Sunday 31 July 2011

We get links

Warren Toda's Toronto Sun graphics WTF:

Worth repeating

A comment posted by Mike J re TSF's highs and lows posting::

To give credit where credit is due, here's a high:

Today (July 30), a man was shot and killed near the conclusion of Toronto's annual Caribana parade. The Toronto Star got the story wrong. The Globe and Mail got the story wrong. CBC-TV got the story wrong. National Post seems to have missed the story entirely.

Only Ian Robertson from the Toronto Sun got it right with full details and correct background information. Well done Ian!

This is entirely due to Ian's experience as a cop reporter. Had any other lesser Sun reporter done the story, I suspect they would've fallen short like the other newspapers and TV, all of which used less experienced reporters (to be polite).

My point here is that laying off experienced staff in favour of cheap new hires is/was a huge mistake. A paper needs "bench strength". An experienced reporter knows the news history of the city, they have connections and they know "how things work".

The Front Page

Peter Worthington's column today takes Sun Media readers back to the day when the Tely and the Star were fierce competitors vying for genuine "exclusives."

Scenes right out of The Front Page.

Even a 1970s replay of Peter Young's journey from the Toronto Sun to the Star to snatch an exclusive photo from the Star's composing room and return to 333 a hero.

The exclusives Peter W. writes about were just that and largely due to the creative juices of fiercely competitive reporters.

Our kind of newspaper wars.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

We get links

Today's newsrooms

Highs & lows

From the Toronto Sun's dynamite Sunday front page to two consecutive false fronts Monday and Tuesday, such are the the highs and lows of tabloid journalism Quebecor style.

In the old days, the Sun's ad space was dominated by stereo ads and the running joke was every home should have at least two stereo systems.

But there were no false fronts. The fronts were left to a news team highly capable of selling papers with a photo and a catchy line.

Today, car, van and truck sales dominate ad space front to back.

Once again, we ask what is the price for selling out the Sun's front page?

Whatever it is, it is not enough.

Tuesday 26 July 2011

We get links

Sun Media bows of Ontario Press Council. Sad times for newspapering - John Honderich:

Saturday 23 July 2011

Life of Brian

Updated 27/7/11
Jessica Ferlaino, Brian's cousin in Sault Ste. Marie writes:

"Brian Vallee was many things to many people, but to me he was always an inspiration.

"Growing up in Sault Ste. Marie, I was always aware that my cousin was a successful author/journalist, but it wasn't until I read his work that I truly understood what a crusader he was.

"It's hard to grow up in Sault Ste. Marie with a dream that doesn't involve moving up the industrial ladder, especially if it challenges the status quo. My mom always shared stories about Brian, how he was my grandmother's favourite and how he had so many achievements.

"Recently, I have been spending time on Lake Lauzon being inspired by the beauty of Northern Ontario, when I was informed Brian spent much time out there. I could see what he saw. I could feel what he felt when he was out there.

"I was always hoping to meet Brian, to be able to sit down and talk with him about his work and mine, and how he truly made me believe that no matter where you come from if you want to write and you have a passion for what you do that you can go anywhere with it and be the change you want to see.

"Although I'll never have the opportunity to meet Brian now, the impact he has had on my life from afar will never be forgotten. Thank you Brian. I wish I could have told you in person what you have meant to me and how you have shaped the writer in me.

"Les Pyette, 1970s Toronto Sun city editor and former Sun executive now in retirement in London, Ontario, writes:

"It was  Brian, Ron Base and Lynda Ruddy's  recommendations that got me to the Toronto Sun in 1974. They had stayed all night at my home in Windsor when I was working for the Star.

"Fed them coffee, bacon and eggs in the morning and they headed back to Toronto. Two months later, I left the Windsor Star and was working with them in Toronto.

"For me to get to the Windsor Star in 1971 from the Sault Star, it was Brian who recommended me to the publisher of the Windsor Star.

"We will all miss Chico - my pet name for one of humanity's great ones. Brian was one of a kind, a gentle soul, a great talent and a down-to-earth nice man." 

Bob McAllister: "Lake Lauzon just won't be the same knowing that Brian Vallee isn't at his beloved cottage with a cold beer and a great story for any visitor.

"Then again, maybe Brian will always be at the cottage."

Ray Bennett on his The Cliff Edge blog, with a great photo:

Ron Base, former Toronto Sun colleague of Brian's and a close friend for 42 years:

Canadian Press story in the Hamilton Spectator:

30 - Brian Vallee

Brian Vallee

Brian Vallee, who died from cancer Friday morning, was many things to many people in his 70 years.

He was a good guy, a friend to many.

A poker player.

Press club pianist (of sorts).

