Monday 28 November 2011

Layoff forum

Comments re Nov. 28, 2011 Sun Media layoffs:

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Year 20 - 1991

A 20th anniversary video:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Friday 18 November 2011

Year 10 - 1981

The Toronto Sun's 10th anniversary video, 1981:

Monday 14 November 2011

Doug & Family

Long lost video of Doug Creighton's 64th birthday party in the Eclipse White Wear Building, where the Toronto Sun was born on Nov.. 1, 1971, brings us back to TSF

The November 27, 1992, birthday video was shot by Sun copy editor Phil Johnson. If any newcomers wondered about the "family" in Toronto Sun Family, the video is Exhibit A.

The five-part video, uploaded to YouTube and also posted in the new Toronto Sun Family Facebook group:  

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Open Forum

Keep in the loop by posting comments here on any Sun Media subject: layoffs, retirements, deaths, cutbacks, your memories, union settlements/strikes etc. 

We'd also encourage you to leave comments about personal and corporate websites that might be of interest  to Sun Media employees. 

Comments will be moderated and posted, but they won't be edited so do try to be tidy in your typing.

30 - TSF

Five years ago, about 150 current and former Toronto Sun employees gathered for a reunion at a downtown hotel and the lapel stickers read Save Our Sun.

It had been seven years since Quebecor purchased Sun Media, lock, stock and barrel and the ongoing slashing of employees and benefits was worrisome.

During several hours of reminiscing and conversations about the state of the Sun, several former employees agreed a blog for and about Sun employees might boost morale.

The Toronto Sun was not just another newspaper when it came to pre-Quebecor years and the unique work environment and strong "family" ties warranted expanded reflections.

Ian Harvey got the ball rolling within the week, setting up a MySpace blog, writing a posting and the meaningful "We are the soul of a newspaper. Not just any newspaper." blurb.

But within days, we had used up our allotment of 16 photos. That wouldn't do, so I moved the blog to blogspot, with unlimited resources and an easy-to-use interface.

Ian and a couple of other blog volunteers soon bowed out due to work demands, so this semi-retired guy with lots of time for a newspaper that gave me 19 good years, got to work on the Toronto Sun Family project.

The first post on blogspot, on Dec. 8, 2006, was about the Toronto Sun's Day Oner's club.

It was a slow start, with maybe 25 to 50 hits per day, mostly accidental visitors looking for Toronto Sun content, but early posts about Sun pioneers living and dead drew more visitors weekly.

And then Quebecor's devastating layoffs across the chain resumed.

While the blog was to be a soapbox strictly for Toronto Sun employees past and present, it became a venue for all Sun Media employees.
Comments and tips from across the chain propelled the daily hits to an average of 250 per day, then 500, 600, with the largest single-day count being 2,000 the day after columnist Eric Margolis was turfed in the Ottawa purge.

In recent months, the blog has been averaging 500 to 600 per day and the count has been increasing in the past few weeks due to your Sun memories submissions.

(Website stats as of early today: 768,345 visits; average of 495 per day; 1,462,145 page views. We've always wondered who our American and European regulars were and what, if any, ties they had to Sun Media.) 

The memories from people who worked on all floors of the Eclipse and 333 have been heart-felt and often emotional reads. We should have requested them throughout our five-year run.

Sharing those memories on TSF tells Quebecor it doesn't get what we had on all six floors of the bustling Sun and it never will. And we'll always have SkyDome.

So enjoy the Sun memories that can be found in five years of postings. We'll leave the light on. 

But before we go, have to say thank you to the numerous TSF tipsters across the Sun Media chain, anonymous and signed, who turned this sleepy blog into a steamroller. Your numbers declined with layoffs, retirements and fear of Quebecor's wrath.

But without your input, we would have never known about internal decisions that affected the quality of the print product and the morale. You put names to the hundreds of layoff victims who would otherwise have remained a statistic without a face.

While we empathized with Sun Media employees wanting to remain anonymous, considering the bullying tactics of Quebecor, numerous former employees posting anonymously never made sense.

