Tuesday 31 May 2011

Whig protest

The new Kingston Sub-Standard website launched last week is in protest of the decline of the once influential Kingston Whig-Standard.

The Make It Great campaign includes a petition and numerous YouTube videos of current and former readers outlining their frustration with the Sun Media daily. 

Readers of the profitable newspaper are demanding a return to the glory days of the Whig-Standard when community news, sports and entertainment dominated the paper.

Out with recycled Sun Media content from well beyond Kingston's borders, a cause readers of many other Sun Media community newspapers understand all too well.

The Kingston Sub-Standard site - greatwhig.ca - says:   

"The purpose of the Make it Great campaign is to demonstrate to Quebecor (the parent company of Sun Media, which owns the Kingston Whig-Standard) that the citizens of Kingston care about having a quality daily newspaper. 

"The project is being sponsored by the CWA/SCA Canada – the union that represents reporters, advertising staff and others at the Whig-Standard – to give a collective voice to Kingstonians who, for years, have been expressing concern about the steady decline of the Whig."

Sunday 29 May 2011

40th locale?

A former Toronto Sun composing/prepress staffer who had 35 years on the job when the department shut down two years ago writes:

Where do you think this event (the Sun's 40th anniversary) might be held?

Betty's on King St.?

No Frills store/old pressroom?

Eclipse Building?

The vacant Sun building?

Just curious.


The 40th could be the last hurrah for surviving Day Oners and others from the 1970s and the remaining glory years.

But with just over five months to go, the 40th could be a dud, with perhaps a few Day Oners getting together for dinner.

TSF doubts Quebecor will be chipping in a dime for the 40th.

Certainly not for anything comparable to 20th anniversary celebration at the SkyDome, a Doug Creighton inspired affair Sun vets remember well.

We get links

A new look for the Niagara Falls Review - four sections instead of two.

Of course, the change hasn't nothing to do with the interests of readers. 

One source says having four sections instead of two saves Sun Media $300 per run per little paper.

"The bad news, one less local news page."

Sounds familiar.

We picked up a Kingston Whig-Standard on Saturday to find a great amount of recycled Sun Media content available in the Toronto or Ottawa Suns.

The required outside content must be annoying to community-minded Whig editors who want more space for local sports, news and entertainment.

But perhaps all of the conscientious Kingston boosters at the award-winning newspaper have moved on.

This Toronto Sun reader buys community newspapers during travels to learn more about the area being visited, not for recycled Toronto and Ottawa-based Sun content.

Friday 27 May 2011

It was written 6

John Paton's $50,000 contribution to a New York university scholarship fund in the name of the late, great Doug Creighton left us hankering for more stories about the early years of the tabloid.

The generosity of the former Toronto Sun copy boy, who was hired by Doug and reached  executive status, couldn't be better timing with the countdown to the tabloid's 40th anniversary this Nov. 1.

That is putting your money where your mouth is.

The current crop of self-absorbed, mean-spirited suits have zapped all that was positive and selfless out of the flagship tabloid.

So we take comfort in knowing Ron Poulton's 1976 Life in a Word Factory is always at arm's reach for tales of the glory years.

Poulton wrote:

It the Sun's first days, unsolicited money from readers kept arriving in the mail. Two boys spotted an open street box and carried the dimes it had spilled to the Sun office. Female readers baked batches of cookies and took them to the city room when word leaked out that some of the staff were too busy to get out to eat.

Between November 1 and November 4, 75 Sun street boxes were stolen by souvenir hunters, but that was the only sour note struck in the first exhilarating week.

Readers response revealed itself in letters that arrived. The Sun, as (Travel editor Percy) Rowe pointed out, got 12,000 in its first year while the Star, with four times the circulation, was admitting that it had received only 14,000.

When the Sun conducted its first poll, an advertising agency warned that the tabloid would be lucky to get 500 replies, but 8,200 responses arrived in the first three days.

(TSF note: Annual full-page surveys for the daily and a separate one for the Sunday Sun  were in the pre-Quebecor years when Doug, Peter Worthington, Don Hunt et al Sun  cared about the interests of readers.)

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Re Brian Vallee

Our thoughts are with Brian Vallee today.

The former 1970s Toronto Sun staffer who became a best-selling Life With Billy author, documentary maker and, most recently, publisher, has been in St. Michael's Hospital since Friday.

Information provided by a TSF reader indicates Brian has his longtime partner, Nancy, and close friend Ron Base at his side.

"I know everyone is concerned about Brian," says Ron. "We all love him dearly. I'll let you know as soon as there is news . . ."

Saturday 21 May 2011

OT: Niece wins

From a modest fundraising effort to province-wide media coverage, the efforts of a niece to get from Nova Scotia to California with her six-year-old daughter for brain surgery steamrolled to success this week.

