Tuesday 30 November 2010

Niagara -9?

What would the Christmas season be without reports of Sun Media layoffs? 

We are two weeks shy of the second anniversary of Black Tuesday, when 600 Sun Media employees across the chain  were pink-slipped on Dec. 16, 2008.

That was followed by PKP's "Noel 2008" video.

Today, news of nine layoffs in production at the Niagara Shopping News. A TSF tipster writes:

"Heard a rumour last night of nine layoffs in production at the Niagara Shopping News. Some of these guys had been laid off by Sun Media before, then rehired at the Shopping News. Now, thanks to jobs moved to India, they are gone again.

"The competition in Niagara for this type of work - junior graphic design, page layout or copy work and writing - is fierce. Most employers are offering $12 per hour or less. Maybe $14 if you are web-savvy. (Yes, that is how you spell 'savvy'!) 

"It's a sad prospect for a print media specialist to face, right before Christmas - and advertising's busiest season. But isn't that PKP's specialty? Offering pink slips as a Christmas bonus?

"Seriously, a piece of advice for our latest victims would be to face the fact they need to move to stay in this industry, or quickly switch gears. 

"Check out the related courses beginning in January at a community college or a university. Upgrade, or specialize to meet the region's biggest industry: Tourism. Start a small business; learn web design. Seek and ye shall find hope. 

"And for those of you left behind at the Shopping News, don't forget your friends. Call often. Let them rant. Listen. One day, it could be you."

Monday 29 November 2010

North Bay anger

Kudos to editors at Sun Media's North Bay Nugget for publishing a letter to the editor demanding the once independent newspaper be freed from canned news and corporate bias.

The North Bay letter and a recent letter from a London Free Press reader reflect the growing anger of people mourning the demise of their "community" newspapers.

The letter, from Doug Brydges of Callender, is another response to a series of Sun Media stories about the CBC. 

But the first and last two sentences of the letter sum up the feelings of a lot of readers in smaller communities being served by Sun Media newspapers:

First two:
"Local Independence disappeared the day the North Bay Nugget fell into the hands of corporate ownership (Sun Media, Quebecor Inc.).

"Cuts to internal news, production and printing have given way to less local content, replaced by an increasing volume of canned content coming out of Sun Media's central content warehouse.

Last two:
"The real story is how once-credible publications, like the Nugget, can can lose their independence and be misused by invisible owner(s) to promote and advance a corporate agenda in the guise of journalistic freedom.

"I look forward to the day when North Bay will, once again, be served by an independently owned community newspaper that will preserve, provoke, and enhance excellence in journalism on every page it publishes."

Brydges also writes: "My dad (Stewart) got his start in the newspaper business with the Nugget (1947-1952). A fiercely independent editor and publisher for most of his life and he'd be furious if he was alive today."


Friday 26 November 2010

PKP on the job

A TSF reader says PKP has a photo credit in one of his French-language newspapers.

He's everywhere, he's everywhere.

Sun TV News a go

The much-publicized Quebecor campaign for a licence to launch Sun TV News has been approved by the CRTC.

The Category 2 broadcast licence for the specialty channel requires Quebecor to convince distributors to add Sun TV News to their systems, says a Financial Post story by Jamie Sturgeon

If all goes as planned, Canada will have more divisive politics on the boob tube by next spring, brought to you on a reported $25 million annual budget and the increased workload of Sun Media employees.

Sun TV was hard-pressed to keep a one-hour daily news program on air before trimming it to 30 minutes. Sun TV News will have 24 hours of Fox News North talking heads to fill.

Bring it on, but instead of divisive politics, we would have preferred a more positive 24-hour Making a Difference channel, with a tip of the cap to Brian Williams and his NBC segments, the new School Pride series, Extreme Makeover, America's Most Wanted etc.

Collectively, people can make a difference and a steady diet of feel good stories would encourage them to do so.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Variety Xmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas now that Toronto Sun columnist Mike Strobel has launched his third annual Variety Village Christmas Fund drive

Mike's campaign has been raising about $30,000 per year and should he beat that average by $10,000 this season, his efforts will have topped $100,000.

The fund was launched in 1978 by George Gross, with the full support of Doug Creighton, the Sun's founding publisher. In the 30 years before his death, George raised $1 million for Variety Village.

Mike picked up the baton for Christmas 2008 after George died at 85.

Speaking of Strobel, his book Bad Girls and Other Perils is finally on the shelves and selling well. There were only four copies left tonight at Amazon ($14.43 each, plus postage).