Refreshing were numerous employees and former employees who provided their names, including Rob Lamberti, Jim Slotek, Wayne Janes, John Iaboni, John Downing, Bill Sandford, Les Pyette, Sean McCann,  etc.

That is freedom of expression, something Sun Media preaches in print and on Sun News, but doesn't extend to its employees. 

As for the hundreds of anonymous comments containing cheap shots aimed at individuals in Sun Media and TSF over the years, your mention is where it belongs, just before the 30.

40 years, one word

Of all the words spoken at 40th anniversary parties last night, Hartley Steward summed up the feelings of most in saying the Toronto Sun years with Doug Creighton at the helm were "magical."

He spoke briefly during the reunion of former employees on the 38th floor of the Westin Harbour Castle Hilton, as did Andy Donato and John Downing, two Day Oners in the gathering of about 80.

MC Tom McMillan kept guest speakers to two minutes, but allowed Wayne Parrish extra time, Paul Godfrey, arriving late, also spoke, as did Trudy Eagan.

Doug, whose sons Scott and Bruce were at the party, was mentioned by every speaker and as parties go, it was Doug's cup of tea: pricey martinis and a grand view of Toronto that makes you forget the tab.

Gatherings of former Toronto Sun employees for parties and funerals have always impressed me for their true family spirit. Men and women who worked together for years, but dispatched to other jobs for various reasons, reuniting for heart-felt hugs, kisses and conversation.

The tab for the Westin party was $40, but I would have paid $40 just to mingle with Les Pyette, Andy Donato (he's current, but his wife is former), John Downing, Joe Duffy, Hugh Wesley, Sam Pazzano (his wife is a former, he is current), Pat Surphlis, Lou Clancy, Nancy Stewart, Linda Leatherdale, John Iaboni, Trudy Eagan, Hartley Steward et al. 

And, of course, the ever-delightful Roxann and those advertising people.

Kudos to Bev Bester for organizing the reunion and special guest receptionist Valerie Gibson for greeting everyone at the door with that sexy Gibson flare.

Next stop down memory lane, Tim Fryer and Woody McGee's popular 40th party at Betty's where the dress was casual and the Rim Pigs Ball chatter was electric. More faces from the Westin showed up, along with a few from the employee's party at Pier 4.

Most people agreed three parties was an abomination of the spirit of the Toronto Sun, denying everyone the opportunity to celebrate a milestone with the entire family.  

Betty's was packed and the first face I saw was Bob McConachie, my pool-playing buddy and former ace metro editor. Post-buyout life has been good to Bob. He has shaved 10 years since leaving the Sun and giving up the smokes.

Bill Brioux dropped by as did Jim Slotek, Bruce Kirkland, Rachael Sa, Linda Barnard (got my annual kiss from the now darling of the Star), Sandra Macklin (got my annual hug from the former ace news editor), Lew Fournier, Calvin Reynolds, Joe Warmington, Stan Behal, Michael Peake, David Henderson, Michael Burke-Gaffney, Peter Brewster, BJ Del Conte, Tim McKenna, Don Tsukada, John Schmied, Melisa Clarke and many others.

Not much news out of the Pier 4 party, which we didn't crash.

Doug's troops may be scattered, but they assemble for Sun events without hesitation.

A lot of the Sun troops will gather again this Friday, Nov. 5, at the Opera House for another fundraising Newzapaloooza media rock concert competition.

The lineup:

  • The Back Issues - Maclean's
  • The Deadlines - Toronto Star
  • The Everywhere - CityTV
  • Mental Circuit - Reuters
  • The Snipes - The Globe & Mail
  • The Screaming Headlines - Toronto Sun
  • Stimulus Package - The Canadian Press & The Globe & Mail

Proceeds to the The Children's Aid Foundation.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

BJ Del Conte

Memories of the Toronto Sun - BJ Del Conte
I'm a Sun Day Oner.

Obviously, not as an employee - but as a reader. My mother would bring home British tabs from her co-workers, which I would voraciously consume, so this Toronto Star delivery boy was no stranger to a new, local and weird sized paper with screaming headlines and a snappy style of writing.

