The news biz may be competitive now, writes QMI's Peter Worthington in a recent column, but it's nothing compared to the wars of bygone days. Especially when it comes to the Toronto Star and the now-defunct Telegram.

The news biz may be competitive now, writes QMI's Peter Worthington in a recent column, but it's nothing compared to the wars of bygone days. Especially when it comes to the Toronto Star and the now-defunct Telegram.

"In Toronto," writes Worthington, a former Tely reporter, "Newspaper wars reached a peak in the 1950s, during the attempts to swim Lake Ontario. Star and Tely reporters jostled, fought, tried to sabotage one another, either to get a story or prevent the other guy from getting it. The city was a battleground, no quarter given."

Take this story:

"When Marilyn Bell became the first to conquer Lake Ontario, the Star had her wrapped up in their boat, as an exclusive. Tely reporter Dorothy Howarth … jumped into the lake and was rescued by Marilyn Bell’s boat. Dorothy got an exclusive interview, and Marilyn Bell’s signature, which ran with the story, making it look like Marilyn had written the story. The Tely scooped the Star on its own story."

And it wasn't the only time reporters went gung-ho for the scoop. Worthington also tells of a bloody face, a stolen picture, and an escaped murderer.

"It was a bit like professional boxing," he writes, "the fighters determined to damage each other as much as possible, but without animosity."

No longer, he adds. And that's a big part of why he believes a News of the World style scandal could never happen here:

"Canadian journalistic sins tend to be omissions rather than commissions. We don’t dig deep enough, and err on the side of caution. But that’s another story."

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