Check out the shameless promotion in his column today.

The Shaky Lady rides again. 

Examiner letter

Linda Steele, a Peterborough Examiner reader, has her say about the ongoing Quebecor/CBC war of words in a letter to the editor.

And it's not all roses for Quebecor.

Congrats to the Examiner for publishing The Letter.

The Rim Pigs

If you haven't read this insightful 2007 Tyee piece, part eight of a 14-part series by John Armstrong, a TSF reader says now is the time.

Blades trophy

For a Battle of the Blades finale that left CBC viewers gasping, the smashing of the trophy into small pieces when it fell to the ice got little play in print media. 

The show came to an end with skaters rounding up pieces of the trophy, which fell to the ice while being carried by co-winner Ekaterina Gordeeva.  

There is no sound, but you can catch see the final 2 1/2 minutes of  the Monday night finale in this YouTube clip.

We didn't read anything about the smashing of the trophy in the Sun, Star or Globe  print editions on Tuesday, but it might have been mentioned in replates.

The best line found online came from Gordeeva's ice partner and fellow Russian Valerie Bure, who said it was a Russian custom to smash glass trophies for good luck.

TV Guide.ca says the trophy mishap was cut from the west coast feed. 

So how much did it cost to make the trophy and will it be replaced?

Just asking.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Memories forever

On the Internet, memories are forever.
That is why aging veterans of various careers should write about their lives on blogs, allowing the next generation to benefit from their experiences. 
John Downing, a Toronto Sun Day Oner, is doing just that with his Downing's Views blog. His posting on memories and aging is a recommended read.

On the Sun front, there are a lot of vets who should be blogging about their years in the media before old age steals those memories.

Return of rims?

A framed photograph on the wall overlooking this blogger's desk is an early 1960s black and white view of the Globe and Mail's newsroom.

The photo snapped by Bob Chow shows a double rim, one for the editors - photo (Jim Knack), city (Bob Turnbull), news (Al Dawson), national (Joe Gelman) etc., the other for copy editors, including Martin Lynch, Barry Zwicker, Dave Spurgeon, Rod Goodman, Eric Dowd, Lex Shrag.

Nothing says functional newsroom more than that traditional rim, where editors huddled within arm's reach to put out the daily newspaper.  At the Globe, pneumatic tubes were used to dispatch edited typed stories to the composing room.

Computers have all but erased the use of rims, but a TSF tipster says PKP is hot for their return to Sun Media newsrooms.

The tipster writes: "From what I was told, newsrooms must be reconfigured into the shapes of horseshoes, with the ME sitting at the curve of the horseshoe and everyone spreading out from there. 

"They have a certain amount of time to accomplish this - like a couple of weeks - and they have to take a picture of it and send it to PKP as proof that it's been done."

If the tip is accurate, it is a good move.

Rims make sense if only to once again have editors at arm's length for the sake of clarity in newsroom management. A gathering of minds, with no need to shout to isolated editors working in cubicles.

Lack of communication in overworked newsrooms might be the source of frequent embarrassing typos, layout gaffs and other errors.

While PKP is in The Front Page mode, the return of proofreaders would also enhance the reputation of his print newspapers.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Colour in obits

Speaking of obits, colour head and shoulder photos are becoming more popular in print media in Ontario.

We first noticed them recently in the Peterborough Examiner and later in the Toronto Sun.

On Saturday, two of the obits in the Toronto Star, Canada's largest daily, were colour. 

But we haven't seen any colour among the paid obits in the new and colourful Globe and Mail to date.

Colour does make a difference in the celebration of life and if it is a matter of choice for next of kin, we will probably see more colour in obits down the road.

30: Bambi

There are people who pass who were never part of the Toronto Sun Family, but were in the tabloid often enough over the years to make them feel like part of the family. 

Joe Bergeron of the Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Picton, who died in 2008, was one.

And  Lawrencia “Bambi” Bembenek, who died on the weekend from cancer at 52, is another.

Both were frequent subjects of Peter Worthington columns.

Joe Warmington tells the long, sad tale of Bembenek's life in his latest column.

He writes:

"The 52-year-old’s death was not loud and splashy. However, back between 1989 and 1993, everybody, it seemed, knew of Bambi."

Ain't that the truth.

Friday 19 November 2010

The Paperboy

The Paperboy, a website for one-stop browsing of newspapers published around the world, has come a long way since launched by a young Australian man as a hobby in 1997.

