Corus Entertainment, the parent company of Global News, announced extensive, countrywide changes to its news business Thursday as part of its transformation into a sustainable, digital-first organization.
Troy Reeb, Senior Vice-President of Global News and Corus Radio said the move would mark a continued shift of resources from areas of traditional television production and into more frontline journalism, including the opening of four new local news bureaus in locations across southern Ontario.
“With digital platforms, our audience no longer is tied to just the locations where we have TV and radio licences, so we will be adding journalists to cover local news in markets where we see opportunity created by the recent closure or consolidation of local newspapers.”
The multi-platform journalists will file for new, local versions of the Globalnews.ca website in Ottawa, Kitchener, Guelph and Barrie. Those communities will join 18 others across Canada with local Global News websites born from the company’s traditional television and news-talk radio stations.
Changes have been under way for several years as part of a long-term strategy that has been transitioning Global News from a legacy broadcaster to a multi-platform news organization, able to effectively monetize digital audiences, offset declining broadcast ad revenue and appeal to users who want news delivered on their own terms.
Today’s move was not reactive, Reeb confirmed, to the recent drop in Corus Entertainment’s stock price, which analysts blamed on softer-than-expected television ad revenue.
Close to 80 positions across the country will be eliminated, many of them tied to traditional TV production. Despite the changes, Reeb confirmed that Global News will not be producing less content or fewer hours of television news.
Impacted employees who qualify will be given the opportunity to apply for new jobs in the growth area of digital news. Global News says it will be adding approximately 50 new positions, with the majority being journalists mandated to focus on underserved areas. A steady decline in ad revenue across Canada has recently led to the loss of a number of local newspapers – especially in Ontario.
“This is an opportunity have coverage that’s closer to home,” Reeb said. “We’ve always seen local news as the front door to the rich content Global News has to offer. Now, we’re opening up more doors.”
Many of the new roles will be filled by multi-platform journalists. The news organization will also be expanding its content internationally, as well as launching a podcast production team that will work with internal radio and television talent as well as third-party producers to bring compelling podcasts offerings to new audiences.
In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Unifor, the union representing many Global News journalists, noted the outlook of broadcast revenues in Canada are “bleak” if “the government doesn’t take action now.”
“The federal government stood by while Canada’s local newspapers struggled and now our members in TV news are being asked to do more to fill the same number of programming hours with fewer resources, all on this government’s watch,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said. “The CRTC paved the way for the cuts announced today by watering down the obligations for big media companies like Corus to protect local news and it’s proving disastrous.”