The Nova Scotia government has heard the mounting criticism of a medical system that wouldn't pay for transportation and accommodation costs for a guardian escorting a child for out-of-country surgery.

Shannon Price was doing it on her own with the growing support of friends, family, colleagues at three jobs she holds and strangers before print and online community newspapers published her story, followed by a CBC interview and a Halifax Chronicle-Herald story.

The news Shannon, whose late mother, Sylvia, was a nurse, wanted to hear came yesterday when the provincial government announced changes would be made by June 1.

The government announced it will expand the existing Travel and Accommodations Assistance Policy to include increased support for family members.

Initially, the province agreed to pay for young Chelsea's medical expenses, airfare and accommodation, but not her mother's.

"It's a huge relief to know that we'll be reimbursed for my airfare and my hotel while we're there," Shannon told CBC News.

But, she told CBC News, what is more exciting is it it will benefit not just her, but other families.

"I think that's what I'm most excited about because not everybody can fundraise and not everybody will have the support."

The June journey to California will be less of a mental and financial burden thanks to the fundraising efforts that grew until the media and the government listened.

Congratulations to all who got involved. It warms the heart. Common sense does prevail when a community rallies and the media responds. 

It makes this blogger damn proud of the media.

Now let's get young Chelsea to California for those multiple and potentially life-saving brain embolizations and surgery.

Thursday 19 May 2011

TV news

Perhaps veteran Sun Media TV columnist Bill Harris is overworked and the chain needs a second TV writer to handle the wide interests of couch potatoes across Canada.

How else to explain the absence of any Sun mention this week of the cancellation of America's Most Wanted and a slew of cop shows and sci-fi series?

We read elsewhere that The Cape, V, The Event, No Ordinary Family, Chicago Code, Lie To Me, Human Target, Law & Order: Los Angeles, Chase, Detroit 1-8-7, Brothers & Sisters are among the cancellations to date.  

As Rob Salem said in Monday's Star, this is a "veritable bloodbath of cancellations."

That would be worthy news to Sun readers,

Fox axing America's Most Wanted after 23 years has launched a Save AMW movement.

The Washington Post and many other newspapers have had their say, but the Sun? Nada.

Sun Media excels in movie and sports coverage, but not television.

Bill Harris needs a helping hand.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Sun is 174

The Baltimore Sun, that is. 

It turned 174 today.

The Toronto Sun, counting down to its 40th this Nov. 1, is a mere pup.

SNN not live

Now you see it for free on the Internet, now you don't.

The plug has been pulled on the live Sun News streaming feed a week after Sun Media gave Bell subscribers an alternative to being blacked by an ongoing carriage fee dispute. 

"I see Sun News dropped the live stream which they just got working last week," says a TSF reader. "Someone's listening to Bell!"

2010 OCNAs

Sun Media community newspapers picked up some honours at the Ontario Community Newspaper  Association's 2010 Better Newspaper Awards ceremony in Niagara Falls on Friday.

Winners include Angelica Blenich at the Haliburton Echo. Steve Galea, the Echo's humour columnist, received the Humour Columnist of the Year award.

The Minden Times earned second place in its circulation class for general excellence.

A complete list of OCNA winners and runners-up can be found here.

OT: Front pages

Updated re CBC
As decades of front pages go, this one is the first with a story about a family member and we couldn't be more proud of the "community" in community newspapering.

It tells the fundraising story of a niece, Shannon, and her six-year-old daughter, Chelsea, as they count down the days to a June trip from Nova Scotia to California for Chelsea's multiple operations on a very rare brain disorder.

It is called arteriovenous malformation (AVM).  

The community is in the middle of a hectic fundraising drive and local media, including the Bridgewater Progress-Bulletin and  its online SouthShoreNow.ca are very supportive.

We have never doubted the power of the community press when it comes to fundraising events, but today's front page coverage for a niece and her daughter reaches a new plateau.

News of the community effort spread across the province with a Halifax CBC report Thursday.

Monday 16 May 2011

Doug's legacy

John Paton, a Toronto Sun copy boy who rose through the ranks to executive status, is paying tribute to the late Doug Creighton, his mentor, with a $50,000 scholarship contribution.

The $50,000 will be used in a new J. Douglas Creighton Scholarship Fund he established for students at City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where Paton is a board of advisers member. 

Creighton, a Toronto Sun co-founder ousted by the Sun board in 1992, died in 2004.

A CUNY website story says Paton's scholarship contribution is one of two by board of advisers members. A second scholarship was established by Roz Abrams, a New York TV news anchor vet. 

Paton's generosity and his loyalty to the Toronto Sun and its founding publisher is heartwarming and sharing Doug's legacy with American journalism students is commendable.

“Doug Creighton was a remarkable journalist who built the largest newspaper company in Canada from scratch," Paton, 54, says in the CUNY story. "He was a mentor to many and an inspiration to all who knew him."

