Category Archives: Newspapers

Complaints withdrawn in Halifax dispute; talks to resume

The Halifax Typographical Union and The Chronicle Herald have both withdrawn unfair labour practice complaints related to the year-long work stoppage at the newspaper.

The union that represents 55 striking newsroom workers withdrew its complaint today after the Herald agreed to back away from its bad faith bargaining positions.

“With the Herald changing its position, we have gained everything that we had hoped to achieve through the labour board hearing,” said Ingrid Bulmer, president of the CWA Canada Local. “The hearing became unnecessary.”

The hearing before the Nova Scotia Labour Board was scheduled to begin Monday and continue throughout the entire week.

“We withdrew the complaint to engender bargaining,” Bulmer said. “If the company goes back to its unfair bargaining practices, we reserve the right to refile the complaint.”

The Herald also withdrew its complaint about alleged disclosure of confidential information.

“The Herald accusation did not have any merit and was filed only in retaliation to our complaint,” Bulmer said.

The two sides will return to the bargaining table Tuesday. Bulmer said recent bargaining had been positive and she hopes that continued progress will lead to a deal in the near furture.

– See more at:

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Steve Dempsey: Despite digital, print news may still be publishers’ cash cow

This week saw people celebrating the 25th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee making the world wide web available for worldwide use. Ever since it was invited to the party, the world hasn’t looked back.

Actually that’s not universally true. Some industries might look over their shoulders at a pre-internet era with considerable yearning. And one of them is the newspaper industry.

Most newspapers’ print products have suffered dwindling sales in recent years. At the same time, their digital offerings have yet to turn into cash cows. But despite their inability to create a sustainable online business model, there’s still a wide-standing perception that print is on its last legs and online on the up.

But perhaps the digital future isn’t as bright as initially thought.

‘Reality Check’ is a recent study of multiplatform newspaper readership in the United States. It analyses the online and print readership of 51 American newspapers. The results? Printed news still reaches more readers than online news in the papers’ home markets – even among younger readers. On average, print editions reach 29pc of local adults, with online editions reaching only 10pc.

Iris Chyi, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor at the School of Journalism at the University of Texas, was surprised by the near universal pattern that held true for all the papers examined.

“Without even one exception, all 51 newspapers’ print reach is higher than their online reach,” she says. “Also without a single exception, online edition readers’ propensity [to read] the print edition is higher than the general public’s propensity [to read] the print edition – by a wide margin.”

But there are some quirks. For example, the Washington Post and the Austin American- Statesman were the only publications that have ever reached 20pc of their market through digital channels. “The Washington Post has devoted lots of resources to its online operations since day one,” says Chyi. “So is not a typical metro newspaper site. As for the Austin American-Statesman, I think there are several factors: Austin has been one of the most wired cities in the US; its population consists of a great number of professionals working in the high-tech industry, state government employees, and college students; and the newspaper has also been pretty proactive with its online operations.”

Another interesting quirk is a dip in online news reach since 2011, which may be down to American publishers’ erection of paywalls. But perhaps paywalls aren’t the only culprits.

“Papers with paywalls on average lost 0.9pc of online reach since 2011, while papers without paywalls lost 0.4pc,” says Chyi. “So paywalls seemed to make some difference. But I think the continuous oversupply of information and entertainment online in recent years naturally reduced newspaper sites’ attention share in a hyper-competitive online market. And if you think about it, things can only get worse in the future.”

So it seems that fewer people are getting their news from dedicated news sources. Instead they are getting their news-fix from aggregators and social channels. “News aggregators like Yahoo News have been proven for years as the most important online news destination,” Chyi says. “Most people don’t go to Facebook to seek news but lots of news is certainly consumed on Facebook. Twitter is more ‘newsful’ than Facebook, but it is heavily used by journalists – not the general public. So, yes, increasingly, online audiences are getting their news from major news aggregators and Facebook, not newspaper sites.”

So how should newspaper executives respond to this research? Chyi believes a critical re-examination of unchecked assumptions about the future of newspapers is called for.

“Newspaper executives assumed that print would die because young people hate print, and that by going online, they could reach young readers effectively,” she says. “These assumptions turned out to be so wrong.

