Wednesday 31 August 2011

We get links

OttSun boobs

40th in 61 days

It is 61 days and counting to the Toronto Sun's 40th anniversary, as noted in a countdown clock posted at the bottom of the blog.

No hint of a celebration to date.

OttSun applause

Outdoors folks up Ottawa way are applauding the Ottawa Sun for the pending return of Jeff Morrison, The Outdoors Guy, in print and online.

Morrison tells his blog readers his outdoors column will be back in the paper's sports section starting next Thursday following a 2 1/2 year absence.

"I would like to thank Sun Publisher Rick Gibbons, Editor-in-Chief Mitchell Axelrad and Sport’s Editor Tim Baines for the opportunity to return to print on a regular basis," says Morrison.

Are you reading this John Kerr?

Kerr, one of the Toronto Sun casualties of Christmas 2008, was dumped after 27 years as the Outdoors columnist.

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Brian's crowd

Updated 8/31/11 re Ron Base blog comments
Brian Vallee made his Toronto media debut in the Eclipse White Wear Building on the northeast corner of King and John, the first home of the Toronto Sun.

About 300 family members, friends and former colleagues bid Brian a fond farewell last night in the CBC building on the northeast corner of Front and John.

Two short blocks, but what a career and what a life in that span, as replayed in a fitting George Hutchison video tribute and often hilarious stories at the podium.

It was standing room only for Brian's celebration of life in the Glenn Gould lounge, where a piano stood silent despite the crowd visualizing Brian at the keyboards.

They came from England, the United States and across Ontario to say goodbye to Brian, who died from cancer on July 22. 

Former Toronto Sun colleagues, including Les Pyette, Mark Bonokoski, Andy Donato, Dianne Jackson, Ron Base, Sam Ion, Bob Burt, Kevin Scanlon, Lynda Ruddy, Hartley Steward, Tom MacMillan, David Kendall and Lou Clancy, were there to say goodbye.

Pyette, Bonokoski, Burt and Base are surviving members of the Windsor Mafia, a talented gathering of Windsor Star newsroom staffers lost to the Toronto Sun in the 1970s.

Brian worked at the Sun for 14 months before moving on to the Toronto Star, the CBC and the book publishing business, but the best-selling author remained a TSF member at heart to the end.

His was, as evident last night, a life lived. 

And if the measure of a man is in the number of family members and friends, Brian was a very wealthy man. 

(Ron Base, a former colleague of Brian's and a friend for 42 years, comments on Brian's final days and the farewell gathering on his blog. You can read it here.)

Author, author

Christina Blizzard's new book
Life in a Word Factory lives up to its name when you consider dozens of current and former Toronto Sun staffers are also published authors.

Columnist Christina Blizzard, Sun Media's "Queen of Queen's Park," is the most recent addition to TSF's list of published Toronto Sun authors, taking the count to 48.

(A list of Sun authors to date can be found here.)

Somehow we overlooked Christina's 1995 debut book, Right Turn: How the Tories Took Ontario, an oversight discovered when adding her new book, Young Royals on Tour: William & Catherine in Canada, now on sale.

We are hoping to have a complete list of Toronto Sun authors before we put a 30 to this blog on Nov. 1 - the 40th anniversary of the Toronto Sun.

If you have spent any amount of time at 322 King Street West or 333 King Street East and have a book to your name, email your name, book title(s), publisher, number of pages and fiction or non-fiction to TSF.

If you are already on the list and have updates or corrections, email us.

For those who are not published authors, but feel they have a book to be written - write it.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Prime Bono

It took a trip to Winnipeg for a Sun News guest stint to draw a classic street people column out of Sun vet Mark Bonokoski.

Man, we have missed prime Bono since he became Sun Media's national editorial writer/pol columnist.

Saturday 27 August 2011

Globe re Brian

A recommended Globe and Mail read as family, friends and former colleagues prepare to celebrate Brian Vallee's life on Monday is Susan Ferrier MacKay's lengthy analysis of his 70 productive years.

Many words have been written about Brian since his death from cancer on July 22 and many more will be spoken Monday during a 6 p.m. memorial in the Glenn Gould Studio lobby in the CBC building on Front Street West.

In the Globe article, Ron Base, a friend for 42 years, summed up Brian's persona perfectly in saying Brian was a "guy's guy." That he was and so much more. 

