Sunday 20 October 2013

Canadian News Hall of Fame needs a home

Les Pyette - 2013 inductee
Raise your hand if you recognize the name Arthur Ford.

Or Gerald Filon.

Or John W. Dafoe.

Young, or old, don't feel guilty if you didn't know they were the first three inductees into the Canadian News Hall of Fame in 1966.

Ford was a longtime editor of the London Free Press; Filon was publisher of Le Devoir from 1947 to 1963 and Dafoe, a posthumous inductee, was editor of the Manitoba (Winnipeg) Free Press from 1901 to 1944.

Many more solid contributors to Canadian news gathering would be inducted, but the collective accomplishments of these men and women are nowhere to be found other than in a list of names on a bare bones webstite.  

(On the Toronto Telegram/Toronto Sun front, those media greats include Hall of Fame inductees Ted Reeve (1972), J. Douglas MacFarlane (1985), Doug Creighton (1988),  Trent Frayne (1992), Peter Worthington (1997), Douglas Fisher (2000) and Les Pyette (2013).

The shame of the Canadian News Hall of Fame is it does not have a home for its Wall of Fame and, until last year when Lloyd Robertson and Andy Walsh were inducted, it had been dormant since 2002.

The Hall of Fame had inductees from 1966 through 2001 annually except for 1996, when no names were added. When Gordon Donaldson, previous chair of the Hall of Fame died in 2001, it appeared the Hall of Fame died with him. There were no inductees from 2002 to 2011.

Kudos to Ian Connerty, current chair of the Canadian News Hall of Fame, for resurrecting the Hall of Fame last year and for his enthusiasm this year.   

This blogger met Ian this week at the Hall of Fame presentations and he appears to be someone who gets things done and this is one thing that needs to get done for the preservation of the history of Canadian print and broadcast media greatness.

"The Fame is currently in search of a new permanent home since the Ontario Club closed up," says Ian. "Our artifacts are in storage for now. Last year, we met with folks at Ryerson about location the Hall in heir new Communications building, but that didn't work out. We are looking for other options."

Ryerson would have been an ideal location.
Washington's popular Newseum
While media in the United States have the Newseum in Washington, D.C., to showcase the history of American print and broadcast media, Canada has an embarrassing void.

How the Newseum sums up its museum: "The Newseum - a 250,000-square-foot museum of news - offers visitors an experience that blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits."

In Canada, no news museum, not even a wall to hang the Canadian News Hall of Fame plaques, now sitting in storage gathering dust.

Ed Patrick, longtime president of the all-but-defunct Toronto Press Club (now known as Toronto Press and Media Club and still homeless) singled out the Toronto Star's John Honderich at this week's Canadian News Hall of Fame dinner when talking about the need for a new showcase for the Hall of Fame.

Why single out John? Canada's media conglomerates and surviving independents should come to an agreement on the financing of accommodations for a new Canadian News Hall of Fame/media museum.

Have journalists across the country research the inductees and the history of Canadian media and contribute their findings to the Hall of Fame/media museum.

Or honour the inductees with an online virtual media museum, displaying each of their Hall of Fame plaques, along with their biographies and photographs, plus other media-related material.

With the successful 2013 inductions of Les Pyette and Boris Spremo still fresh in the minds of media across Canada, it is time to strive for a new home for the Hall of Fame before the 2014 inductions.

Whether a physical building, or a professionally-designed website, Canadian media should collectively do no less to honour the 100-plus greats of the news business.

Set a deadline and get it done.

Friday 18 October 2013

Bob Burt provided this photo of the Windsor Mafia, a group of multi-talented Windsor Star newsmen. All but two were involved in the rising of the Toronto Sun.

It is an amazing, nostalgic photo when you realize the talent represented in this one photo.

Seated from left: Les Pyette, Cam Norton, Bob Burt, Vic Roschov. Standing from left: Bruce Blackadar, Ron Base, Brian Vallee, Ray Bennett and Mark Bonokoski. Cam, Bruce and Brian left us too soon. Ron, Mark and Les were at last night's party.

Bob Burt writes: "Sitting to my left is Vic Roschkov, Editorial cartoonist Windsor Star & Toronto Star. Standing in the back row is Ray Bennett, who went from Windsor to the Sunday Star, then to TV Guide in L.A. and now in London, Eng. working for an entertainment publication.

"I believe the pic was taken to accompany a 'Windsor boys doing well' piece being written about the Mafia in the Windsor Star. If memory serves, the Windsor writer was Al Halberstadt. He later became a city councillor there - don't know where he is anymore."

A night for Les Pyette: Hall of Famer

When we first proposed a gathering to celebrate his induction into the Canadian News Hall of Fame, Les Pyette said he would stay over an extra night if there was enough interest. He did not know if there would be.

