A pioneer dies

A pioneer dies
: Douglas Creighton, founder of the Toronto Sun and many other newspapers, died at 75. That won’t mean much to media-followers in the U.S. but Creighton was an amazing newspaperman and quite an amazing character and one of two great media entrepreneurs from Canada (the other, in my book, is Moses Znaimer, creator of CityTV).

I met him and almost went to work for him. I’d walked out of Entertainment Weekly and we wanted to try to move to Toronto, long a favorite city of ours. So I met with the folks at the Sun, a bad-ass tabloid that knew how to have fun. They had a good job to remake the weekend edition of the stuffy Financial Post and then move over to the edgy Sun; it was perfectly schizophrenic. The guy at the FP cheaped out and that killed the deal.

But in the process, I got to meet Creighton. First, I saw him in his office and we waxed happy about tabloids and journalism with impact and having fun and running new kinds of newspapers. And then he said we had to meet that night at his favorite restaurant. I caught the uh-oh look in the guy who’d brought me to Creighton. He was a classic newspaperman in many ways and, like many I’ve known in the business, it was better to meet with him in the a.m. than the p.m.

I went to a dark, smokey, empty, woody, stuffy, hushed chophouse with a touch of the bordello about it and Creighton and his guy were in a booth in the back. He’d been there for awhile. Creighton would start regaling us with a story and then he’d suddenly fall asleep. I had no idea what to do: wake him up, tiptoe out, sit silently. I started new conversations with the other guy and then Creighton would wake up and start over again. This repeated a few times. He thought he’d hired me. We damned near hugged. And that was the end of the strangest job interview I’ve ever had (and I’ve had strange ones… remind me to tell you about my New York Times interview years ago).

A few years later, he got ousted from the company he built, turned bitter, and wrote a book about it all.

I always liked Creighton and respected what he built, for there hasn’t been a lot of room for entrepreneurship in the news business. Sorry to see him go.