Monday 31 January 2011

Sun colours

The people in charge of the crayons at the Toronto Sun should reconsider colour schemes in ads and stories that induce eye strain.

Print newspaper customers should not have to make an effort to read text, but that has been the case with the ill-advised use of some colours.

The Casa Loma ad on page 70 of the Sunday Sun is a classic example of poor colour coordination.  If it was a Sun display ad department creation, we'd ask for a refund or deep discount.

There have also been feature articles and story sidebars in the Sun that have turned reading into a chore.

The Toronto Sun championed the use of colour in the late 1970s. It still excels, but quality control is occasionally lacking when it comes to ease of reading the paper.

Sunday 30 January 2011

Rural readers

Are the days of Sun Media newspaper deliveries to areas beyond their community borders coming to an end?

Could readers beyond the GTA soon lose the option of buying the Toronto Sun print edition at a premium price in local retail outlets?

News this week that the Peterborough Examiner is eliminating delivery to retail outlets in Port Hope, Cobourg and beyond could be a new trend in Sun Media penny-pinching.

The Examiner has advised Port Hope retailers:

"Thank you for your support of The Peterborough Examiner throughout the years.

"Due to rising costs of distribution, gas and car maintenance, we will no longer be servicing your area.

"As of Monday January 31, 2011, you will no longer receive The Peterborough Examiner in your store."

A TSF tipster says readers of the daily beyond the Peterborough distribution area can  still order it by mail. Same day delivery? Doubt it.

Or they can pocket the $1.25 per printed edition and read the limited online version for free.

Another tipster says the Lindsay Post has also reduced its daily retail distribution area.

So there could come a day when the convenience of picking up the Toronto Sun's print edition beyond the GTA will be a memory.

Ditto for all of the other Sun Media newspapers across the chain. 

Readers who do not find online newspapers their cup of tea won't be happy, but keeping the print customer satisfied isn't a Sun Media priority.

Meanwhile, advertisers face reduced exposure in tough economic times.

Saturday 29 January 2011

Examiner woes

Retail outlets out Cobourg-Port Hope way have been told the Peterborough Examiner will no longer be distributed to outlets in their area beginning Monday.

That is sure to tick off Peterborough advertisers who have drawn a lot of business from Cobourg and Port Hope over the decades. 

It's just another dagger in the once proud Examiner, a newspaper that has been published since 1847 but has been sliding since Osprey Media was purchased by Quebecor in 2007.

A TSF tipster writes:

"Five drivers in rural areas have lost their runs as the Examiner has decided to mail papers to subscribers in rural areas. How would you like your daily paper two days late? Not going to be good for subscriber numbers."

Tuesday 25 January 2011

It was written 2

The countdown to the Toronto Sun's 40th anniversary this Nov. 1 continues. 

More tidbits from its birth from Ron Poulton's 1976 book Life in a Word Factory:

(Eaton) Howitt didn't get a clear look at the Sun's city room until 48 hours after he had started running for his new employers.

When he got the chance to settle in, he found that the sports department consisted of one small room containing three desks for five people. The copy was being marked on an orange crate in a corner. Three reporters were writing and two couldn't sit down.

Sun sports editor George Gross and the rest of his staff began coping with these surroundings at 9 a.m. on that Sunday when Howitt's cup of loneliness was running over in New York (his last Tely sports assignment). 

. . . Outside the Sun building, future executives and a horde of hastily recruited kids were running upstairs, downstairs and all around the town. The children blitzed apartment houses with a letter signed by Doug Creighton to announce the coming of The Toronto Sun.

"At the same time," Creighton said, "the rest of us were slapping Sun stickers on Tely boxes and spraying as many of them as we could with paint. We even managed to move some of the boxes to the right side of the street to accommodate the in-bound traffic."

When the edited news copy began to flow, Gross found he had to share the Sun's entire fleet of cars (two Volkswagens and a Cadillac) in order to get his sports copy to the Inland Publishing Company presses in Mississauga, 20 miles across the city. 