The popular site is now maintained by Ian and his brother, Andrew, and includes links to several thousand newspapers, including 354 in Canada and 2,906 in the United States,.

Plus the front pages of newspapers around the world.

Ian says site hits last year topped 8.7 million.

Mural memories

So what are the new owners of the Toronto Sun building planning for the elaborate and popular mural? Will they be moving it? Bulldozing it? Leaving it in place? 

Some reports suggest the mural is doomed.

John Downing, a Sun Day Oner and former editor, says the mural is a link to the tabloid's prosperous past and tells the story of the growth of Toronto from 1793 to 1993. 

The mural has been a popular draw to the Sun building since 1993, when unveiled to mark the 200th anniversary of the original settlement, says Downing, who writes:

"I think there is a chance that the mural is a stopping point for downtown bus tours. Mike Filey is often the host on those. There is an excellent description of its 32 vignettes online.

"The mural was a grand contribution by the Little Paper to the readers who helped it grow when Toronto turned 200.

"We made a more modest contribution when Toronto turned 175, the famous sesquicentennial. part of it was to print a two-page map in the Sunday paper (unfortunately it wasn't that good) and for me and David Crombie to lead a walking tour of the Sun neighbourhood.

"We started on the north side parking lot and marched throughout the downtown on a quiet Sunday afternoon. The Leader of the Opposition showed up and carted a daughter around on his shoulders. A year later, David Peterson was premier.

"We got thrown out of St. James Cathedral because someone forget to tell the bishop that they were holding an induction service for deacons at the time of our scheduled visit. I had arranged for the visit through Canon Derwyn Shea, who also happened to be a councillor.

"We finished with coffee and hot chocolate for several hundred walkers in the Sun cafeteria on the top floor. Red's didn't open until Dec. 18, 1990.  I still have the scissors that Doug Creighton and Santa Claus (me) used to open Red's - an early Christmas party for the Sun staff.

"I expect that the ghosts of Creighton and Downing will return to haunt, with martini glasses in hand, the owners of whatever shops or offices get shoehorned into that space.

"I go on too long because the mural and the walk and Red's are part of my anecdotage. As are the city celebrations.

"Mel Lastman, to his discredit, cancelled the annual March birthday party for the city after amalgamation because he felt the suburbs would be jealous. Horseshit!

"For some years, I chaired the advisory committee for the civic award of merit medal that was handed out and I can tell you that some recipients, like Murray Koffler, the founder of Shoppers, acted like they were getting the Order of Canada.

"I wonder if there is a way to make a huge faithful digital copy of the mural. Our photogs, past and present,  may have some ideas.

"I recall that when the famous Marilyn Bell was shown the mural, she exclaimed how accurate it was because she felt the artist had capture the curvature of the spine (perhaps scoliosis?) that had been the reason she got into swimming in the first place.

"I'm sure that Filey will talk to his former colleagues on the history/heritage boards of Toronto and Ontario to see if they will fund, or actually do the work, to get a digital copy of the mural.

"I'm sure we will find a space to hang it.  Perhaps at the Ex if I can persuade my fellow board members. Perhaps the convention centre, since Walter Oster, who runs the Sun's fishing derby, has chaired the board through several rounds of political change at Queen's Park.

"You would think PKP would pay for it, but this isn't Montreal."

Renovations are well under way and if the mural is to be demolished, it will be the loss of another link to the history of the tabloid - and Toronto.

Thursday 18 November 2010


A TSF tipster writes:

"By the way, most all of the company's managing editors are in Montreal right now for a hush-hush conference they don't want the staffs to know about.

"I'm sure PKP will announce new ways to improve morale."

Well, Christmas is on the way and the 600 casualties of Black Tuesday - Dec. 16, 2008 - know what that could mean.

TorSun & gays

Xtra!, a Canadian website for gays and lesbians, has posted a four-decade recap of what it says is the Toronto Sun's vendetta against homosexuals.

From the homophobic 1970s, with Sun columnist Claire Hoy raising the ire of the homosexual masses, to the Sun's recent Mr. Leatherhead front page.

The first person to post a response to the long list of Sun vs gays examples, says:

"I'm sure something anti-gay was printed in the Star in the 1960's as well. Where's your outrage on that? The Sun is not the gay hating rag it used to be. Xtra! needs to lighten up."

We are sure openly-gay Sue-Ann Levy, the Sun's veteran city hall columnist  who is in a lesbian marriage, would agree the tabloid has grown out of its homophobic roots.

Perhaps Sue-Ann will consider commenting on the Xtra! posting in a column, having written columns about her coming out and her marriage. 