It still seems surreal to be talking about Brian in the past tense, but as Base says in the Globe:  

"As much as it’s possible to do so, I think Brian left a pretty happy, contented person. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Naylor too

Dave Naylor's widely-slammed Tweet about the death of Jack Layton has reached the Globe and Mail, Edmonton Journal and Global News online, but not a word from the Calgary Sun as of tonight.

Another blog says Jose Rodriguez, editor in chief, has commented on Naylor's Tweet, but no sign of it on the Calgary Sun website.

Canadians across the country have reacted to the now-deleted Tweet. Time for the Calgary Sun to comment on any ramifications for the city editor.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Tweet retreat

It boggles the mind how, with negative Twitter comments making the news, a Canadian newspaper's city editor could joke about Jack Layton's death from cancer Monday.

But joke he did and while Dave Naylor later deleted his offensive Tweet and apologized -`"I apogize (sic) for my earlier tweet. It was insensitive and uncalled for" - his original comment was screen-captured.

We won't repeat the original comment, but it can be found at 

The reaction can be found here!/Nobby7694

A serious lapse in judgment, no doubt fed by Sun Media's disgraceful cross-Canada front page pre-election Layton massage parlour story 20 years after the non-event in Toronto

Naylor says in his Twitter info that "the views are mine and not my employer," but he also states he is "Calgary Sun city editor."

Does he seriously believe his association with a major Canadian daily newspaper is erased by saying the views are his own?

One Tweeter tells Naylor: "Somehow I think your employer will care about the views you expressed today."

All the while, editors at the Calgary Sun were assembling Jack Layton stories and tributes from near and far for their online and print editions.

Are Naylor's Tweet retraction and apology sufficient?

Stay tuned.

Sunday 21 August 2011

Sun love-in

TSF reader Kevin T. writes:

"Here's a low from today (August 21): the Toronto Sun (which I got for free) had 10 pages of 'meporting' (reporters writing about themselves or the Sun).

"Two pages were columnists, so maybe you can forgive them. 

"I'm sure nothing interests the public more than reading about 'meporters' talking about themselves. I guess meporting is a lot cheaper than reporting."

Kevin T. makes a timely observation. 

This first-person fest began last Monday with Sue-Ann Levy's "I-saturated" column about her return to print after a stint on Sun News. 

Then along comes a Joe Warmington column praising the tireless newsroom efforts of Toronto Sun vet Tom Godfrey.

Not to be outdone, Mike Strobel writes a column about how Sun photog Dave Thomas helped a homeless guy living under a bridge get back on the road to recovery.  

Columnist Mark Bonokoski writes a first-person column about him filling in for Charles Adler in Winnipeg on Sun News for a week.

Meanwhile, reporter Terry Davidson does a familiar first person beggar-for-a-day piece in a two-page spread.

And there is Jenny Yuen's two-page spread about her visit to Hong Kong and locales her mother visited decades ago.

We don't include the final John Downing hospital ordeal column because he is no longer on staff and his series has been in the Sunday Sun for five weeks.

Still, it was all a bit too much "meporting," as Kevin puts it, for paying Sun readers to digest in one week.

And the "I" count was off the charts. 

In our books, it was a week of wasted precious news space that should have been used for less incestuous news stories and features.

Friday 19 August 2011

Bono Goes West

Mark Bonokoski has done it all in his 37 years of on and off Sun newsrooms assignments, from reporter to national editorial writer. 

Now he has packed his bags for a one-week Sun News stint in Winnipeg while Charles Adler takes a break.

Here's his glitzy promo video:

As a longtime Bono fan - more so when he was writing columns about Sun readers in need - we'd like to catch his 8 p.m. talk show next week, but we're on Bell.

We get links

Sun News abandons free access strategy, says Globe and Mail

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Rob & sex ads

Rob Granatstein returned to the Sunday Sun's Comment section on Sunday, four days after being shown the door as editorial page editor.

But you probably didn't notice. His final published words after 17 years at the tabloid were in an unsigned editorial.

Rob makes mention of his anonymous swan song on his Facebook page, writing: "My last contribution to The Toronto Sun. The Sunday editorial."

Speaking of the Sunday Sun, it devoted another two pages to human trafficking on the weekend.

With all of the words it has published about human trafficking, can the tabloid say with certainty that all of the ladies being promoted in its numerous Adult Entertainment ads are on the job willingly?

Ads for massage parlours and other sex services were banished from the Sun in the 1980s, but eventually returned. 

Revenue is revenue.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Fisher's book

Pete Fisher's new Highway of Heroes:True Patriot Love book, due Oct. 3 from Dundurn, is a 184-page labour of love.