“Many newspapers started their digital experiment in the 1990s on a positive note. Then they gradually got lost in the digital jungle. Then, the recession hit and eroded their print revenue stream, leading most to believe that there is no future for print newspapers, so they must try harder to transform digitally. No one ever stopped for a second to review what’s been done and what went wrong.”

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Papers at risk if made to pay Multi-Material BC

The Regional District of Central Kootenay is calling on the province to make the newspaper industryjoin a provincial recycling stewardship program. However, an industry executive says if they are forced to pay proposed fees, a number of papers would have to shut down to meet the costs.

“We simply can not afford the millions of dollars this would cost the newspaper industry,” John Hinds, the CEO ofNewspapers Canada, an industry group, told the Star. “It would put a significant number of newspapers at risk if wewere forced to pay the Multi-Material BC (MMBC) fees as they stand. Look at what happened in Nanaimo andKamloops [where newspapers recently closed]. Look at what is happening around the country.”

The RDCK board passed a motion in February to urge BC’s environment minister to pressure the industry to complywith regulations that require producers of paper and packaging to pay for the recycling of their products.

MMBC is the non-profit stewardship organization tasked with getting BC industries, rather than taxpayers, to pay forrecycling the paper and packaging it produces. MMBC collects, processes, and sells recycled material, and about 1,300producers of paper and packaging in BC pay them to do this. (MMBC collects Nelson’s recycling, but it’s not noticeablebecause the organization contracts the work to the city.)


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Black Press purchases Island newspapers in deal with Glacier Media


Glacier Media Inc. has sold its Vancouver Island Newspaper Group to Victoria-based Black Press.

Black Press takes operational control of that group on March 2. That includes Cowichan Valley Citizen, Nanaimo Daily News and Alberni Valley Times.

The sale does not include the Times Colonist.

– read the entire story here

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Memo-Postmedia Strikes 316m Deal to Buy Sun Media English Papers



Associate Editor Tamara Baluja has obtained memos sent by Postmedia Network and Sun Media to their respective employees.

CEO Paul Godfrey notes that Postmedia Network has agreed to buy 175 English language publications from Sun Media. 

Today we announced perhaps the biggest news in the Canadian news media industry since the day Postmedia was formed. Our company has entered into an agreement with Quebecor Inc. to purchase all of Sun Media’s English language publications and associated digital properties. That’s 175 daily newspapers, community weeklies, trade publications, magazines and related digital properties from 5 provinces across Canada.

Read entire story here

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BC’s Local News Monopolies Grow with Recent Closures


Glacier’s Kamloops paper shut down despite company profit margins above 30 per cent.

Vancouver-based Glacier Media, which recently gave notice it will close the long-publishing Kamloops Daily News, enjoys profit margins above 30 per cent, according to financial reports available on its website. It also reportedly pays its top executives millions of dollars a year and pays its directors $1,000 for each meeting they attend.

Glacier, which publishes 37 newspapers in B.C., including six other dailies, served the required 60-days notice of closure under Section 54 of the B.C. Labour Code, according to Unifor Local 2000, which represents about 45 of its workers.

In a front-page story, the Daily News blamed its demise on financial pressures. “The reason for the closure is economic — revenues have declined and The Daily News has been unable to reduce expenses sufficiently to continue as a viable operation.” Daily News publisher Tim Shoults attributed the pending closure to a persistent inability to make ends meet.

“We have struggled for the last several years, worked tirelessly and taken many difficult steps along the way which were designed to ensure our future,” he was quoted as saying in the article. “Unfortunately the realities of our industry, our local advertising market and our labour situation were too great for us to overcome.”

Unifor Local 2000 president Mike Bocking declined comment, saying the union is currently in talks with the company on behalf of its members. A source at the Kamloops Daily News told The Tyee that the newspaper could be closed as early as this week after an agreement is reached with the union on severance pay for terminated workers. Shoults did not respond to a voicemail request for comment.

Move to monopolies

Its latest quarterly report, however, shows that Glacier posted earnings of $66 million on revenues of $219.5 million through the first nine months of 2013, for a profit margin of 30.1 per cent. That was down from earnings of $70.7 million on revenues of $219.9 million in the same period during 2012, for a profit margin of 32.2 percent.

