‘Some great reporters lost their jobs’: Alberta journalists grieve Postmedia cuts
It was a sombre day for journalists across Canada, as Postmedia announced approximately 90 job cuts, impacting about 35 people in Edmonton and 25 in Calgary.
Postmedia also merged newsrooms in four cities in an effort to slash costs amid mounting revenue losses.
“The extent of the cuts today were pretty shocking,” said Gregory Taylor, assistant professor from the Department of Communications at the University of Calgary. “You feel for people… across the country involved in journalism.”
The company owns two newspapers in each of the cities of Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. On Tuesday, Postmedia said those cities will each have one newsroom, but they will continue publishing two newspapers.
WATCH: Postmedia announced layoffs across the country as the company tries to cut costs amid continued revenue losses. There were 25 jobs cut in Calgary. Tracy Nagai reports.
“These are two separate papers now in name only,” Taylor said.
“When they were approved by the Competition Bureau to take over the Sun papers, the first paragraph of that announcement by the Competition Bureau said, ‘it should be OK because they’re going to have two different editorial procedures.’ They don’t have that any more. So it’s a problem for local media across the country.”
The layoffs included Stephanie Coombs and Margo Goodhand, who were the managing editor and editor-in-chief at the Edmonton Journal, respectively.
Many of those directly affected by the cuts broke the news on Twitter. Some of their colleagues reached out, sending messages of support and thanks.
Several also shared their thoughts on the greater impact the changes could have on the industry and Canadians, posing questions like: What does this mean for news? For accountability? For democracy?
Newspapers have seen a lot of change in the past several years: job cuts, downsizing, diminishing subscription base, and the growth of online news media.
“This has real implications for people at home,” Taylor said. “All of us are media consumers. We rely on news in particular more so than for just entertainment value.”
“I know often you’ll hear, especially from younger people, ‘Well I get my news from Twitter or Facebook.’
“It’s important to remember that Twitter and Facebook do not employ journalists,” Taylor said.
“So if we really want real, investigative journalism, real reporting that we need in our democracy – and just to be local citizens – we need news, we need journalism, we need newspapers.”
In July 2013, Sun Media Corp. announced it was slashing 360 jobs and shutting down 11 publications across the country. At the time, it said it needed to invest more heavily in digital news to lure in younger readers.
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Many Alberta reporters took the opportunity to thank their peers for training them, offering insight, sharing what they knew with colleagues and, of course, with the public.
The cuts come less than a week after Postmedia announced it was stepping up its efforts to cut costs to overcome continued losses in advertising, print circulation and digital media revenue.
The company, which owns the National Post, the Toronto Sun and other major Canadian newspapers, is now aiming for cost reductions of $80 million by mid-2017 – up from its previous goal of $50 million in cuts by the end of 2017.
Postmedia said it was on track to meet the $50-million target by this May 31, the end of its fiscal third quarter.
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