Thursday 30 September 2010

EdSun -3 more

Three more Edmonton Sun employees have left or given notice and a student intern asked to stay refused the job offer, says a TSF tipster.

Going/gone are Glen Werkman, page layout, Kristy Brownlee, reporter, and Candace Ward,  reporter/photographer, says the tipster.
Their departures follow recent exits by Jason Franson, Alyssa Noel, Clara Ho, Jefferson Hagen and freelancer Doreen Thunder.

Something isn't right at the tabloid when employees are leaving on their own terms.

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Long hauls

FP Newspapers are getting into the Sun Media swing of things when it comes to silencing printing presses.

It is mothballing Brandon Sun press runs and 45 jobs as of Friday in favour of printing the daily newspaper at FP's Winnipeg Free Press - 200 kilometres away.

A CBC News story says the Brandon Sun has been printing its own newspaper and other publications since  January 19, 1882.

Online nominees

Nominees for the U.S.-based 2010 Online Journalism Awards include the Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, CBC and the National Film Board of Canada, but no Sun Media efforts.

The awards, hosted by the Online News Association in partnership with the School of Communication at the University of Miami, will be awarded tomorrow in Washington, D.C.

The Canadian Journalism Project has a list of Canadian finalists and links.

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Tamara BB noms

The Toronto Sun's Tamara Cherry is a three-time nominee in the 2010 Beyond Borders Media Awards

She is nominated in the print category for:  

No way out; Falling through the cracks; The story of Eve (series), published in the Toronto Sun in October and 2009;

Eve's dark past revealed/Ex-Sex slave makes plea, published in the Toronto Sun on May 3 and 4, 2010.

Also nominated in the same category is the Ottawa Sun's Laura Czekaj for her Child Sex Slaves: Fighting a world of abuse, terror, published Sept. 17, 2009. 

Nominees were named today. Winners will be announced in Winnipeg on Nov. 19 during the 8th annual Beyond Borders Media Awards. 

Beyond Borders describes itself as "a national, bilingual, volunteer organization advancing the rights of children everywhere to be free from sexual abuse and exploitation. We are a registered charity without political or religious affiliation."

Monday 27 September 2010

Robin's farewell

Robin Anderson, former advice columnist and Robin's Eye View columnist, bid farewell to Sunday Sun readers yesterday. 

She writes:

"I have been very lucky in that I was allowed to remain on my soap box a bit longer once I was finished with the advice column. That said, this will be my last Robin’s Eye View printed across the nation. I want to thank Sun Media, and all the readers who have supported me on my journey over the past year and a half."

Robin doesn't say why it was her final column, whether it is was the two-time cancer survivor's  decision, or she is yet another columnist to be shown the door.

But it is safe to say readers who appreciated her daily advice and her Sunday columns will miss her presence in the papers.

All the best Robin and let TSF know when your blog is up and running.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Whig keeper

The Sun Media feel good story of the month was Ian Elliot's widely-publicized account of a nine-year-old Kingston boy planning a garage sale to buy a cemetery marker for his father.

The Kingston Whig-Standard's initial story prompted a Toronto gravestone company to donate a tombstone, but the sale of Blake McGinness' toys continued as scheduled today, with proceeds going to the Hospital for Sick Children.

A trust fund in Blake's name was also set up.

Teach your children well. Blake's father did.

Elsewhere in the news today, Rob Ford's picture was on the front page of the Toronto Sun for the fifth time this month. Yawn.

Baby boomers

A TSF reader recently posted this comment: "People still read newspapers? When are you people going to learn?"

Wayne Janes, a Toronto Sun vet, replied: "Give me a break! Look around you. Swallow a little of that arrogance. Anybody who thinks newspapers are dead just isn't paying attention."

Hear, hear.

In the rush to the Internet, younger people and some media conglomerates have lost sight of the wants of baby boomers, a post-WW2 generation raised on print and set in their reading habits.

 If you want to talk demographics, in 2009 more than 40% of Canada's working population were baby boomers aged 45 to 64.

The other 2009 stats were 30.1% for the 30 to 44 age group, and 29.5% for the 15 to 29 group.

So call baby boomers the print generation. When they all move on and the post-home computer generation represents the majority, print might very well die. 

But until then, respect the wishes of your elders - and the majority.  

Media conglomerates want newspaper readers to switch to the Internet to improve the bottom line, not for reasons based on the demands of readers. 

The need to read should not be impeded by greed.

Decimating print newspapers to force readers - and advertisers - to switch to the Internet isn't good business.

It just opens the doors to print-minded independent dailies and weeklies, run by newspaper people who are quite aware of the baby boomer stats.

Friday 24 September 2010

Ford heart Levy

Updated re Sue-Ann's response to Star 
A Toronto Star blog posting says Rob Ford "was the largest contributor" to Sue-Ann Levy's failed provincial campaign in 2009.

The Star's list of campaign donations shows Ford, now leading the polls in his run for Toronto mayor, topped the list at $1,000. 

The Star blog also has a photo of Levy, the Toronto Sun's city hall columnist, dancing with Ford.

TSF note: Howard Moscoe is not on Levy's campaign donations list.

Sue-Ann wrote about the $1,000 campaign contribution in her Sunday Sun column

Favourite para: "So when Robyn Doolittle of the Toronto Star tried last Thursday to make hay of the idea there’s a link between my $1,000 donation from Ford and the columns I’ve written in recent months reflecting the anger into which Ford has tapped, I couldn’t help but think, gawd I go awfully cheap."

Rory no more

Updated re link to Saturday column
Joe Ruscitti, the new editor in chief at the London Free Press, explains in his blog why veteran columnist Rory Leishman and the LFP have parted company:

"As I mentioned here yesterday, the decades-long relationship between The London Free Press and columnist Rory Leishman is at an end.

"It was not planned, but ended with a dispute over one of his columns. As editor in chief - this happened two or three days into my taking the role, so you can imagine how little joy it brought - I refused to print the column without some changes. 