What is the sexual orientation mood at 333 these days, Sue-Ann? And does the Xtra! site speak for  Canada's gay and lesbian community?

We remember the mood of the 1970s, when there was a tangible hatred of the Sun among gays and union members. You would think the mood at 333 has since mellowed now that there are employees who are openly gay and, gasp, union members on the payroll.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

333's future

A TSF reader with an apparent inside view of what 333 will look like once the reno dust settles, writes:
While 333 King is currently under construction/renovation, we ask:

Is it true 333 King sold for $41 million?

"No Frills" grocery store on the ground floor of 333 King Street East. I guess No Frills suits the Sun perfectly. No Frills will (more-or-less) occupy the mail room area and a bit more.

The press room will be converted into four(?) larger stores or businesses.

West of the front doors, Red's will be partitioned into 4 (?) smaller retail shops.

East of the front doors, the old barbershop, courier desk and circulation office will be converted into 3 (?) stores.

Mural on Front Street was supposed to stay, but the plans show the mural gone, replaced by windows.

Will Sun staff be happy when a wine shop opens one floor below them?

Is it true a 16-storey office tower is planned for the east side of the property, (currently the location of two parking lots)?

End of comment and thanks for the update.

We had a feeling the mural wouldn't survive the transition. Will it simply vanish in the rubble or can it be moved and preserved?

What say Mike Filey, or is campaigning for preservation of the Sun-sponsored mural too close to home? 

Doug Creighton commissioned Toronto artist John Hood to create the Front Street mural in 1991. Hood, with the assistance of his sister, Alexandra, devoted two years to creating the mural

Meanwhile, these are sad times for Toronto Sun vets who moved into 333 in 1975 and, with a later addition, shared six thriving floors of the Little Paper That Grew for several decades.

Now reduced to renters of a small area of the once proud Sun building,  remaining staff will  at least have easy access to nourishment, salads, sandwiches, wine etc.

They got beated

It's time for the London Free Press to bend over for a paddling:

"Beated"? Really?

Thanks to a TSF reader for that gem.

The other day it was "savy" in Northumberland Today.

And the Toronto Sun's recent Luckily, not gladiators were hurt.

And Port Hopeless instead of Fort Hopeless.

India outsourcing?

Overworked Centre of Excellence staffers?

Newsroom pressure?

We all make mistakes.

Who caught the "icey" during a weather report last winter on Good Morning America?

But errors in print and online befuddle those who expect more from mainstream media.

$25M TV budget?

A TSF reader sent a link to this missed lengthy September blog posting by Montreal's prolific Fagstein media watchdog re the Sun TV News CRTC application:

The posting could be outdated as it refers to Tory Kory at the helm, but here is what Fagstein says about the proposed budget for Sun Media's national television debut:

"But while their goal is to replicate Fox News, I think the more likely scenario is that Sun TV News will be an experiment in cheap newsgathering that will quickly become a laughing stock because of its horribly small budget. 

"According to the CRTC application, the channel plans to have a budget of about $25 million, of which $15 million would go to programming and technical costs. Though it's hard to directly compare this to CBC and CTV, since they take advantage of their local stations and national newscasts (I'm trying hard not to use the word "synergies" here), it's still very little money. 

"We're looking at a staff of maybe 100 people, including journalists, anchors, producers and technicians, advertising salespeople, marketers, etc. Anyone who thinks he can run a national news network on that kind of budget is probably kidding himself.

"The feared scenario, that they'll spend little money on news budget and focus all their efforts on opinion, makes more sense considering how little they have to spend. But even then, the big-name blowhards come at a high price, and a $25 million total budget isn't enough to get a Canadian Glenn Beck on the air if you want anything more than a webcam and laptop in front of him."


PKP cannot expect to have Sun TV News succeed on the cheap.

India calling

The Welland Shopping News had a visible sign of India at work last Wednesday.

On Page 17 in the virtual edition, the top right corner of Page 17 has a blank box with the following code message instead of an ad: TNT 4x32-INDIA-64510399.

Your Sun Media outsourcing rupees at work, eh?

Sunday 14 November 2010

OttSun awards

Congrats to three Ottawa Sun reporters honoured Saturday at the Paramedicine 2010 Expo and Conference.

An Ottawa Sun story says Tony Spears and Doug Hempstead, and former Sun reporter Laura Czekaj, were given the Ontario Paramedic Association Media Award for proper use of terminology, consistent, informative, and accurate reporting about paramedics.

