun in 1971.

Northern centre

Four Sun Media newspapers in Northern Ontario are being packaged at the Sudbury Star, another "centre of excellence," judging by a new ad for three layout positions.

The Media Job Search ad reads:

"The Sudbury Star is seeking three layout persons to paginate Sun Media’s four community daily newspapers in Northeastern Ontario. (One position is a maternity leave contract.)

"Based in Sudbury, these layout persons will paginate local news, entertainment and sports pages for the Sudbury Star, the North Bay Nugget, the Sault Star and the Timmins Daily Press. A journalism degree and experience in the publishing industry is an asset.

"This position involves working afternoons and evenings, as well as weekends."

This blogger worked at the Sudbury Star many, many moons ago when it was a Thomson newspaper and largely autonomous and like the Nugget served the north with pride.

And talk to Joe Warmington about the pride of working at the Sault Star.

Today, more paginated sameness for the masses, leaving remaining on-site editors with little to do with their creative juices.

Have layoff casualties at the four papers been deep? TSF hasn't received any body counts.

It seems declining readership and circulation stats be damned, full speed ahead on cost-cutting, sanitized centralization that is sucking the life out of community newspapers.

You Said It

Quote of the Week re employees at four Sun Media newspaper - Kingston Whig-Standard, London Free Press, Sault Ste. Marie Star and Woodstock Sentinel-Review - being nominated for 2009 NNAs.

Posted on TSF as an anonymous comment:

"I know it's a cliche, but for these guys to be nominated for NNAs - after enduring the garbage and hardship their own company foisted on them last year - is an award in itself.

"Don't let the indifference from Sun Media spoil things, all of your peers in this company tip their hat."

Yes, it does the heart good to see Sun Media journalists rise above the pettiness of Quebecor and strive to be be recognized for the work they are doing.

Here's hoping all of the nominees can afford to attend the awards gala in May on their own dime to savour the experience and to let PKP know they are not intimidated by his anti-awards edicts.

Thursday 18 March 2010

CCAB stats

Sun Media pulled out of the Audit Bureau of Circulation a couple of years ago and moved to the Canadian Circulation Audit Board.

We're not sure of the motives for the move, but 2009 CCAB circulation stats released yesterday to coincide with the 2009 NADbank readership numbers are mostly negative for Sun Media newspapers.

The saddest CCAB figures for Toronto Sun vets who remember when the Sunday Sun ruled over the Sunday Star are the 2009 average Sunday stats - 282,389 (200,644 paid, the remaining 81,745 sponsored/free copies).

The 2008 Sunday Sun figures were 319,499 (246,898 paid, the remaining 72,601 sponsored/free copies.)

In the fall of 1993, with the now retired Mike Burke-Gaffney at the helm as Sunday Sun editor, the Sunday paper peaked at 550,000.

The 2009 CCAB figures represent a circulation free fall of almost 270,000 Sunday papers since 1993 and a drop of more than 37,000 papers since 2008.

Do you think readers of Sunday papers are trying to tell Sun Media/Quebecor/PKP something about all of the cutbacks and content and format changes made to their Sunday Sun in the past decade or so?

You betcha.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Sobering stats?

Updated re Belleville, Niagara

It is St. Patrick's Day and the 2009 NADbank newspaper readership stats have just been released.

The key wording in one Newspaper Audience Databank recap is print readership during 2009 was "stable." So much for the doomsday folks who have been prematurely holding wakes for print media.

Well, stable for some newspapers, like the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail. A Toronto Star story says the Toronto Sun's weekday readership "plunged 21.5 per cent to 372,300" and the National Post "fell 13.5 per cent to 167,800."

So the spin has begun. Will Sun Media's spin on readership figures be sobering? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Metro Canada is euphoric.

As is the Calgary Herald.

And the Globe and Mail.

The Toronto Star is also upbeat.

We await Sun Media spin.

First in, the Orillia Packet & Times

Calgary Sun

Ottawa Sun

Edmonton Sun

Belleville Intelligencer

Niagara Falls Review

Joe & Tely box

Joe H

That's what we called Joe Hvilivitzky when he first joined the Toronto Sun newsroom in the late 1970s.

Or just plain Joe.

We figured he might move on before we tackled his last name, so why bother. But Joe H was a keeper, making a name for himself in the newsroom for 2 1/2 years as a GA, a court reporter and an ACE. He left then returned in 1980 for a few months.

Off he went again, this time to Alberta for stints at the Calgary Sun and Calgary Herald. In 2001, he returned to hometown Niagara Falls.