"Leishman refused to make changes and said he would write no longer for The Free Press were the column not to run.

"Without getting into all the details - you can read the original column and Leishman’s thoughts about the dispute on his blog – it boiled down, really, to a standoff between unfettered free speech and the standards to which I believe the community holds this newspaper.

"My first column as editor in chief appears in Saturday’s newspaper and is about the whole thing."

We await your Saturday column. Meanwhile, it is time to change the sidebar wording on the editors' blog:

"Thoughts from our editors, including Editor-in-Chief Paul Berton and Managing Editor Joe Ruscitti, on the challenges of daily journalism."

Righting wrongs 2

We've always taken note of how the London Free Press tells it like it is in its editors' blog.

Kudos again for this posting yesterday, a response to a reader's observation that the paper had taken a turn to the far right.

Here it is:

By London Free Press Editors

An astute email today from a reader who noted his coffee group had reached a consensus that The Free Press had become more right-wing of late.

Just so, Terry, and, no, it’s not something in the coffee. But there’s more to the story.

The Sun Media chain of newspapers made a conscious decision in the last months to be clearer of editorial voice and, knowing its market for compact newspapers - let’s just call them tabloids - veered more right on the political spectrum in its opinion columns and editorials or points-of-view, as we call them.

But it has since realized that what’s good for the tabloids in big cities such as Toronto and Calgary and Edmonton, might not be as good for the 20 or so community broadsheet newspapers it owns in Ontario cities such as London and Kingston and St. Catharines, as well as smaller centres such as Sarnia, Chatham-Kent and Woodstock.

If that coffee group keeps an eye on things for the next weeks, I think it will note a certain nudge back to a more centrist view of things that includes voices from more of a range of political views.

(TSF note: Does that include a return of Eric Margolis?)

This also seems as good a time as any to tell you the long association between The Free Press and writer Rory Leishman is at an end.

More on that here Friday and in Saturday’s Free Press, but let me make clear that the one, no more Rory, did not follow from the other, the decision to shift Free Press opinion pages back toward the political centre, although it would be perfectly natural to conclude it did.

End of posting.

More damage control in the aftermath of the Tory Kory mayhem? Looks like it and editors of Sun Media's community newspapers are probably doing the happy dance.

We're not so sure the far, far right is "good for the tabloids in big cities," but small steps.

Righting wrongs

Sun Media has corrected a wrong in rehiring Peter Zimonjic, one of Tory Kory's six casualties.

When Kory moved to Sun Media, soon gone from the Parliamentary bureau were Greg WestonElizabeth Thompson, Christina Spencer, Peter Zimonjic and Kathleen Harris.
A Thursday afternoon Zimonjic Tweet reads: "The Ottawa Sun has a new Comment Editor and Columnist: Me, and no I am not kidding …"

It is not the Parliamentary bureau, but it is Ottawa and a resurrection of Peter's talents.

Harris was moved from the bureau to national  news and Spencer has been writing for Postmedia, so still adrift are Weston and Thompson. 

And Eric Margolis, another body set adrift after 27 years as an op-ed columnist. 

Just how many wrongs will Sun Media correct in its effort to clean up the Tory Kory mess? 

Peter's return is an encouraging first move.

Thursday 23 September 2010

TorSun outgunned

Was the Toronto Sun the only Sun Media tabloid to be humiliated by Wednesday's false front ad?

What is surprising is the Toronto Sun submitted this false front to Newseum for its global front pages instead of the legitimate front.

Edmonton didn't submit a front page to Newseum, so we're not sure if it also had a false front.

Calgary, Ottawa and Winnipeg submitted fronts relevant to the news of the day, but we're not sure if they had false fronts but chose not to send them to Newseum.

If TSF readers in other tab cities can let us know if their Suns also had false fronts, it would be appreciated. If Toronto was on its own, why subject the largest circulation tabloid in the chain to self-mutilation? Is the ad money worth selling out the front page?

This is what global Newseum visitors saw for Calgary, Ottawa and Winnipeg:

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Tabbing it? Not.

Last week's call for the Suns to "tab it up" was heard by Toronto Sun editors - for a few days.

Today's Sun had another one of those false fronts to appease an advertiser, the least appealing bogus front to date.


Ins and outs

Kennedy Gordon must be feeling like an accordion.

A TSF tipster says Gordon was a Peterborough Examiner page editor when laid off on Black Tuesday - Dec. 16, 2008, when 600 Sun Media employees were pink-slipped.

Gordon came back as a reporter a few months ago, but was cut again last week, says the tipster.

But thanks to another reporter who opted to leave for another job, Gordon is back on staff.

Ed Greenspan?

So where is Edward Greenspan, the occasional Toronto Sun op-ed columnist?

We haven't seen his enlightening prose for months. Actually, it has been a year since last published in the tabloid.

The Sun landed Canada's favourite criminal lawyer in February of 2008, with columns every second Monday.

Was Greenspan quietly dropped to save a buck, or two, or was his court calendar just too hectic to continue writing for the Sun?

People come and go at the Sun and most often, readers are never told the reasons for their departures.

Chilean miners

How would Chuck Tatum have handled the story of the ongoing rescue of 33 Chilean miners trapped 2,000 feet below the surface?

One thing is certain, Kirk Douglas' 1950s newspaperman in Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole, wouldn't have the exclusive he manipulated for his own gain.

Also known as The Big Carnival, the movie comes to mind with every news report from Chile. The world awaits the rescue of not one, lone trapped miner as in Ace in the Hole, but 33.

Thanks to today's technology, the Chilean miners have been appearing live daily on camera from the depths of the mine.

Trapped since Aug. 5, they are being cheered on around the world.

Recent drilling video. NASA press conference.

An AFP story Tuesday says the miners, instant celebrities, will receive training during rescue operations on giving television and newspaper interviews when rescued.