Niagara - 5

Four art department staffers in the Niagara area were painted out of the Sun Media picture yesterday, says a tipster.

Gone are two in St. Catharines, one in Welland and another in Niagara Falls, says the tipster.

Any names or years of service?

Meanwhile, another source says entertainment/arts reporter Lori Littleton of the St. Catharines Standard has notified local arts groups she is gone from the paper this week.

No reason for her departure, but one tipster says it was her decision.

Monday 24 January 2011

Journal No. 2

As anniversaries go, today's second anniversary of the Journal de Montreal lockout of 253 employees isn't one to celebrate.

Coverage: CBC  - Toronto Star (CP)

Friday 21 January 2011

Citizen photos

Former Toronto Sun vet Bill Sandford tells TSF:

"A multi vehicle crash on Highway 11 this morning brought out the citizen journalists. The Star used a so-so (online) photo of the scene, the Globe has citizen video, but the Toronto Sun wins hands down with a photo by MP Tony Clement."

Thursday 20 January 2011

Rimmer CD

Toronto Sun favourite Paul "Rimmer" Rimstead told great tales about being a jazz band drummer in the years before his death at 52 in 1987.

Gone, but not forgotten, Rimmer was back in the Toronto Sun yesterday in a Mike Strobel column about new life for old jazz.

Namely a CD jazz vet Jim Galloway has produced from vintage reel-to-reel tapes recorded at a club called Daniel's in 1973, with Rimstead on drums for three of the 12 tracks.

Strobel says the CD, Vic Dickenson and Jim Galloway — Live in Toronto, can be ordered at

As Strobel says of Rimstead, who died May 26, 1987, he wasn't Buddy Rich, but he sure could swing.  
Of all the hundreds of men and women who have passed through the Toronto Sun doors since Nov. 1, 1971, Rimstead remains the No. 1 reader-referenced staffer. 

Thanks to Galloway, fans can now capture some of his musical legacy.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Media freeloaders

Actor Kevin Williams was on David Letterman recently talking about New York snow storms and appeals from news outlets for amateur video.

"They go so crazy on the news," he tells Letterman. "It's not just the weather people, it's the reporters. They were actually saying 'if you're out and about and you see news happening, video record it and send it to us, please.'

"And I'm thinking, isn't that your job, really? How lazy can you get?"

Well, Kevin, pretty lazy these days.

Newspapers and radio and television stations are heavily into soliciting citizen-produced news, video and sound bites and, in most cases, without compensation.

Meanwhile, Sun Media's Kincardine News has taken appeals for news and video from citizens to new heights, or new lows depending on how you feel about lazy journalism.

In a nutshell, the Kincardine News says ignore its weekly print edition, help it  produce the news and video for daily online viewing.   

The story reads:

"The nature of the newspaper business is changing drastically to keep up with the progression of free, Internet new content, but the Kincardine News isn't too far behind as part of Sun Media.

"Our focus in the coming month will swing away from a workweek focused on the print product, with an emphasis on posting more news regularly on and increased sharing with our local daily Owen Sound Sun Times.

"This way, our readers will have the opportunity to keep up with news as it develops throughout the week, rather than relying on radio briefs or next week's paper for the Troy Patterson day's news. 

"We're also shifting so there is a greater focus on Reader Generated Content, whether it be sports reports, briefs from organizations, a series of photos from an event or anything our readers deem newsworthy.

"With the increased frequency of digital cameras, camera phones and the ease of text and e-mails, a lot of people can share the news, so it's recorded by us and isn't lost in the digital universe of a cluttered hard drive or memory stick. It also helps us, as we can't make every event, although we'd like to.

"We do ask that people take the time to make it readable, the rest we can do here."

That is lazy, manipulative journalism. 

Mark our words, the use of citizen stories, photographs and video will come back to bite  understaffed, overworked newsrooms in the ass.

Downing's bucket

John Downing has been working through his Bucket List faster than Sun Media has been making a skeleton out of the flagship Toronto Sun newspaper he helped build.

