Straight Talk
PETER WORTHINGTON - Christmastime not a one-day event at the Sun

Credits: REUTERS

PETER WORTHINGTON | QMI AGENCY

This is a sort of Christmas story, but it isn't really, because it goes on all the time at the Toronto Sun.

It's a relatively recent manifestation, which I'll explain in a moment.

The Sun has gone through several changes of life in its 41-year existence.

We started small, on the fourth floor of the Eclipse Whitewear Building on Toronto's King St. W., near the Royal Alex.

Then we moved to our own building, where we are now, and added floors as prosperity dictated.

During the last couple of years we've downsized. (For efficiency?) The newsroom is about 100 metres long on the second floor, with other departments (circulation, promotion, what's left of the library, advertising, etc.) tucked out of sight, where revenue is generated.

People who work there are convinced the newsroom wastes the money they bring in.

The rest of the building has been taken over by George Brown College, the National Bank, a No Frills at the rear, and Coca-Cola headquarters erected on the floors above the newsroom area.

As you enter the newsroom, editorial cartoonist Sue Dewar is located to the right, with Donato's "studio" just outside the newsroom - presumably so his subversive presence won't contaminate the staff.

Editor-in-Chief Jamie Wallace's office is at the eastern end, guarded by Marilynn, who can never be fired because she knows all the secrets of the Sun.

At the west end of the newsroom is Publisher Mike Power's fancy corner office, protected by Christina who knows just about everything.

Scattered in between the offices of these two journalistic titans are reporters, sports staff, online people, the city editor, and assorted odds and bods. No one has individual desks anymore, but computers are lined up and designated to individuals. Not awfully homey, but pretty businesslike.

In the middle, across from City Editor Jonathan Kingstone, is a five-metre-long series of chest-high filing cabinets, with a flat table top where, every afternoon, various editors huddle to discuss the make-up of the next day's newspaper - unless Mayor Rob Ford does something outlandish before deadline, thus forcing a make-over.

And it's the filing cabinet table that is the perpetual Christmas story.

Periodically, as if by magic, things that could be called "gifts" appear on the table.

One can never predict what will turn up. Always there are books for the taking, CDs of singers I‘ve never heard of, DVDs of movies I'd never watch.

There are sample bottles of beauty lotion, nail polish, fake glue-on fingernails, packaged baby food, key rings, cups, sometimes T-shirts, scarves. All sorts of items for whoever's interested.

I've nabbed lotions that supposedly revitalize skin to teenage lustre, and given them to my wife - who is dazzled at my thoughtfulness and then wonders if I'm trying to tell her something. (I'm not.) At unexpected times, food lands on the cabinet. There's no predicting when, why or what. It may be Timbits, or bags of tiny Mars bars, licorice sticks, or cheese puffs that probably aren't healthy but are addictive.

Pizzas have been there for the sampling.

Sometimes it's cakes or pies, with slices taken by staff. Occasionally soft drinks, cinnamon buns, muffins, date squares, brownies. And who knows what other goodies.

Rita DeMontis, the food editor, is Lady Bountiful, for much of the stuff appears as if by the wave of a fairy wand. But one never knows. Rita's a Santa's elf.

The day it was announced that Hostess would no longer make Twinkies - several boxes of Twinkies blossomed on the cabinet table. I snaffled a couple, my first experience with a Twinkie.

I find myself drifting down to that area several times a day on spec, just to see if there's anything new. Often there is. It's Christmas all the time.

Rita writes all this stuff up, and her office is a treasure trove of wall-to-window goodies. Much of it edible. And she shares, which qualifies her for journalistic sainthood. (Advertisers, take note.) Some reporters hide their snack stuff. Not Rita.

When it was announced that Coca-Cola HQ was moving in above us, the Coke people delivered a case of Coke to every employee. That's the sort of corporate neighbour that makes one feel warm and fuzzy. The Santa Claus syndrome, perhaps.

Newspaper people are notorious freeloaders - moochers, even. But until now I'd not experienced a newsroom where stuff materializes so often, so regularly, so unexpectedly. Occasionally, the table is replete with a smorgasbord of edibles.

Personally, I think most of it is thanks to Rita. But maybe that's because she has an office next to mine and worries that I'm undernourished. I'm not, but sometimes it's useful to pretend.

Anyway, despite periodic cuts in staff, the lack of human backup in case of sickness, the hectic pace of keeping up with the torrent of features churned out by Simon Kent, the cornucopia of the filing cabinet desk never seems to run short.

All year, it's Christmas at the Sun.


Sun News Videos

Feminist 'consent underwear' spark debate

Do consent underwear just change the conversation from 'rape culture' to 'slut culture'?


Afghanistan's upcoming election

With an election rapidly approaching, change is on its way to Afghanistan. Good or bad, the world is watching.


Is pedophilia a sexual orientation?

The American Psychiatric Association wanted to call pedophilia a sexual orientation, but is now back-tracking.

Ezra Levant’s The Source is the most provocative and thought-changing multimedia show in Canada.

This show is 100% focused on the political battles taking place across Canada, in the United States...even around the world.

Michael Coren brings you strong, balanced opinions to challenge conventional thinking.

Byline brings you the stories you won’t hear anywhere else while exploring points of view that are all too often ignored.