Out of the blue this week, an e-mail to TSF with an update and a vintage Toronto Telegram newspaper box offering:

"Hope you remember me," he writes.

"It's only recently I discovered your excellent and informative blog. It brings back so many good memories of my time at the Sun, both of people and events.

"Turns out TSF is my main source of information as to what is happening at the Niagara Falls Review, where I spent close to 10 years as reporter and city editor, and to which I am now but a subscriber and occasional cranky letter writer.

"Although retired, I am still doing some freelance - I write about marathon running, and am the part-time copy editor for Niagara Magazine, the Sun Media lifestyle mag here in the Niagara Peninsula. I also work as a sightseeing guide during the summer months.

"In addition to making contact, I do have another purpose in writing. You will have noticed the attachment - it is a photo of an old Toronto Telegram news box. I acquired this thing the day after the Tely closed up, from the local distributor in Niagara, and have been hauling it around with me ever since.

"Last year, it was finally banished to the basement, and last week the decision was made to let it go, as we did a major cleansing of possessions that had some sentiment attached but were serving no purpose other than as clutter.

"However, I couldn't bring myself to send this journalistic artifact to the sanitary landfill site (aka the dump), hence this note.

"Rather than put it on eBay or kijiji, I'd love to give it away to someone who would appreciate it and use it - preferably a former colleague.

"I know the purpose of TSF isn't to sell or distribute articles, but if you'd like this thing or know anyone who would, I'd appreciate any suggestions. Perhaps some sort of charitable purpose?


Cheers to you, Joe. Remember you - and your work.

As an auction fan, can tell you vintage newspaper boxes in good condition have sold for more than $100. Your Tely box appears to be in excellent condition.

It definitely does not belong in a dump. Every print vet's home should have one as a conversation piece.

TSF readers include former Telegram employees. Perhaps they might be interested.

A donation to a charity in exchange for the Tely box?

E-mail Joe if you are interested in the newspaper box or just want to catch up with a former colleague.

Another sale

The sell-off of Sun Media newspaper buildings continues this month with Quebecor listing the Stratford Beacon Herald building last week.

"The property at the corner of Erie Street and Packham Road in the city's south end, officially went up for sale last week and several interested parties have already toured the facility," says a Beacon Harold story.

"The newspaper continues to thrive but it is no longer printed in Stratford, making the building far too large for what it requires. The building is over 30,000 square feet including a 5,000-square-foot warehouse for newsprint."

That means the newspaper, now being printed in Toronto, will see its employees downsized to a "smaller non-industrial location more suited to its current workforce."

"I think most of us are looking forward to the move and to a new location," said publisher Dave Carter. "There is a lot of empty space here right now and it will be nice to move to a location where we can all be a little closer together."

Smaller is cozier. Just ask what remains of Toronto Sun staff. They have been reduced from six floors to a section of the second floor, tenants in the building the Sun's early success built in 1975.

But Quebecor is doing just fine "in these challenging times for newspapers," Beacon Herald readers are told in the story.

The story notes Quebecor's news media segment "increased its operating profit by $14.5 million or 26.5 per cent compared with the fourth quarter of 2008."

It doesn't describe the carnage throughout Canada's largest newspaper chain that contributed to those profits. The trauma of job losses, the shredding of workplace benefits, the evaporation of morale and generally turning journalists into sweatshop workers.

Monday 15 March 2010

09 NNA noms

Updated 3/20/10 re London Free Press column
Sun Media is represented in the 2009 National Newspaper Award nominees list announced today, but all five Sun tabloids are nowhere to be found.

The Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and National Post are in the running, but the Toronto Sun, along with the Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg Suns, will not be on, or near, the podium May 14 in Toronto.

Is that from a lack of entries from the tabloids following directives from PKP not to encourage NNA participation, or is the alleged NNA blackballing of the Suns still in the works?

Congratulations to Sun Media entrants at the Kingston Whig-Standard, London Free Press, Sault Ste. Marie Star and Woodstock Sentinel-Review, who have been nominated. It is Woodstock's first ever NNA nom.

Rob Tripp of the Kingston Whig-Standard, one of our favourite crime reporters, and a previous NNA winner, has two nominations.