I saved the first Sun, but it's lost to history. I still have the first Sunday Sun.

In year two of the Sun's existence it created hockey cards - way bigger than standard issue. You cut a coupon out of the paper and redeemed it for hockey cards at the store where you got the paper.

I heard you could trade the cards down at the Eclipse White Wear building - near Farb's car wash and the King's Plate Open Kitchen (places I had read about in the paper) - so I went down on a couple of Saturday afternoons. 

Saw the staff banging away on steam-driven Underwoods and using orange crates as chairs and thought, "this doesn't look like the newsrooms I've seen in the movies".

(In my trading, I scored a beauty for free because the other person had never heard of "Robert Marvin Hull". Sucker.)

I really liked the paper and wanted to work there. Only took 14 years to make that happen.

It started with me working at the Winnipeg Sun (when it was owned by Quebecor and Toronto wasn't) and selling local stories to the Toronto Sun. They paid me and ran longer versions of the stories than Winnipeg did. (
Burton Cummings bopped by a beer bottle in a brawl at a Winnipeg 7-11 at 3 a.m. comes to mind).

When I would come to Toronto for a visit, I'd hang out in the Sun newsroom. One time I was treated to the awesome spectacle of Les (Pyette) jumping up and down on a newsroom desk shrieking hysterically because the Star got a scoop on the dead babies story at Sick Kids in its noon edition.

If memory serves, the Star used a screaming Sun style hed in 400 point type: "Babies Were Murdered". So much for the Star's sniffing dismissal of the Sun as a "trash tabloid".

I'm a Sun Day Oner in another respect: I may be the first and only person to get Godfly - the consummate politician and exemplar of self control - to absolutely lose it.

Mr. G and I weren't on the best of terms to begin with. Not long before I left in early '89, I was one of the people who was talking about bringing in a union. I called the Canadian Auto Workers. They relished the idea of organizing the anti-union Sun. Management found out, a meeting with Paul was held, commitments were made, co-conspirators were bought off and I left the paper.

Flash forward to '96 or '97. I was at Bloomberg Business News and covered the Sun's first-ever round of layoffs. At the press conference in the upstairs board room, I asked Godfrey why he fired people when he just spent $250K on an anniversary party a few days earlier. 

He totally lost it when I said "Fun party by the way". Trudy Eagan was so enraged she started to climb across the table to get at me and Godfrey pushed her back in the chair. He was literally spitting mad. It was all captured by the cameras and it looked great on the evening news.

I don't really recognize the Sun these days. Tiny stories that are basically rewritten press releases, fluffer nutters that I can't imagine anyone would care about, the tedious one trick pony/feather light attacks on the CBC and the mindless adoration/critique-free bum licking of Ford and Harper.

It was fun back in the day to kick the firepower heavy Star's ass. Doubt we'll see that sort of thing again.

I worked for pkp's father and I'm here to tell you: the apple fell very far from that family tree.

In my time at the Sun, I got to cover the Aryan Nations world summit in Idaho; looked for Elvis in Kalamazoo, MI, and covered the 10th anniversary of his death in Memphis; and chased
Ben Johnson's $250K Ferrari Testarossa with my $250 Chevy Citation. 

The Johnson story was published in a bogus edition of the Sun that was put in boxes around the Star and delivered to the newsroom to hide the fact the Sun had an exclusive interview with Johnson.

Also covered a bunch of crap that Godfly or his wife wanted in the paper.

I met a ton of lifelong friends, downed many a pint and wings at Crook's (especially on payday Thursday) and got paid to do stories I would've done for free.

BJ Del Conte

Gail Zangen

Memories of the Toronto Sun - Gail Zangen 

Thanks to Wayne Janes for posting a comment on Facebook about this blog. I spent the morning reading the posts and catching up with the Sun Family. It all brings back many memories.

It is true that many of the back office staff are missing in the comments. I hope they are aware of the blog too. Spreading the word is so much easier today, but so much time has passed in between when it wasn't as easy.

