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.”