One newspaper folded on my watch, but I don’t consider it a defeat.

The newspaper was the Calgary Albertan, and I was editor-in-chief the day it quit publishing in July 1980. That was the best title I ever had, and because both the owners and I knew the risks involved in taking the job I enjoyed other perks including a leased car and a guaranteed severance package if the paper were ever folded or sold.

Both eventually happened. The basic reason was financial hemorrhaging among other newspapers in the F.P. Publications Ltd. chain. It wasn’t much of a chain at all, simply an agglomeration of newspapers across Canada originally founded by individual strong-minded publishers who at some point decided they could achieve economies of scale, or safety in numbers, or something. They had all died off by that time, and their heirs simply decided to cash out.

The newspaper ended up being bought by the people who ran the Toronto Sun, and the Albertan ceased publication—to be succeeded immediately by the new Calgary Sun. I admired the Sun people because they were gutsy survivors of the defunct Toronto Telegram who had defiantly started up their own paper because they saw a niche for a downmarket tabloid. They had lifted the name from Rupert Murdoch’s Sun in the United Kingdom, along with the format including a “Sunshine Girl” on Page Three. Being Canadians, though, they put a swimsuit on her whereas in the original version she was topless.

The Sun’s Doug Creighton offered to keep me on, but I passed up the opportunity for a couple of reasons. For one thing I didn’t think I had the right instincts for the new paper, and for another I had expended a lot of energy and arguments persuading the staff that I knew what I was doing. So I didn’t think I could just show up the next day and say, “Never mind.”

Nevertheless I wished the new team well and am glad to see that the Calgary Sun is still going strong. The 35-year-old article below republished from the Albertan of July 1980 expresses that attitude, as well as a tribute to the old newspaper with roots dating back to when Alberta wasn’t even a province but only another district in the Northwest Territories.

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