The story says:

Chilean officials, who said world interest is likely to become even more intense when the men are finally freed, said the planned training will help the workers cope with the coming media onslaught.

The miners will receive instruction via close-circuit television on "remaining poised during an interview, asking the interviewer to repeat the question if they don't understand it, and how to say that they prefer not to answer" a given question, said Alberto Iturra, the psychologist who has been tasked with overseeing the men's mental and emotional well-being during the ordeal.

"They're very excited about it," (Iturra) said, adding that some of the miners have even talked about writing a book about their experience.

Best sellers, for sure.

It is the rescue story of a lifetime. Hollywood is guaranteed to be on the hunt for a movie script. Hopefully, it will have a happy ending for all involved.

In a perfect world, the 33 miners will all become wealthy enough to avoid working another day in the copper mines.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Alberta cuts

Updated re a buyout, a retirement, new appointment?
The Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune in Alberta is losing its group publisher and associate publisher, says a TSF tipster.

"Doug Hare, the associate publisher is gone today," says the tipster. "He started as a paper delivery boy. He was publisher at the Wetaskiwin Times for a long time as well."

Kent Keebaugh, senior group publisher for the Sun/Bowes papers, has also been given his papers, says the tipster.

"He is done at the end of the month."

Meanwhile, other TSF readers say no "papers" involved here. They say Hare accepted a buyout and Keebaugh is retiring.

Amber Ogilvie is the new senior group publisher, northern Alberta, and publisher of the Herald-Tribune, says a tipster.

In 2006, Ogilvie, a 15-year Sun Media vet, was appointed publisher of 24 Hours Vancouver. She was previously publisher of the Stratford Beacon Herald for six years.

A 2006 press release said Ogilvie had also served as senior group publisher for Sun Media's central Ontario division.

Monday 20 September 2010

Atwood's story

Margaret Atwood has blogged about how her 600-word op-ed guest column reached readers of the Sunday Sun.

In a nutshell, Atwood says she had the grounds to sue Sun Media, but instead accepted an offer to write about the Fox News North petition she signed and the Sun stories that followed.

Atwood says "although I had grounds for a lawsuit or two of my own, I decided not to go down that road at present - who can afford the time? - and instead invoked the Great Pumpkin."

She writes in her The Year of the Flood blog:

"They (Sun Media) offered me 600 words. I took them.

"I tried to cover some of the high (or low) points of the many allegations about me made in their various articles, though doubtless I didn’t get them all. Their lawyers went over every word to make sure it was all factually accurate."

Meanwhile, the petition has been signed by more than 80,000 visitors to the site.

Terry Fox

Thousands of people have thousands of stories to tell about encounters with Terry Fox, who remains a cancer-fighting Canadian icon three decades after his death.

One of our favourites - aside from a 15-minute interview with Terry in the rain on the side of the highway in Quebec, followed by an all-time favourite handshake - is about Darryl Sittler's friendship with Terry.

Sittler, a former Toronto Maple Leafs captain and an idol of the one-legged runner from British Columbia, again recalled his time with Terry in an interview with the Toronto Sun's Lance Hornby.

The Fox-Sittler moment in time is a story we'll never tire of hearing or reading.

What a special time it was for both of them, especially for Terry, who had run through much of Quebec alone on the side of the road, with little fanfare and wondering how he would be received in Ontario.

We all know how Ontario - and a guy named Sittler - welcomed Terry.

Great read, Lance.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Atwood in Sun

Resurfacing after three months of Tory Kory bullying and name calling, the Toronto Sun regains some of its old shine today with a guest op-ed column by Margaret Atwood.

Atwood was given the opportunity to clear the air on the recent, and very public, Fox News North boondoggle and does so in detail.

That is the Sun we admire.

The Sun used to be known as a tabloid that didn't take itself seriously. Irreverent is a word most often used.

Kory took himself and Sun Media too seriously and it had a largely negative impact on Ottawa staffers and the chain's image.

The mood he created online and in print was as far from the spirit of the 62 former Telegram employees who launched the Sun on Nov. 1, 1971, as you could get.

And it no doubt left a bitter taste in the mouths of the thousands of dedicated Sun people who followed.

The firings, name calling and threatened legal actions certainly weren't Doug Creighton's cup of tea.

The only question now centres on whether the Sun's new columnist, Ezra Levant, is as loose a cannon as Tory Kory. Will yesterday's Sun Media retraction satisfy George Soros?

Stay tuned.

Saturday 18 September 2010

Warning bell?

A concerned TSF reader sent this Help Wanted posting in hopes of calming fears of more Sun Media layoffs.

"Our newspaper company dominates the southwestern/southern Ontario market and this smells of another daily newspaper decentralizing effort," says the reader.

So what do you make of the following?

Copy Editors (multiple) REF#: JG7909
Location: southwestern, Ontario
Posted: September 17, 2010
Deadline: October 8, 2010


Editors with experience on a daily newspaper copy desk are needed for full- and part-time work in Southern Ontario.

Solid spelling and grammatical skills as well as knowledge of CP Style are vital. Proficiency in Quark and Indesign are valuable, but not essential.

Telecommuting is not an option.

Thanks to all applicants but only qualified candidates will be contacted. Please e-mail resume and cover note - stating you found this job on Jeff Gaulin's Journalism Job Board - to:

southwestern , ON


Friday 17 September 2010 videos added video replays of Canoe Live segments in March for those who don't watch it live on Sun TV weekdays at 5:30 p.m.

For Toronto Sun Family, it is an opportunity to see former colleagues still on the job appearing as guest commentators.

Yesterday, it was Peter Worthington commenting on Clifford Olson's latest attention-grabber, sending the Sun's co-founder a pension cheque to forward to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Clancy to Post?

Confirm or deny: Postmedia is courting Lou Clancy, the Toronto Sun's retired editor-in-chief.

Clancy made his exit from 333 last November and media pundits said he would not be out of the media spotlight for long.

