SPECIAL REPORT

THE LITTLE PAPER THAT GREW

PATRICIA BEST February 8 1988
SPECIAL REPORT

THE LITTLE PAPER THAT GREW

PATRICIA BEST February 8 1988

THE LITTLE PAPER THAT GREW

SPECIAL REPORT

Thirty years ago Douglas Creighton was a police reporter for The Telegram in Toronto. When The Telegram folded on Oct. 31, 1971, Creighton was the paper’s managing editor. He and two colleagues, reporter Peter Worthington and syndicate manager Donald Hunt, defied logic and the following day launched a daily tabloid, The Toronto Sun. Experts gave the venture 30 days to fail. But now, as president of The Toronto Sun Publishing Corp., the 59-year-old Creighton administers an expanding newspaper empire, keeps a lunch table at Winston’s, an exclusive restaurant in downtown Toronto, and counts many of the city’s business elite among his friends. His rise to the top parallels the ascent of Sun Publishing, which has added tabloid Suns in Calgary and Edmonton—and this week begins publishing the daily Financial Post. Says George Cohon, president of McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd. and one of Creighton’s closest friends: “He’s very street-smart and he has great ideas.”

That combination of pragmatism and creativity is at the root of Sun

Publishing’s success. Selling a potent mix of barely dressed girls, conservative politics and irreverent news stories, the Sun newspapers have carved out lucrative niches in each of the markets they have en-

tered. And the papers have in turn sparked lively competition with the cities’ existing broadsheet newspapers.

Said Peter Worthington, who was fired as a Sun columnist in 1984 after publicly criticizing the quality of the papers:

“The Sun is the most important paper in the country because it is the only competition left in most cities.”

In Toronto, the Sun has always been known

as the little paper that grew. And, indeed, The Toronto Sun was first published out of a rented warehouse with borrowed equipment and employees lured by promises more than pay. In 1986 Sun Publishing earned $15.8 million on $334.4 million in revenues. The only failure in the company’s 17-

year history was in Houston, Tex.—and even then it made a profit when it sold its troubled Houston Post Publishing Co.

Sun Publishing has developed a reputation for generous and egalitarian treatment of its nonunionized workforce. Each year 40 to 50 employees and their spouses are in-

vited to mix with the board of directors at a week-long seminar, usually held at a resort. Sun admirers point out that Creighton’s former secretary, Trudy Eagan, is now a member of the board.

The expansionistminded Creighton harbors dreams of newspapers in two more cities —London and Washington. And insiders say that the company has persistently, but

so far unsuccessfully, pursued a Sun paper in Washington. Creighton, who describes himself as a businessman who “would like to be a journalist again,” can spot a good newspaper town when he sees one.

-PATRICIA BEST