Sun Media nominees:

Beat Reporting:
Rob Tripp
, Kingston Whig-Standard, for crime-justice coverage;

Local Reporting:
Rob Tripp and Paul Schliesmann, Kingston Whig-Standard, for stories of the mysterious death of four Montreal women in an alleged honour killing;

Elliot Ferguson
and Bruce Urquhart, Woodstock Sentinel-Review, for coverage of the abduction and murder of schoolgirl Tori Stafford;

Feature Photography:
Rachelle Labrecque, Sault Ste. Marie Star, for a photo of a tiny six-year-old child with primordial dwarfism and her mother;

Breaking News
A team from the London Free Press, for a series of stories about the abduction and killing of eight-year-old Tori Stafford of Woodstock;

There are 66 finalists in the 22 categories, selected from 1,301 entries submitted by 20 news organizations.

FYI: NNA winners, from 1949 through 2008.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Sun Media & ONAs

Updated 03/13/2010 re story links
On a day when Quebecor bean counters and shareholders cheer an increase in 4th quarter profits, TSF salutes all Sun Media employees nominated for 2009 Ontario Newspaper Awards.

They submitted numerous entries knowing they would be on their own for any expenses incurred and fully aware of PKP's lack of interest in promoting excellence in journalism.

Congratulations to all involved and good luck May 1.

These are nominated Sun Media entries as found in the Canadian Press story:

Larry N. Smith Award for Novice Reporting (under 25,000 circulation)
Tyler Kula - Sarnia Observer

Spot News Writing (over 25,000 circulation)
News team - London Free Press

Spot News Writing (under 25,000 circulation)
Lara Bradley, Harold Carmichael, Rachel Punch, Bob Vaillancourt - Sudbury Star
Corey Laroque - Niagara Falls Review
Elliott Ferguson - Woodstock Sentinel Review

Gene Florcyk Memorial Award for Sports Writing (over 25,000 circulation)
Bruce Garrioch - Ottawa Sun

Robert J. Hanley Award for Sports Writing (under 25,000 circulation)
John Law - Niagara Falls Review
Brian Smiley - Brantford Expositor
Cory Smith - Woodstock Sentinel-Review

London Free Press Award for Excellence in News Feature Writing
Rob Tripp and Paul Schliesmann - Kingston Whig-Standard

Feature Writing (under 25,000 circulation)
Lara Bradley - Sudbury Star
Teviah Moro - Orillia Packet and Times

Ontario Power Authority Award for Green Environment Writing
Rachel Punch - Sudbury Star

James Bruce Award for Excellence in Coverage of Entertainment and the Arts
John Law - Niagara Falls Review

Walter J. Blackburn Award for Excellence in Editorials, Opinion and Analysis (over 25,000 circulation)
Kalvin Reid - St. Catharines Standard

K.J. Strachan Award for Editorials, Opinion and Analysis (under 25,000 circulation)
Monte Sonnenberg - Simcoe Reformer
Brian MacLeod - Sudbury Star
Brad Peters - Niagara Falls Review

Joan May Memorial Award for Columns
Tom Mills - Sault Star

K.A. (Sandy) Baird Award for Humour Writing
Bernie Puchalski - St. Catharines Standard

Spot News Photography (over 25,000 circulation)
Julie Jocsak - St. Catharines Standard

Jack Bowman Memorial Award for Spot News Photography (under 25,000 circulation)
Elliott Ferguson - Woodstock Sentinel-Review
John Lappa - Sudbury Star
Corey Laroque - Niagara Falls Review

Feature Photography (under 25,000 circulation)
Diana Martin - Chatham Daily News
Christopher Smith - Brantford Expositor

Sports Photography (under 25,000 circulation)
John Lappa - Sudbury Star
Ken Pagan - North Bay Nugget
Brian Thompson - Brantford Expositor

John E. Motz memorial Award for Excellence in Layout and Design
Owen Sound Sun Times

Design and Graphics (under 25,000 circulation)
Sherri Lavigne - Sudbury Star
Darryl G. Smart - Woodstock Sentinel Review

Municipal Affairs Reporting (under 25,000 circulation)
Hugo Rodrigues - Woodstock Sentinel-Review
Denis St. Pierre - Sudbury Star
Gord Young - North Bay Nugget

Online Multimedia Special Project
London Free Press

As for the benefits of slashing staff, cancelling the Dunlop Awards, removing water coolers, cutting benefits, selling off real estate, eliminating Sunday sections, firing janitorial staff, closing papers, rolling three community newspapers into one, eliminating some Monday papers, selling out Pages 1 and 2 to advertisers, having employees work from their homes, eliminating newsroom cable TV service and other Sun Media carnage, click here.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Doing it right

When we talk about the glory years of the Toronto Sun, we're talking about consistent tabloid fronts - much like Tuesday's front.

