Thursday, 31 January 2008

EdSun calls 2

David Black, the Edmonton Sun's new publisher, heard from readers last night - more than 200 in two hours.

An Edmonton Sun story says the open line to the "new kid on the block" covered a wide range of ideas for the tabloid.

"People want more local content. News, food, entertainment, travel, home tips, fitness columns, aboriginal content - you name it, they want more," Black says in the story.

As for their complaints, Black said callers made one message clear last night: "Don't mess with people's TV listings. They hate that."

What caught our eye, at the bottom of the story there is a "Got A News Tip? Click Here" link. Excellent idea if the news tip browser is a staffer with a nose for news.

A tip of the hat to Black for manning the phones for two hours. That kind of link to readers in the 1970s and 1980s helped create a lasting bond.

Nazareth returns

Updated link
The rebuilding of the Toronto Sun continues tomorrow with the return of Errol Nazareth, a music man whose layoff during the Quebecor cutbacks struck a sour note with readers.

Errol, a longtime Sun staffer we remember as a friendly, dedicated and eager-to-please young reporter when first hired by the tabloid, returns with a weekly Friday column called Rhythms & Rhymes.

A promo in Wednesday's Sun reads:

"Errol Nazareth is back! The former longtime Sun music columnist returns with a new weekly column titled Rhythms & Rhymes, Canada's foremost authority on hip hop and world-beat music will keep Sun readers apprised of all the cool things happening in, or coming to, Toronto.

"Catch Rhythms & Rhymes on Fridays, starting this week."

Google "Errol Nazareth" to appreciate the quality of his music commentary and reviews for the past 15 years or so.

His post-Sun freelance credits include "various newspapers, national magazines, and CBC radio programs."

Kudos to the Sun for reeling Errol back into the fold.

The "new" Sun under Sun Media chief Mike Sifton and Lou Clancy, editor-in-chief, is restoring our confidence in the tabloid.

What a difference a year makes.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

EdSun phone-in

Edmonton Sun publisher David Black will be taking phone calls from readers tonight to "help us make it better."

"I'd like to give Edmontonians an opportunity to pass out bouquets and bricks, to let us know what they really like - and any grievances they might have," Black says in an Edmonton Sun invite today. "More importantly, I want our readers to know that we value them and want to hear what they have to say."

The Edmonton Sun story says Black's phone-in will be held tonight, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

"You tell Black what you want us to write, and maybe it'll be read all over. Just call 408-6690 in the Edmonton area or the toll-free line, 1-866-519-4722, in the designated hours."

That is one way for Black to say the Edmonton Sun still cares about its readers. Question is, will he accept calls from anonymous, disgruntled employees and is there sufficient newsroom staff to cater to the wants of readers following last year's Quebecor chainsaw cutbacks?

A TSF reader says:

"Unless Quebecor has dramatically loosened the reins on its publishers and is going to allow local editorial control over its papers again, this is nothing more than a poor attempt at public relations."

Sun collectibles

Part of the magic of the glory days of the Toronto Sun were the collectibles grabbed up by readers who had a special connection with the tabloid.

Sun T-shirts, snappy toques, coffee cups, specialty records (who can forget the 45 RPM disco version of The Little Paper That Grew?), Sun jackets, Page 3 SUNshine Girl tearsheets, SUNshine Girl calendars (still being produced) etc.

Bob Davies of Stouffville, an avid Sun reader from Day One, devoted three years of his leisure time and money collecting Sunday Sun comic books. He would buy two copies of the paper so he could save a mint copy of the comics for his collection.

The comic books Bob collected looked like the Sun TV guides and should not be confused with the current, full-sized Sunday Sun comics pages.

Bob tells TSF in an e-mail:

"Great Paper. I have been reading the Toronto Sun from day one. Very informed and always original. Keep up the good work.

Back on Nov. 20, 1979, you started to insert little comic books in the Sunday Sun. I thought It was a terrific idea because the kids would have their own little book to read . . . do the puzzles etc.

I decided to start collecting them at that time, so I had to buy two issues every week for (three) years . . . in order to keep the comics in mint condition. Every week, I would take out the comic book and store it away in a dark, dry place . . . keeping them all in order and unread.

I saved all of them intact until it ended on Nov. 28, 1982. Occasionally, I would mention my Sun comic book collection and no one remembers them. Another time, another place, I guess.

I have a beautiful collection in mint condition, but no one has any interest. At the time, I thought it was a great idea to preserve these classics. Oh well, it was fun at the time.

The only person who might recall them is Andy Donato. Probably everybody else is too young or can't remember.

Keep up the fine work."

Thank you for your e-mail, Bob. If we hear from any collectors, we'll be in touch.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Bono & Fantino book

As you might have noticed, the Toronto Sun's book sales department has been flogging Duty: The Life of a Cop, a Julian Fantino/Jerry Amernic book, for $40-plus since its release in December.

Columnist Mark Bonokoski notes in his column today the absence of a review of said book in the Toronto Sun and other media.

"Reviews, if any, were few," says Mark.

"And, unless a search of Sun Media's archives was faulty, there has been no review of Fantino's book here either, and the Sun is undoubtedly the most pro-policing, law-and-order newspaper in the city," he writes.

A huge and puzzling oversight, considering the subject - a high profile and often controversial police veteran who rose through the ranks to become OPP commissioner.

Wouldn't a Sun review of the former Toronto police chief's biography help sales through the Sun ads?

If TSF finds a review of Duty online, we'll provide a link.

And pssst, you can buy it new on Amazon for $22 Canadian plus postage.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Sun web woes

Rob Lamberti's two-page roundup of Toronto's Dirty Dozen bank bandits in the Saturday Sun works extremely well and some of the better quality security photos could lead to arrests.

But using Rob's story and suspects' descriptions on torontosun.com without the dozen photos pinpoints the web site's woeful lack of focus when it comes to photos.

It's not rocket science. You have photos of wanted bank bandits - use them online for wider exposure and for the benefit of people who don't read the print edition.

Are we missing something? Very puzzling.

Speaking of security photos, they are improving, but still not 100%. Bank bandits in photos 1, 3, 6, 9 and 10 can relax, but the men in photos 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11 and 12 might be feeling more vulnerable.

Photos of the smallest of rocks on Mars are more in focus than most surveillance photos.

Star, yes - Sun next

Updated
Toronto Star employees ratified a new three-year contract in an 86% vote Friday, says a Canadian Press story.

The mediated settlement affects 765 editorial, circulation and advertising employees. SONG's settlement checklist can be found at wearethestar.ca

Next on CEP's Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild contract renewal list - the Toronto Sun.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Gordon Lightfoot ad

The Gordon Lightfoot Massey Hall concert ad in Friday's Toronto Sun sparked a memorable 1970s flashback.

The Massey Hall booking for four days in May is, in itself, a tribute to the iconic Canadian singer/songwriter, who has been singing in public since he was five.

Our flashback is to October 1970, when Lightfoot performed at several sold-out concerts in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, B.C.

It was opening night and a couple of minutes before the lights went down, Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel slid into seats beside this Richmond Review entertainment reporter.

Nicholson, still enjoying the limelight from his Easy Rider role, and Garfunkel of Simon and Garfunkel fame, were all smiles as Lightfoot walked on stage.

The audience settled in for an evening of Lightfoot music and little banter because he was not known to talk a lot on stage. This night was different.

Lightfoot talked a lot and the more he talked, the more the audience got the impression this Orillia-born performer was tired of the road

Was this it for Lightfoot? His swan song at the early age of 31? Sure sounded like it.