And, as longtime friend Ron Base told the Windsor Star, one heck of a story teller.

He told those well-researched and award-winning stories in the  
Windsor Star, Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, CBC's The Fifth Estate and in best-selling books, including Life With Billy.

One of the happiest nights of Brian's eventful life was Oscars night in 1983 when his name was mentioned on stage by winning documentary director John Zaritsky. Brian was associate producer of The Fifth Estate's Oscar-winning Just Another Missing Kid. 

Not bad for a kid from the Soo. 

Brian's stay at the Toronto Sun in the 1970s, as one of the Windsor Mafia, was relatively short, but he remained a Toronto Sun Family member to the core.

(The Windsor Mafia consisted of Sun staffers called up from the Windsor Star in the 1970s and included Base, Les Pyette, Mark Bonokoski, Bruce Blackadar, Lloyd Kemp, Cam Norton, Greg Parent, Ben Grant etc.)

When current and former Sun employees met in 2006 for a Save Our Sun reunion to voice concerns about the direction Quebecor was taking the tabloid, Brian was there.

Most recently, Brian became a book publisher - West-End Books - where Ron Base, friend and former Sun colleague, had two of his novels published.

"I'm working on several book and documentary projects of my own and I plan to publish my own books under the West-End Books imprint," Brian told TSF in March.

Brian always seemed ageless, a young-at-heart writer who would be around forever.

Suddenly, in May, Brian was unconscious in St. Michael's Hospital, where doctors learned he had cancer and it was spreading.

The Windsor Star story says it all about Brian's professionalism and character:

“He was just a very dedicated journalist and more so he was a great person,” said Jim Bruce, retired publisher of the Star, who worked as city editor during Vallee’s reporting days in Windsor.

Brian is survived by his longtime partner Nancy Rahtz and several brothers and sisters.

No funeral arrangements have been announced, but a celebration of life will no doubt be arranged to say farewell to a gem of a man.

Memories of Brian Vallee can be emailed to TSF.

Thursday 21 July 2011

Sports hole

With all the clout the Toronto Sun sports department has at 333, it is a shame it can't  get Quebecor to extend the off-site print deadlines to accommodate night events.

Tuesday night's extra-innings Toronto/Seattle nail-biter was yet another disappointment for print readers plunking down cash expecting full coverage by the tabloid's crack team of baseball writers.

The game, won by the Jays in the 14th, was done by midnight

It is shameful, inconsiderate management of a morning newspaper.

That also goes for stale, two-day-old concert reviews.

But then Sun print readers have been second-class citizens for more than a decade, despite their dominance in readership surveys.

They carry the ball and get the shaft. 

We get links

The Winnipeg Sun's new three-year contract for 125 unionized employees:

The contract is retroactive to last Jan. 1.

Monday 18 July 2011

Downing in Sun

John Downing, a Day Oner and former editor of the Toronto Sun, returned to the pages of the Sunday Sun yesterday after a four-year absence with his replay of Hospital Hell

The post-Sun Downing first shared his near-death American and Canadian hospital experiences with his Downing's Views blog readers.

The Sun series, which continues next Sunday, isn't the way Downing wanted to mark the Toronto Sun's 40th anniversary countdown.

Friday 15 July 2011

Globe's roots

Click on the photo for a larger view

Siobhan Moore, Ian Harvey and other "old fogies" were talking on Facebook recently about the Toronto Sun when it had its own presses and the joy of hearing them roar nightly beneath your feet.

This blogger can hear the young newsroom pups fresh off the streets moan about yet another TSF trip down memory lane, but if not for the dedication of newsrooms past, you might not have a job.

Which brings us to a favourite vintage news photo from the early 1960s, snapped by Bob Chow in the Globe and Mail newsroom when the morning paper was located on King St. W., just down the street from the Toronto Star.

This blogger is standing at the teletype machine checking copy while a hive of dedicated editors and other evening staffers do their stuff.

In the forefront, with back to camera, Web Anderson, a veteran rewrite man who took rewrite to a new level for several decades at the Globe.

First rim: Al Dawson in the slot and from his right to left: Photographer John Boyd?; Jim Knack, photo editor; unknown staffer; Joe Gelman; Tony Westall?; Bob Turnbull, city editor; Hugh Thompson, entertainment editor.

Second rim: Martin Lynch, the walking encyclopedia, in the slot and copy editors from his left to right, unknown; Barry Zwicker; unknown; David Spurgeon; unknown; Mike Hanlon; Lex Schrag; unknown; Eric Dowd

In the background, Joan Holobon and Rosemary Converey are two of the three women.

It was definitely a different age for newspapers. Teletype machines, typewriters, pneumatic tubes linked to the composing room and a pressroom/newsroom intercom. 