Editors over the decades had fun with the front, but never at the expense of a solid crime, fire or accident photo story.

Toronto Sun editors have been hit and miss in the past year, clearly not focusing on placing the front page on a pedestal.

But they nailed it Tuesday, followed by solid news on Page 2 (two seniors struck by a truck); Page 4 (Mark Bonokoski's column on a reluctant crime witness); Page 5 (aftermath of the father and daughter fire deaths); Page 6 (cop killed); Page 7 (Peel police funeral).

Surprisingly, it was the Toronto Star that kissed off the cop killing story Tuesday, with a small front page head-and-shoulder photo and a brief throw to an inside page.

Once upon a time, the Sun was much more tab than broadsheet. We miss that, as do a lot of the vets who made the Sun what it was pre-Quebecor, pre-layoffs, pre-centralization, pre-pissing on journalists in general.

The successful formula Doug, Peter and Don created has largely been tossed, but we hang in there daily for the reliable contributions of the vets, whose professionalism at 333 clearly hasn't faded despite the hurt locker landscape.

Days like Tuesday warrant payment of $1.50 - plus tax.

Monday 8 March 2010

Sun & Moonlight

Mike Strobel is on a roll with his Moonlight Ladies, but readers lost out on the full impact of his Sunday Sun tribute to three of Creighton's Angels.

Four black and white and colour then-and-now photos of former Sun photogs Gail Harvey, Barbara Cole and Cherie Steinberg were in the print edition, but only one was used online.

The print edition's two-page tip of the hat to three talented young ladies who got away was another Strobel gem.

Current colour photos of Creighton's Angels, now all in their 50s, provided us glory days guys with a much needed Sun nostalgia trip.

Veronica Henri, an award-winning Toronto Sun photographer still on the job, is another Moonlight Lady candidate for Strobel's future spreads.

It's time editors provided appreciative baby boomers with a weekly Moonlight Lady in the Sun.

Gail Harvey's looks and smile at 57 makes the decision a no-brainer.

As Strobel describes her: "A good-looking grown-up babe with brains."

You said it, Mike.

Moonlight Ladies deserve their weekly space in the Sun.

Saturday 6 March 2010

OT: Saluting AMW

A Saturday salute to John Walsh and his crime-fighting America's Most Wanted series as AMW hits episode 1,000 tonight.

AMW tipsters have helped coral more than 1,100 fugitives in 23 years, the most recent arrest being made soon after Walsh appeared on Live With Regis and Kelly Friday morning with a promo clip.

Walsh, whose six-year-old son, Adam, was murdered in 1981, also sat down with President Barack Obama this week and footage will be included in tonight's episode.

AMW has helped return more than 50 missing children to their homes. Nicky Sullivan, one of those children, now grown, will join Walsh tonight.

Episode 1,000 is an impressive milestone for AMW, a productive reality series that Fox once briefly cancelled.

Walsh has been a friend to Canadian police forces over the years.

Many more, John.

More farewells

The Brantford Expositor and St. Catharines Standard are thinner this week as the Sun Media crunch continues.

TSF tipsters say Tammy Ransome, a 17-year circulation staffer at the Expositor pink-slipped two weeks ago, made her exit on Friday.

"Her job has been absorbed into the Sun Media circulation call centre," the tipster says.

Another tipster says the Sun Media chaos down Niagara way is affecting the operations of the Niagara Falls Review, St. Catharines Standard and Welland Tribune.

The tipster says the Review is already being assembled at the Standard. Beginning Monday, the Tribune will also be paginated at the Standard.

Editors who have been doing the work "are being demoted to reporters" and the duties of other media people are also being changed, says the tipster.

Meanwhile, Tiffany Mayer, a reporter at the Standard, has called it quits and has left to work in the private sector.

PKP's grand plan no doubt involves reducing Niagara newspaper production to one, as was done in Port Hope, Cobourg and Colborne, now called Northumberland Today.

Niagara Today, perhaps?

Friday 5 March 2010

Group publisher

There was a time when a newspaper publisher's domain was strictly where he hung his fedora.

The 21st century for Sun Media publishers has introduced a much wider scope.

Such as Kevin Klein, current publisher and CEO of the Winnipeg Sun, being crowned senior group publisher for all of Manitoba.

"In addition to his duties at the Winnipeg Sun, Klein will provide leadership to the Pembina publishing group - which includes the Winkler Times, Morden Times, Carman Valley Leader, and the Red River Valley Echo - as well as weekly and daily newspapers in the Interlake region, Portage la Prairie, and Kenora," says a story in the Winkler Times.