Perhaps his mood that night was the result of early symptoms of Bell's Palsy, a partial facial paralysis first noticed during a March 1972 Massey Hall concert. It kept him off the road for a few months.

Fortunately, for fans and Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and numerous other artists who would perform his songs, Lightfoot didn't call it quits in 1970 or 1972.

And here he is, almost four decades and numerous music awards and honours later, still sharing himself and his talent.

Gordon Meredith Lightfoot, Jr. turns 70 on Nov. 17, and if you could read the minds of admirers, Orillia and all of Canada will be holding one huge firecracker birthday party for this Hall of Famer.

For a taste of 1970s Lightfoot, former Richmond Review colleague Rick McGrath has an online 1970 interview with Gordon from his Georgia Straight days.

Friday, 25 January 2008

QW sale urged

Quebecor Inc. should sever all ties to the sinking Quebecor World subsidiary and focus on its thriving Quebecor Media empire, says a Canadian Press story in the London Free Press.

Quoting industry observers, CP's story says investors are hesitant to invest in Quebecor Inc. over concerns it will sink money into the once dominant global printing business, now in the shadow of bankruptcy protection.

The CP story says:

"The media side has a very positive outlook, it's doing quite well and Quebecor World wasn't that big of a deal to Quebecor Inc. anymore," said one analyst who requested anonymity.

"Once I know they're not going to put money in, my comfort level grows," said a second analyst, who added cutting ties would allow Quebecor Inc. to focus on its core business without distraction.

"The best outcome could be strong indication from (Quebecor Inc. chief executive) Pierre Karl Peladeau that Quebecor Inc. is no longer going to be involved in supporting Quebecor World."

The CP story was reduced to a Sun Flash on the Toronto Sun's web site.

The question is, does PKP have the business savvy to abandon Quebecor World, which was founded by his late father, and concentrate on Canada's largest media conglomerate?

Quebecor Media, with its newspapers, Sun TV, cable, canoe.ca, cellphones etc., should be enough to keep PKP occupied until he retires.

Fortune: "Bastards"

Len Fortune, former Toronto Sun graphics vet, e-mailed to clarify a few points in the ongoing conversations about Darren "Woody" McGee's popular 9/11 "Bastards" front in 2001,

Len writes:
"This "Bastard" saga really has caught some attention, besides pointing out that many memories are a bit blurred.

In my e-mail a while back, I suggested that the "Bastard" headline was used during Desert Storm in 1991. I couldn't verify it though. I never suggested at any time that I did the 9/11 front. I wasn't even in town.

And, I believe Pat Grier did the 9/11 magazine. It was an amazing success, selling thousands of copies. Grier was/is a talented man. I did the majority of the magazines, or "mini-books" as we liked to call them, back then, but when the Twin Towers went down, I was on Georgian Bay sucking on rums and cokes.

My memories from Desert Storm is still of a small, non-Iraqi boy (who was basically a hostage of the dictator) being patted on the head by Saddam for the cameras - in essence, baiting the U.S. and their allies with the safety of the child. The photo was accompanied with the head "Bastard." If that wasn't the case, then there was serious discussion of using that headline.

The January 22, 1991, Sun headline for the downed British airman (mentioned in today's e-mail was: Bush Vows: ( 30 pt. ) Iraq Must Pay! ( 140 pt.)

Still loving myself,

Len Fortune"

Thanks for the update, Len.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Street boxing

Calgary's city council is considering new limits on the number of newspaper boxes and the Calgary Sun's publisher is not pleased, says the Calgary Herald.

Pending approval by council, the number of street boxes allowed will be about 7,000, down from 8,750 box permits issued in 2007, says the Herald story.

And fees per box will be increased to $50, from $10.

From the Herald story:

"Limiting box permits would put a hold on our newspaper's growth," says Calgary Sun publisher Gordon Norrie.

Norrie says 25% of the paper's sales come from boxes on the street and it already needs an extra 1,000 boxes to keep up with the city's growth.

In addition, Norrie said limiting the number of permits for the free dailies would "cripple" 24 Hours, the Sun's free daily.

The box reduction and new fees are expected to be approved at a Feb. 4 council meeting.

Forum: S. McCann

An e-mail from Sean McCann, former veteran Toronto Sun and Calgary Sun reporter/editor:

"I was particularly enamoured by Maryanna Lewyckyj's write-up. She nailed it. We Sun people did have something special. Something that may not happen again.

We were young, vibrant and believed in what we were doing. Led, of course, by Doug (Creighton), who was a journalist's journalist.

The death of Ted Welch of course opens the memory gates for us all, at least those who knew him. If anything, Ted embodied the Sun philosophy of the time - damn the torpedoes.

All of us from that era did exactly that. But more important, we were allowed to do it. We really did have a blank cheque.

By starting this blog, (TSF) has assured that that part of Canadian history will not fade. And Canadian history it is.

Journalism students of the future, as they run with their cams and do numerous duties, will wonder at the time when journalism had characters, had pizazz, had meaning. That journalism reflected the ordinary Joe and not the stock market.

Yep, it was a definite point in Canadian history. But the world moves on and changes. Nevertheless, when scholars look back, I think they will say "Yes there was something special there."

And yes, there was."

Thank you for your e-mail, Sean.

Unsolved crimes

In a perfect world, people who commit crimes get caught . . . get punished.

But the reality is at any given time, thousands of wanted murderers, rapists, robbers and other offenders walk the streets amongst us.

Dennis Melvin Howe is one of the hunted.

Thane Burnett, a Sun Media National Bureau writer, devoted a full page to the prime suspect in the haunting 1983 Toronto sex slaying of Sharin' Morningstar Keenan, 9.

The slaying of Sharin', whose body was found stuffed in a rooming house refrigerator, enraged police and the community as did the solved 1977 body rub parlour sex slaying of 12-year-old Toronto shoeshine boy Emmanuel Jacques.

The 10 days between Sharin' being reported missing from a playground in her midtown neighborhood and the discovery of her body, gave Howe, 42, ample time to flee to who knows where.

A charge of first degree murder awaits him.

Howe, who is on the Toronto Police Services Most Wanted list and RCMP Most Wanted list, was profiled by John Walsh on his America's Most Wanted television program numerous times in the 1990s and in 2000.

He has vanished without a trace.

If the chain smoker is dead, no great loss, but Sharin's family, police and the community who remember and mourn her death, live to see this cold case closed.

If Dennis Melvin Howe is alive, he would be 67 and squirming for the first time in years because Sun Media remembered the slaying of a little girl 25 years ago.

You can view aged enhanced photos on the Toronto Police and RCMP web sites. Howe's known aliases at the time: Michael Burns, Wayne King, Ralph Ferguson, Jim Myers.

Howe's photo was in the Sun's print edition yesterday, but not online, which once again raises the question: "Why are there no Sun Media subject photos online?"

A "most wanted" murder suspect without a photo is a lost opportunity. It just doesn't make sense.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Berton plays games

It turns out London Free Press readers who say Paul Berton, the paper's editor-in-chief and op-ed columnist, plays games were right.

Plays games - and develops games.

A Canadian Press story says Paul, son of the late, great newspaperman and author Pierre Berton, will unveil a new board game called Eye Know in Toronto this weekend.

CP says the game, described as a Q & A with elements of high-stakes poker, will make its debut during the three-day 68th Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair.

Trivia with a poker twist? Paul has our attention.

Paul already has partners, or we would be asking if he needs investors. Stories about Toronto news guys who accepted or rejected offers of shares in a new game called Trivial Pursuit in the 1980s are legendary.