When it comes to Clancy's genes, once a newsman always a newsman.

Don Martin's POV

And now a word, or two, from Don Martin, the Calgary Herald's political columnist in Ottawa re Fox News North and the exit of Kory Teneycke.

Informative piece by a pal of Greg Weston, one of Kory's casualties.

He wraps up by saying:

"And to remain must-watch television once it hits the airwaves, might I suggest Sun TV News feature personalities from across the political spectrum. No viewers, even diehard Conservatives, want all-right all-night."

You said it, Don.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Adler's nation

A memorable line from the movie 2010 came to mind the other day when Quebecor advised media of a happening in Winnipeg scheduled for Wednesday.

"Something wonderful is about the happen."

The happening in Winnipeg was the unveiling of Canadian talk show host Charles Adler as the newest member of the Sun News team.

But a few hours before yesterday's big announcement, Sun News leader Kory Teneycke suddenly resigned and jumped off the Fox News North bandwagon.

Talk about raining on someone's parade.

A Canadian Press story says: Charles Adler has signed as an anchor for an evening Winnipeg-based show that will air if Quebecor Media's planned Sun TV news network goes on air next year.

Adler told reporters while he is right-leaning, he's not a "unabomber" radical extremist.

The talk show host - heard weekday afternoons on Toronto's AM640 - is no stranger to Sun Media. Toronto Sun staffers, including Lorrie Goldstein and Joe Warmington, have been guests numerous times in recent years.

He says he won't be giving up his day job, which is probably a good decision. The road to a Sun News license has been rocky and controversial and we're still a month away from a CRTC hearing.

Sun columnists have been talking about a Jan. 1 Sun News launch as if it is a done deal. That arrogance can partly be blamed for rumours of a backroom deal involving Kory's ties to the prime minister's office.

Meanwhile, Peter Worthington nailed it in a weekend column when he said the proposed national TV channel needs a new logo that will distance itself from Sun Media's existing TV station.

"I’d argue that first: Get a new logo.

"The present logo is associated in the minds of many with Sun TV’s heavy reliance on re-runs and stuff from the archives - old Hitchcock movies repeated again and again, and programs like Super Dave comedy, and the Dear John sitcom, all of which may be nostalgic but are hardly cutting edge.

"A new logo might better prepare viewers for the 'hard news, straight talk' promises - the present logo is a reminder of ancient reruns."

That is the kind of positive thinking the Fox News North team needs to get out from under the recent name calling and questionable tactics.

Another face-saving proposal worth considering comes from media commentator M.J. Murphy in a blog posting at The Mark.

Kory's statement has posted Kory Teneycke's full resignation statement.

It reads:

Good morning:

Just over a year ago, I departed Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Office to work for Quebecor Media.

My role was to work on developing a business plan to convert the current Sun TV station into a cable all news network.

After months of developing our business plan the boards of QMI and TVA gave the green light and I assumed effective control of the project, as well as responsibility for the National Bureau for Sun Media.

The core of our business case was to fill a void in the market by presenting a new type of news channel.

To create a channel that would reflect the long established brand of the Sun newspaper chain - populist, irreverent, and with a conservative editorial stance.

It was, and continues to be, my belief that this project will bring additional competition and diversity to the media landscape, and give Canadian television news a long overdue shakeup.

An ambitious plan, and a controversial one.

A plan that should be supported by all those who believe a diversity of media voices broadens debate and helps strengthen our democracy.

Since the announcement of Sun TV News, the channel has both courted, and attracted, a great deal of controversy. Some good and some bad.

Like anyone launching a new product in the marketplace, I have deliberately taken shots at the market incumbents -- bluntly pointing out what we view as their inadequacies -- and by doing so define what our place in the market would be.

A channel that is "Controversially Canadian" that offers "hard news" during the day and "straight talk" opinion shows at night.

Over the summer, this controversy has gotten out of hand. It has morphed from one of market differentiation to something more vicious and vitriolic. And yes, at times I have contributed to the debasing of the debate myself.

More recently this has led to a number serious accusations and conspiracy theories, that have been repeated so often they have taken on the aura of fact, including:

That Sun TV News is seeking to tax Canadians with a "Must Carry" designation (this has never been the case).

Accusations of improper political interference in the arms length regulatory process for our television license,

Nefarious plots with foreign news corporations, and

The overt politicization of our news gathering process for partisan gain.

My past political involvement and close association with this government have led to me being a central figure in most of these accusations -- regardless of their lack of merit.

The perception problems associated with such a quick move from active politics to overseeing a bureau covering the government you just worked for, are obvious, and have caused a great deal of discomfort for many of you in the media.

As the saying goes, perception can be reality.

And when over 80 thousand people sign a petition saying our intent is to propagate hate, you know these perceptions have moved into the realm of reality.

While most of these criticisms are not based in fact, it has become increasingly clear that my continued involvement in the project will only serve to further inflame these issues and misconceptions about what Sun TV News aspires to offer Canadians.

If this continues, as I believe it will, it could deeply harm the public perception of the channel before it even goes to air, and may even put at risk our license application itself.

Therefore; I am here to announce that yesterday afternoon I offered my resignation to Quebecor Media.

This was not an easy decision, but I believe the right one. The right decision for Quebecor, the right decision for me, and the right decision for the project.

It is my hope my departure will hit the reset button, lower the temperature, and allow a more rational debate over the television license for Sun TV News to occur. One not tainted by politics and controversies of the past months.

Part of leading a team is knowing when your presence is a detriment to its success.

While I am intensely passionate about this project, it has never been about a political crusade, or about me. Rather it is about filling a void in the market by offering a new choice, and a new voice to Canadians.

I will continue to be a strong believer in Sun TV News, and a strong believer in Quebecor Media. My hope is this channel will get a license and Canadians will tune in with an open mind.

The project will continue and I encourage you to watch for the event in Winnipeg later today.