“We rely on paramedics for information on what is happening in Ottawa, so it’s immensely gratifying to know that we’ve been able to return the favour with accurate reporting,” Spears said. 

The Sun earned three of the 10 awards.

The Toronto Sun has had a long and close relationship with paramedics, but there was that one front page photo of a patient falling from a stretcher that cooled the love for a while.

The Irish & PKP

The Irish Times has a profile of PKP and his media empire, including the 253 rebellious locked out Journal de Montreal employees who are now publishing a weekly newspaper to go with their online newspaper.
The heading for the irishtimes.com story, written by Montreal-based Lorraine Mallinder, reads: Rebel journalists thumb their noses at a media magnate

Mallinder says all would be smooth sailing for PKP if not for "the pesky ragtag of scrappy journalists yapping at his heels."

Interesting read. 

Meanwhile, the employees are counting down to the second anniversary  of their lockout in January after rejecting the latest Quebecor offer.

Sun TV News jobs

David Akin's On The Hill posting yesterday asks: Want to work at Sun TV?

"We're busy building the team that will take the new national news and current affairs cable channel Sun TV to air early in the new year and our team has just posted up the following positions."

Positions open are: Senior talk show producer, national assignment editor and senior news producer.

Resumes to resumes@suntv.canoe.ca by Nov. 26.

While bodies have been hired and more are being sought, a launch date for Sun News, aka Fox News North, hasn't been announced and we have yet to hear how much Quebecor will be spending on the national project.

We envision small potatoes compared to CBC, CTV and the major U.S. news channels, but it will depend on the amount of money PKP is willing to pump into Sun TV News.

BTW: Be careful on the new Sun TV News website. When visiting the outdated news page, it froze our screen and computer. That doesn't bode well for confidence in the online product.

The latest news on the site was from October. 

Friday 12 November 2010

Students 4 ads?

In this week's WTF development, TSF presents Northumberland Today's answer to Sun Media ad department cutbacks:

All participants receive a coupon for free food, the winner a gift certificate - and a lesson in how to run a community newspaper on the cheap. 

We all know how open competitions for Sun Media's advice column worked out. 

And citizen journalists feeding Sun Media free tips, photos and video footage? Don't get us started on that free content bonanza.

FYI: Northumberland Today is a three-in-one Sun Media newspaper that merged the Port Hope Evening Guide, Cobourg Star and Colborne Chronicle in February 2009.

30: Bob Turnbull

The London Free Press has lost a former 44-year veteran in the death of C.R. "Bob" Turnbull on Monday. He was 93.

Turnbull was president of the newspaper when he retired in 1985, says an LFP obit. The London City Press Club honoured him in September for his contribution to photography.

He went from paper carrier to president of the London Free Press. Unable to serve in the Second World War because he was blind in one eye since birth, Turnbull became a photographer for the newspaper in 1941 and throughout the war was the paper's only photographer. Eventually others were added and he became chief photographer and head of the photography department when it was created in 1963. Three years later he became production manager, director of operations in 1975, general manager in 1981 and newspaper president in 1983 until his retirement at age 66 in 1985. On his retirement, he told friends and family "I have been an extremely lucky guy."

Turnbull's funeral will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Wesley-Knox United Church, 91 Askin Street, London.  Interment in Oakland Cemetery, Glencoe, Ontario.

Leafs vet winner

Of all the Toronto Sun stories marking Remembrance Day yesterday, Mike Zeisberger's nostalgic replay of Wally Stanowski's Toronto Maple Leafs career, interrupted by WW2, was a winner on all fronts.

Here is a man, now 91, who wanted to do what was asked of him by his team - which he did back in the day when winning Stanley Cups was routine for the Leafs - and by his country.

If torontosun.com ever needed to be more receptive to including photos with stories online, this was the day. What a great photo in the print edition to illustrate Original Six hockey vets who put hung up their skates in a time of war.

Excellent read. 

Speaking of the Leafs, have you noticed the Toronto Sun hasn't been wasting front pages on the losing Leafs this season? 

Good move.

PKP Undercover

Undercover Boss is a reality show that originated in Britain in 2009 and has spread to the United States and Australia.

Heads of companies trade their comfy executive offices for a week of ground-level jobs, including ball park washroom maintenance, installing satellite dishes, inspecting bananas.  
So how do you think billionaire PKP would do as a heavily disguised Undercover Boss for a week in the trenches on the Sun Media side of his Quebecor empire?