The Day Oner and former editor recently stroked off fishing on the Amazon and writes about it in two postings on his Downing's Views blog.

"I have been busy crossing dream destinations off my Bucket List (remember the 2007 movie) from the Great Wall to Easter Island," Downing writes. "I have been to a third of the countries of the world, and to almost every country around Brazil, but never into it to see its mighty pump of life.

"My chance to visit the Amazon Basin and fish for one of the most famous of its 3,000 species of fish came when Walter Oster, head of the Canadian National Sportsmen's Shows, told me he was taking a group there for the second time."

And what an adventure it was for Downing, who will celebrate his 75th birthday on June 10.

Thanks to veteran photographer Dick Loek, Downing's Amazon fishing expedition was adequately documented for the Bucket List checkers.

Downing's Views is one of our favourite blog reads, so here's hoping John's Bucket List has many more unchecked adventures.

And to think he might still be sitting behind a desk at 333 if he wasn't squeezed out by the suits in 2007. 

Payne's Fury

Steve Payne
When Toronto Sun reporter Steve Payne became one of the many Sun Media cutback casualties in 2000, he must have thought it a dark day.

But oh so briefly. 

He would soon be living the dream.

Soccer, his life's passion next to his family, has since consumed his globe-trotting life and, as written in the Ottawa Citizen this week, his new field of dreams will be with the Ottawa Fury soccer club.

Payne, who has spent the past year of so coaching on the soccer fields of Australia, is the new head coach of the Ottawa Fury's Professional Development League team for the 2011 season.

He comes direct from a year as the technical director of the Football Federation of Tasmania. 

"The man is a soccer entertainer," the Citizen's Richard Starnes wrote this week. "If pressed a little, he will confess to be a subscriber to the old-school Brazilian philosophy that says if the opposition scores three goals, his team will score four."

The Ottawa Fury website announcement says: "We are delighted to have attracted a coach of Steve’s calibre to the Fury. Last year, we were one win shy of qualifying for the PDL North American Final Four.

"Taking us that next step will be Steve’s main challenge, but I am also sure he will have a very positive impact on all players and coaches within the Fury organization,” enthused Fury owner and CEO, John Pugh.

The club says Payne is "one the most highly qualified coaches in Canada," holding a UEFA Pro-Diploma, considered the highest award for coaching and managing in the world.

He is one of only two coaches in Canada to have completed that diploma – Canadian women’s head coach Carolina Morace being the other.

Payne also boasts UEFA A and Canadian B licences and having coached around the globe, with stops in North America, Europe, South America and Australia, he has also earned his Brazlian A licence and a FIFA Futuro III instructors licence.

“One thing I can promise both players and fans alike is that they will never be bored," Payne says in the club's online announcement. "We will play a technical, attacking, possession-based game in which the team will play from the back forward."

Born in England and raised on soccer, Payne might still be with the Toronto tabloid he loved had he not been pink-slipped.

But no doubt about it, he is more than thankful for being given the boot, so to speak. It landed him where he wants to be - on soccer fields and appreciated.

Monday 17 January 2011

Changing course

Alan Craig went from a four-year Toronto Sun cop desk ambulance chaser in the 1970s to riding in them as a Toronto Emergency Medical Services employee.

Now former Toronto Sun photographer Greg Henkenhaf has been sworn in as a Toronto police constable assigned to 55 Division.

Craig joined the Toronto Fire Department in 1977, became a paramedic in 1982, was promoted to deputy EMS chief in 1999 and is now the EMS deputy chief-at-large, says the EMS website.  Impressive.

Friends and former colleagues of Henkenhaf, a father of two, say he also has what it takes to do the city and its police force proud. 

Veteran Sun photographer Michael Peake was at the swearing in ceremony for Henkenhaf and 41 other men and women last week.

(Linked photo courtesy of Peter Power's The Occasional Blogger site.) 

Maryanna Lewyckyj, a former Toronto Sun vet, tells TSF:

"I had heard a while back that Greg had left the Sun and was training to be a cop. What a huge loss for the Sun, but what a wonderful addition to the police ranks.

