More Missing Sun Media Writers

It can be frustrating and aggravating.  Infuriating and upsetting, as well.  No matter how great the effort, it’s extremely difficult to repress those feelings when examining the current state of Sun Media.  This website started focusing on the beleaguered newspaper conglomerate late last year in a Loser Of The Year installment.  Noted in the piece were the unusually high number of employees who had mostly disappeared from The Toronto Sun.  Few of the exits were ever properly reported in the flagship tabloid and only a small number of exiting columnists announced their departures in farewell columns.
 
Thanks to emails from Lydia Lovric and blogger Fading To Black (whose site I contribute occasional items to), some burning questions about the missing columnists have been answered.  (The Toronto Sun Family Blog has also been a consistently good source of information.)  But it remains perplexing why Quebecor, the parent company of Sun Media, which also publishes The Winnipeg Sun, The Calgary Sun, The Ottawa Sun and The London Free Press, has put profit ahead of integrity and basic human decency since they overtook the mostly tabloid newspaper chain in the late 1990s.  Now that the company has successfully purchased Osprey Media, it’s the largest newspaper corporation in Canada.  That couldn’t have happened if it wasn’t rolling in dough.  As this site has maintained since 2006, there has been no legitimate economic reason for the ousting of so many of its workers, whether you know their names or not.  And furthermore, they tend to fire the wrong people.  (TV Critic Bill Brioux, now with The Canadian Press, and Val Gibson, the former Intimacies columnist, were tossed overboard while political pundits Salim Mansur, Michael Coren and Rachel Marsden still safely remain.)
 
After continuing to cover more shameful employee firings and “retirements”, as well as other subjects like the controversial editorial policy change regarding the signed Point Of View commentaries, for a number of months in the first half of 2007, it became increasingly depressing and disillusioning to keep track of all the bad news.  So, I stopped reading the daily print edition of The Toronto Sun.  I continue to visit the paper’s official website but there are days where I don’t feel the need to check it out.  With fewer columnists I value and trust, what’s the point?  The saddest part is how much I don’t miss reading the paper every day.
 
Since that time, more columnists have gone missing and once again, for the most part, their absences have not been fully explained.
 
Readers know why Sid Ryan and Marianne Meed Ward haven’t been published since July.  They’re involved in the upcoming Ontario provincial election on October 10.  (Meed Ward revealed in her July 15 column that she’s running for a seat representing Burlington.  Although he didn’t mention it in his July 13 piece, Ryan is campaigning in Oshawa.)  Ottawa Sun columnist Geoff Matthews signed off officially after a seven-year stint on May 3.  But announcements like that are rare.  The unofficial motto appears to be, “Out of sight, out of mind.”  Before the Quebecor era, that wasn’t the case.
 
So, why hasn’t Holly Lake been seen in any of the Sun Media papers since February?  Ditto Link Byfield of The Calgary Sun?  What about his colleague Jose Rodriquez?  He hasn’t had a column published since June 9.  Is he on vacation?  If so, when’s he coming back?  What happened to Paul Stanway of The Edmonton Sun, and Ross Romaniuk and Shahina Siddiqui of The Winnipeg Sun?  Where’s Andre Boily, another Sun Media columnist?  Why haven’t there been any more columns from Jim Chapman (last appearance: March 24), Allison Graham (last appearance: April 28), Nicole Langlois (last appearance: February 8), and Sean Twist (last appearance: February 3) in The London Free Press?
 
Anyone with credible information about any or all of their whereabouts can reach me by email.  I’m still wondering what happened to the other missing columnists I wrote about in December.  Reliable tips on this subject are always welcome here.
 
One wonders how many others will suddenly vanish like the many before them.  One thing’s for sure.  It’s hard to be optimistic with so much pessimism staring you in the face.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
10:54 p.m.
 
UPDATE:  Mike Jenkinson, the former Comment Editor and columnist for The Edmonton Sun who was let go on April 16, sent me an email this morning with updates on two of his former colleagues I mentioned in my piece:
 
“Paul Stanway left the Edmonton Sun earlier this year to become the communications director for Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach.”  He further notes about Stanway’s departure, “This was announced in the Sun.”  Jenkinson started working for the provincial government himself on May 1st.  He announced on his website that day that he’s now working as “a public affairs officer for Sustainable Resource Development.”.
 
Back to his email:
 
“Jose Rodriquez became editor in chief of The Calgary Sun, and probably doesn’t have time to write columns anymore.”
 
My thanks to Mike for his message.  Check out his blog here.  Thanks, also, to The Toronto Sun Family Blog which noted the original story here.  Keep those emails coming.  I still want to know what has happened to all of these missing columnists.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
1:19 p.m.
 
UPDATE 2:  Butch McLarty, the founder of Alt-London (“Southwestern Ontario’s MOST VIEWED, INDEPENDENT NEWS & VIEWS BLOG”), has given The Toronto Sun Family Blog updates on three London Free Press columnists.
 
Jim Chapman and Alison Graham haven’t been filing columns in a while because, like Marianne Meed Ward and Sid Ryan of The Toronto Sun, they’re running for seats in the upcoming Ontario provincial election.  (Chapman’s running in the London-Fanshawe riding and Graham is competing in London West.)
 
Also, McLarty revealed to blogger John Cosway that Sean Twist “refused to sign the Sun Media freelancer’s agreement several months ago and is now doing work for the CBC part-time.”
 
Thanks to Butch for passing on the information and to TSF for posting it.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
5:36 p.m.
 
UPDATE 3:  Blogger Neate Sager, who also works at The Ottawa Sun, informed The Toronto Sun Family Blog about the whereabouts of Sun Media columnist Holly Lake.  He says that she “left to take a PR job, I believe with a health professionals’ association. Not sure which one.”
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, September 6, 2007
3:11 p.m. 
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Published in: on September 4, 2007 at 10:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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