Category Archives: Newspapers

Newspaper readership holds steady


Canadian newspaper publishers scrambling to get their news online face a stark reality – more than half of their readers still rely on printing presses and newsprint for their daily news hit.

A study by the Newspaper Audience Databank examined stats from 62 Canadian weekly and daily newspapers and found that 58 per cent of readers only read print and that print readership has held steady over the last several years.

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Postmedia feels impact of ‘slow and sporadic’ economic recovery, posts Q3 loss


TORONTO – Postmedia Network Canada Corp. lost $3.9 million in its third quarter as the newspaper and digital publisher pulled in less print advertising revenues and had higher expenses.

The owner of the National Post newspaper and other major media properties said the loss amounted to 10 cents per share on $259 million in revenue, mainly from advertising, for the three months ended May 31.

The company said Tuesday that consumer confidence was shaky during the quarter and advertisers responded by holding back.

“I think that we’ve had a couple of quite good months and then you have one bad month. We don’t seem to have any real trend taking place,” Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey said on a conference call, describing the situation as “choppy.”

Godfrey said national advertising was up, but retail classified ads were down, as retailers dealt with consumers worried a recession could return, and the HST in British Columbia deterred shoppers from making big-ticket purchases.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty out there which I think is creating people to sit on their hands for a while,” he said.

He said Postmedia (TSX:PNC.A), is seeing some signs of improvement in the early weeks of the fourth quarter, but revenue visibility “remains poor.”

Godfrey’s comments echo those made by rival Torstar Corp. (TSX:TS.B). The publisher of the Toronto Star also reported lower print advertising revenues during its first quarter in May, saying it is hard to predict the print advertising environment and the pace of economic recovery.

Year-earlier figures for Postmedia aren’t directly comparable because the newspapers were still part of Canwest, which was undergoing a court-supervised restructuring that saw its television assets go to Shaw Communications (TSX:SJR.B) and its newspaper division going to creditors that helped form Postmedia.

In the third quarter of its 2010 financial year, the Canwest papers recorded a profit of $40.6 million with $270 million of revenue. In the first nine months of its 2010 financial year, the company reported a $94.9-million profit and $811 million in revenues.

For the first nine months of its 2011 financial year, which ended May 31, Postmedia lost $10.6 million or 26 cents per share on $788 million in revenue.

Postmedia, which began trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange last month, recorded an $11-million loss on debt prepayment, versus zero in the same quarter last year.

Godfrey said the company’s team is focused on new approaches for delivering content, and providing solutions for advertisers and marketers, repaying debt and accelerating revenue generating opportunities.

The company owns 11 English-language daily newspapers including the National Post, Vancouver Sun and Ottawa Citizen as well as the website, online versions of its daily papers and deal-a-day website

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Kingston campaign aims to restore Whig-Standard’s greatness


CWA Canada hopes Quebecor responds to pressure

It’s a project the size and likes of which CWA Canada has never before undertaken. The mission? To enjoin an entire community in a campaign to pressure a corporate media giant to restore the quality of its daily newspaper.

An advertising blitz that heralds the launch today of the ambitious multi-media campaign is sure to make the Kingston Whig-Standard the talk of the town, which some time ago dubbed its once highly regarded publication the “Sub” Standard. The message to “Make It Great!” will emanate from billboards, transit ads, radio spots, flyers, the website and a Facebook fan page.

Quebecor chief Pierre Karl Péladeau is about to get an earful from disgruntled readers and advertisers who have lamented the newspaper’s rapid decline under his stewardship. They will be sending email messages and signing a petition that calls on Quebecor to “devote the appropriate resources to the Whig-Standard so that Kingston can once again have a newspaper worthy of our great city.”

Martin O’Hanlon, deputy director of CWA Canada, initiated the project last fall and has overseen its development over the past six months. The executive of the Kingston Typographical Union (KTU), which represents Whig employees, heartily endorsed the plan and connected its architects with community leaders and activists who were quick to embrace the campaign.

“This is about fighting the good fight for quality local news and jobs. It’s not about union versus management; it’s about doing what’s best for everyone,” says O’Hanlon.

“We want to convince Quebecor that investing properly in its newspapers and keeping jobs in the community is good for readers, employees, democracy — and profits.”

Paul Schliesmann, a veteran reporter at the newspaper and vice-president of the KTU, says this is a last-ditch effort: “This project gives me the only hope I have left for the Whig-Standard.”

As the campaign material notes, the Whig-Standard used to be one of Canada’s best small-city newspapers. It won national awards for investigative reporting, offered in-depth coverage of Kingston issues and provided a balanced forum for discussion of matters of local and national importance.

In recent years, and particularly under Quebecor ownership, the qualities that once made the Whig-Standard a source of pride for Kingston have dramatically declined. Readers and advertisers keenly feel the loss.

Petitioners, whose message will go to both Péladeau and Ron Laurin, the newspaper’s publisher, will “request that Quebecor devote the appropriate resources to the Whig-Standard so that Kingston can once again have a newspaper worthy of our great city.”