The story says Paton joined the school’s advisory board in early 2010, shortly after he became chief executive of the Journal Register. The company owns more than 300 print and online news and information products serving 19 million Americans a month.

Intell re NNAs

Worth repeating is this opinion piece by Chris Malette, city editor at Sun Media's Belleville Intelligencer, a runner-up in Friday's National Newspaper Awards for coverage of the Russell Williams crime spree.

Chris writes: In the end, no one won a news award for coverage of one of the most heinous series of crimes in recent Canadian history.

The Intelligencer joined a list of newspapers to leave the National Newspapers Awards in Ottawa last Friday with runners-up honours for reportage of the Russell Williams crime spree. The Intelligencer team of W. Brice McVicar, Luke Hendry, Jason Miller and Chris Malette were in the running for an NNA for coverage of the Williams crimes, trial and conviction in 2010. So too were teams from The Toronto Star and The Globe & Mail.

None of us made it to the stage at the gala ceremony at the Canadian War Museum.

And perhaps, to some, that's fitting. It's a crushing disappointment to those of us who looked forward to winning the pinnacle of news awards for newspapers in Canada, of course,

While The Intell's team doggedly reported the stunningly horrific crimes of the former commander of CFB Trenton, doing so as so many newsrooms across the country have done  -  soldiered on with fewer of us doing the lifting - one gets the nagging feeling no one should achieve glory in any way associated with the deeds of such an animal as Williams.

Certainly, some of our readers expressed those exact sentiments in reaction to earlier announcements that the Intell team had been nominated for the NNA and the Ontario Newspaper Awards three weeks ago in Kitchener. We were runner-up there, as well.

For The Intelligencer team, it is only the third time in the 62 years of the NNAs that The Intell has been nominated for awards. In the past, photographer Frank O'Connor and writer Derek Baldwin, both now gone from The Intell, also took home finalist honours but not the big prize.

But, while some may wonder why journalists take pride in chronicling the gruesome stories of such a disgusting display of inhumanity, we look to this news prize as following in the footsteps of those who have been honoured for shining a light on corruption, exploring the human condition in words and pictures, covering wars and even the joyous moments of life in Canada as exemplified in the feature photography award Brandon Sun photographer Tim Smith, a smile-bringing image of young Hutterite kids playing atop a stack of hay bales as a rainbow breaks over their heads.

So, we thank you, our readers, in sharing our stories of the year from hell for many of us, but we are justifiably proud of the work our small but mighty band of young journalists have done.

In the words of the judges on The Intelligencer's work in the Williams coverage: "The Intelligencer's total newsroom coverage resulted in ground-breaking stories for a local newspaper in the face of massive big-city reporting."

As city editor, I'd take McVicar, Miller and Hendry over a newsroom full of high-priced metro daily reporters. 
And, finally, for the victims of Williams' unspeakable crimes and the families of those victims, we have not for one moment forgotten your suffering, strength and dignity while we chronicled the acts of the perpetrator of those crimes that have forever changed your lives.

Sunday 15 May 2011

We get links

A TSF reader says:
Here's an eye-catching headline.
It will be interesting to see the CRTC ruling on this. 
Carriage value of Sun News Network has been reduced to 'zero': Bell

2010 NNAs

Sun Media struck out at the 2010 National Newspaper Awards ceremony in Ottawa Friday night.

In the sea of NNA winners and runners-up, the Belleville Intelligencer and Sarnia Observer were both runners-up in Local Reporting, the Intelligencer for coverage of the Russell Williams crime spree and Tara Jeffrey of the Observer for local stories about youth suicide.  

On the Toronto front, the Globe and Mail won the most awards - five - and the Toronto Star picked up three main awards at the NNA's 62nd annual awards ceremony at Ottawa's Canadian War Museum. 

For all of its front page exclusives, the Toronto Sun has been rather quiet on the NNA front in recent years. 

The Toronto Star's complete list of winners and runners-up can be read here.

Saturday 14 May 2011

30: Glenn Cole

Glenn Cole
Glenn Cole, a Toronto Sun sportswriter and editor for a decade, died Friday in Brantford General Hospital. He was 63.

Colleagues and friends called him Coach.

Greg Oliver, a wrestling writer over at Slam, gives his mentor a fine sendoff today.

As does Dave Fuller in a Toronto Sun tribute.

Cole, whose funeral was held today, joined the Toronto Sun in November of 1991 after establishing himself as "an institution on the Montreal sports scene for three decades."

The Montreal native wrote hockey notebooks, mentored junior reporters, edited copy and wrote a Saturday wrestling column while at the Sun. 

Scott Morrison, the former Toronto Sun sports editor who hired Cole, told Fuller:

"Everyone who met the Coach loved him. He often gave the impression of being the gruff editor, but deep down he had a heart of gold and loved to help out the young kids in the newsroom."