Let me close by thanking Pierre Karl Peladeau for his friendship and support and willingness to bring this project forward. I would also like to acknowledge the talented management and journalists at Sun Media and TVA, in whom I have every confidence. I know they will make this project a success.

Thank you very much.

Weston to Star?

The tweet is short and sweet: "I will be having a drink with Greg Weston today."

It was posted by Susan Delacourt, senior political writer for the Toronto Star.

Now, they could be just old friends getting together for a Bud, or Sun Media's ousted political writer could soon be writing for the Star.

TSF readers have been saying Weston, ousted in the Sun Media Parliamentary bureau sweep in June, is too talented to be idle.

Tory Kory resigns

Kory Teneycke, the PMO's former wonder boy leading the charge for Sun Media's "Fox News North" resigned today.

Who saw that coming?

Check out the CTV story and comments.

A Reuters story reads: The front man for Quebecor Inc's proposed 24-hour news and comment channel, dubbed "Fox News North" by critics, announced his resignation on Wednesday, citing controversy over his political ties.

Kory Teneycke, former chief spokesman for Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, will step down immediately as vice-president of development for Quebecor after about three months in the job.

Luc Lavoie, a close associate of Quebecor's chief executive, Karl Peladeau, will replace Teneycke.

Much more in the Reuters story dealing with the New York-based anti-Fox News North petition, alleged fraud etc.

BTW: The Reuters story says: Teneycke did not comment directly on the petition scandal, other than to say that the 80,000 signatures opposing the project were a sign that his involvement was doing more harm than good.

But on the Sun front, the damage is done when it comes to Kory's house cleaning since his arrival, with Greg Weston, Elizabeth Thompson, Christina Spencer, Peter Zimonjic and Kathleen Harris gone from the Parliamentary bureau and Eric Margolis bounced as an op-ed writer.

His way of doing business didn't sit well with a lot of Sun vets.

Perhaps Luc Lavoie will be more focused on the end game - and a little more diplomatic in the name of Sun Media.

SONG vote

Employees at Ming Pao, one of Toronto's largest Chinese-language newspapers, voted to unionize yesterday under the CEP Local 87M media union, says a CNW press release.

The successful vote culminated a three-week open campaign for the union, generated by the desire for improved wages, benefits, working conditions and, in a word, respect, says union prez Brad Honywill.

"Now the employees can begin the process of electing a bargaining committee, developing contract proposals and meeting management to forge a first contract."

Two other Chinese papers, Sing Tao Daily and World Journal, are already organized.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Print booster

While Canada's cash-strapped media conglomerates are squeezing the life out of print media, Manitoba's Lana Meier has gone print with three new free weeklies.

Meier, 43, in the newspaper business for 25 years, became a Sun Media staffer after the chain bought three family-owned newspapers in 1992, says a Winnipeg Free Press story. She resigned as group publisher earlier this year.

The inspiring Free Press story says Meier, with two partners and 15 employees, have launched three new weeklies: the Selkirk (18,000 print run), the Winkler/Morden Voice (15,000 print run), and the Stonewall/Teulon Tribune (7,800 print run).

Meier told the Free Press the mission of the new papers is to provide grassroots reporting to connect people to the communities and make the communities stronger.


All the best Lana Meier.

Peterborough 2

A Peterborough Examiner tipster writes:

"A townhall meeting has been called for today by our publisher, Gordon Brewerton.

"More cuts of some kind are expected to be announced. As of yesterday we no longer have a retail sales manager and last week the circulation manager was walked out the door.

"We will likely lose publishing days."

Another tipster commented on yesterday's Examiner cuts: Sports editor Greg Davis and reporter Kennedy Gordon.

"Greg had only been there a couple of years but already had a great reputation in the community. He brought an awful lot to that newsroom. Probably one of its strongest people.

"Same could be said about the reporter they let go. Kennedy Gordon was a great editor who was let go when all the cuts were made in December 2008. They hired him back as a reporter, and now he is gone again - victim of being low man on the totem pole, I guess.

"He had tons of experience and tons of talent. He was carrying the bulk of the big stories in The Examiner each day. Huge loss in each case."

Peterborough sounds ripe for the launch of an independent newspaper.

Linehan & TIFF

Brian Linehan, the late Toronto Sun entertainment writer, was toasted by TIFF attendees yesterday.

The new Bell Lightbox, just steps from the factory where the Toronto Sun got its start in 1971, has a Brian Linehan Research Library in his honour.

George Anthony, the Sun's Day One entertainment editor and Linehan's biographer, and director Norman Jewison were among the celebs telling Linehan stories, says TV writer Bill Brioux.

You can read Brioux's piece here.

Bob Gage frugal

When Bob Gage, a former London Free Press sports reporter, died July 12 at age 89, who knew he had $1 million to leave to the University of Western Ontario.

But, says a Canadian Press story on, that is the amount the former longtime Western Mustangs beat reporter left for scholarships and a sports museum.

Question of the day, says CP: How does a local sports reporter have $1 million to bequeath?

Carole Stinson, the university's campaign director, said Gage was frugal and simply saved his money.

Take note, Freep employees.

Peterborough -2

The ever-shrinking Peterborough Examiner lost another reporter and its sports editor to layoffs Monday, TSF tipsters report.

" It may just be a coincidence that collective bargaining begins this week," says one tipster. "The last contract expired in August.

"There's talk there could be more layoffs on the way."

No names were provided by tipster, but the Examiner sports editor is listed as Greg Davis. Updates would be appreciated re the names and years on the job.

We see the thinning Examiner out this way occasionally and the paper has always taken pride in its local sports coverage. Sports without a rudder doesn't bode well for readers.

A common complaint on smaller Sun Media dailies and weeklies is the amount of content coming from Toronto and other locales, reducing space for local news and sports.

The Examiner, once a proud city daily, is dying a slow death.

Sunday 12 September 2010

Tab it up?

Word that Quebecor management has told editors of the six Sun Media tabloids to "tab it up" has a former Toronto Sun vet fuming.