Bruce Blackadar, the late Windsor/Sun/Star reporter, was one of the fortunate investors in Trivial Pursuit. Bruce, a poker player, sat down at a Toronto Press Club game one night with the first of numerous TP cheques in his pocket.

First payment for his half-share investment - $14,000. Bruce said the first thing he was going to buy was a pair of silk pajamas.

And yes, he won at poker that night.

Paul Berton will be in a crowd of about 100 exhibitors flogging new games, hobbies and toys at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

North American game players are due for a new board game adrenalin rush and the trivia/poker combo sounds like it might be the one to do it.

George G at 85

It was birthday cake in the Toronto Sun's sports department today as staff gathered to wish George Gross a happy 85th birthday.

George, a sports writing legend in his own time, has done it all and as corporate sports editor is still going strong.

The sports department celebration included birthday cake, pastries, coffee and pop - and an appreciative, but reluctant, George Gross.

"George was too embarrassed to speak, but Lou Clancy said a few nice words," says a newsroom tipster.

Clancy, the Sun's editor-in-chief, noted "George belongs right up there amongst the names of the greatest sports journalists in Canadian history."

"No argument here," said the tipster.

Sports columnist Bill Lankhof devoted a full column today to the eventful life and times of George Gross, a Toronto Sun Day Oner.

Happy 85th, George.

Maryanna update

Maryanna Lewyckyj, one year later, talks about the Jan. 25, 2007, Sun Media layoffs that severed her from the Toronto Sun after 22 years on the job.

Maryanna, SONG's former Editorial Unit Chair, says in a TSF e-mail:

"Inspired by Dave Chidley's example of sharing his thoughts a year after walking the plank at the London Free Press, I've decided to look back at my departure from the Toronto Sun on Jan. 25, 2007, after 22 years at the company.

Jan. 25, 2008, isn't just a milestone for me. It means the Toronto Sun editorial department has gone a year without putting employees on the street.


In 2006, there were two rounds of layoffs announced at the Toronto Sun, coming on top of the 'Baby Suns' layoffs in 2005. That's three rounds of cuts in less than 18 months. Other areas of the Sun also felt the pain, as my brother-in-law and sister-in-law – both long-time employees with 21 and 27 years at the company – were laid off on the same day in March 2006. Darlene Avery, with nearly 27 years of experience, was laid off in 2005.


In my 22 years at the Sun, I never faced a task as difficult as sitting in the same room as colleagues whose lives were being devastated, when all you can offer is Kleenex, sympathy and the assurance that they have recall rights for two years if their position is reinstated in the future.


I can't say I was surprised to see my name on the layoff list in November 2006. The list was arranged by classification, with Bill Brioux's name at the top and mine second. I was still reeling from the disbelief of seeing Bill's name when I read mine. And I remember exactly what I thought: "Now I don't have to worry about being laid off anymore. It's happened." I also recall thinking that if I left the company, I'd never have to deal with the anguish of another round of layoffs at the Toronto Sun.


My relief was short-lived, as the full horror of the list of names sunk in. As with previous rounds of job cuts at the Sun, it wasn't about trimming the fat, but instead cruel and unnecessary amputations.


Union executives were sworn to secrecy about the layoffs, but at the same time we had to work behind the scenes to try to solicit some voluntary buyouts to minimize the pain. Luckily, Dave Henderson and Fred Thornhill volunteered to take packages, saving the jobs of Jon McCarthy (facing a potential third layoff notice in less than 18 months) and Dave Lucas (who later bolted for the Globe). A few days later Sandy Naiman agreed to take a buyout, saving Brodie Fenlon's job. Two other employees offered to take buyouts to save the jobs of younger workers, but their requests were refused.


The last two months that I worked at the Sun were a strange period that I call my "dead man walking" phase. Whether I did a good job or a bad job, I was going to be gone in eight weeks. Quality didn't matter, except for my own personal standards. Then again, if Quebecor really cared about quality, award-winning journalists wouldn't be getting layoff notices.


With the luxury of a 56-week severance package, I took a good chunk of time off after I left the Sun, selectively applying for jobs. As I told friends, I didn't want to take a job just for the sake of paying the bills. I was looking for a career.


In December, my job hunt paid off. I landed a contract position as a communications officer with the Ministry of Energy. I'm across the hall from Alan Findlay, a building over from Ciaran Ganley, Mike Patton and Al Cairns, and down the street from Linda Williamson.


As Gord Walsh observed, who would have predicted that Sun Media would be the launching pad for so many civil service careers.


I love my new job. I'm doing interesting work with a great group of people and wonderful, supportive managers. My hours are stable, so I am continuing to take night courses to keep my skills current. And the government is even paying for me to take a weekly, two-hour conversational French class during regular business hours. C'est formidable!


Count me among the people who believe that getting laid off from the Sun was a blessing. I miss the people, but I don't miss the way the paper's vibrant, quirky corporate culture has been destroyed and talented journalists turfed.


I can assure you there is life after the Sun. But the bigger issue is, whatever happened to the way of life at the Sun and can it ever be revived? I guess that's the underlying theme of this blog.


There's good reason the church was packed for Doug Creighton's funeral, including people who hadn't worked at the Sun for years. He had instilled such a strong sense of camaraderie in the workplace that people truly felt he was both a kind father figure and a friend.


In 2002, a Ryerson Journalism Review article about the Toronto Sun contained the following quote from Creighton: "I was publisher for 21 years and during that time we managed to not lay off anybody. I think layoffs are wrong and I think the way they're carried out is wrong."


Creighton knew that corporate loyalty was a two-way street. He knew that executives who operated with a "my way or the doorway" policy risked a steady brain drain and/or a union drive. He also knew the formula for getting the most out of employees without paying industry-leading wages: Make it a fun place to work, treat employees fairly and with respect, provide generous benefits and vacation time, share the wealth in good times, work together through tough problems in bad times, and reward hard work and loyalty. He knew how to inject both profits and fun into a company. His media magic is sorely missed.


For the sake of all the dedicated workers at the Sun who have invested so much of their lives and talent into the paper, I hope the convergence mania is tempered with Creighton-style corporate innovation and the Sun plugs into a brighter future.


Maryanna Lewyckyj"


Thank you for your e-mail, Maryanna. All the best.


Friends and former colleagues can reach Maryanna by e-mail.

Ted Reeve kin?

TSF aims to please and that includes a family tree researcher in Ireland who is confident the late, great Telegram/Sun sports writer Ted Reeve is kin.

Gerry Carron e-mailed to ask if we could help locate Ted's relatives in Canada. If there are relatives out there, please e-mail TSF and we will give you Gerry's e-mail address.

Gerry writes:

"I came across your blog and I see that you have done a piece on the late Ted Reeve. I have been looking for information on Ted and his family. I believe he had a son, but not sure of that.

"However to the point. I recently learned by doing a family history over a number of years that Ted and I are cousins. That I have absolutely no doubt about.

"If there is any way that you could help me on this matter, I would very much appreciate it as I live in Ireland and it is very difficult to get information, apart from paying a visit to Toronto, which I intend to do.

"But it would be nice if I could contact some family member prior to that. If you require further information about me do not hesitate to ask. In anticipation, many thanks and looking forward to a reply from you."

Can any Sun vets provide leads for Gerry?

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Torontoist/Sun

The Toronto Sun has posted a one-paragraph correction for the use of an unattributed paragraph from a torontoist.com posting.

"A story in the Sunday Sun about a local guerrilla artist known as Posterchild contained a paragraph which was not attributed to torontoist.com. The Sun apologizes for the error. "

Torontoist posted its response to the correction, concluding "We are satisfied with the Sun's statement, and Torontoist now considers the matter closed."