How would he fare as a multi-tasking reporter, photographer, videographer or editor?

Could he survive a day selling ads? How about soliciting newspaper subscriptions? Pressroom duties? Distributing his product to stores, newspaper boxes, houses?

Would he have empathy for any of the employees while working undercover?

Would he come to the conclusion all is not right in his media kingdom and make amends?

It will never happen, but that is one episode we'd view with great anticipation.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Media's vets

On this Remembrance Day, we wonder why media in Canada don't make a habit of honouring employees who served in world wars and other conflicts.

They should devote space - in print, online or on air - to honour those who fought and died while on leave from their jobs and those who survived to write about their battles.

And honourable mentions for vets who were hired by the media after serving.    

Sun Media newspapers, big on rallying the troops, have Peter Worthington, a Korean War vet, front row centre as an example of employees who served their country.

Former Toronto Sun city editor Ken Robertson, a WW2 vet, is still writing and telling stories up Barrie way.

The late J. Douglas MacFarlane was another WW2 vet who worked for the Toronto Telegram and the Sun.

And the late Bob Vezina, a WW2 vet who had a nose for news - and roses.  

Tely/Sun sports legend Ted Reeve was a WW1 vet. Doug Fisher was in WW2.

The list goes on.

We know there is no shortage of veterans who worked for the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and Tely/Sun.

Perhaps it is a project for media to consider for next Remembrance Day.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Hello Bolly

Tipsters say Sun Media ad production for Niagara-area newspapers is being outsourced to India.

What isn't clear is the percentage of Sun Media jobs being lost to India and other destination for outsourced (reader that much cheaper) labour.

Meanwhile, did you notice Quebecor earnings went up again in the last quarter - 19% say news reports - which is good news for shareholders, not employees. 

There is little give back these days.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

EdSun now -10

Graham Hicks, an Edmonton Sun staffer since 1981, is retiring at the end of the year, says a Sun story.

The paper gives him a sendoff in today's paper following  Monday night's retirement party/roast, with a lot of high profile city officials in attendance.

Plus a video.

The Page 6 columnist's departure brings to 10 the number of Edmonton Sun employees the bodies lost in  recent months.

Hicks will be joining Glen Werkman, Kristy Brownlee, Candace Ward, Jason Franson, Alyssa Noel, Clara Ho, Jefferson Hagen, Doreen Thunder and Richard Liebrecht.

Will Edmonton's popular Page 6 die with the departure of Hicks?

Stay tuned. 

TV guide woes

A TSF reader down Niagara Falls way says Saturday's TV section  was so filled with errors Sun Media has decided to reprint it for Tuesday distribution.

"It seems there were a huge number of mistakes in the TV guide so Sun Media will reprint a corrected version on Tuesday," says the tipster.

"An example, CHCH TV Sunday schedule from noon to 6 p.m. was put up as 6 pm to 11 p.m." 

In, out, in, out

Peter Zimonjic, one of Sun Media's Tory Kory casualties in June and rehired in September, said Monday he's been fired again.

So what's that all about?

"Just got FIRED by Sun Media AGAIN - no reason given: save I was stupid enough to resign with these people: Raise a glass 4 me 2nite."

Later: "I wish I could say I was Kidding ... I just feel so stupid for trusting all the things they said when they hired me ..."

And on his Facebook page, he says two favourite quotes are: "The company is moving in a new direction" and "I must inform you that you do not fit the plan of the Ottawa Sun Comment Editor position going forward"

His presence remains on the Internet, with The Peter Zimonjic Daily, launched last week and consisting of links to stories by Ottawa journalists and news agencies.

One of the TPZD news items is a Canadian Press story about Ottawa police deciding not to  hold a criminal investigation into the alleged use of phoney names in that U.S.-based onlline petition targeting Sun TV.

The CP story says:

"It was decided it was not going to be treated as a criminal offence," Ottawa Const. J.P. Vincelette told The Canadian Press.

Monday 8 November 2010

Strobel's double

We can't get through an episode of the new Law & Order Los Angeles without thinking about Sun vet Mike Strobel.

What do you think?

Sunday 7 November 2010

OttSun jumble

The Ottawa Sun was all shook up Sunday, with an explanation from Mitchell Axelrad, editor in chief.

Readers were advised the upgrade of Ottawa Sun presses meant no sports pullout section today and other sections would be out of order.

All will be back to normal next Sunday, says Axelrad.

Toronto's Sunday Sun is a jumbled mess every week - intentionally, to save a buck or two.