"What a bunch of bullshit," says the former staffer. "The Toronto Sun was THE tab in Canada and it spawned. Why? Because it had great people. You just can't 'tab it up.' It needs talent.

"Which, of course, is why the modern day Suns can't 'tab it up' and won't. Quebecor got rid of all the talent."

Exactly. During the first three decades of the Toronto Sun, management had a knack of hiring tab-friendly editors, including a few Brits. The chemistry was sweet and the Sun shone daily.

That newsroom magic went poof when the pros were fired, laid off or were quick to take buyouts to flee the Quebecor chaos at 333.

PKP might have improved the bottom line with staff cuts, but he squandered what made the Toronto Sun unique - its gifted tab talent. A wildly successful formula began hemorrhaging.

Numerous front pages this year have left Sun vets befuddled and that reflects the lack of tab experience. Three consecutive Rob Ford fronts? A bit much.

Meanwhile, just how tabby will the tabs get?

Does Quebecor's "tab it up" mean British tab, with topless SUNshine Girls and oodles of cops and robbers front pages?

Or crime-dominated Quebec tabs of old?

Stay tuned.

Wiki whacker

Updated re TSF reader adding John Downing
Thanks to a TSF reader, we have pinned down the date of a major Toronto Sun alumni list trimming on Wikipedia for reasons that are baffling.

Many of the names mentioned as absent in the previous TSF posting were listed July 24, but deleted Aug. 12.

The edit tag line reads: 19:22, 12 August 2010 DGG (talk | contribs) (13,037 bytes) (Sun alumni: removing those without Wikipedia articles, unless obviously notable.) (undo)

Those deleted include Gary Dunford. Mr. Page 6 isn't notable? John Downing, a Day Oner, former editor and columnist. Not notable? Jerry Gladman, late, great columnist. Not notable?

Other names deleted: McKenzie Porter, Ed Monteith, Hartley Steward, Joan Sutton, J. Douglas MacFarlane, Valerie Gibson and numerous other Sun vets.

What an insult.

So who is DGG and how did he/she determine who is "obviously notable" in the history of the flagship Sun? Is he/she fresh out of school? Working from a cliquish PKP approval list?

We'd suggest DGG read up on the history of the Toronto Sun before reducing the likes of JDM, Dunford, Steward, Sutton and others to alumni who are not "obviously notable."

The list as of July 24 should be restored. Work from there to provide "articles," if that is what it takes to recognize all of the men and women who helped make the tabloid a success.

A TSF reader writes:

"There already is a Wikipedia page for John Downing, so I added his name to the alumni list. Anyone can edit Wikipedia to update the pages with info."

Saturday 11 September 2010

Wacky Wiki

Keepers of the Toronto Sun alumni list on Wikipedia have removed this blogger's name.

Was it something we said?

But seriously, selective memories are keeping numerous Sun alumni off of the list and we are wondering if that can be remedied.

Most of the people responsible for the success of the Little Paper That Grew have left 333 and many of their names are not listed.

The alumni/alumnae newsroom list should include these currently omitted names: Hartley Steward, Gary Dunford, John Downing, Jerry Gladman, Kathy Brooks, Gord Stimmell, Mike Burke-Gaffney, Ian Harvey, Len Fortune, Al Cairns, Hugh Wesley, Ed Monteith, J.D. MacFarlane, McKenzie Porter, Bob Pennington, Valerie Gibson, Scott Morrison, Percy Rowe and many more.

Some say Wikipedia and accuracy are strangers, but if people are turning to the site to learn about the history of the flagship Sun Media tabloid, the alumni list should be more respectful of the men and women who helped make it all happen.

With the Toronto Sun's 39th anniversary coming up on Nov. 1, perhaps Wiki can get it right in time for the tabloid's milestone 40th anniversary.

Meanwhile, what are the criteria for making the Wiki list? Are more volunteers needed to do a proper job?

Short shorts

If you have lost track of the various Canadian media conglomerates and what they own, this Reuters summary will help get you back on track. What we need now is a list of all independent media outlets, especially the print publications popping up.

An Eric Margolis 9/11 blog posting at Huffington Post has been pulled. Online surfers looking for a Thursday story titled Will We Ever Learn The Truth About 9/11? are told: Editor's Note: This post violated our blogger guidelines, so it has been removed.

The Ottawa Sun is looking for a comment editor, with a Sept. 17 application deadline. One of the required qualifications: "Writing a minimum of three editorials a week that are consistent with the editorial tone and stance of the newspaper." Liberals need not apply.

Ellin Bessner, a Centennial College journalism teacher, knew a common question at the start of a new semester would be about J-jobs. So she scanned popular job websites and "found about 450 job postings . . . before I stopped counting!" Her blog posting.

Sun Media launched its revamped 24 Hours across the chain on Tuesday. "Nowhere will these enhancements be more evident than in Toronto where the daily 24 Hours edition is distributed in full-gloss," says a press release. Any feedback on the major facelift?

Toronto Sun Family is a recommended Toronto blog on Tripbase Review. The site's summary reads: "A candid look behind the scenes of one of the city's most popular papers. Worth visiting regularly and of particular interest to residents or those interested in the publishing/journalism industry." Many thanks. We are blushing.

Friday 10 September 2010

Re bottom line

A posted comment re our Bottom line blues item:

"All of this is disheartening. When I first came across this site I was pleased. It was uplifting to find a community that still cared about standards in the newspaper industry. Unfortunately, I think the contributors to this site are voices crying out in the wilderness.

"There was a time when industry 'leaders' listened to the voice in the wilderness, because it was their job to so. Now, industry 'leaders' are only interested in bonuses and pay packages.

"I haven't worked in the newspaper industry as long as many - I have only worked in it for around 20 years. In the past two decades, however, I have witnessed a distinct decline in standards in the industry as a whole.