"Here's hoping for a long and distinguished career and a retirement with a decent pension."

Hear, hear.

Along the way, fellow constables will no doubt quiz him about his SUNshine Girl photo duties while at the Sun.

Sunday 16 January 2011

30 - Michel Gratton

Michel Gratton, who was an Ottawa Sun parliamentary bureau columnist for a decade, was found dead in his Ottawa apartment on Thursday. He was 58.

The Montreal Gazette, not the Ottawa Sun, adequately captures the life and times of Gratton in an online obit. The Ottawa Sun online headline mentions Gratton worked there as a columnist, but does not say when in the story.

The lengthy Gazette obit includes quotes from former Ottawa Sun colleagues in the late 1980s and 1990s, including Bob Fife and John Paton.

The Gazette says a public funeral will be held Friday at Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic Church in Ottawa. He is survived by three daughters, four brothers and two sisters.

Saturday 15 January 2011

Exhibit A, eh?

Friday 14 January 2011

Rob Tripp out

Rob Tripp, an award-winning crime reporter for the Kingston Whig-Standard, has resigned from the Sun Media newspaper in favour of freelancing.

Now that is a big loss for Sun Media.

Sources say Tripp made his exit last Friday after 20 years with the Whig-Standard as a city hall reporter, crime reporter and city editor. 

His first freelance piece can be found on the Canadian Lawyer website. He is also widely read on his CanCrime website.

Last year, he received two National Newspaper Award nominations for beat and local reporting for his work on the killings of four women near a lock in the Rideau Canal at Kingston Mills. 

Tripp's exit is the third high-profile crime reporter departure at Sun Media in the past month.

A tipster says the Ottawa Sun's Kenneth Jackson left Dec. 31.

"He was their crime reporter, their best reporter," says the tipster.

The Toronto Sun's Tamara Cherry started her new on air CTV crime beat career this week.

Cherry and Tripp became widely read Sun Media staffers for investigative crime specials. Cherry's series on human trafficking in Canada was widely acclaimed.

To lose three crime reporters within a month is a huge loss for Sun Media readers.

Crime reporters are a dying breed at Sun Media, which is ironic because the flagship Toronto Sun was an early success with its emphasis on crime reporting.

Sun Media is losing the cream of the crop.

Thursday 13 January 2011

Tamara to CTV

-3Tamara Cherry, the Toronto Sun's high profile crime reporter, has moved on to television, namely CTV.

The reporter, widely recognized for her Sun work on human trafficking in Canada, was introduced on air yesterday by Ken Shaw as CTV's new crime reporter, "a specialist in the field."

Tamara, 26, earns top marks for on-air poise during her first CTV appearance, a live report from the streets of Toronto following the death of Toronto Police Sgt. Ryan Russell.

She was a Toronto Star newsroom intern for 16 months, from May of 2006 to September of 2007, before joining the Sun's news team.

Her series on human trafficking began in January of 2008 and earned her wide acclaim.

It looks like the beginning of a long relationship for Tamara and CTV.

But as always, the question is why did the Sun let her talent exit 333? 

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Just in case . . .

More than 11 million YouTube visitors have viewed this five-minute Transport Accident Commission drinking and driving prevention ad campaign video, which first aired in Australia in 1989. 

We're sure policemen, ambulance workers, hospital staff and cop desk reporters and photographers everywhere would recommend it as a must-view for young and old. 

At the stroke of midnight each New Year's Eve, the slate is wiped clean for alcohol-related traffic accidents and while the annual stats have decreased, there is still a ways to go.

Monday 10 January 2011

Better late?

Sunday Sun readers in Toronto had to wait 22 pages for news of the Tucson massacre, while Sunday Star readers read about it on the front page.

Sunday Sun editors had ample time to get it right, but once again dropped the ball with a lapse  in good news judgment.

The Sun did get it right for Monday's paper, with pages 4 and 5 devoted to the aftermath of the Tucson tragedy.