The story continues:

"His extensive background in management, sales, and marketing makes Klein the perfect person to fill this new expanded role, and to help Sun Media realize the synergies available within its Manitoba publishing properties," said Craig Martin, executive vice-president of operations - Western and Central Canada.

Klein has been WinSun's publisher/CEO since 2007, the year he was hired as director of advertising.

The story says previously, Klein spent 16 years with "Thompson Newspapers Ltd.", Southam Newspapers Ltd., and Brunswick News Ltd. Prior to joining the Sun Media Corporation, he was the vice president and general manager at Newcap Broadcasting Inc. in Winnipeg.

So there's that word "synergies" again.

And a Sun Media story should not be spelling Thomson Newspapers Ltd. with a "p". We learned that lesson decades ago.

The Ma Murrays

Margaret "Ma" Murray, a Kansas-born newspaper publisher who became a Canadian newspaper legend, died in 1982 but she has definitely not been forgotten.

Each year, the Ma Murray Community Newspaper Awards are handed out in British Columbia and young journalists have been known to Google the crusty newspaperwoman's name.

They learn the ways of a no-nonsense publisher and editor who, with her husband, George, launched the Bridge River Lillooet News in 1934 and other small B.C. and Yukon community newspapers before and after the News.

Murray, whose sign-off on editorials was "and that's fer damshur", was quite the character. The independent editor/columnist spoke her mind until the day she died at age 94.

Finalists for the Ma Murray awards were announced this week (PDF file). The awards will be presented April 10.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Brian Williams note

NBC's Brian Williams left a collective thank you note to Canada after reporting the nightly news from Vancouver during the Winter Olympics.

You can only heart Brian Williams after reading his heartfelt thanks to Canada. His observations include security without visible automatic weapons and the absence of horn honking on the streets.


"For having the good taste to have an anchorman named Brian Williams on your CTV network, who turns out to be such a nice guy."

Brian's thank you note.

Monday 1 March 2010

5-4-5 too

All five tabloid Suns went with the same front page photo today - this one with Team Canada hockey hero Sidney Crosby and the gold.

2010 Olympics

From ho-hum to a flag-waving humdinger, so went the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Canada and Canadians fared well in the eyes of the world, with a few exceptions.

Could the men's and women's hockey finales be more fitting for pumping the patriotism of Canadians from coast to coast?

There were more personal sidebar dramas in the lives of world athletes than any author could have imagined.

Vacationing Peter Worthington in Florida says Americans were seeing Canada in a new light thanks to print and broadcast media south of the border.

Let's hope Canada's image is now more than frozen tundra and beavers.

Rick Mercer should retest American knowledge of their neighbors to the north with a 2010 Talking to Americans series.

As for all of those cherished Olympic medals that have been kissed, caressed and proudly held high by athletes these past 17 days, this Motherboard video link tells the story of the design and manufacturing of the unique medals.

Speaking of medals . . .

TSF's medals:

Print Media

Gold - the Globe and Mail

Silver - the Toronto Star

Bronze - the Toronto Sun

Broadcast media

Gold - CTV (for generous live coverage, not delayed updates)

Silver - NBC (for sufficient exposure of Canada and Canadian athletes)

Bronze, by default - TSN

Kudos to:

All of the athletes, who just might have motivated countless couch potatoes to get off their butts and exercise;

The two Brians, Brian Williams of CTV and Brian Williams of NBC News;

Bob Costas, but why did NBC leave the closing festivities early to preview a new series? Party poopers.;

NBC's Tom Brokaw for his touching 9/11 tribute to the people of Gander, Newfoundland, which NBC has yanked off of YouTube.

Aside from the politics and commercialism, the 2010 Winter Olympics have provided young and old with lasting memories.

In a nutshell, the countless words, photographs and videos read and viewed around the world reflected what Canadians have always known - Canada is golden.

While we didn't own the podium, we sure did hog it.

30 - Pat Duncan

Pat Duncan, former publisher of both the Penticton Western News and the Summerland Review during the 1990s when owned by Bowes Publishers has died at his home in Penticton, B.C.

"He will be remembered as a caring guy who treated his staff like family and put others needs before his own," Don Sinclair, former executive VP and COO of Bowes tells TSF.

"Our deepest sympathy to Pat's family. May God bless you Pat, you were one of a kind and a dear friend to so many of us."

Sinclair says Pat, survived by his wife, Bonnie, three children and many friends from his days with Bowes, died following a 16-month battle with cancer.

Pat started his media career with the Western News Advertiser in 1974.