It isn't closed for the young reporter who wrote the Sunday Sun story, but removing the overblown torontoist.com posting would be a good start.

30 - George Rennie

George Rennie, an Edmonton Sun Day Oner in 1978 and a Toronto Sun pre-press tech whiz for 12 years, died from cancer at his Oakville home on Saturday. He was 56.

In a Toronto Sun obit, Linda Leatherdale, Toronto Sun Money Editor, said she met George when both worked at the Edmonton Sun and the two remained lifelong friends.

“George was the sweetest, kindest guy you’d ever want to meet,” Linda said in the obit.

When the Edmonton Sun was launched on April 2, 1978, George, born in Scotland, was there and eager to do the Sun proud. In 1995, 17 years later, the Toronto Sun beckoned.

“George played a huge role in the technological transformation the Sun’s undergone in the past decade,” said George Vasilopolous, his friend and successor as pre-press director.

He is survived by his wife, Trish, a son, Liam, a daughter, Tracy, and mother, Annie.

Family, friends and colleagues with memories of George to share can e-mail their memories to TSF.

Memories of George

Nancy Stewart, Toronto Sun ad production manager: "I feel compelled to write about George, not only because he was our director of pre-press for 12 years, but because he left a lasting impression on all of us. He was a man who took an interest in his staff, took to heart each and every one of our different situations, and made an effort to make it work.

He had an infectious smile that you had to return, even after heavy discussions on change or modifications. And laugh, he could laugh the laugh of five men, and with that twinkle in his eye you knew he loved life, his job, his family.

George will truly be missed and we will remember him above all with a smile. A good and gentle man, taken too soon."

Lorrie Goldstein, senior associate editor: "I got to know George a bit when we were both department heads attending the weekly publisher's meetings. I was always struck by his friendly manner and his ability to see the light side of things, even in tough times.

On a couple of occasions when I would emerge from those meetings with what I thought were the worries of the world on my shoulders, George would crack me up with a joke as we were taking the elevator back to our respective offices.

I was sorry to hear George was ill and I extend my sincere condolences to his family . He was one of the folks who made the Sun shine."

Monday, 21 January 2008

30 - Ted Welch

Ted Welch, a bear of a man with a heart of gold, died of liver cancer Sunday in Victoria, B.C. He was 61.

The former Toronto Sun political columnist was one of the pioneers of Sun coverage of City Hall and Queen's Park and he left his mark before heading west with his wife, Marj, more than a decade ago.

Ted's Ontario friends, former colleagues and poker buddies have missed his company since his move to Victoria. The departure of Ted and Marj, left a void in their lives.

Marj, his wife of 33 years, says Ted didn't want a funeral and she is honouring that wish. Instead, a celebration of Ted's life will be held later this year while Marj is in Toronto for a visit.

This TSF tribute post is open to friends and former colleagues with memories of Ted. He was a journalist who made waves, a poker player whose style is still the topic of conversation today, and a man who made you a better person for having known him. E-mail

Memories of Ted (pictured above with his new best buddy, Bobbie):

Lorrie Goldstein, the Toronto Sun's senior associate editor: "I agree with John Downing that what tends to get overlooked about Ted because he was such a great character is that he was such a damn good writer. There was never any B.S. about Ted, which made him an expert at spotting it in others, including, but not limited to, politicians. I think Marj said it perfectly (in the Sun obit): "He was a contrarian with the kindest heart in the world." Ted would argue with you over anything and everything, passionately, stubbornly, hilariously, for hours on end, giving no quarter and asking none. But when it was over, it was over, and you'd head out into the night to buy each other a drink. Finally, Ted was lucky enough to have found his soul mate in Marj - an accomplished writer and editor in her own right, friend, wife, coach, booster, defender, advocate and, when necessary, warden, jailer and riot act reader. Bless them both."

Sean McCann, former Toronto Sun reporter/editor: "Ted and I worked out of City Hall together. He was metro, I was city. We had a lot of fun there generating stories and whippin' the Star's ass. When the smoking ban came to City Hall, Ted refused to butt out and that caused a bit of commotion. He argued there was a window in the Sun's office, therefore he was entitled to smoke. But more importantly, we became very good friends and spent many an hour propping up the bar at the Toronto Press Club, boring the pants off Joe Burke (a TCP bartender) as we drank Chivas and beer and saved the world. Marj usually rescued us before any major damage was done. Ted was a founding member of the (TCP Wellesley Street) Poker Club and many a good hour was spent in that educational diversion. Bye Ted, I've already raised a glass to the memories."

John Downing, a Toronto Sun Day Oner/political columnist now retired: "I think of Ted and I smile. He shambled along like a guilty bear on a bad-hair day. His faults were as big as he was. And inside, nice, even cuddly, except when he was pissing you off. Sadly, my last communication to him got tangled in the rain forests of B.C., but then communicating with him was never easy.

When the Sun decided to make me the Editor late in 1984 and early 1985 - it was a long process - I swore Ted to secrecy and told him he had to start dressing himself up, no matter how much he may hate it. I said I wanted him to be the new political columnist based mainly at City Hall , but the brass was cool to the idea because they disliked puns more than Ted did and they thought he was a terrible representative for the paper at City Hall, where Doug Creighton thought it important to have clout and Paul Godfrey didn't want to be embarrassed when he returned to the turf that he had dominated.

Ted grumbled and cleaned up, sort of. As Bono wrote, he looked like an unmade bed, and that was on his good days. So Ted got to write the column and some of us fought behind the scenes to delay the inevitable, but in the end the SOBs got him. I was at the breakfast at Niagara-on-the-Lake when it was decided and Creighton didn't speak to me for a few days after we fought over it. Bless Ted anyway. City Hall columns have a dreary similarity unless the writer brings some different perspectives to the eternal issues.

I finally lost the battle to keep Ted semi-presentable, but I kept remembering why Ted told me he looked that way. "I want to walk down the street and look so mean that people will just leave me alone." And yet inside he would be mortified if his friends said he had hurt them. If you talked to Ted about his life before he got to the Sun, you understood how it all came about, because it wasn't exactly an easy life.

Cam Norton, bless 'em, bought the cottage next to me at Burnt Point and for a delightful period, Cam, Ted, Al Dickie, Don Reid and other suspects used to terrorize the pickerel off my point. I recall the night they descended on my TV to watch the Stanley Cup. Ted drank long and copiously and finally staggered to his feet, butted his cigarette on my coffee table, tossed a couple of bucks down as a tip and lurched into the night. He apologized profusely the next day for thinking my cottage was a shabby bar, but I told Mary that I guess we needed better furniture.

Of course, his fishing tales were just that, better than the fish he caught, but he had, as I recall, some nice little canoe and one day I recall it listing from all the fish he was hauling back to Cam's place.

I know that Ted, reading all this from a vantage point in the smoking corner of Heaven, will note that John Duffy in his writing about Ted and fishing said he caught a 30-pound coho. Cohos don't come that big in Lake Ontario, it would have been a chinook, but Ted would appreciate the touch of saying you caught a fish that would have been a Canadian record if it had been a coho.

It's too bad his friends like me waste so much time talking about his appearance, because some days he could cause a stir in a biker bar, and not enough about his writing, because I enjoyed reading his stuff, and too often these days I find political columns to be as boring as when I first read those ideas in the 1970s. And we don't talk enough about that nice relationship with Marj, the long-suffering, which seemed to be almost mystical. Perhaps some of us envied that marriage.