SONG outlook

Brad Honywill, president of CEP Local 87M, reviews 2010 happenings involving Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guide (SONG) in his latest blog posting, including some Toronto Sun victories.

He writes:

"In the realm of legal settlements, I’m happy to report that we achieved two very important victories:

"The return of two columnists from the non-union Sun Media corporate entity to the Toronto Sun membership;

"And and an arbitration decision stating that ad building work formerly done by the Toronto Sun pre-press department cannot be done by non-union people at Sun Media, ie Woodstock.

"The implications of the latter decision are still being sorted out but, ultimately, it’s good news for the 10 Toronto Sun ad builders who lost their jobs when the work was in-sourced to the new pagination hub in Woodstock.

"There were also several important settlements at the Toronto Star and a two-year contract extension.

"Given the times, we are grateful for these victories and look forward to more in 2011."

Saturday 8 January 2011

Chit happens

Remember TSF mentioning the Toronto Sun was always concerned about those Brick Shirt House ads?

Well, a TSF tipster down Welland way says the Welland Tribune slipped yesterday with the second word in the following online heading: Facility shut down two hours Wednesday.

The typo had been caught by the time TSF checked it out.

But the tipster asked: Where are the editors?

Friday 7 January 2011

It was written 1

When Ron Poulton died at 77 in November of 1993, his literary legacy included: 

The Paper Tyrant: John Ross Robertson of the Toronto Telegram, a 227-page book published in 1971 by Clarke, Irwin and Co.;

Life In A Word Factory, a 112-page book about the rise of the Toronto Sun, published in 1976 by Toronto Sun Publishing.

Poulton worked for both newspapers. He was a columnist at the Telegram and joined the Sun in 1973 as an associate editor two years after the Tely folded.

The novelty of Life in a Word Factory is it was commissioned by Sun co-founder Doug Creighton a mere 287 days after the 62 Day Oners from the defunct Tely launched the feisty little tabloid.

A pup compared to the Globe, Star and defunct Tely, the Sun was making waves and had just moved into its brand new building at 333 King Street East when the book was published. 

Poulton captured the giddy mood of the corporate side of the tabloid and employees in all departments, who would share the good fortunes of the newspapers for years to come.

As we count down to Nov. 1, the 40th anniversary of the Toronto Sun, we'll be taking a look at Life in a Word Factory and other Sun profiles.

Poulton wrote: 

"The immediate future looked rosy to the newspapermen who committed themselves to the seemingly impossible task of originating The Toronto Sun. But it only looked that way because the immediate past had been so black.

"In a curious way - curious because only one of them was a hard-headed businessman - their hopes were buoyant. They radiated from a conviction that everything that could go wrong had already gone wrong. Nothing could get them down because they were already down. The thought made optimists of most of them.

"The only pessimists in sight were a clutch of sniffing critics who had nothing to lose. They were looking in from the outside. They were not spilling their blood and they were not committed in any way. So they laughed when he editors of the Sun sat down to play a little journalistic ragtime. The result still exists. The Sun, to the chagrin of its critics, is conceived out of orderly chaos six days a week.

"In less than four years it had its own presses, firmly bolted to the floor of its own plant, an an investment in excess of $9,000,000."

Thursday 6 January 2011

Talk to homeless

Love this guy Ted Williams, the man with a golden voice - and Doral Chenoweth, the Columbus Dispatch videographer who took the time to talk to a homeless man:

Kenny's book

When Ken Robertson died from cancer three days before Christmas, he had all but two chapters of his second Windcharm book written. 

With the Toronto Sun Day Oner's circle of friends including veteran reporters, writers and editors, it was automatic that they would help complete Ken's labour of love and get it published.

It also helped that Ken had asked Lynn Tymczyszyn, a daughter, to write the final chapter and include details of his much loved great grandson, Charlie. 

This is what Lynn wrote in a comment posted on TSF:

"Ken Robertson was my Dad. Thank you all for your comments. I am sitting here reading them with tears in my eyes.