There definitely was.

The gathering at P.J. O'Brien's last night was a mix of Les Pyette's family, friends and former colleagues out to toast and thank the new Hall of Famer.

Many thanks to Ron Base, who has known Les for 40 years, for his words at the microphone and for drawing others to speak of their admiration for Les. Words from the heart from Andy Donato, Mark Bonokoski, BJ Del Conte, Shane Harvey, Ian Harvey, Mike Strobel (who sang Love Me Tender).

And then there was the photo Les held in his hand while expressing his thanks for the warm wishes from people whose lives he had changed over the decades.

The photo, one of two emailed by Bob Burt, was of the Windsor Mafia, which we will post elsewhere. It is a priceless photo that Les did not have in his scrapbook.

Joe Warmington, who booked the lounge, sweet-talked owner Pat Quinn into providing free hot food, something every self-respecting newspaper person treasures.

Kudos to Sue-Ann Levy for recommending Cakes by Robert and for the photo of the cake. It was a shame to cut into the work of art, but we did. Delicious.

There were a lot of photos taken during the night. Would appreciate FB postings.

Messages from those who could not attend came from near and far: Linda Barnard, vacationing in Turkey; Joan Sutton, on the move in New York; Hugh Wesley on a photo assignment in Guelph; Michael Peake, New York-bound; George Anthony in Montreal etc.

Although we asked several times for a separate bar tab for the guest of honour, Les paid his own way. The $90 raised in the donations covered most of the cost of the cake, so we are good.

The gathering at PJs turned out to be all for Les and rightly so. It was not the appropriate environment for remembering Peter O'Sullivan, so that leaves us to remember him at another time, another place.

Friday 11 October 2013

No stopping the presses for Metroland

Darryl Smart is home again and loving it as sports editor of Metroland's new Norfolk News.

The former Sun Media staffer, one of hundreds pink-slipped in July, is excited about being a Day Oner at a new newspaper.

"This opportunity at the Norfolk News is exciting," Darryl said in an email. "It's not very often you can start a paper from the ground up, let alone do it where my career began and in my own backyard."

Darryl is a classic example of the talent Sun Media has sidelined since Quebecor took over in 1999. The award-winning newsman served the chain well for 13 years, starting with the Simcoe Reformer, followed by the Woodstock Sentinel-Review, Tillsonburg News and Brantford Expositor.    

"To be honest, I was pretty sad to leave the Expositor," Darryl says. "It was the paper I wanted to be at when I first started in the business. As a kid I delivered the Expositor and always looked up to the likes of Ted Beare and Ed O'Leary, so it was an honour to be following in their footsteps."  

Darryl was the sports reporter at the Expositor when axed in July. He did it all for Sun Media previously: sports photographer, managing editor, night news editor and lead hand for central pagination.  

Now he is the sports editor at the Norfolk News, another new weekly print/online newspaper for Ontario.

"I was born and raised in Waterford so being home again is great," he says. "It's also pretty funny because my mom (Jean Leguee) is a long-time ad rep with the Reformer." 

These are exciting times for newspaper people who have not given up on newspapers. 

The focus, from front page to last, is local news. Community. 

Metroland does community very well. 

Sun Media doesn't, plain and simple.

Out Port Hope way, we have Sun Media's Northumberland Today, the amalgamation of three established newspapers that served Port Hope, Cobourg and Colborne, and Metroland's Northumberland News.

Northumberland News is local front to back. Northumberland Today has a lot of recycled Toronto-based Sun Media content created in PKP's grand centralization scheme.

Give full control of community newspaper content back to the publishers and more Sun Media newspapers might be spared the axe.

For now, we salute Metroland for creating new newspapers and providing jobs for more of the talent Sun Media has lost since 1999.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Cool memories of TorSun comp room

Hi, everyone. I'm Glenn Fraser.

I started with the Sun in 1982 at the Edmonton Sun. I transferred to Toronto in 1985 working in the composing room.

Every weekend, in the winter, us comps would freeze our little butts off. One particular Sunday night was extremely cold. Back then the wall where we composed the pages was nothing more than cinder block with a red brick face on the outside of the building.

It was the west facing wall and looked onto the parking lot. The west wind would rip against the wall and we would feel the cold on the inside.

I finally had enough and organized the crew to get their coats, hats, scarfs and gloves on and got a photog to snap a couple of pictures. I put together the attached front page and made two copies: One for me and the other was sent to the building manager.

For the life of me I can't remember his name, but when we got to work on the Monday afternoon we were told that he got the message. 

It was then explained to us the building did not have a boiler but was heated by the people and the machines in the building.By Sunday night, the building would cool down because of the lack of people working on the weekend.

We were told to suck it up. lol