It is sad that in all the postmortems about the good old days of the Sun before Quebecor that Ted doesn't get more of a mention because Ted was part of a wacky but competent strain in the newsroom that made it a place of surprise and some days even joy because we knew that we really were different from those newspapers approved by the CBC, or ones with a social mandate that including firing on Christmas eve.

Ted has now answered one question for me with his passing, as they now say on TV. There is no dress code in Heaven, or perhaps Ted just ignored St. Peter when he said there was."

Sally Barnes, veteran provincial PC party worker: "Ted was just a delight to be around. Always good natured, loved to have a good time, seldom complained. I will always remember him with a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other and a notebook falling out of his pocket. He'd be the first to admit that he was too ugly for radio - but he had a great news sense and was skilled with words. He kept politicians on their toes by going after them when they deserved it. But he was never mean about it. When he cut them down to size, you knew he had a smile on his face when he put the words to paper. We are losing too many of the guys who made our lives fun. Ted Welch is right up there with the best of them. All my memories of him are good. They bring a smile to my face and a sadness to my heart to know he is gone. "

Dean McNulty, Toronto Sun sports writer: "I was part of the staff on the St. Clair College Saint in Windsor with Ted and Greg (Parent) and what an adventure it was from 1969-72. My favourite Ted story was the night he and I went over to Detroit for an Ike and Tina Turner concert at the old Olympia near the University of Detroit campus. We took the tunnel bus across the river and a cab to the old barn. On our way out, Ted was in an ugly mood because there was too much Ike and not enough Tina and beer at the show. As we waited for a cab, a local youth came out of the parking lot brandishing a knife. "Give me your money," he barked. Ted, who had a foot and 150 pounds on the kid, said "Listen, I've got $5.35, $5 for the cab and 35 cents for the tunnel bus back to Windsor and I'm not walking home so go fuck yourself." It must have been the look of rage on Ted's face because the kid turned and ran. And this from the most kind and gentle man I have ever had the pleasure of knowing."

Al Dickie, longtime friend and former Canadian Press colleague: "Big, hairy guy that he was, Ted was nicknamed "Sasquatch" shortly after he joined CP (I think that was in the early 70s). He may have looked like a biker, but Ted was really a gentle soul, generous, loyal and with a sardonic wit that served him in good stead as a journalist.

He was apolitical, which made his city hall column for the Sun a joy to read because he judged the politician, not the politics.

Ted loathed pretension of any kind. He enjoyed a running battle with the city hall bureaucrats who were constantly pleading with him to clean up the Sun office when it had a place of prominence overlooking Nathan Phillips Square. Neatness wasn't on Ted's political agenda. He resisted until they finally moved the office to a less prominent location.

Next to his wife Marj, Ted's loves were poker, fishing and dogs. He enjoyed the cards with his buddies at the old Wellesley Street Press Club. One early morning, after a long evening at the bar and the poker table, he was accosted in the street by some muggers who demanded his money.

"Gave them 75 bucks," Ted told me the next day.

"Bummer," I said.

"Nah," said Ted. "I had $400 bucks I won at the poker game in my other pocket."

Typical Ted. He leaves his friends with some great memories."

George Hutchison
, veteran Ontario journalist: "Ted Welch was a big bear of a guy, whose gruff exterior masked a gentle, sensitive soul. He was a great reporter. I was fortunate enough not to encounter him as a rival. But we partied together and traded stories, many of which were true. Except on the topic of fishing. His catches seldom matched his imagination. But both provided great joy. I prefer to remember Ted with fishing rod rather than ballpoint pen in hand."

Sam Ion, former Toronto Sun writer and widow of the late, great Sun editor Cam Norton: "Ted and I were buds . . . Press Club Buddies, and the four of us were close friends. Often, when Cam worked nights, I would have a drink or three with Ted. I guess we may have had three one night, because I arrived home without my purse to pay the cab, and Ted turned up at his house with a large pink purse on his shoulder. Marj apparently opened one eye and said "Ted, I don't want to know." Cam said "Why can't you go shopping like other wives?"

Another night, after solving the issues of the day, I was wearing my hat as president of the Ontario Advisory Council of Womens Issues, and wondered if Ted and Marj would like to host some young women attending a conference on Women's Issues. "Sure," was the response from Ted. "We'll take six." When I called Marj the next day to thank her and give her the details of the 14-year-old girls coming for three days, it was news to her. She made Ted take care of them for the entire weekend."

Mark Bonokoski, veteran Toronto Sun columnist: "There is little doubt that Ted was one of the best when he covered City Hall and Queen's Park, although most of the time he looked like an unmade bed at a Salvation Army hostel. And I say this with all due respect, and with a smile in my mind.

Outside the office environment, though, he could be a tough man to handle if and when he decided to cut loose. I know, I was there on one of those occasions.

We were on one of Brian Vallee's famous fishing trips one year, at an isolated camp north of Gogama, when Ted decided he would drink away the week rather than suffer the fishing and the black flies. After all, Marj wasn't there to kill him for impropriety, so what was there to lose?

One night, in a daze, he pissed from his top bunk onto my adjacent lower bunk - thankfully with me not present. And every night, without fail, one of us in his cabin would have to take a turn making sure Ted was truly asleep for the night before shutting down the lights, out of fear that he would have just one more cigarette and burn the place down. Because he would fall asleep with a cigarette in his hand. Continually.

At the end of the week, it was me who drove Ted back to the city. He looked like hell. His hair was matted, the sweat was rolling off him in torrents, he smelled like a man who had drank for a week, and he insisted, part way home, that the time had perhaps finally come to put some food into his stomach.

So we stopped at a greasy spoon south of Parry Sound.

The place was a dump.

The owner took one look at Ted staggering through the door and said to me, pointing at Ted, "No way . . . No way are you bringing that in here."

"What am I? A dog?" yelped Ted.

It broke me up."

John Duffy, publisher of Taxinews and longtime poker buddy: "Aside from a drunken Ted at the poker table? The drunker he got, the better he played. And one marathon game at his house, I think I'd rather forget as I lost money that night.

With a bunch of other guys - The Bird (Pat Crowe) and (Al) Dickie may well have been on that outing) at the TPC - we went in together and chartered a salmon fishing boat one day out of a marina at the foot of Hurontario St. and went out on Lake Ontario. I caught a coho that was just under 30 pounds and a smaller one about 8 or 9 pounds. Ted also caught at least one very respectable fish as well.

Afterwards, Ted commented that he had spent a lifetime casting hooks and had been all over Canada fishing and here, not a hundred yards off shore off the Beaches, in Lake Ontario, he caught the biggest fish of his career. He was more than a little surprised, bemused, and taken aback by the revelation.

I also recall he was covering the CNE one year and he had a chance to check out a grizzly or black bear. I believe he was offered a chance to get into the cage with the animal, and politely and very firmly declined. He was more than a little impressed by the beast, and if memory serves, a bit frightened by it. Which surprised me as he had a distinct (at least to my eye) resemblance to a big bear himself. I had thought they might get along famously."

Les Pyette, who was the Toronto Sun's city editor when Ted came aboard in the 1970s: "Ted was no nonsense and we sensed that about him right off the bat. He broke many stories from City Hall, enough sensitive chords were touched that some higher-ups wanted him taken off the beat. For the most part, we all stuck with Ted and his direct approach. He helped make the Toronto Sun a better paper back in the glory days of the Little Paper That Grew."

John Cosway, former Toronto Sun reporter/rewrite guy: "Ted was a unique poker player. He would drink too much, smoke too much and win too much. Having to wake Ted up to tell him he had won another hand remains a poker game flashback to this day.

