From The Published Archives: Zerbisias Won’t Be Replaced At The Star

Let’s go back to the spring of 2007.  I was two months into my new gig as a contributor to Fading To Black, a blog devoted to covering the decline of the news media, particularly old-school daily newspapers.  Up to that point, there weren’t many opportunities to break news, to offer items that no one else knew about or was reporting themselves.  The vast majority of pieces we did simply highlighted and credited relevant paragraphs of other people’s original work. 

Then I got an email from FTB.  I was asked a number of questions about what was going on with Antonia Zerbisias, a longtime columnist with The Toronto Star.  For years, she reviewed TV shows for the broadsheet but at some point made the switch to media criticism.  A link was included in the message.  It pointed to a short item posted at David Akin’s blog.  Apparently, Antonia had quit her job but not the paper.  FTB wanted to know more about all of that.

So I emailed her.  And she responded.  Feeling I had enough information for an FTB piece, I went to work.  Zerbisias Won’t Be Replaced At The Star was posted on June 12, 2007.  The Toronto Sun Family Blog mentioned it nine days later at the end of an unrelated story about a bidding war between Quebecor, The Sun’s parent company, and TorStar, over Osprey Media.  That felt good.  So did the complimentary email FTB sent me shortly after the article was published.

In time, I would also grow tired of the media beat and would quit writing for Fading To Black seven months after this piece surfaced.  Having closely followed Sun Media’s troubles (which included the failed attempt to unionize Sun TV workers) for a couple of years, that whole situation became too depressing to cover as well.  (The Toronto Sun Family Blog does a much better job of that, anyway, even though it’s foolishly shutting down later this year.)

At the time, Antonia was pretty vague about what her new job at The Star specifically entailed.  “I will be writing about social issues/cultural trends” was all she would say.  It didn’t take long to learn what her actual plan was.  Forgoing the often tedious and thankless process of scrutinizing the media business (even though we need more and more honest coverage of it), her focus mainly turned to women, feminism and mysogyny, all worthy topics. 

Unfortunately, I found her tone really hard to take at times and when she unfairly criticized Howard Stern for having a guest on his show who was auctioning off her virginity on a website, the respect I had for her as a media critic pretty much dissipated.  She totally blew it and lacked the decency to admit she was off-base.

These days, Antonia remains an active Star columnist and Twitterer although postings on her Broadsides blog (which replaced her media-centric Azerbic one) have been infrequent since last October.  Nearly four years after this FTB report was first posted, there is still no media critic at The Toronto Star.

Zerbisias won’t be replaced at The Star

Antonia Zerbisias announced on her Facebook profile recently that she will no longer be The Toronto Star’s Media Critic. In the message, which was also posted on David Akin’s blog, she was vague on details. She would only offer that she is finally getting to do the job she has “repeatedly lobbied for since 2003 – and, thanks to [The Star’s] recent redesign and related factors, I finally got it!”.

But when asked via email what that job actually is, she responded, “I will be writing about social issues/cultural trends.” She also revealed that The Star won’t be hiring someone to replace her. There will no longer be a media critic at the daily broadsheet. She added, “You would have to be crazy to do that job.”

Zerbisias’ last media column appeared in the June 9th edition of The Star. You can read her previous pieces here. This website wishes her well with the new job.

UPDATE: You can now read her in the Living section. Her debut column can be read here. Also, special thanks to The Toronto Sun Family Blog for mentioning the original story here.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
9:50 p.m.
Published in: on March 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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