Category Archives: Postmedia

Bleak day for journalism’ as Postmedia slashes dozens of jobs

Source: cwa-scacanada.ca

Postmedia is slashing dozens of editorial jobs at the Montreal Gazette and Ottawa Citizen, which will also cease publication of its Sunday paper in July.

“It’s a pretty bleak day for journalism,” said a dispirited Debbie Cole, president of the Ottawa Newspaper Guild, which will lose 20 members to buyouts and layoffs.

Martin O’Hanlon, Director of CWA Canada, which represents journalists at the two targetted newspapers as well as the Regina Leader Post, said cutting jobs is the wrong strategy and will only make things worse in the long run.

“We understand that Postmedia is facing financial challenges, but we believe the company can only turn things around by investing in its product rather than slashing jobs,” O’Hanlon said. “If we’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that cutting jobs only hurts quality and that does nothing to attract readers.”

“It’s interesting to note that while Postmedia focuses on cutting costs to service a huge debt, (legendary investor) Warren Buffett is busy buying newspapers and committing to quality journalism.”

In a $142-million bet on the U.S. print industry, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is buying 63 daily and weekly newspapers from Media General.

In a letter to publishers and editors, Buffett said newspapers will be successful if they do a good job of covering their communities and producing local news that cannot be found on the Internet.

Postmedia, meanwhile, continues an austerity program that began shortly after purchasing the bankrupt Canwest Media newspapers. CEO Paul Godfrey, in a memo circulated today, said even more editorial production will be done at the company’s facilities in Hamilton.

This means, said Cole, that copy editors are likely to take the brunt of this latest round of cuts.

“This isn’t just bad for our members. It’s bad for the paper,” said Cole. “If you don’t invest in your product, how are you going to sell it?”

O’Hanlon said in a news release that such job cuts carry a personal and community toll. “Dozens of fine journalists will soon be out of work, hurting them, their families and the communities in which they live and contribute.”

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Jobs lost as PNG exits insert business

Source: mediaunion.ca

The Vancouver Sun and Province are getting out of the insert business effective July 15, 2012, a move that will cost over 50 Local 2000 members their jobs. Management informed the union about the move on Monday, saying that the insert business was on track to lose almost $1 million this year. Only about 12 members will be eligible for relocation (severance) pay under Part E (the Mailroom Department) of our collective agreement.

PNG mailers are divided into three groups: Regulars, substitutes and day slippers. Regulars are guaranteed hours and operate the machinery that assembles the newspaper for delivery; substitutes fill in for regulars, but get the majority of their work when inserts are added to the newspapers; day slippers are called in as needed. Only the 12 regulars who will fall to the substitute “board” under the company’s plan, are eligible for relocation pay of up to one year’s pay. Even though some substitutes have over 20 years seniority, they are not eligible for severance of any sort, in these circumstance under existing contract language.

Discussions  with the company are ongoing under Section 54 of the B.C. Labour Code.

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Postmedia offering buyouts at two B.C. papers

Source: ctv.ca

Following a dip in advertising sales this fall that has affected companies across the media industry, Postmedia Network Canada Corp. is offering another round of buyouts to employees at its two daily papers in Vancouver.

Staff at the Granville Square building that houses The Vancouver Sun and The Province received letters from the company last Friday, Dec. 9, explaining that it would once again put forward a “voluntary staff reduction plan” to cut costs at the papers.

Read entire story here

 

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CBC Radio interview of Times Colonist sale

Source: cbc.ca/ontheisland/    iTunes Podcast @ CBC

Hawking papers. The Victoria Times Colonist and many other island papers have been sold. We’ll hear about their new owner, Glacier Media.