The Cobourg Sun Media reporter/photographer started with a grassroots Highway 401 salute to Canada's war dead and helped put it on the international map. is taking orders at $15.67.

We get links

Ethics and Sun Media:

From Brad

Brad Honywill tells TSF:

"I hope the person who posted that wasn't a journalist. They got both the spelling of my name (as sent) and the story wrong.

"As previously reported, I'm not returning to the newsroom. On June 1, I took a staff job with the union. So the threat of my return has been removed, just the opposite of what was stated in the posting.

"Besides, Dave (Ellis) was a Sunday editor and I was an assistant city editor."

Brad also says:

"Let me say a few words about Dave. 

"Dave Ellis is probably the finest editor I have encountered in my 30 years in the news business. His news judgment is superb. But more than that, he has a wickedly wry sense of humour that provided endless entertainment for his fellow city deskers and I'm honoured to count him as a good friend.

"Many people don't know that Dave, who held senior management positions at both the Star and the Globe, was also a trailblazer for the union movement, having organized the Stratford Beacon-Herald in the 1970s, and he was always an active supporter of the union at the Sun.

"His departure from the Sun newsroom is a great loss."

Thank you for your input, Brad.

It's interesting how a confirm or deny posting can generate more substance, which would have been lost if not posted.

Saturday 13 August 2011

In the light

Confirm or deny.

"Dave's termination was directly associated to Brad Honywill's return to the newsroom from his (SONG) union job," says an anonymous TSF reader.

That might explain the departure of Dave Ellis

Now why was Rob Granatstein, a 17-year Toronto Sun vet targeted and turfed as editorial page editor?

In the dark

What do you tell Toronto Sun readers when a high profile, respected political columnist exits from their morning tabloid?

Absolutely nothing.

Readers who have not seen Rob Granatstein's Facebook page or his Twitter comments will be in the dark about his absence as time goes by.

The more astute reader will notice Rob's name and editorial page editor title have been quietly deleted from the Comment section masthead and wonder why.

Most readers will assume the 17-year Sun vet went on holidays after his column on Toronto libraries was published last Sunday.

Sue-Ann Levy has been on vacation, hasn't she?

When readers do learn of Rob's axing, they might wonder if it was something he wrote about Mayor Rob Ford, or his Tory buddy Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

But a Toronto Sun vet tells TSF Rob's sacking, along with Dave Ellis, this week was strictly "business," not political or personal.

Another insider says the cuts were made to add funds to the Sun News side of the ledger, which is trying to keep afloat in its infancy.

Whatever the reason for yet another axing of a high profile Sun columnist, the tabloid owes its readers an explanation for why they will no longer be reading Rob's commentary and columns.

Readers used to count at 333.

Hell, loyal employees like Rob and Dave used to count.

If`Quebecor doesn't have the decency to keep its readers informed about their favourite reporters and columnists, surely there are colleagues who will speak up for the departed in print or on Sun Media blogs.

Brief Tweets and Facebook comments don't cut it.

It's time for a columnist, with the backing of an editor or two, to get mad as hell and give Rob and Dave a proper sendoff in print.

When Doug Creighton was ousted in 1992 we were all mad as hell and asked "Why?" in a full-page ad. We were never told why, but we vented loud and clear.

But under Quebecor's intimidating reign the pattern remains - unexplained vanishings of high profile writers without a word of explanation or a word of thanks for a job well done.

Rob contributed 17 years to the Sun, dammit.

Former colleagues will hoist a beer or two over at Betty's across from 333, say all the best to Rob and Dave and, thanks to Quebecor, return to their claustrophobic rented newsroom above No Frills.

And readers will wonder "Where's Rob Granatstein?" as they have wondered about others who have vanished from the pages of the Sun without explanation.

Quebecor's Sun has nothing to do with providing quality journalism, or Rob would still have a job. The Toronto Sun is a cash cow that is being milked to death and Rob and Dave are the latest casualties of the squeeze job.


Friday 12 August 2011

We get links

Re  Pete Fisher's new book Highway of Heroes: True Patriot Love.

Sounds like a best seller. 

The QMI story out of Cobourg should have told readers the book's release date,  publisher, number of pages etc. 

TorSun & TSF

The countdown continues for the Toronto Sun's 40th anniversary and the retirement of TSF as an active blog after five hectic years.

TSF will keep the lights on, but nobody will be answering the door, leaving it more or less  a tribute to the 62 Day Oners and all of the good people who have toiled at 322 King Street West and 333 King Street East since Nov. 1, 1971.