"I have sat at board meetings where senior executives have been more interested in the quality of the food that was served than the business being discussed. I have seen exceptional employees tucked into quiet corners and incompetent ass-kissers promoted. I have seen the exodus of talent and witnessed quality newspapers turned into glorified flyer carriers.

"Some bright and rising stars left in disgust to work in other industries. They are the ones who are smiling. Those who remained at their posts were rewarded with layoffs or were forced to see the newspapers they worked at and had pride in turned into cat litter box liners.

"I'm not sure how much longer I can remain in an industry that is being systemically cannibalized by delusional management. I can only hope that an industry 'leader' finally comes along that is willing to listen to the voices crying out in the wilderness."

Mark Dailey, Big C

There are a lot of gentlemen in the news biz and Mark Dailey has always stood tall among them while working the TV news beat in Toronto.

A Cittv fixture for 31 years, the Ohio native shared his successful battle with prostate cancer six years ago and became a cancer spokesperson.

Tonight's City Fights Cancer at 7 p.m., followed by Stand Up To Cancer on Citytv will be more personal for Mark's colleagues and friends after learning Wednesday he now has kidney cancer.

Mark says he was preparing for the City Fights Cancer special when doctors told him he has a tumour on his left kidney.

As he did with prostate cancer, Mark is talking openly about his new medical challenge and will no doubt continue to be an inspiration to thousands of other cancer patients.

Mark has told viewers he will anchor the 11 p.m. CityNews Tonight for two more weeks before taking time off for his daughter's wedding on Oct. 1, followed by surgery.

Fight the good fight, Mark.


Joe Ruscitti, the new editor-in-chief at the London Free Press, is a seasoned news vet who started at the paper as a reporter more than 20 years ago.

Paul Berton's replacement was announced yesterday.

Ruscitti, 49, who started as a reporter in 1988 and worked his way up to managing editor before leaving for a stint at the Globe and Mail, will be multi-tasking in his new job.

He "also will double as regional editor for Sun Media’s south central Ontario operations," says LFP publisher Susan Muszak.

"I’m looking forward to all of us and readers having some fun,” Ruscitti, a Niagara Falls native, says in the story.

Time will tell if Free Press employees will continue to be free to speak their minds, which Berton and staff did before he left in May for a job at the Hamilton Spectator.

Bottom line blues

It's all about the bottom line.

Item 1
A TSF tipster says PKP has closed Sun Media's Dresden, Ontario, pagination centre just three months after determined employees got their first contract in the Sarnia Observer's bargaining unit. Cheaper, non-union paginators in London and Woodstock will be doing the work.

"For anyone else, this is a new low," says the tipster, "but for Pierre-Karl PĂ©ladeau, this is more of a new middle. The digital Christmas card a week after mass layoffs is still his all-time low."

Item 2
All of Sun Media's Niagara-area dailies went with one of those annoying front page ad wraps recently. "The problem with the wrap-around," says a TSF tipster, "was the back part of the page was used as a news page so you couldn't tear it off and throw away."

Says another tipster: "I don't think I need to say anything about what this does to the credibility of the editorial product. It is made worse because they kept the St. Catharines Standard's masthead and index on the page. In fact, above the fold, the ad (for a grocery store chain) looks like a news feature of some kind. The news content for Page 1 was pushed to Page 3. Needless to say, it has become clear the phrase 'rock bottom' no longer applies to those of us still at the paper."

Item 3
Welland Tribune readers were treated to a photo of Natalie McMaster playing her violin and no doubt thought it was snapped during the evening Welland performance. A TSF tipster says due to Sun Media's very early deadlines, the photo was taken during Natalie's afternoon sound check.

Thursday 9 September 2010

No, no Bono

Updated re one quote deleted
Say it ain't so, Bono.

Back in the glory years of the Toronto Sun, when all six floors of 333 King Street East were bustling with employees and filled with good vibes, a "stranger" walked into the newsroom.

Heads turned. There were quizzical looks. Then delayed recognition. It was Mark Bonokoski sans moustache.

Bonokoski, one of the Windsor Mafia brought in by Les Pyette as a reporter in 1974, had blossomed as a columnist and his moustache had become as iconic as his heart-felt words.

Suffice to say, his trademark moustache quickly made its return.

News today that Bono's summer stint as national editorial writer isn't coming to an end and he is continuing in that position had the same effect on this former colleague.

This time, it is not a vanishing moustache. It is his vanishing award-winning columns, another loss for longtime, faithful Sun readers.

How many people who would benefit from a Mark Bonokoski column won't have the opportunity because he will be busy writing anonymous editorials?

How many quality investigative pieces won't be written?

If Bono has reached a point in his media career where he is changing directions on his own terms, well, all the best to him. With his media cred, he should be doing what he wants to do.

But with all of the bullshit going on in Sun Media these days, we are not at all convinced Bono is 100% behind abandoning his popular columns for anonymous editorials.

Take a read of today's announcement.

Do quotes attributed to Bono sound like Bono, or more like same old, same old Quebecor rhetoric?

Would Glenn Garnett, Sun Media's vice-president of editorial and author of the announcement story, put words into Bono's mouth?

It sure doesn't sound like the Bono we have known and admired for almost four decades.

(Note: One quote attributed to Bono has been deleted from the online story since this TSF item was posted. Hmmm. The quote did not make it into the print edition.)

The loss of Mark Bonokoski columns is yet another case of paying more for less and it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify paying for the Toronto Sun.

Greg & Tom

It seems Greg Weston and Tom Clark have something in common - leaving Sun Media and CTV respectively were not their decisions.

Toronto Star blogger Susan Delacourt says from Ottawa: "It wasn't his (Clark's) idea to leave CTV or the show (Power Play), for that matter."

And, ta dum, the twist.

One of the first guests on Power Play sans Clark on Tuesday? Greg Weston, who was shown the door in the Big Sweep in June.

Says Delacourt: "Many here in the press gallery are hoping that Clark and Weston get picked up ASAP to resume their excellent journalism - where it left off last June."