One of my favourite Ted Welch stories involves the night he decided to hitch a ride home from the Toronto Press Club. A couple of guys stopped and gave him a ride. Now Ted might have looked like a big, bad biker, but he was a pussycat. So when one of the men demanded his wallet, he quickly gave it up and fled the car. Problem for the thugs was he kept most of his money in a shirt pocket. At the press club, he was always stuffing cash into his shirt pocket. A memento from that night was a brief Sun story reporting Ted had been robbed.

A lot of memories of Ted involve his drinking, but he was much more than that. As a journalist, Ted made waves from the time he and Greg Parent, another Sun alumni, ran a college newspaper in Windsor in the 1960s. He was also a great story teller, a fisherman, a devoted husband, married to an incredibly tolerant and loving wife.

Ted made a difference in the lives of a lot of Sun readers, politicians, friends and colleagues."

QW woes watch

This is, indeed, Black Monday on several fronts for investors and Pierre Karl Peladeau.

While stock markets around the world plunged, Quebecor World, PKP's once proud printing empire, filed for bankruptcy protection.

A Canadian Press story on CTV.ca has an in-depth analysis of Quebecor World's fall.

The Globe and Mail's Street Wise blog looks at today's economic realities and PKP's woes.

More from CNNMoney.com

And Bloomberg.com

The Montreal Gazette

Even Hollywood Reporter carried the story

Brioux 1 yr later

Bill Brioux, the veteran television writer dumped by Sun Media a year ago this week, marks his first year away from the Sun with a jab or two at Quebecor and PKP on his blog.

"It is a year to the week when I was canned by Quebecor's Sun Media," Brioux writes in his TV Feeds My Family blog. "What were the odds Quebecor Inc. CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau would declare bankruptcy before I did?"

He ends his post with:

For my reaction to Peladeau's misfortune, go here.

We miss you, Bill, but thanks to Canadian Press and the Internet, you are gone but not forgotten.

Torontoist beef

Updated
Torontoist.com, a blog about everything T.O., has accused a Toronto Sun reporter of plagiarism over a verbatim paragraph published in a Sunday Sun story.

"The Sun Plagiarizes Torontoist," says the posting by David Topping, comparing content of a story he posted on Friday with content in the Sunday Sun story.

Plagiarism? Judge for yourself, but take the time to read the numerous comments posted in response to the accusation. Torontoist has shot itself in the foot in the eyes of many of its readers.

Quite a few of the comments accuse the blog of dragging a young reporter's reputation through the mud without getting her side of the story and without comment from Sun management.

If torontoist.com were a small, insignificant blog, we wouldn't waste TSF space on the accusation, but it is a widely read blog that has been quoted by the print media, including the Sun.

Reading the backlash on the torontoist site assures TSF we are not alone in having empathy for the young reporter named in the posting.

Like we said, read the verbatim paragraph cited by Torontoist. Not exactly content from the works of Shakespeare.

One of the numerous torontoist.com comments posted says it all about the spirit of the Toronto Sun Family. It was posted by a Sun staffer who has our respect:

"Hey, I just felt the need to comment.

I work for the Sun. When I comment here, I'm not speaking on behalf of the paper. I'm speaking as somebody who works in the media, and who might be able to offer some perspective to temper the reckless, irresponsible posts on this page.

The fact is, sometimes mistakes are made in the editing process in which words, sentences, even paragraphs, are hastily removed when last-minute decisions surrounding space are made. This isn't specific to the Sun. This happens at every newspaper, whether it be the Globe, Post, Star, Sun etc.

Most reporters with at least a few years of experience have been in situations where attribution has been lost in the often-hectic editing process. But because the reporter's name appears at the top of the story, everybody will conclude they're at fault when they might not be.

My point is, make sure this possibility has been ruled out before singling out a reporter by name on a very public forum such as this.

We're dealing with reputations here. The law surrounding the Internet is sort of cloudy these days, but there's no way any newspaper would be able to print an accusation like this without opening themselves up to a lawsuit.

If I, or any reporter, were to ever write a story that essentially convicts somebody based on unproven allegations, regardless of how things may appear, I would be sued and rightfully so.

So, before torontoist starts going out all guns ablazing, perhaps some sort of dialogue should have been initiated in a more private forum with the reporter and editors involved. The one thing I've found about reporting is that I'm constantly surprised by the way things never really are the way they might initially appear.

Apart from that, the fact that somebody here has posted the reporter's personal myspace page is beyond the pale. It's ridiculous this has been allowed to languish on the page still. What's the point of this?

Also, as a disclaimer, a few weeks ago, I wrote about the 'ROM fake bomb.' I used a significant amount of info from torontoist's interview with the accused. I spoke to David on the phone and everything was pleasant and respectful. I gave torontoist proper attribution and badgered the editors to make sure they included the torontoist photo credit under a picture of the accused. (I forget his name.) I like to think that everything worked out to everyone's benefit.

So, we've all worked together in the past, and hopefully we'll be able to work with each other in the future. I'm not talking specifically about the Sun andTorontoist, but about all print and Internet reporters."

Well spoken.

In all fairness, Sun management and the reporter who wrote the Sunday Sun story should also be heard from on torontoist.com and in the Sun.

One of the torontoist comments posted suggested the post be retracted until all sides of the story can be represented.

But once the barn door has been opened . . .

Update
Early Sunday, torontoist.com added the following correction to the posting, leaving the original post and subsequent comments online. TSF has replaced the reporter's name with "reporter."

"Correction: January 21, 2008:
This article implicated (reporter) as necessarily part of the act of plagiarism that took place in the article published under her name in The Sun before such an accusation could be conclusively proven. Such a presumption of her guilt was premature, unfair, and irresponsible, especially for such a serious accusation. Torontoist sincerely apologizes for deeming her guilty until proven innocent; a more detailed explanation and apology are in the comments. We will follow up on this story as more details about the person or persons responsible become available, and we will issue a full apology to (reporter) if it is proven that she was not one of those people."

Sunday, 20 January 2008

$1 a week Sun

We thought the Toronto Star's $1.67-a-week home delivery last fall was one to beat, but the Toronto Sun has topped it with $1-a-week delivery in selected areas.

The seven day, buck-a-week offer, good for 30 weeks, is for new customers in the 416 area code, Durham, York and Peel (beginning Jan. 28).

In the cold, snowy days of January, that is an offer Sun readers will find difficult to refuse. Readers beyond the offer area will still have to brave the winter elements to get their Sun.

Sun home delivery wasn't an option in the early years and it was Sundays only home delivery until a couple of years ago. Daily home delivery is apparently popular, with Peel being added.

It's the numbers game for all of the Toronto papers with home delivery. A subscriber is a subscriber, even if it is for the loss leader price of $1 a week.

The Sun needs the numbers to keep the advertisers happy.

Home delivery for the Sun is relatively new in the competitive Toronto print media market.

In the 1970s, Sun management viewed the daily paper as strictly a commuter newspaper, thus the 15-year delay in introducing a Saturday edition (Sept. 13, 1986).

In 2008, with store and street sales, seven-day home delivery and Internet access, exposure to the tabloid has never been more intense.

Who knew in 1971 a Peter Worthington column would someday be accessed by Internet users around the world and dissected by media bloggers?

A world audience for the profitable Toronto Sun. The reality of 21st century journalism makes us giddy.

Doug Creighton would be pleased.

Friday, 18 January 2008

McGee's 9/11 front

Darren "Woody" McGee was the front page editor for the 9/11 Toronto Sun front with the "Bastards" headline, says an anonymous TSF reader who provides a replay of the day.