 

CBC Radio interview with Andrew MacLeod of The Tyee

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

CBC Radio interview with Chris Carolan, President of the Victoria-Vancouver Island Newspaper Guild

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No Flash? Listen to audio Clip here  Andrew MacLeod interview  Chris Carolan interview

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Let’s hope sale of Victoria Times Colonist means better days ahead for local jobs, journalism

NEWS RELEASE – CWA|SCA CANADA

 

October 19, 2011 / OTTAWA — CWA|SCA Canada, the union that represents workers at the Victoria Times Colonist, is cautiously optimistic about the sale of the paper to Glacier Media.

For years, Postmedia has been cutting jobs and sacrificing quality across the chain to service a huge debt load. Glacier appears to be in much better financial shape and has recognized the importance of a quality
product.

“We are heartened by statements Glacier has made in the past about quality journalism,” said Martin O’Hanlon, Director of CWA|SCA Canada. “This is not about union versus management; it’s about doing what’s best for everyone. We believe that investing properly in the newspaper and keeping jobs in the community is good for readers, employees, democracy — and profits.”

O’Hanlon said he will be requesting a meeting with the company soon to discuss improving local news coverage and protecting jobs in Victoria from centralization or outsourcing overseas.

In its annual report in 2009, Glacier lamented the “vicious cycle” many newspapers in Canada have fallen into.

“The demise of many North American newspaper and media companies has in part been self-inflicted,” the company said in the report. “The Internet has been a factor, but the reduction of content and quality through continual cost cutting has played a significant role. It has weakened the product and the value of many North American metropolitan newspapers for readers, which has resulted in reduced effectiveness for advertisers, which has reduced revenues.”

CWA|SCA Canada takes the company at its word and hopes the sale means better days ahead.

In discussing the sale of the paper, Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey claimed that employees hadn’t bought into the company’s “digital first philosophy.” In fact, workers simply objected to the centralization of pagination in Hamilton and ad production in the Philippines. “

We bought into Digital First, we just didn’t buy into shipping our jobs to Manila, Dominican Republic, Hamilton, Calgary, etc.,” said Chris Carolan, president of the Victoria-Vancouver Island Newspaper Guild (CWA|SCA Canada Local 30223).

CWA|SCA Canada is a progressive, democratic union that represents more than 7,000 media workers across the country at the CBC, The Canadian Press, Reuters and metro dailies such as The Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette and Halifax Chronicle Herald.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Martin O’Hanlon
Director, CWA|SCA Canada
613.820.8460
mohanlon@cwa-scacanada.ca

Chris Carolan
President, Victoria-Vancouver Island Newspaper Guild
250.388.7328
vving@vving.ca

Communications Workers of America | CANADA
1050 Baxter Road / Unit 7B • Ottawa ON K2C 3P1
613.820.9777 | 1.877.486.4292
www.CWA-SCAcanada.ca

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Glacier Media to acquire B.C. papers from Postmedia for $86.5 million

Source: winnipegfreepress.com

Glacier Media Inc. (TSX:GVC) says it will buy the Victoria Times Colonist and other daily and community papers in British Columbia, continuing a recent wave of deals in the Canadian newspaper industry.

The $86.5 million acquisition from Postmedia Network Inc. also includes two other dailies and 20 weekly and bi-weekly community papers and related digital media and real estate assets.

The community newspapers Glacier is buying are on the B.C. Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

Glacier president and CEO John Kennedy said the deal significantly increases Glacier’s presence in B.C. and gives the Vancouver-area based publisher the broadest local newspaper coverage in Western Canada.

“We were in 65 markets before and this gives us another 20 titles,” he said in an interview late Tuesday.

“It significantly increases our reach across British Columbia as well as Western Canada for local, regional and national advertisers and provides significant digital media opportunities.”

While all newspapers have been hurt by the slumping economy in recent years and a move towards Internet news and advertising, publishers such as Glacier and Toronto-based Torstar Corp. have also expanded in the print side of the business.

Kennedy said the community newspaper business offers significant growth and he’s confident that print media has a future.

“We’re fully embracing the digital world, utilizing online mobile tablet and other information delivery devices but at the same time we recognize the print platform —well-provided — still offers considerable value to both readers and advertisers.”