The lifelong bachelor began covering sports for the Sir George Williams University newspaper in the early 1970s. His media career included jobs at the Canadian Press, Sunday Express, Montreal Gazette and Montreal Daily News.  

Fuller's story says during his decade at the Sun, Cole also worked for TSN and Molstar as chief statistician on their NHL broadcasts.

Memories of Glenn Cole can be emailed to TSF.

OT: A salute

One of the many lasting memories from 19 years at the Toronto Sun is a four-year relationship in the late 1980s  that introduced this blogger to Michael Nelson and his younger brother, Matthew Nelson.

Lost touch with them over the years, but didn't lose interest in what their lives would be like as young adults.

Well, it was a feeling of great pride to learn recently that Michael followed his interest in art and is now a Toronto artist with exhibits to his credit and a book on the way.

And a Toronto Sun story Friday by Rob Lamberti says Matthew, now 28, is one of 160 new Toronto police constables to hit the streets.

Congratulations Constable Matthew Nelson, you have come a long way from your years of mastering Nintendo.

Well done, Michael and Matthew, you  no doubt have made your mother, Kathy, a veteran librarian at 333, and all who have watched you grow up very proud.

Thursday 5 May 2011

Print ed axed

Former Journal de Montreal employees have axed the weekly print edition of Rue Frontenac after 25 issues citing a lack of advertising.

The final edition of the French-language weekly, with a distribution of 75,000 copies per week, was published last Thursday.

The online story says "the concentration of the press leaves little chance for independent media. Agencies that manage the investments of large advertising companies prefer to negotiate contracts with media groups rather than negotiate piecemeal. It's more convenient and less labor."
Rue Frontenac, launched following the January 2009 lockout of 253 Journal employees, will continue online, with new projects in mind, the story says.

Obama & Osama

We all have bad days, but ouch. 

Global News was not alone. The Entertainment & Stars website says "a number of news organizations actually managed to mix-up the two polar opposites," including an anchor for Fox 5, out of Washington D.C.

Ted Baxter would fit like a glove.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

CAJ finalists

Congrats to Elliot Ferguson at Sun Media's Woodstock Sentinel-Review for being a finalist in the 2010 Canadian Association of Journalists investigative journalism awards.

The CAJ nominee in the community newspaper category was chosen for his work on Rebuilding Haiti.

A complete list of finalists can be viewed here.

The awards will be presented during CAJ's May 13-15 conference in Ottawa.

Fightin' words

Thanks to a TSF reader for this Tweet attributed to Andrew Coyne, national editor of Maclean's and CBC political panelist:

"I guess all i can say is I'd rather be caught naked in a massage parlour than fully clothed working for SunNews."

Speaking of the new Quebecor venture, Bell satellite subscribers sitting down yesterday for an anticipated day of post-election gloating found only a blank screen. 

A Canadian Press story says Quebecor requested the plug be pulled by May 3 in a fee dispute with Bell.

Except for the opportunity to see a few Toronto Sun vets again, no great loss. Bring back Sun TV and Supernatural reruns.

Now that Harper has a majority, perhaps Canada no longer needs a news channel devoted to 24-hour far right frothing.   

Sunday 1 May 2011

Ken's sendoff

When Ken Robertson, a Toronto Sun Day Oner and former city editor, died in December, not a word could be found in tribute in the flagship tabloid.

So it's not surprising some former colleagues and friends first learned of next Saturday's Celebration of Life for Ken from a Toronto Star notice in Saturday's paper.

It reads:

Ken Robertson, passed away December 22, 2010 in his 88th year

A celebration of Ken's life will be held at his home (Windcharm), 6029 Line 6 North (off Vasey Rd.), Victoria HarbourSaturday May 7th, 2011 from 2 until 5 p.m.

Thanks to Bill Sandford, TSF received the Star's notice content. We couldn't find a copy of the Saturday Star out this way yesterday. The $5 Royal Wedding special edition paper was sold out, as were most copies of the Globe and Mail and Post, with their front page wedding coverage.

Lots of Saturday Suns, with its front page Jack Layton story, could be found late in the day.

That speaks to the mindset of newspaper readers yesterday.

ONAs & Jack

Updated 2/5/11 re links
Saturday was a day of highs and extreme lows for Sun Media, winning some Ontario Newspaper Awards and experiencing some fierce negative feedback over the Jack Layton smear.

On the positive side, the London Free Press, Woodstock Sentinel-Review, Sarnia Observer (link not working), and Brantford Expositor picked up two ONAs apiece and the Ottawa SunBelleville Intelligencer, Owen Sound Sun Times, Chatham Daily News, Orillia Packet and Times, Simcoe Reformer and Sault Star each received one award.

A Canadian Press story says the Hamilton Spectator won the most awards - eight.

The CP story has a complete list of finalists.