The reader said in a posted comment:

"Len Fortune did not work on the 9/11 news front. I believe Len spearheaded a Quebecor special magazine on 9/11 a few days later, but the front page editor of the wraparound front for the bulldog edition that afternoon was Darren 'Woody' McGee with Les Pyette riding on his shoulder.

The Bastards headline was offered up by Les who got his inspiration, I believe, from the Sun front page of the beaten British airman downed in the Gulf War which was hanging in Peter Brewster's office at the time.

Whether Brewster suggested the Bastards line to Les or someone else threw the idea out there, I can't say for sure. The newsroom was, as you can imagine, absolute mayhem for the four hours it took to put out the afternoon bulldog, right through to the final replate at 2 a.m."

Thank you for the e-mail and clarity in who deserves credit for the Sun's 9/11 front.

Darren, a Sun vet who has picked up some major layout and design awards along the way, should take a bow.

"Bastards" debate

Updated and corrected
Another city has been added to the great debate over the use of "Bastards" in a front page newspaper headline to reflect an abhorrent act?

A TSF reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, says in an e-mail he is confident a New York City headline predates the Toronto Sun's 9/11 headline in 2001 and the Sun in London, England, following two IRA bombings in 1982.

The reader who sent this week's e-mail says "Bastards" was used by a New York City tab in 1981 (or earlier) following a Red Brigades kidnapping and murder in Italy.

"Bastards was originally the headline in either the New York Post or the Daily News," says the reader. "I believe it was the Post.

"I recall it vividly in that pre-Internet age because the black and white photo show (the) lifeless body hanging from behind, with the searing (and seemingly profane) headline. It made the network newscasts, too, and this was before CNN."

The reader also remembers seeing the same front page headline in Quebecor's short-lived Daily News in Montreal in 1989, with a photo of mass murderer Marc Lepine.

"So while I thought the 9/11 Sun head (voted the favourite Toronto Sun front in a TSF poll) was good, it wasn't original."

The continuing front page "Bastards" headline saga began after TSF readers voted the Toronto Sun's 9/11 "Bastards" headline in 2001 as the favourite Sun front.

Len Fortune, the Sun's former graphics maestro, e-mailed TSF to say the headline was used by the Sun previously during Desert Storm in 1991.

Former Sun staffer Al Cairns followed up in a recent e-mail, saying "Bastards" was used in 1982 by the Sun in London following two IRA bombings.

Les Pyette, former Sun CEO who was at the helm for the 9/11 issue, responded to Al's e-mail.

Are there any current or former New Yorkers in TSFland who can pinpoint the Red Brigades headline newspaper and the year?

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Canoe scabbing?

Labour relations talks have finally resumed in the nine-month lockout and strike at Journal de Quebec.

But with the new talks, there are renewed accusations Sun Media is using scab workers to publish the Quebec City newspaper.

The Montreal Gazette says Yves Morin, a lawyer representing the 250-plus CUPE members, is trying to prove Journal de Quebec is using 17 replacement workers in violation of Quebec law.

The Gazette story says Morin is surprised by the newspaper's claim that 10 editorial employees are doing the jobs of 50 reporters, editors and photographers.

Morin also questions identical stories appearing first at Quebecor-owned canoe.ca and then in the Journal.

"There were never Canoe journalists in Quebec City before the conflict," he said.

"When someone sends their story directly to the Journal, they are working at the Journal de Quebec."

Six days have been set aside for Quebec's labour relations commissioner Myriam B├ędard, to be used by April 1.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Max Haines book

Thanks to the TSF reader who reminded us of the newest book from Max Haines - The Spitting Champion of the World: Memories of Antigonish.

We have added it to our list of 2007 books written by Toronto Sun Family members and available online at amazon.ca. The direct link for his book is here.

We again note the book prices advertised in the Sun ($41.99, including postage and GST for Max's book) and Amazon prices ($18.90 plus postage for the same new book) months after its release.

What's that all about?

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Strobel Sundays

Adding Mike Strobel to the Sunday Sun stable of columnists is good news and a positive move in the campaign to attract more Sunday readers.

Mike has a faithful following during the week, but a lot of Sunday Sun readers who do not buy the Sun Monday through Saturday probably do not know his name or his style.

They are in for a treat.

Mike is at his best when his topics are off beat, so maybe he will save the weirdest of weird for his new Sunday columns.

The Sunday Sun needs about 60,000 more readers to regain its No. 1 status in Sunday sales in Toronto.

Strobel on Sundays can only help the count.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

30 - Dusty Cohl

Updated
Dusty Cohl
, a friend to Toronto Sun entertainment writers and film critics for decades, died Friday of cancer at Sunnybrook Hospital. He was 78.

There will no doubt be kind words from Sun staffers about the co-founder of the Toronto Film Festival in Saturday's paper. For now, Roger Ebert's tribute to the Dusty he knew says it all about the captain of the Floating Film Festival.

Roger, who first met Dusty in 1977, flew to Toronto on Tuesday to say his goodbyes.

The Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Indo-Asian News Service also had obits online early Saturday.

Bruce Kirkland's tribute.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Sun tab scoop

When most people talk tabloid, today's Toronto Sun is what they have in mind.

Brett Clarkson's heartbreaking exclusive interview with the teen survivor of a Christmas Day massacre that claimed his older sister and younger brother is tab fare written with empathy.

The Sun's front page story expands on the saddest of Christmas crimes, with Tommy Zois, 16, and his mother providing horrific details of the bloody madness he experienced.

How can the community not feel Tommy's pain now that he has shared his nightmare? We're sure Sun readers will be doing what they can to comfort him.

The Sun scooped the competition today, leaving the Star to write about unsafe schools.

TSFers on Amazon

Toronto Sun Family authors had a banner year in 2007, adding at least a dozen fiction and non fiction titles to the TSF list, but finding the books on store shelves can be a challenge.

TSF has found most Sun Family books published in the past year on Amazon, often at discounted prices, with online payment and delivery within a week. (No, we are not shilling for Amazon. We are just very pleased with their book prices and services.)

So, if you have been checking book stores without success, the following 2007 books by current and former Toronto Sun staffers are available on amazon.ca (click on links):

Jerry Amernic, former justice columnist
Duty: The Life of a Cop

George Anthony, former entertainment editor
Starring Brian Linehan: A Life Behind the Scenes

Christie Blatchford, former columnist
Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death Inside the New Canadian Army

Bill Brioux, former television columnist
Truth and Rumors: The Reality Behind TV's Most Famous Myths

Danielle Crittenden, former reporter
The President's Secret IMs

Max Haines, former columnist
The Spitting Champion of the World: Memories of Antigonish

John Iaboni, former sports reporter
Maple Leafs Top 100: Toronto's Greatest Players of All Time

George Jonas, former op-ed columnist
Reflections on Islam: Ideas, Opinions, Arguments

Eric Margolis, op-ed columnist
War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan and Asia

Scott Morrison, sports columnist
Hockey Night in Canada By the Numbers: From 00 to 99

Greg Oliver, former multi-task staffer
The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels

Ken Robertson, former city editor
Windcharm: A Dream Delayed

Brian Vallee, former reporter
The War on Women: Elly Armour, Jane Hurshman, and Criminal Domestic Violence in Canadian Homes

Numerous other books written by Sun Family alumni prior to 2007 are also available online.

Not on our TSF book list? E-mail your name and book title.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Sun box chores

TSF received the following e-mail today, so attention Toronto Sun circulation dept.:

"Hello Toronto Sun Family,
You may be proud of your paper, but you should be ashamed of your newspaper boxes. I would like your help to have a box removed at Snowdon Ave. and Mount Pleasant Road.

