Print schedule change among latest reductions at Postmedia newspapers.

By H.G. Watson, Associate Editor

Even after evacuating Fort McMurray, Alberta as it burned around them, the reporters at Fort McMurray Today got the print edition of the paper finished.

It was delivered to shelters where citizens took refuge in the days after the May 3, 2016 wildfire which caused an estimated $3.58 billion in damages to the city. On-the-ground reporting, including video of the wildfire, from the journalists at Fort McMurray Today took Canadians into the heart of the disaster.

Fort McMurray Today has been free since the wildfires in May. But now its print schedule is being reduced from a daily publication to twice weekly starting Nov. 15, and a new weekly print product, Fort McMurray This Week, will also be home delivered on Thursdays. Fort McMurray Today’s website will continue to be updated daily, and the print editions will be available on newsstands and in boxes.

Phyllise Gelfand, a spokesperson for Postmedia, told J-Source in an email revenue impacts from the wildfires had the corporation “look at the business model more closely.”

As with the rest of Postmedia, we are looking at our cost structure and focusing more of our efforts on digital,” she added. Gelfand would not provide specifics about the impacts of the wildfire, or about the specific revenue of the paper. “We do not report out individual publications numbers in that way.”

She said there will be no job losses as a result of the print schedule reduction.

Since Postmedia announced a plan to reduce their $648 million debt load in July, executives have announced several other contractions of their business. 24 Hours Vancouver office was closed and eight people laid off in late September 2016, though the free paper continues to be published with content from other Postmedia newsrooms.

In October, buyouts were announced in a memo sent to staff by Paul Godfrey, president and CEO. Further changes were announced in a company wide videoconference according to Sean Craig, the Financial Post‘s media reporter.

On Nov. 3, iPolitics reported that the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun were cutting the amount of local content in their print editions and ending freelance employment.

Editor’s note, Nov. 8, 2016: This story has been updated to clarify the print schedule and include information about Fort McMurray This Week, a new print product that is also being rolled out this month, and details about Fort McMurray Today’s web presence. 

H.G. Watson can be reached at hgwatson@j-source.ca or on Twitter.