We just can't get used to the lack of pullout sections for travel, ENT and comics.

Port Hopeless?

A Sunday Sun front page headline reads 'Port Hopeless' - It Shames Us All.

Holy Farley Mowat, we thought, what has scenic Port Hope done now?

As it turned out, the headline writer - in India, perhaps - was too quick with the play on words and it should have read Fort Hopeless.

Christina Blizzard's somewhat depressing two-page report is from Eabametoong First Nation,  sometimes known as Fort Hope. 

Full credit to Christina. She has admirably been writing about the plight of Ontario's remote aboriginal nightmare communities for years, but little gets done to improve their lives. 

Meanwhile, on Page 36 of the Sunday Sun, another blown effort by an editor: "Luckily, not gladiators were hurt."

India, again?

They say you get what you pay for. We'd demand refunds from the sloppy editors who wrote "Port Hopeless" and "not gladiators."

39th = 13 words

Stop the presses. We have found mention of the Toronto Sun's 39th anniversary in the paper. 

It was in Monday's print edition, on page six, at the bottom left corner in the Rewind - This Week In Canadian History feature.

It says of Nov. 1, 1971: "The Toronto Sun, a little paper you may of heard of, began growing."


How could we miss that marking of the 39th anniverssary? 

Tory Kory fallout

Sun Media is still feeling the fallout from Tory Kory's brief summer fling in Ottawa, where casualties were piled high soon after plans for Sun News were unveiled.

Donna Laframboise, a former Star, Globe and Post staffer, thought she was on the incoming side after being courted by the Sun's new wonderboy, but never got through the front door.

In a fascinating ongoing series of blog postings about her dealings with Tory Kory and then the aftermath of his sudden resignation, Laframboise says she feels Sun Media owes her something for his promises.

Sun Media comments on her No Frakking Consensus blog: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 to come.

She writes:

"A brash young man in a pinstripe suit named Kory Teneycke told me he was in charge of a bold new venture in Canadian television. He spent more than an hour courting me, and I’m afraid I didn’t make it easy for him."

But he sold her on the job, which she says would have involved a weekly column for the newspapers and guests appearances on Sun TV - for a verbally agreed $4,200 a month.

Then poof. 

"It’s difficult to believe that Canada’s top newspaper chain – which publishes 20 dailies and 150 weeklies – goes around making job offers that aren’t genuine. I mean, my opinion of the media isn’t high, but even I’m not that cynical.

"People don’t contact you, meet with you, share their vision of a groundbreaking television station, and invite you to be part of it if they aren’t sincere. What kind of organization does this and then - a few months later -  shrugs and mumbles that it was all a practical joke?"

In Part 2, she writes:

"Let us just say it looks like I’ll be seeing Quebecor in small claims court. (Stayed tuned.)"

Indeed, stay tuned.

WinSun 30th

Updated 12/10/10 re video

The Winnipeg Sun marked its 30th anniversary at a party on Friday night, with PKP in attendance.

Even Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz showed up to celebrate the anniversary of the Nov. 5, 1980 launch of the paper by founders Al Davies, Tom Denton and Frank Goldberg.
The Winnipeg Tribune had folded and the Sun moved in to compete with the Free Press.

Quebecor bought the Winnipeg Sun from Thomson in 1983 and it became part of the Toronto Sun Family when Quebecor bought Sun Media in 1999.

Saturday 6 November 2010

40th warms up

John Downing, a Toronto Sun Day Oner and former editor now getting exposure as a blogger, offers some early ideas on how to mark the tabloid's 40th anniversary on Nov. 1, 2011.

Downing says he marked the 39th on Monday at a dinner with fellow Day Oners Peter Worthington and Andy Donato and guests and they told him there were a few words about the 39th anniversary in the paper.

TSF checked the print editions Sunday, Monday (the 39th anniversary) and Tuesday without success, but we'll check again.

Downing, who was very much a part of the success of the Sun from Day One, dismisses critics who say enough with talk about the glory years.

He says every anniversary is a milestone for him and the 61 other former Telegram employees who transformed the drab Eclipse Whitewear Building factory space into a workable newspaper office.

"To heck with letting another Sun anniversary pass with just a few words," Downing writes. "The Day Oners were there when we launched The Little Paper That Grew into a huge newspaper chain that can yet be salvaged. And we want to celebrate that. Just don't let Peter and Andy get their hands on the mike."

You said it, John.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

LFP deadlines

The London Free Press is being honest with its readers when it comes to what not to expect from the newspaper - online or in print - between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m.