I worked at the Sun from March 1972 to June 1979 supervising the business data processing and operations.

I have many fond memories of the Sun. It is at the top of the list best jobs ever! The sense of family was felt throughout.

Working directly with Nancy, Vivian and Valerie, we started the Data Processing Department within accounting. We had the challenges of automating the advertising billing, circulation delivery and accounting systems.

Time has made it hard to remember everyone. But conversations with Buddy - 'Buy Gold' and make chicken soup - are still with me. And thanks Buddy, I did buy some gold. Also, Art, Tom, Bruce, Bob, Peggy and many more were in the accounting department at the time.

Working with Maggie Fowler was amazing. She introduced me to a whole new world with her vast knowledge of the offset production systems.

Trudy's breaking the glass ceiling is wonderful, she earned and deserved a place at the table.

We worked hard and played hard. I was a terrible player, but thoroughly enjoyed our girls softball games with Trudy, Sue, Diane K, Diane C and many others.

Participating in the Edmonton Sun opening was a highlight, sharing the energy and enthusiasm of the growth of the paper. Setting up the data communications for the back office was also a new experience. Reconnecting with Edmonton friends with social media has been fun.

I still have my Sun memorabilia . . . first day editions, gold charms, mugs, pictures, a farewell caricature by Andy Donato, and anniversary sweatshirts that I wear to this day.

The sadness in some the posts address another unknown era coming for the Sun. 

Here's to the strength, wisdom and energy of years gone by to bring support to the future of The Little Paper That Grew.

Thanks for the memories.

Gail Zangen

To Doug

To Doug, Peter and Don, for past parties and good times:

Last call

Happy 40th one and all. 

Looking forward to reading today's 80-page special spearheaded by Toronto Sun vet Ian Robertson. We're hoping the Sun gave us proper credit for any TSF content used.

Meanwhile, it's now or never for Toronto Sun memories on the Toronto Sun Family blog.

We'll post any submissions of any length received by midnight tonight. 

TSF is receiving emails from readers thanking all of the current and former Sun employees who have shared their memories of the 40-year-old tabloid.  They do tell the story of "family."

The memories, the salutes to Day Oners and all of the TSF content posted in the past five years will remain active for newcomers wanting to know more about the history of the Toronto Sun and its siblings. There will be no new postings after we wind it up after the parties tonight.. 

But my new project won't be starting for a couple of months, so we'll give this a try: TSF visitors will be able to continue leaving comments in an Open Forum posting that will be set up tonight. 

Monitored comments will allow Sun Media employees a focused, collective voice on the Internet.

45 and up

A salute to The 62, or so

Well, here we are on the 40th anniversary of the Toronto Sun and we're still working on the Day Oners list.

In no particular order:

Don Hunt: Of the three wise men who co-founded the Toronto Sun, Don worked mostly behind the scenes. His brother, Jim Hunt, a legendary sports writer, was far more high profile at the Tely and Sun. Don, a former public relations worker, also dabbled in sports at the Tely and was the Tely's syndicate manager when the paper folded in October 1971. Don left the Sun in 1988, moved to the U.S. to work on papers there, including the Houston Post, Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. He is now retired. 

Doug Fisher: Doug, a Canadian parliamentary news institution, worked for the Toronto Sun for 35 years writing op-ed columns, beginning with a Day One column about Robert Stanfield. He  became a household name long before the Sun as an MP and, beginning in 1963, as a  syndicated Toronto Telegram columnist. Two sons of his five sons followed in his media footsteps, including Matthew, a former Toronto Sun columnist. Doug retired at 86 and was a day shy of his 90th birthday when he died on Sept. 18, 2009. 

Kaye Corbett, a sports writer who rode tall in the saddle at the Sun from Day One to 1994, almost made a detour to a job in Montreal after the Tely's closing was announced in 1971. But an offer from George GrossJerusalem Sun. But a few years ago, he did submit his memories of being on the job on Nov. 1, 1971.  He vividly remembered the giddiness of that Halloween packaging of the Sun's first 48-page paper, with 13 pages of sports. Read Kaye's Day One memories here. pulled him back into the fold in time to join the relatively small but eager five-man sports desk on Day One. These days, he is a difficult man to reach, so we are not sure if he is still manning the typewriter at the online.