Tuesday 7 September 2010

EdSun job

The Edmonton Sun is hiring.

The Alberta tabloid is looking for "an energetic, experienced reporter to fill a full-­‐time vacancy in our news department."

The job ad also says:

"The successful applicant should have daily newspaper experience, be well-­‐versed in multimedia, including video, have a genuine interest in news and breaking news and have a passion for winning.

"A competitive salary and comprehensive benefits package will be provided."

Application deadline is Sept. 15.

This job posting follows the recent exit of three EdSun newsroom staffers - Jason Franson, an award-winning photographer, and reporters Alyssa Noel and Clara Ho.

Time 4 King

CNN's Larry King talks generational media during a Time 10 Questions segment, including the "sad" decline of the newspaper.

Quote of the day, as a veteran interviewer: "There's something I learned a long time ago, I never learned a thing when I was talking."

Friday 3 September 2010

Lockout weekly

Updated re Montreal Gazette story
Three cheers for locked out Journal de Montreal employees who have decided to publish a print edition weekly newspaper.

A CBC News story today says about 50,000 copies of the 48-page tabloid will be published every Thursday beginning in October.

The Montreal Gazette says the French-language print edition will be called Rue Frontenac.

The 253 Journal employees, locked out by Quebecor since Jan. 24, 2009, have been hosting an online newspaper, Rue Frontenac, but not a print edition.

Taking it to the streets - as Journal de Quebec lockout/strike employees did for 16 months with the free weekday tabloid MediaMatin - is more visible to readers and advertisers.

If mediated talks fail to end the 19-month dispute, the new independent weekly could grow into a competitive daily.

That's how Poppa Pierre got his start in print in Montreal and Quebec City when Montreal's La Presse and Quebec City's Le Soleil were on strike.

Thursday 2 September 2010

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Moscoe & Sun

What will the Toronto Sun do without Howard Moscoe, who has been a high-profile Toronto politician for 31 of the tabloid's 39 years?

Howard, who is 70, has always been good for a unique quote at the best of times, and the worst of times, but now says he won't be running for re-election in the October municipal election.

The Ward 15 councillor will be missed by Sun readers, his constituents and city hall reporters.

Moscoe told the Sun's Kevin Connor he plans to travel more with his wife and says other ventures are in the wind.

Here's hoping there's a new venture that will keep him in the spotlight.

Brockbank exits

Chris Brockbank, a Sun Media exec for two years, is calling it quits and moving on to a new job at another company, says a TSF tipster.

"He has resigned out of frustration," says the tipster.

Brockbank, a senior marketing specialist, left Sirius Satellite Radio in the spring of 2008 to join Sun Media as vice-president of marketing.

His Toronto-based Sun responsibilities included working "with the company's leadership team, publishers and promotions departments to strengthen relationships with readers, advertisers and the communities served by Sun newspapers."

In July 2009, he was promoted to vice-president, marketing and print product management, which included the additional responsibility of "overseeing the 24 Hours product for the entire Sun Media chain."

It's the new Sun Media - corporate multi-tasking.

Prior to Sirius, Brockbank worked for BCE and a satellite communications company in the UK.

Atwood vs SUN TV

Canadian author Margaret Atwood has signed a petition against allowing Sun Media access to a Fox News North news channel.

The Globe and Mail's Jane Taber says Atwood is "criticizing Stephen Harper over what she sees as his dictatorial approach to regulating the airwaves."

The online petition, with more than 41,000 names to date, reads, in part:

“Prime Minister Harper is trying to push American-style hate media onto our airwaves, and make us all pay for it. His plan is to create a ‘Fox News North’ to mimic the kind of hate-filled propaganda with which Fox News has poisoned U.S. politics. The channel will be run by Harper’s former top aide and will be funded with money from our cable TV fees!”"

Sun Media has said all along Jan. 1, 2011, is the proposed launch date for Sun TV News.

Meanwhile, The Wire Report says Sun Media has been granted a CRTC hearing in November on a new request after being told the earliest the CRTC would listen to Sun Media was the fall of 2011.

"The CRTC has opened a consultation on a new Quebecor Media Inc. application for a broadcasting licence for an all-news channel called Sun TV News - but the application still contains a request for mandatory carriage," says The Wire Report, which is published by Hill Times.

"On Wednesday the CRTC issued a notice of consultation to consider Quebecor’s application, which includes a request for a three-year mandatory carriage guarantee with cable and satellite providers."

Ah, to be a fly in the back rooms of the CRTC and PMO.

Alberta squeeze

Just when you think the Quebecor squeeze is done and there is little left to squeeze, another Sun Media paper takes a hit.

TSF received this tip today:

"I just caught wind that they are closing the Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune composing department. Some people have been there for 17 years.

"A while ago, they laid off half of the composing department in Leduc and now all composing is to be done in the Edmonton office.

"Thought you guys would wanna know."

Thanks. What is the body count?

Bono countdown?

It is Sept. 1.

Can we begin the countdown to the return of Sun vet Mark Bonokoski as master story teller?

His columns have been noticeably absent this summer, as highlighted in a recent Letter to the Editor from a Sunday Sun reader:

"Bring back Bono

Where is Mark Bonokoski? Page 6 is just not the same. Sunday used to be my favourite day to read the paper. I would get up at 5:30 a.m., grab the paper, make the coffee and read the news. I’d save the best for last - Page 6. Please bring back Bono and page 6.

Karen Shepherd

(He’s been kidnapped to write national editorials. We’re open to accepting ransom)"

Right on, Karen. You are not alone.

The point is Bono's talents are being wasted with anonymous editorials. Readers who have been faithfully following his columns throughout the week for decades are being short-changed.

Also being wasted are opportunities to tell the stories of people who need his understanding ways and his award-winning writing skills.

A Sun story said his national editorial writing stint would be a summer assignment.

So, can we begin the countdown?