We'll leave all of the positive vibes and comments shared by former and current Sun Media people over the years. There are more books to be written about the Little Paper That Grew, but for now TSF memories overfloweth.

After all, newcomers from around the world who pass this way, intentionally or by accident, should be told of all the positive years at 322 and 333 and get to know the newspaper men and women responsible for the Miracle on King Street.

The newspaper giants; the many who stood tall; the prolific reporters who became successful publishers; the gifted photographers and cartoonists who made a difference.

We will profile the 62 Day Oners and as many Toronto Sun shooting stars from the first four decades that time allows.

As we said, the post-Nov. 1 TSF blog will be a tribute to those who considered the tabloid more than a job. Company men and women who gave it their all.

The grinches - and all of the negativity associated with them - are best left on the sidelines where they belong. They are a deflating, negative force in an otherwise feel-good, movie-of-the-week newspaper story.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Rob & Dave

Chris Harrison writes:

I worked at the Sun for 15 years in the HR department before I resigned at the beginning of 2008. As the HR director, I had very much supported Rob's last promotion and saw him as a young star that would develop into a strong leader in the newsroom for many years to come.

Rob is a great guy and I am surprised that he is leaving.

Rob, I wish you all the best.

Rob Granatstein had this to say on his Facebook page:

I've loved going to work every single day of my 17 years at the Toronto Sun. The team of reporters, editors, photographers, cartoonists, librarians and everyone else at 333 King St. E. are treasures and I'm so proud to have been able to call them colleagues and friends.

I worked hard every day to earn the respect of my colleagues, our readers and even the people who didn't read The Sun.

I believe passionately in the work the team at The Sun does and I wish all my friends only the best.

I'm humbled by the outpouring of support I've received in person, by phone, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. It has overwhelmed me.

I'm looking forward to taking some time away from the greatest job I've ever had, then figuring out what contribution I can make to ensure this is the best city possible for my family to live in going forward.

Thank you,


If you have messages for Rob and Dave Ellis, post a comment or send TSF an email.

Firings can be a bewildering time for people in any line of work.

Being company men, as were Rob and Dave, makes it all the more difficult.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Granatstein out

Today's second Toronto Sun newsroom casualty was the high-profile Rob Granatstein, editorial page editor and columnist.


Was it his justified criticism of the excessive use of "exclusive" at 333, in a column that editors have apparently ignored? The "exclusives" remain an almost daily boast.

Was he not pro-Ford enough?

Did he object to Sun Media pulling out of the Ontario Press Council, where he sat as a member?

Or it could be just another Quebecor cost-cutting pink slip, along with Dave Ellis, the former assistant city editor who fought back from a near-fatal 2007 bicycle accident to work the newsroom again.

(Rob's Facebook followers are commenting on his sudden departure.)

Whatever the reason, this is how the Sun promoted Rob Granatstein, a 17-year TorSun vet and editorial page editor since 2006:

Toronto Sun

Rob Granatstein is the Editorial Page Editor of the Toronto Sun - responsible for the editorials, letters to the editors, columnists, and editorial cartoonists, as well as writing frequent columns. He also oversees Sun Media's national comment program.

A lifelong resident of the City of Toronto, he covered City Hall and Toronto issues for a decade as a reporter and continues to keep a sharp eye on Toronto issues. He's also a member of the Ontario Press Council, and previously ran Press Review magazine. He's a graduate of Ryerson University's journalism program.

Our best to Rob and Dave. You are now in a better place, beyond the walls of 333.

TorSun firings?

Word is one, possibly two, major Toronto Sun players were pink-slipped today.

Dave Ellis has told his Facebook followers he was sacked.

Stay tuned for the second reported casualty, said to be a high-profile newsroom vet.

We get links

Facebook reaction to the Toronto Star's call for unpaid election commentators:

Tuesday 9 August 2011

OT: Dave Marsden

©John Cosway
While sorting through photos snapped during a 1967 Johnny Cash reception at O'Keefe Centre, discovered this pic of Dave Mickie, aka David Marsden.

While being raised on rock and roll, two memorable deejays were Buffalo's George "Hound Dog" Lorenz and that wild and crazy guy, Dave Mickie, in Toronto.

(Today, Freddy Vette over at Belleville's CJBQ is keeping the 50s and 60s rock deejay style alive at 800 on the am dial.)

David Marsden is a Toronto-born deejay legend and in March was inducted into the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame with an Alan Waters award.  

