In three days, no more entries.
After posting nearly 2400 pieces of writing in a span of five years, The Toronto Sun Family Blog will end its successful run on November 1st. Considering what’s been happening to the longtime tabloid in the past half-decade, this news shouldn’t surprise anyone.
That doesn’t mean the site won’t be missed. It will. Immensely. Where else could you learn firsthand about the latest firings and hirings of staff members, personnel changes that were rarely, if ever, mentioned in the pages of The Sun? Where else could readers and employees regularly vent, anonymously and on-the-record, about all the many problems plaguing the troubled paper? Where else could former columnists, critics and reporters check in and give everyone updates on what happened to them after they were kicked to the curb by Quebecor, the tabloid’s owner since the late 90s? And where else could you find eloquent tributes to deceased colleagues much missed by their brethren?
Besides books and Wikipedia, where else could you learn about the paper’s near 40-year history? How it began, who the original players were and who signed up later. In fact, that was the original focus of the blog: “The good ol’ days.”.
But fairly quickly, The Toronto Sun Family Blog evolved into a daily news centre and public forum for the disgruntled majority of staffers, past and present, who freely offered endless criticism regarding the way Quebecor has managed the Sun over the last ten years or so. Readers, too, would chime in with their thoughts from time to time.
It hasn’t all been doom and gloom, though. TSF blogger John Cosway (who worked for the paper for nearly 20 years) has given praise for covers, stories and columns he felt worthy of singling out. And a good number of ex-Sun workers have found new life and energy outside 333 King Street where their former colleagues, eager for positive change, reluctantly remain. Reading their updates on TSF has likely given hope to the others that getting out or being forced out, as the case may be, isn’t the worst thing that can happen. In fact, it can be the best thing. Starting over is hard but it beats being depressed in a dead-end environment.
TSF began around the same time I started writing about The Sun and its many problems in this space in December 2006, back in the MSN/Windows Live Spaces era. Over time, Cosway would very kindly mention some of these pieces which meant increased traffic and a small amount of credibility and respect for myself. Without those postings, I’m not sure The Writings Of Dennis Earl would be where it is today.
Hearing from Sun writers like Jim Slotek, Bill Brioux, Jeff Morrison and Lydia Lovric was proof that my commentaries were actually being read by professional journalists. In the end, I’ll always be thankful to John for covering my stuff.
But as he himself has probably learned over the years, covering this beat takes its toll to the point where you want a clean break. Since 2008, I myself have only sporadically written about The Sun. Editorializing from the outside was even too much for me to bear over a prolonged period of time. Life is simply too short to subject yourself to bad news on a daily basis. It’s no wonder journalists drink. It’s a wonder I’m straight edge.
Without a doubt, Toronto Sun Family made an impact. For several years, the site posted its overall hit count which you could see by scrolling down to near the bottom of the page. I don’t know when it was removed but from what I remember, in just a short period of time, TSF was accumulating hundreds of thousands of hits. Nature abhors a vacuum, goes the saying. The site filled that vacuum nicely with lots of exclusive info not read, heard or seen anywhere else.
So, does all of this mean The Toronto Sun Family Blog will cease to exist? No, actually. Once November 1st arrives, the site will no longer be updated. All the thousands of previous entries will still remain, freely accessible at any time, as always.
With Cosway signing off for good, is there anyone willing to take his place?
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, October 29, 2011
UPDATE: Contrary to what I wrote a month ago, there have been a few new postings on TSF after November 1st. One such piece, Layoff Forum, has featured revealing comments from anonymous tipsters who have noted a number of recent personnel upheavals at Quebecor’s Sun Media properties. Edmonton Sun columnist Mindelle Jacobs (who I used to read online from time to time) and Toronto Sun crime reporter Rob Lamberti are the most prominent names mentioned. This story, posted by a TSF commenter, announces the return of a recent annual tradition at Quebecor: Hundreds of Christmas layoffs. And the massacre continues.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, December 4, 2011