It was placed there not to sell newspapers, but to advertise the Sun name. It has now been vandalized and it is something the Teddington Park Ratepayers Association wants removed.

Thank you,

Brian Crozier"

Thank you for your e-mail, Brian. Hopefully, the Sun will respond to your complaint faster than you can say The Fixer.

Underdog spirit?

When the going gets tough . . .

Here's hoping the results of last week's TSF poll do not reflect the Sunday Sun staff's mood as they launch a campaign to regain the No. 1 spot in Sunday sales in Toronto.

When asked "Can Sunday Sun be No. 1 again?", 75% of the TSF readers who voted said "No."

Only 25% said the Sunday Sun, which was No. 1 more than a decade ago, will be successful in picking up roughly 60,000 new buyers to top the Toronto Star.

From Day One in '71, the Toronto Sun thrived as the underdog. The Sunday Sun was no longer the underdog when sales peaked at 550,000 in October of 1992.

But along came Doug Creighton's ouster in 1992 and Quebecor and the chainsaws in 1999.

With the most recent ABC circulation stats pegging Sunday sales at 347,000, it is again the underdog in desperate need of a makeover.

That task has been placed in the hands of James Wallace, the Sun's new deputy editor.

Adding 60,000 readers to top the Sunday Star is not an impossible goal, but it will require an innovative tabloid frame of mind to get the job done.

Are the 75% of the TSF poll voters astute observers or off base?

The next 12 months should tell the story.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Paul Heming's ashes

Paul Heming, the late, great Toronto Sun copy editor we talked about Monday, did attend the 1993 Blues Jays championship game, says Sandra Macklin, a close friend.

"I took Paul in my pocket to that final game," says Sandra, a former Sun news editor who shared Paul's keen interest in baseball. "He was there when Joe (Carter) touched them all."

It was Oct. 23, 1993, game six against the National League's Philadelphia Phillies. Carter won it with a three-run homer in the ninth, giving the Jays back-to-back World Series wins.

Paul's ashes would have been spread on the SkyDome field three weeks earlier after he died of a heart attack at age 53, but . . .

In Monday's post, we mentioned how the newsroom hatched the plan to spread his ashes on the field in a secret ceremony, taking advantage of an insider's access to the stadium after hours.

But the ultimate sendoff was called off when the Jays organization learned of the plan and said Latin American players would refuse to play on the field because of their religious beliefs.

Sandra says TSF's replay of the secret ceremony plan was "a great reminder" of Paul, who was a much-admired Sun Family member.

And then came the kicker in Sandra's e-mail.

"Do you know I still have that capsule with his remains? Some day I'll find a ball diamond that deserves his ashes.

"When I first moved to Port Hope, I thought I'd sprinkle him here in a small town where kids play baseball. But I never see kids playing baseball. In fact, I never see kids playing much of anything at all."

Here's a thought: Spread Paul's ashes on the field at Tiger Stadium before the Detroit landmark is demolished. The Tigers haven't played there since 1999, but a women's baseball tournament was held there last August.

TSF didn't mention Paul's name in the post Monday, but Sandra said "I think Paul would be pleased to be remembered."

Sandra also said "no problem using both of our names."

"It would be great if more (TSF) people believed in stuff enough to sign their names."

Amen to that, Sandra. Thanks for the update.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Joe's lotto gem

Countless stories have been written about lottery winners, but we have to salute Joe Warmington for his weekend gem about a down-and-outer sharing $37 million with a half-sister.

Miles from your average story of a big win - pay off the mortgage, bank the rest of the money and continue working etc. - Larry McAuliffe's story as told by Joe is exceptional.

Larry, a struggling separated father of four had $25 to his name when he got the call from his half-sister in B.C. A Jan. 2 Lotto 6/49 ticket they shared during her visit to Peterborough hit the jackpot.

There are numerous other aspects of Larry's story, including adoption and reunion, that make it unique among Canadian lottery winners. You can't help but cheer for Larry.

The only red flag in the story is Larry's wife, who left the family eight years ago and moved to Australia. We wonder if she Googles Larry's name occasionally.

More "Bastards"

The Toronto Sun's popular 9/11 "Bastards" front page headline in 2001 continues to raise eyebrows.

Les Pyette, who was Sun publisher and CEO when the headline was used, e-mailed his reaction to Al Cairns' comments about "Bastards" being used by the Sun in London, England, in 1982 following IRA bombings.

"I guess Cairns is gone from Sun," writes Les. "His Bastards comment was a bit negative. I don't think any of us ever saw the London Sun in 1982.

"Guess it's the old Brit approach - hard to accept that Canadians are just as good, or in my opinion, better."

Len Fortune, former Sun graphics wizard, e-mailed recently to say the Toronto Sun also used "Bastards" during Desert Storm in 1991, with credit going to Peter Brewster and most likely with the encouragement of Les Pyette.

Despite the debate over the 9/11 "Bastards" headline, the identity of the Sun desk man who proposed the heading and did the wrap around layout remains a mystery.

Was the "Bastards" headline an original thought in 2001, or was he influenced by the Toronto Sun's previous headline in 1991, or the London Sun headline in 1982?

There are unclaimed bragging rights involved here.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Doug C -4

Doug Creighton, co-founder of the Toronto Sun and founding publisher, died on this date four years ago.

Rarely a day goes by without thoughts of Doug and his selfless contribution to tabloid journalism in Toronto.

The "Death of a Giant" headline on the front page of the Sun on Jan. 8, 2004, was accurate. He was a giant with a giant heart.

Doug was survived by Marilyn, his wife of 50 years, his three sons and thousands of forever loyal and grateful members of the Sun Family.

So we remember Jan. 7, 2004, the day Parkinson's took his life, and Nov. 5, 1992 - the day the Sun's board of directors broke his heart by unceremoniously ousting him from the paper he loved.

Parkinson's was the official cause of death, but the mental wounds inflicted by the boardroom back stabbers surely contributed.

Thanks again, Doug, for the unique, once-in-a-lifetime media experience.

Jays & the ashes

Scenes from last night's Desperate Housewives took us back to the fall of 1993 and the death of a veteran Toronto Sun copy editor/baseball addict.

A Wisteria Lane senior killed in a tornado had told a close friend she wanted her ashes to be spread on a baseball field where she played for years in a women's league.

It gets done in the night, despite security guards catching the two women in the act.

In 1993, following the death of the bachelor Sun copy editor, a plan was hatched in the newsroom to spread his ashes at the SkyDome, on the field called home by the Toronto Blue Jays.

What a perfect farewell tribute for the ultimate baseball fan. The few people in the know were pumped about the secret ceremony, made possible with an insider's after hours access to the field.

And why not? The ashes of another Toronto print media vet, who had written about the ponies for years, were spread on the old Greenwood race track in the 1980s.

As the story goes, several friends with urn in hand after a very liquid wake slipped into Greenwood in the dark of night and spread his ashes on the track.

In the fall of 1993, the Blue Jays were the 1992 World Series champs and within weeks of succeeding in their drive for back-to-back championships.

Colleagues said imagine this baseball addict's ashes sharing the field with the Jays. It would be the perfect sendoff.

Sadly, before the secret ceremony could be put into play, the gesture on behalf of the deceased editor/baseball fan came to an abrupt end.

Someone in the Jays organization heard about the ash spreading plan and said no can do.

Latin American players would, because of their religious beliefs, refuse to play on the field, said the Jays rep. Chaos would erupt in the home stretch of the 1993 season.

But planners of the secret ceremony still remember the rush of adrenalin when the plan was hatched and how pleased their late friend and colleague would have been.