Alec Ross, a long-time activist in Kingston who cares passionately about the Whig’s status, is co-ordinating the campaign for CWA Canada. A local company was contracted to design and construct the website, which features video testimonials from people in the community who describe the impact of Quebecor’s corporate decisions.

Among those weighing in are Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, Richard Kizell, chair of the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, professors, business people, politicians, writers and former Whig reporters.

“Generally,” says Ross, “I chose the video subjects because they are thoughtful, engaged and articulate Whig readers. We have a lot of support from prominent Kingstonians who totally sympathize with the cause, but who — for various reasons — declined to do a video.”

Lawrence Scanlan, who used to work at the Whig, recounts the halcyon days and expresses his sadness for what has been lost. He’s one of many dedicated journalists who recognize that a once proud profession has been undermined by a corporate ownership more interested in proselytizing a political ideology than upholding the public’s interest, a newspaper’s traditional role.

Indeed, Quebecor’s Sun Media has spread its right-wing tentacles into its newspapers and broadcast outlets to espouse its agenda and silence voices of opposition. The chain’s newspapers are filled with articles that spread the gospel and barely reflect the communities they purport to cover.

Centralizing of functions such as subscription services and advertising has eliminated scores of jobs at Sun Media publications and disconnected the publications from the communities they are supposed to serve.

For interviews or more information, contact Martin O’Hanlon (email / 613-867-5090) or Alec Ross (email / 613-572-3182).

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Moneyball and paywalls: Lessons on paid content from smaller papers


In a recent study 46 percent of newspapers with circulation under 25,000 say they are already charging for some online content, compared with only 24 percent of papers with a …

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Newspaper reach holds steady, overall readership increases


The latest readership data from NADbank shows that newspapers’ print editions are still the most popular way to read them, staving off digital media’s quest for dominance, for now.

NADbank’s 2010 newspaper readership report shows that while migration to newspaper websites is still happening, readers continue to use print editions as their primary source for news. According to the report, 73% of Canadians read at least one printed newspaper each week; 22% visited a newspaper website each week.

The 2010 study also shows an increase in overall newspaper readership. The number of adults that read a daily or visited a newspaper website each week rose from 14.7 million in 2009 to 15 million in 2010. Both figures represent 78% reach in their respective years.

Across all markets, 73% of readers read a printed edition of a daily newspaper each week and 71% read only the printed edition.

While most adults roam between print and online editions, 6% visited only the newspaper website.

Painting the bigger picture, the study shows that nearly eight out of 10 adults living in daily newspaper markets read either a printed edition or visited a newspaper website each week.

On the average weekday, 47% of adults read a printed daily newspaper, 43% read a Saturday edition and 21% a Sunday edition.

The study gives newspaper readership results for 82 Canadian newspapers and two Detroit newspapers in 53 markets across Canada. NADbank’s database contains the readership habits of 72% of Canadian adults.

A breakdown of readership in the top 10 markets delves into weekly readership for print-only and total readership. The highest readership overall (for both print and online) is Winnipeg (79% weekly printed, 83% total weekly). Next is Vancouver (76% weekly printed, 80% total weekly), Ottawa-Gatineau (73% weekly printed, 80% total weekly), Quebec City (76% weekly printed, 79% total weekly) and Calgary (74% weekly printed, 78% total weekly).

In addition to the 2010 readership study released yesterday, which contains readership and demographic data, NADbank is readying its 2010 Supplementary Report in May, which will include the 2010 single-year data for the top six markets—Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton—as well as Halifax.

Originally published in Marketing Magazine,March 31, 2011

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Workers at Windsor Star give bargaining team strike mandate

Windsor Typographical Union | CWA Canada Local 30553

Postmedia Network’s attempt to eliminate an early-retirement provision in their contracts has employees at the Windsor Star up in arms.

Members of three unions on Sunday voted 96 per cent in favour of giving their joint council a strike mandate, which could see them hoisting picket signs by mid-May.

David Esposti, the CWA Canada staff representative who has been assisting the Windsor Typographical Union (WTU) in negotiations that began in late 2010, says Postmedia’s assault on their contracts has electrified the membership.

“This is a very serious undertaking. The three unions are standing together on this issue,” he says.

The wages of the 65 WTU members who work in the mailroom are also threatened: The company wants to reduce part-time hopper feeders’ guaranteed minimum shift from four hours to three, which amounts to a 25-per-cent pay cut, says Esposti.

The collective agreement that expired at the end of December was reached three years ago only minutes after a midnight strike-lockout deadline. Standing united, the WTU, the Communications Energy and Paperworkers (pressroom) and the Canadian Auto Workers (newsroom, advertising, business office) were able to win modest improvements and made no concessions.

This time around, the newspaper is in the hands of Postmedia Network, a group of Canwest creditors who purchased the failing company’s publishing division last summer. In the runup to an initial public offering expected this spring, Postmedia has been cutting hundreds of jobs at the former Canwest newspapers.

With conciliation scheduled for next week, Esposti says the joint council is eager to get on with some serious negotiations and not waste time getting to mediation, the last stage before they can be in a legal strike position. “Let’s start the dance, sooner rather than later,” is the message he’d like to send to management.

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