New computerized tools of the trade for newsrooms today, but give the old fogies their memories of the vibrancy of newsrooms past.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Ethics in media

Updated 15/7/11

Sun Media has severed its ties with the Ontario Press Council.

Makes sense. Why would a newspaper chain with ethics that are often questioned by readers volunteer to be challenged by a body that investigates reader complaints?

You have a beef about Sun Media newspaper content? Lump it.

The Globe and Mail story, with more than 225 comments, is here.

Much more here

And a UK blogger

The Ontario Press Council response in a CP story.

Brad's exit

Brad Honywill
We've been thinking it has been all too quiet out there when it comes to Brad Honywill, president of the 3,000-member CEP 87M (Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild).

A quick visit to his Brad's Blog explains the lack of Honywill commentary. He signed off as president effective June 1, ending a hectic five-year run. 

"I’ve given up my elected position of Local president and accepted a position as staff representative for the Local, starting June 1," Brad says in his blog.

"This means I no longer have to run for office every two years, kiss babies, oversee the administration of the Local and preside over the myriad of meetings that are a crucial part of governing a democratic body. Now I have a secure job and the protection of a union contract, no small benefits in these times."

Brad first got involved in the union in 2004 when elected unit chair at the Toronto Sun. In the five years of this TSF blog, he was always an email away for comment on Sun Media affairs.

He signs off as president by saying:

"Serving as president of this Local was the most satisfying job I’ve had in my life and I’d like to thank all 3,000 members for allowing me the opportunity to perform this role. It was exhausting, challenging, exhilarating, fulfilling and whole lot more adjectives that are probably too colourful for this space. But all of that made it the best job in the world, as far as I was concerned."

Thanks for keeping TSF readers in the loop, Brad. All the best in your new venture.

SONG members who want to comment on Brad's five years as president can email TSF.

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Factory 4 ID

"That slim young fellow in the foreground is Sun veteran sportswriter Mike Rutsey," says a TSF reader. "He's with Rick Fraser and an unknown desker.

"Ruts reports that in this photo he looks just like his eldest son does now (minus the early 70s garb)."

Many thanks for the ID.

We'd never suspect that thin, clean-shaven staffer with all of the hair is the same bearded gent who sat at the poker table in the Toronto Press Club in the late 80s - and whose photo is often in the Toronto Sun sports pages.

All we need now is a name for the Drew Carey lookalike with the glasses.

Monday 11 July 2011

Yardley Jones

Yardley Jones was the first Toronto Sun cartoonist to win an NNA, picking up the 1971 award for editorial cartooning/caricature.

He squeezed in an NNA between the 1970 and 1972 wins by the Toronto Star's six-time winner Duncan McPherson.

Despite four decades of brilliant cartoons, Andy Donato won his only NNA in 1976.

Yardley's first win for the Toronto Sun came to mind while reading an Edmonton Journal article about him and his new Edmonton show.  

The Journal story says The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, a retrospective of personalities, royalty and politicians, opened July 7 at St. Albert's Art Beat gallery.

Friday 8 July 2011

Downing returns

Updated 14/7/11
We've been wondering where John Downing, a Toronto Sun Day Oner and former editor, has been since his last Downing's Views blog posting in March.

Travelling the world? Up at the cottage? 

No such luck. He was in hospital, without a computer, and gathering material on health care for future blog postings.

As John writes: "I was carried into the first of four hospitals on, appropriately, April Fool's Day. The joke was on me. From health to death's door in two days. And for the first time since May, 1957, I haven't written anything for 106 days since they don't allow computers in intensive care."

You can catch up to three Hospital Hell postings this month with Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5.

Welcome back, John.

Factory 5 & 6

Two more early 1970s Toronto Sun photos.

Bob MacDonald deep in thought?

Bill Fyfe the photo lab whiz

Re Factory 3

Received this e-mail from John Iaboni re the Factory 3 photo of the early 1970s Toronto Sun sports department: 

"I don't know who the Sun vet who contributed to this was, but he or she was accurate in some ways so I'll try to clarify the photo and a couple of other points. 

I believe the photo is a few years into the Sun and we were still in the original building on the second floor that was renovated after our initial days in the rundown fourth floor. 

I'd say this photo was circa 1973 or so because Rick Fraser joined us to be the beat writer for the WHA's Toros when the team left Ottawa (where they played for one season and were known as the Nationals) for Toronto in 1973 when Johnny F. Bassett bought the team from Doug Michel

With two pro hockey teams in town, I was to cover the Leafs and, in need of someone to cover the Toros, Rick came over from the Globe. He welcomed the chance to get a regular beat and I welcomed the chance to have him there so I could concentrate on the Leafs and not have to worry about both pro hockey teams. 