And he still has most of the hair - and the passion for music - after 50-plus years in the broadcasting business.

Belated congrats to David, who now hangs his hat on a rack at 94.9 The Rock. He also blogs at Marsden Global.

We get links

Why Sun Media quit the Ontario Press Council?

Saturday 6 August 2011

OT: Netflix

If you are buying, or have bought, a Sony Blu-ray player to watch Netflix movies on your big screen TV, be advised not all movies are in the Blu-ray listings.

No mention of that before forking out $150 for the player and $70 for a gizmo to access the Netflix menu on the TV screen.

We made the discovery while scanning Netflix on a laptop then logging onto Netflix using the Blu-ray player and its catalogue was lacking titles.

An understanding Netflix rep said Blu-ray players don't have the capacity to list all of the Netflix movies, documentaries and TV shows, but computers do.

So if your computer is not hooked up to your TV and you want to watch Netflix fare on TV, scan Netflix's full catalogue on your computer and do a Blu-ray search for titles you want to watch.

It is a nuisance  that hopefully Blu-ray manufacturers can eliminate for the benefit of Netflix users.

Friday 5 August 2011

Billy goes hi-tech

Life With Billy has had a life of its own for 25 years.

Now, Brian Vallee's 1986 international best-seller is available as an e-book, which would have made the former Underwood typewriter user from the Soo giddy.

Ron Base, a longtime friend of Brian's, says the $9.99 e-book from West-End Books is available at Amazon's Kindle Bookstore.

New exposure for a timeless non-fiction tale of domestic abuse.

Jane Hurshman shot and killed her abusive common-law husband, Billy Stafford, in 1982. The killing was first publicized in Toronto media by Toronto Sun columnist Mark Bonokoski after newspaper clippings were mailed to the Sun by a reader in Nova Scotia.

Brian's 1986 book became a movie, released in 1994.  

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Brian's memorial

Brian Vallee's family, friends and former colleagues will gather around a piano Aug. 29 to celebrate the life and times of the multi-talented writer, author, documentary producer, party pianist.

Longtime friend Ron Base has all of the details on his blog.

Ron writes:

"Two great pianists will get together Monday, August 29, at 6 p.m. in the foyer of the Glenn Gould Studio, inside the CBC building, 250 Front St. W., Toronto.

"That’s when the friends of Brian Vallee will gather for a memorial celebrating his life. As most of those present will certainly know, Brian, like Glenn Gould, spent  a lot of time tinkling the ivories. Musicologists will forever debate which artist made the larger contribution to music. The debate almost certainly will continue throughout the evening on August 29."

Ron says "there will be drinks, laughter, memories, a tear or two, and - whatever gods there are help us - an open microphone."

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Hugh's mother

Our thoughts are with Hugh Wesley, former Toronto Sun photo desk chief, whose mother has died at 97.

The Toronto Star obit can be read here.

Dorothy Mary Wesley, a Toronto-born mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, died Saturday.

Visitation at the Turner & Porter Peel Chapel, 2180 Hurontario St., in Mississauga, is Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. Funeral service in the chapel on Thursday at 11 a.m.

Monday 1 August 2011

More print wars

John Downing, a Tely/Sun newspaper vet who had a recent brush with death, shows why his keyboard prose would have been greatly missed with a blog posting about Tely-Star newspaper war stories.

John's replay of his favourite newspaper war stories follows Peter Worthington's Front Page tales in the Sunday Sun. Great reads and one more argument for these vets to collaborate on a new Tely/Sun book.

John, Peter and other Toronto print media vets are from a news era long gone from most of today's sterile newsrooms. Their memories need to be penned for future generations to appreciate the feisty days of print dominance.

Meanwhile, John and Peter, keep 'em coming.We can't get enough of your newspaper experiences.

40th ideas?

It is exactly three months to the Toronto Sun's 40th anniversary on Nov. 1.

John Iaboni, a Day Oner who volunteered his time to help organize a 40th celebration, tells TSF he has had little response.

The clock is ticking. 

So TSF readers, how would you mark the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Sun by 62 former Toronto Telegram employees?

Doug Creighton is no longer around to see that the 40th is properly celebrated, as he was for the 20th and the memorable SkyDome party.

But Iaboni and others are open to suggestions for the 40th.

Send your 40th ideas to TSF via email and we'll post them for feedback.

No Sun vidpass

This could be a first.

A Kings of Leon video clip used online by the Toronto Sun has been blocked by a copyright claim by Vector Entertainment. does check for copyright restrictions before using video clips from other sources, right?