In November, Glacier announced a program of “Value Enhancement Initiatives” designed to “enhance its operations and financial position.” Among the listed measures were real estate sales and the sale of non-core assets, including two money-losing community newspapers. “Given the softness currently being experienced in the Company’s community media operations, a variety of significant cost reduction measures have and are being implemented to reduce overall operating costs.” Included in the cost-cutting measures,according to the Vancouver Sun, has been the contracting out of advertising production to companies in India and the Philippines for several of its newspapers, including the Kamloops Daily News.

In 2010, Glacier sold 11 of its newspapers to Victoria-based Black Press, including the Nelson Daily News and Prince Rupert Daily News, which competed with Black Press newspapers in those markets and were immediately closed, giving Black Press two lucrative local monopolies. Late last year, Glacier also sold Black Press its Abbotsford/Mission Times, which competed with the Black Press-owned Abbotsford News. Black Press promptly closed its new acquisition, giving it another monopoly.

The pending closure of Glacier’s Kamloops Daily News, which began life in 1931 as the Kamloops Shopper, continues the trend toward consolidation and monopoly in B.C.’s community newspaper industry. The competing Kamloops This Week, which now enjoys a monopoly, announced plans to increase its publication frequency to three times a week in the wake of the Daily News closure. Kamloops This Week is owned by Kelowna-based Aberdeen Publishing, a small chain that owns about a dozen community newspapers, including in Prince George and Fort St. John, where Glacier publishes dailies. It is operated by the low-profile Bob Doull.

Less-than-glacial growth

Glacier has grown rapidly to rank as one of Canada’s largest publishers of small and medium-sized newspapers. In addition to B.C., where it also owns Business in Vancouver, the Vancouver Courier and the suburban Now newspapers, Glacier also owns newspapers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. It began life as a bottled water company in 1988 before moving into the newspaper business a decade later.

Glacier grew in 2000, when it bought several newspapers, including the Kamloops Daily News and Prince George Citizen from Conrad Black, who had acquired them a few years earlier in his takeover of Southam Inc., Canada’s largest newspaper publisher. Glacier grew considerably in 2006 by buying another 25 newspapers and 73 magazines from Black’s imploding company Hollinger International.

It grew again in 2011 by purchasing 23 newspapers from Postmedia Network (the latest incarnation of Southam) for $86.4 million, including the Victoria Times Colonist. Glacier is controlled by Vancouver real estate magnate Sam Grippo and operated by CEO Jonathon Kennedy, a former investment banker and Harvard MBA.

According to the B.C. Reporter, a blog on community journalism in Western Canada that was discontinued in March, Glacier’s top three executives were compensated with salaries and fees exceeding $2 million each in 2009. According to the blog, which cited figures gleaned from the company’s 2010 annual report, the company’s directors were also each paid $1,000 for every meeting they attended. Neither Kennedy nor Orest Smysnuik, Glacier’s chief financial officer, returned calls after more than 24 hours.

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Black Press shuts down Abbotsford/Mission Times


Black Press Media has shut down the Abbotsford/Mission Times, a little more than a month after purchasing the B.C. paper from Glacier Media. The company also took down the newspaper’s website and closed its Twitter account.

When asked why the company was shutting down a newspaper it considered a worthy purchase in October, Rick O’Connor, president and CEO of Black Media, told J-Source the newspaper was losing “too much revenue” and not making enough money on advertisements.

“The losses were far greater than we had expected,” he said. “We’re not miracle workers … there is only so much we can do.”

O’Connor said most of the Times staff took the severance package offered by Glacier Media, leaving only four of the original 13 staff. “You can’t do the same work when a significant majority is gone.” Black Press will discuss future options for the remaining staff within the company.

As part of the sale from Glacier Media, Black Press also purchased the Chilliwack Times, which O’Connor said continues to operate for now alongside its competitor, Chilliwack Progress. He would not, however, comment on its financial viability.

“It was our belief that it didn’t make sense for readers to receive two community newspapers in the Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack markets on the same publishing days with tremendous duplication of content,” said Randy Blair, president of the Black Press Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island divisions, in a statement. “In light of this, Black Press has harmonized publication days in the Chilliwack market so that the Chilliwack Times and the Chilliwack Progress will publish on different days.”

Black Press also owns the Abbotsford News, which will continue to publish.

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