"Dad recovered from cancer surgery in November 2009, but the cancer came back. He was not feeling well for the past few months but kept going. He wanted to finish his book. He had two chapters to go.

"Jack Hutton suggested his news buddies send me stories about my Dad and we will include them in the book. I think that is a fantastic idea. Dad would love it.

"Dad also asked me to write about his new Great Grandson "Charlie" who he loved so much. He said something about this baby made everything perfect.

"My Dad asked me to publish the book, so I will try. I will welcome any stories you can send to me. I have many memories, but some of my favorite times with Dad were sailing on "Shadow" across Lake Ontario. I would phone him every day asking if we could go.

"I miss him so much. We are planning a Celebration of his Life, I think at Windcharm, in the spring. I hope all of his friends will come."

Thank you, Lynn. Let us know when details for the Celebration of Life are finalized.

And we are confident friends of Ken will help you get Windcharm 2 completed and published.

Wednesday 5 January 2011

NF Review -1

Bullet Media, owned by petroleum distributor Bob Gale, has picked up another Niagara Falls Review staffer, says a TSF tipster.

"Reporter John Robbins of the Niagara Falls Review has left the paper for Bullet Media," says the tipster.

"Former managing editor Peter Conradi, along with Dave Martineau, the former publisher, are already there."

Odds and ends

Old age benefits for Canadian cons over 65 were axed as of Jan. 1 and aging prisoners  affected are no doubt ticked off with Clifford Olson. The serial killer's pension cheque boast to Toronto Sun columnist Peter Worthington last year set the federal Bill C-31, An Act to Amend the Old Age Security Act, into motion. 

The Canadian Journalism Project notes Globe and Mail columnists Jeffrey Simpson and Margaret Wente, and the Toronto Star's public editor, Kathy English, have owned up to mistakes made in 2010. And, "in the spirit of journalistic accuracy and transparency, J-Source has just added a section to our site that lets readers see all our corrections." TorSun's 2010 errors? MIA.

TSF thanks Clare Westcott for directing us to an Eric Dowd tribute by TVO's Steve Paikin to mark  Eric's funeral Tuesday. Says Clare: "It is sad that the Curmudgeon Dean of Queen's Park is gone." Clare, a familiar face in Toronto's political, police and media circles for decades, is the father of the Sun's much-admired late police reporter, Jamie Westcott.

Today's the day the Canadian Newspaper Association (CNA) and the Canadian Community Newspapers Association (CCNA) officially become one under a new name - Newspapers Canada. A Marketwire press release says "the move to one name allows the industry to present a united front for marketing purposes." 

Monday 3 January 2011

Examiner letter

A TSF reader out Peterborough way notes the following sub-head in the Peterborough Examiner today:

"How do you deal with loosing a son in Afghanistan"

And the reader includes a link to "another letter to the editor today rightfully criticizing Quebecor and their operations with respects to the Peterborough Examiner."

The letter writer, Dale White, invokes memory of Canadian author Robertson Davies (1913-1995),  who was co-owner and editor of the Examiner from 1942 to 1955 and publisher from 1955 to 1965.

"The Peterborough Examiner, at one time, had the great Robertson Davies as its editor. Amazing how it has declined especially under its new owners Quebecor," White writes.

"It's bad enough that our paper is not printed in Peterborough anymore and many of the staff have been dismissed, but the lack of quality control in the paper is terrible."

Nofrills Sun/market

The sign outside 333 King Street East reads: Coming soon, nofrills.

How appropriate, a nofrills supermarket will be sharing the former Toronto Sun building with a nofrills newspaper. That isn't a cheap shot, that is the reality of the Sun's status in 2011.

They are renters of a small slice of the second floor in a six-floor building built by the early success of the 62 Day Oners and others who followed.

So when the Toronto Sun marks its 40th anniversary on Nov. 1, 2011, it will be deja vu all over again - minimal staff in rented office space.

But without the heart and soul of the Day Oners that carried the tabloid to awesome heights for more than two decades.