In a nutshell, nil.

In an editor's blog posting about a 12:01 strike deadline yesterday, Joe Ruscitti, the editor-in-chief, writes:

"Why are those deadlines always at 12:01 a.m.? That’s very bad for our newspaper deadline. Because as much as we like to say we pump stuff out online and into print 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the truth is we not quite that nimble.

"There is no one in the newsroom, unless they have stayed at very costly overtime rates, to update anything on any medium from about 1-7 a.m. on any day.

"This will inevitably change over the next months but it hasn’t yet. Our last print edition is finished by the newsroom at 11:30 p.m. with the possibility of what we call ‘red lights’ – updates to a small number of pages, usually sports for West Coast game scores while the press is rolling – until 1 a.m."

Lack of late-breaking news and sports in morning print editions and overnight online dead zones are not uncommon at Sun Media due to staff shortages, but it is unusual to see an editor tell readers about staffing shortfalls.

TSF readers have said torontosun.com is woefully understaffed at any time of the day.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

39th, ho hum?

Not a word about the Toronto Sun's 39th anniversary in the tabloid Sunday or Monday. 
Tuesday, perhaps? A belated cake cutting photo to mark Monday's anniversary, or columnist commentary?

Or, at 39, is the 333 balloon too deflated to party?

Now that the countdown to the big 4-0 has begun, some TSF readers are asking if there are any plans for next Nov. 1.

Any suggestions? Should a floor of the Eclipse Whitewear Building be rented once again for a final Toronto Sun bash for Day Oners and the hundreds who followed?

One project to mark the 40th should definitely be a book of Andy Donato cartoons.

Plus a 40th DVD special with video clips of 333 parties and other special occasions.

And a definitive, no holds barred book on  The Little Paper That Grew.

We wouldn't expect Quebecor to be financially supportive, so now is the time to consider how to finance a 40th anniversary reunion of Doug's Vets.

New Bono award

Congrats to veteran Sun columnist Mark Bonokoski for an Honourary Mention Debwewin Citation for The Red Road, a 2008 15-part series about First Nations issues.

A Jenny Yuen story says the 2010 Debwewin Citations awards will be presented Nov. 9 during the Anishinabek Nation Special Fall Assembly in Garden River First Nation, near Sault Ste. Marie.

The story says the awards were created by the Union of Ontario Indians to recognize achievement and excellence in journalism about First Nations issues.

“Award or no award, it was probably the most rewarding project I’d worked on in years,” Bonokoski says in the story.

The entire series from December 2008 can be read online at torontosun.com

Monday 1 November 2010

Happy 39th TorSun

Publishing the first issue of the Toronto Sun 39 years ago today must have been a goulish job for the 62 Day Oners who worked late into Halloween night to get the job done.

Today's anniversary coincides with Nov. 1, 1971, a Monday. From many stories told, the determined crew, some slightly hung over from Tely wakes, worked in overdrive.

But the Miracle on King Street (322 King Street West to be exact) saw the light of day and Toronto's first tabloid, all 48 pages, was an instant hit with the city's newspaper readers.

The rest is history, a tale of the rise and fall of The Little Paper That Grew in leaps and bounds until the Sun empire was sold to Quebecor in 1999.

The creaky old Eclipse Whitewear Building where it all started still stands and could probably accommodate all that remains of the Toronto Sun staff today.

Farb's Car Wash across the street from the Eclipse is long gone and the flashy new TIFF Bell Lightbox stands in its place.

Only four of the 62 Sun Day Oners are still on the job - Peter Worthington, Andy Donato, Christina Blizzard and Jim Thomson. We celebrate their 39th with them and all other Day Oners.

Their accomplishments should never be forgotten. They paved the way for thousands of other newspaper workers in all departments.

It was a North American print media success story worthy of a Hollywood movie or a television documentary. Perhaps in time for the Toronto Sun's 40th next year.

As faithful TSF readers must know by now, a lot of Sun vets miss the Sun of old, when newspaper people were at the helm, the job and respect went hand in hand, and it was full steam ahead. 

Now it's time for Doug's Vets to start thinking about gathering next year for the 40th anniversary, when Day Oners and the troops that followed can mark a milestone with the same flare Doug, Peter and Don marked special occasions in the glory years.

It's the least we can do to honour the spirit of the 62 Day Oners and all who followed.

From the TSF archives, Day One memories from Joan Sutton - Christina Blizzard - George Gross - John Downing - John Iaboni - Kaye Corbett - Ken Robertson.