Really, we needed help and it was impossible for our initial staff to cover as much as we were without expanding our personnel. So my best guess is the photo shows: George Gross (shirt and tie), Kaye Corbett, seated, and me to the right at the top; Don Ramsay to the left and Rick Fraser to the right at the bottom. 

Ramsay was not part of our sports department; he was a copy boy who fancied himself as a wannabe sports writer at the time, a good friend of Rick's and, as such, hung around our department a lot, either dropping off copy from the telex machines or offering his thoughts and opinions on sports. 

Methinks he sat down in the open slot to fill the picture for whatever reason it was taken. During my time at The Sun he was never part of our sports department although he did work at The Sun as an investigative reporter for a time.

From this photo, if I'm correct on identity, George, Rick and Don are deceased. 

The reference that our department was strong from the start is correct although the initial vets were Ted Reeve, Jim Coleman (whose column was picked up from Southam News) and Bob Frewin (a freelancer and former Tely sports writer who wrote the Argos in those initial days while working for the government), 

The Original Five in the Sports Department were George Gross, Kaye Corbett, vet Eaton Howitt, Ken Adachi and young pup (at the age of 20) me. Unfortunately, Eaton and Ken are also deceased. 

Trent Frayne joined us in about 1974 and Jim Hunt (deceased) also came a few years in, providing a weekly column while he remained CKEY's sports director. 

Anyway, hopefully my memory hasn't completely failed me and this helps you out."

Thanks again for your input, John.

Thursday 7 July 2011

The Factory 4

Another Eclipse Whitewear Building shot from the early years of the Toronto Sun. 

Can you identify these three early staffers?

Shots snapped in the Eclipse building show an upstart tabloid making do with its factory surroundings and enjoying ample elbow room.

We get links

Gary Dunford, the Toronto Sun's Page 6 legend, sent us this link:

Dunf writes: 

"John Paton's candid in-house reports to his Journal-Register employees always make for interesting and thought-provoking reading, but if you scroll way down past his current fave quote clips, presentations, charts and video you'll find his March memo to the troops in which he celebrates turning their  'bankrupt' enterprise around in one year to a $41 million profit.

"And in recognition of same . . ."


"We put about 1,000 Flip cams in your hands and we now produce about 4,000 minutes of original local news video per week. Stay tuned for more on that next quarter – think JRC TV.

"You changed our culture and how we think. And we are a better Company for that.

"AIl of that change is reflected in our bottom-line. I promised you would all share in that profit, so look in your pay check tomorrow - you will all find an extra week’s pay. All, that is, except for our senior executives. They have a bonus plan and it’s enough already.

"I promised and you delivered. And I cannot thank you enough for your effort this past year."

TSF believes the late, great Doug Creighton, who hired Paton as a copy boy way back when, is smiling on his protege.

As Dunf says about the "it's enough already" statement - LOL.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

We get links

A link from Pat:

Sounds familiar.

Oh yeah, blogged by TSF two weeks earlier:

Saturday 2 July 2011

We get links

An endorsement for the makeover, which also gets our vote:

The Factory 3

Updated 3/7/11
This shot could be of the sports department as the profile of the man in the forefront with the blue shirt looks like Rick Fraser, the sports writer now deceased. 

The Sun's sports department was strong from the start, with George Gross managing a mix of seasoned vets, including Ted Reeve, Trent Frayne and Jim Hunt, and young proteges. 

A Toronto Sun sports department vet writes: "Just before my time, but isn't the guy on the right John Iaboni? And why am I thinking that the fella beside him is a slender version of big Kaye Corbett. Hard to tell from that photo, though."

If you can ID any of the people in the photo, please email TSF.

Friday 1 July 2011

Burnside Q&A

Scott Burnside, a familiar face at the Toronto Sun during the Bernardo/Homolka years, has made a name for himself at ESPN.

The co-author of Deadly Innocence, now based in Atlanta, held an online Chat With Burnside  Q&A this morning on SportsNation.

He was talking hockey.

In the 1990s, the NNA winner and investigative reporter Al Cairns were talking Bernardo/Homolka and readers couldn't get enough.


Word from out Alberta way is the Edmonton Sun is having a difficult time finding someone to accept the vacant editor in chief post.

"Word is the Edmonton Sun cannot find anyone to accept the position of editor in chief, either inside or outside Sun Media," says a TSF tipster.

"They've been advertising on Jeff Gaulin's site for months and have virtually no replies except from the odd journo school recent grad. Sad eh?"

Thanks for the update. The Edmonton Sun front has been quiet for months. All of TSF's tipsters have left the building.