Key to this growth strategy is a focus on cost efficiency, but not to the point where it diminishes the value of the product, he said.

Postmedia, meanwhile, has a strategy to grow revenues by boosting its digital operations and focusing on its main dailies from Vancouver to Montreal.

“The transaction allows us to pay down debt and focus on our core properties, the ongoing transformation of our organization and growth areas of our business,” president and CEO Paul Godfrey said.

Postmedia, former Canwest newspaper publisher and owner of the Calgary Herald, Montreal Gazette, Ottawa Citizen and National Post, has been focusing on paying down debt inherited from the bankrupt Canwest.

The Toronto-based company said it will use the money from the Glacier deal to further cut debt.

In a note to Postmedia staff, Godfrey assured employees that the sale was not part of a broader strategy to dispose of newspapers.

“It was simply a deal that was too good to pass up,” Godfrey said, adding later in an interview that the company “didn’t have a for sale sign hanging out in front of these properties.”

“First of all, community newspapers are not really core to our long-term future because basically we’re a large, urban city newspaper group,” he said.

However, the papers do complement Glacier’s current portfolio and the transaction includes offering employment to all of the current employees in the group, Godfrey said.

“Deciding to sell these properties was made somewhat easier in that we had been unable to implement any of our transformation projects at the Times Colonist.”

Godfrey explained that unlike the company’s other newspapers, employees at the Times Colonist didn’t buy into Postmedia’s “digital first philosophy.”

As a result, they balked at company centralization and streamlining moves that involved pagination for all its papers in Hamilton, Ont., and doing all its ad production in the Philippines.

“Glacier felt they could live with that,” he said, adding that the paper also had a pension tie-in with the other Vancouver Island properties that made it more attractive to sell them as a group.

Meanwhile, he described the sale as “one-off” deal, saying Postmedia intended to hang on to its remaining assets for the foreseeable future.

“We think there will always be ink on newsprint, we believe in the newspaper,” he said.

“But we also realize that things like websites, iPads, Playbooks and all those other devices are coming out,” adding, “we have to move into digit and we have to do it at a gallop.”

Because people want the news when they want it and on the platform they want to read it on, you’ve got to be in both places, he said.

The Times Colonist was founded in 1858 and serves Victoria and Vancouver Island. It is one of Canada’s oldest newspapers.

Other papers Glacier will buy include the Vancouver Courier, the Nanaimo Daily News and the North Shore News.

However, the purchase did not include The Vancouver Sun or The Province, two of Canada’s most widely read newspapers.

Kennedy said Glacier did not approach Postmedia about those properties as the company tends to focus on smaller papers.

“In local communities you’re the primary source of information and a primary marketing channel for advertisers so it offers you a unique selling proposition,” he said.

The deal won’t much change the reader’s experience, Kennedy said, as Glacier is happy with the direction the papers are taking.

“We think the papers are well run have great staff have great brands, are strong quality and we want to sustain that,” he said.

Meanwhile, Glacier, based in Richmond, B.C., will take on more debt to finance the purchase with bank loans, but its debt load will remain manageable and cash flow will increase.

It said it will focus in the short-term on paying down debt while interest rates are low and integrating the new papers into its business.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of November.

Glacier Media focuses on three media markets: local newspapers, trade information and business and professional information markets.

The deal comes just after rival media group Torstar (TSX:TS.B) made two newspaper acquisition deals in the last week.

The Toronto-based company said Monday it is paying $22.5 million to buy Performance Printing Ltd. of Smiths Falls, Ont., a publisher of community papers and ad flyers.

Late Friday, Torstar announced it will pay $51.5 million to take nearly full control of the Canadian chain of Metro free daily newspapers, which are read by more than one million commuters each day.

The Toronto-based media group, which owns the Toronto Star, other dailies, community newspapers and the Harlequin book-publishing business, said it has raised its stake in Metro to 90 per cent from 50 per cent.

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