By: Mark Fitzgerald
As Chicago Sun-Times Publisher John Cruickshank leaves the tabloid to head up Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s English-language news operations, he says he’s optimistic about the paper and its 100 Chicago-area siblings.
“The group is performing finally as a single unit — and I think performing fairly well,” Cruickshank, who is CFO of the Sun-Times News Group (STNG), said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve spent considerable time and energy reworking the
We spent considerable time an energy reworking the Sun-Times. It reads well, it’s selling well, it’s colorful and dynamic, and it’s having an impact on the market.
“That’s something we couldn’t say three years ago.”
Cruickshank, who came to Chicago to head the paper’s editorial operations in 2000, took over as publisher during its most tumultuous time. He steadied a staff angered by the ruthless cost-cutting of his predecessor, F. David Radler, and shocked by revelations that Radler and principal owner Conrad Black had diverted millions from the Hollinger International newspaper chain into their own pockets.
Just weeks into the job in November 2004, Cruickshank discovered the paper had been inflating its circulation by as many as 50,000 copies a day.
Between continuing litigation from the Radler and Black scandals, tax liabilities in Canada and the U.S., and shrinking market share, the newspaper’s parent Sun-Times Media Group still has “pretty hairy” corporate issues, Cruickshank said. “We’re still living through the legacy of the old ownership.”
As publisher of CBC News, Cruickshank will head both the English-language television and radio news operations of Canada’s premier broadcast news organization.
“The CBC News operation is very, very large, and very, very good,” he said. “It really is one of the best news organizations in the world, and I’m tremendously flattered to be considered.”
Cruickshank grew up in Toronto, where CBC is headquartered, and still has family there. “There are a lot of inducements to go back,” he said. “Plus it’s one of those really rare jobs where I’ll have a direct opportunity to really engage with the national conversation in Canada.”
Before coming to Chicago, Cruickshank was editor in chief of The Vancouver Sun in British Columbia from 1995 to 2000. Previously, he was managing editor of The Globe and Mail in Toronto, which he joined as a reporter in 1981.