Wasyl Kowalishen, darkroom technician: The darkroom facilities in the Eclipse Building on Day One were flimsy compared to the Tely's darkroom, but Wasyl and the three photogs made do. Wasyl, quite the conversationalist, was proud of the achievements of the Sun pioneers. He was in a tux getting ready a private 30th anniversary Sun dinner for Day Oners when he suffered a stroke in his home on Oct. 31, 1991. He died Nov. 8, 1991. He was 63. John Downing, then editor and also a Day Oner, said: "Wasyl was as much a part of the start-up of the Sun as Doug Creighton. Papers need people like Wasyl."

Kathy Brooks was an unsung heroine in the entertainment department from Day One through to her retirement in 2006. On Day One, she shared entertainment with George Anthony,  had five pages As entertainment editor, she received only praise from the writers and columnists contributing to her department. She cultivated a small but productive collection of Showcase (now ENT) writers to be envied. People who worked for and with Kathy have only praise for her journalistic and management skills and when you are dealing with the entertainment crowd, that is no easy feat. 

Bill Hay, copy editor: A Tely/Sun character, no doubt. This chain-smoking, near-sighted copy editor's legacy includes numerous hilarious newsroom tales, including the day in 1971 when all of the day's wire photos on his desk went up in smoke.

Ken Adachi: Ken, a Vancouver-born former Japanese interment camp resident during WW2, worked briefly for the Telegram before joining the Sun's Day Oners in 1971. In 1972, he moved on to the Toronto Star's sports department, where he became the editor of the book pages in 1976, the same year The Enemy That Never Was, his acclaimed book on Japanese Canadians, was published. Ken was the Star's literary columnist when the first of two plagiarism accusations were raised. He committed suicide on Feb. 9, 1989. He was 60.

Eaton Howitt: This Guelph-born Day Oner, the wearer of many hats during his 41-year career, worked in newsrooms across Canada, capping his journalism days with 13 years at the Canadian Press. Known as one of the last top drawer drinkers, but always the pro, Eaton was said to have a sports who's who contact book to die for. When he died of cancer on April 14, 1987, at 61, Harold Ballard and Jake Gaudaur where among the sports elite to praise Eaton as a reporter and a man. "He just had a way with people," said Gaudaur, the former CFL commissioner who died last December. 

Glen Woodcock: Glen Woodcock: This former Sunday Sun editor left the Sun as associate editor a couple of years ago, but he continues to contribute as an automotive writer, which suits his love of cars, new and old, to a T. His wife, Connie Woodcock (nee Nicholson) is a former reporter and currently a freelance op-ed columnist. Glen's other love is jazz. He has hosted the Saturday night Big Band Show on 91.1 FM since 1975.

Frank Eames, library (deceased)

Jeff Crawford: The second Day One art department staffer retired from the Sun years ago and is living in Bramalea. 

Art Holland: Office manager, furniture mover, pencil counter, Art did it all to help launch the Sun and remained a key player in keeping the Sun viable. Fellow Day Oners say Art was instrumental in moving anything that wasn't tied down at the defunct Telegram to the Eclipse Building at King and John Streets in the two days after the Tely folded. Peter Worthington called it a "hitherto undetected streak of larceny." Said Peter: "While others got accolades at the Sun, it was Art Holland who kept the internal workings of the paper harmonious."

Bill Nicholson, library: Deceased. 

Bruce Rae, business office (deceased)

Where now?

Newsroom: Ray Biggart; Bob McMillan; David Farrer; John Jursa; Helen Bourke; Jim Cowan Grant Maxwell; Olive Collins;

Business office: Jim Brown; Howard Hayes; Mary Zelezinksy

To one and all, a final salute for making it all possible for the hundreds who followed.