3 p.m., March 3)
The history of the Orléans Star part 3; the ’90s
By Mike Beasley
The Orléans Star
is the third in a series of articles celebrating the 30th
anniversary of The Orléans Star. This article covers
the period during which Michael Curran was the editor
of the paper, otherwise known as the Golden Years of The
this, our third chapter in the history of The Orléans
Star we will examine how the paper grew into one of
the most successful publications in the Ottawa area.
Part 2 we learned that in the late 1980s the papers
editor James McArthur hired two aspiring journalists,
Fred Sherwin (current owner of The Orléans Star)
and Michael Curran (co-owner and publisher of the Ottawa
Star staff picture circa 1995. Michael Curran
is pictured second from the right in the front
row, while Fred Sherwin is in the second row
far left. Former publisher Derek Walter is
in the centre of the bottom row. FILE PHOTO
1988, Curran was enrolled in the journalism program at
Carleton University and approached McArthur with the hopes
of landing a job with a newspaper.
still remember the day that I went into to see James and
inquire about a job with the paper, Curran recalls.
I was young with no real reporting experience but
passionate about becoming a writer and getting into the
business so I guess thats what impressed him.
then everybody who worked for the paper crossed paths
in one way or another during the work week.
wasnt a big news room with about four or five people
working on editorial content and production but Curran
remembers that it was a great way for him to learn his
future trade and hone his skills as a newspaper man.
had a good-natured crew that worked hard to make The
Star a viable publication. Fred was an exceptional
columnist back then and was the same character that he
is today, Curran explained.
newspaper capitalized on the fact that it covered two
different municipalities, as well as regional issues which
meant that there was a wealth of news.
were two municipal governments, two police forces and
tons of explosive growth in terms of new schools, shopping
centres and economic development.
was the time of pre-amalgamation and Orléans was
one of the fastest growing communities in Canada, news
in the area was happening every day and we did a great
job of covering it. I have a lot of great memories from
working at The Star, Curran says.
worked at the paper while going to university and eventually
took over as editor after the departure of Paul Zaleski
in April 1993. A year later, Gordon Brewerton left the
paper to serve as publisher of the West Island Chronicle
in Montreal. He was replaced by Ron Kilpatrick.
has fond memories of his tenure at The Star.
was the good old days when every-body did everything,
laughs Curran. I would assign work, write stories
and even take photos if needed, todays technology
of desk top publishing and Photoshop was still in the
future, everything was very pretty rudimentary back then.
the mid-90s The Star went through a phase when
ownership wanted to increase the advertising ratio in
the paper to the detriment of the editorial content.
new equation really limited creativity and photo content
in the paper which The Star had always taken pride
in. It also led to Currans eventual departure in
November 1995 when he and then advertising manager Caroline
Andrews launched a competing paper called The Weekly
was concerned with the lack of editorial material and
corporate control. I felt that I needed to run my own
paper and have total control of the business from advertising
to print content, says Curran.
captained The Weekly Journal for about two years
when Transcontinental, which had just purchased The
Star, made an offer that he and the rest of the owners
the monetary considerations, Transcontinental agreed to
retain Andrews as publisher of the two papers and Curran
meant that Val Xavier, who had been with The Star
for nearly seven years, first as a sales rep and more
recently as the publisher since December 1995, was shown
Curran assumed the role of editor of both papers he made
sure to keep Sherwin on as his assistant responsible for
The Star. It had only been two months since Sherwin
took over the reigns as editor of The Star at Xaviers
paper had undergone some issues with the previous editor
and she asked me if I could turn things around,
recalls Sherwin. So I brought (James) MacArthur
back to help me redesign and relaunch the paper. And we
locked ourselves in the office all weekend and did just
Transcontinental bought The Weekly Journal a couple
of months late and got rid of Val it was a total surprise,
and quite frankly a major disappointment.
stayed on as editor for a year before leaving to become
the publisher of the Ottawa Business Journal.
the Weekly Journal) was the best thing I could
have done. I learned every facet of the business, plus
I had the pleasure of working with quality people that
were motivated and serious about producing a great paper.
That was the foundation to our success, says Curran.
he left The Star in November 1995, the paper had
a series of editors starting with Regina Behnk. She was
succeeded by Tina Costanza in July 1996, who was succeeded
by Heather Jamieson just two months later.
Jamieson held the position for nine months before she
stepped down and was replaced by Mike Aiken.
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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