City of the Setting Sun
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City of the Setting Sun

A campaign aims to bring down the Toronto Sun by urging a boycott of companies that advertise in the paper.

Will you refuse to eat a Subway sandwich because those deliciously cheap “Sub of the Day” deals are advertised in the Toronto Sun?

Justin Beach will. He’s the organizer behind Operation Sunset, a campaign to stop companies from advertising in that paper.

“Going through advertisers is the only way to have an impact on a large media company,” Beach told us. “Audience doesn’t play into it, because the audience isn’t really the customer. Advertisers are the customers. There’s a responsibility for the corporations in which media they choose to advertise in and the media has a responsibility for what sorts of ads it runs.”

Beach says the decision to launch the campaign happened around the time the Sun decided to run the same ads that the National Post apologized for running after a public outcry that they were transphobic. What Beach saw as the Sun’s lobbying to have Occupy Toronto removed from St. James Park was the last straw.

“When a newspaper takes a stand against free speech that’s kind of the end,” he says.

According to Operation Sunset’s website, the Toronto Sun “frequently publishes misleading information. Its comment section and, at times, editorial pages are filled with racism, sexism, homophobia and jingoism.” No one from the Sun replied to our requests for comment.

Operation Sunset is publishing the names of companies, with contact information, that advertise in the Sun and urging people to ask that their ads be removed. If they don’t comply, the campaign wants them boycotted. The campaign, in its second week, has almost 300 followers on Facebook and Twitter. According to Beach, from the response he has received, people are following through with the boycott.

In a decision perhaps at odds with some perspectives on free speech, Beach is not allowing comments that support the Sun on the website .

“The comments that I’ve decided to not allow are part of the discussion that happened before all of this,” says Beach. “The point of the site is not to continue that debate. I have no interest in moderating a shouting match. We’re moving on from that debate to do something about it.”