Postmedia cuts jobs, print editions, adds paywalls: The roundup and reaction

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Postmedia talking job cuts, scrapping Sunday editions

Storified by J-Source · Mon, May 28 2012 17:56:48

In yet another blow to the Canadian print industry, it has been reported today that Postmedia will be cutting jobs, suspending Sunday and Monday editions of its newspapers and implementing paywalls on its publications' websites in response to a dismal advertising environment. 

On scrapping editions

BREAKING: Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa lose Sunday papers. Holiday papers spiked. Post suspends Monday.Steve Ladurantaye
Post "will look closely at its publication schedule" going forward, sources say.Steve Ladurantaye
The part seems to freak employees out the most is the line in memo (read to me) about "looking closely" at Post pub schedule going forward.Steve Ladurantaye
This part isn't entirely unprecedented: For the last three summers the National Post has suspended Monday editions.The difference this time is there's no guarantee it will come back. (Similarly, it should be said that there's no guarantee it is a permanent cut, either.)

In an internal memo from Paul Godfrey, CEO of Postmedia, it was explained that savings gained by not publishing on those days will be invested in digital growth.  

Steve Ladurantaye, The Globe and Mail's media reporter, spoke with Godfrey.
Godfrey says we're not at a point where papers won't hit doorsteps, but Canadian papers are hitting same wall US papers hit few years ago.Steve Ladurantaye
Postmedia CEO says seriously considering whether to publish the National Post on Mondays from now on.Steve Ladurantaye
Godfrey: Postmedia has outsourced ad production, delivery, complaints, marketing of new circulation. But today is about centralizing.Steve Ladurantaye
As for why these three newspapers will lose their Sunday editions?
Why kill Sunday papers in Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton? "They are not making any money at all in those markets," says Godfrey.Steve Ladurantaye

On layoffs

In a memo sent to staff, publisher Alan Allnut addressed Montreal Gazette staff, referencing "the venerable Times-Picayune of New Orleans" announcement last week that they would cut physical publication to three times per week.  

"Their solution may seem radical to some, but they are simply making a business decision to focus on their digital platforms four days a week and cut
printing and distribution costs," he wrote, before getting to what may be the scary part:

"We don’t think we are at that stage yet, but we are looking at all possible options to reduce cost around print and continue the transition to digital delivery of our products."

Let's just let that "yet" reverberate for a second before the punch to the gut.

The Gazette will eliminate "more than 20" positions from the newsroom. Chatter on Twitter shed light on a more specific number: 23, to be exact.
Gazette cutting 23 fulltime jobs in newsroom. I don't think we even have 23 people.suemontgomery
Let me clarify: gaz will offer buyouts, maybe part-time, other options. Still, it sucks. #gazettesuemontgomery
Allnut's memo to staff said that those who remain will have their roles redefined with a digital focus. 

The Ottawa Citizen, one of the victims of the Sunday edition cut and the recipient of a paywall, will be losing newsroom jobs as well.
There will be up to 20 layoffs in Ottawa Citizen newsroom. Pay wall to go up this summer. Sunday paper killed; TV Times spared. #cbcottGary Dimmock
According to @jandrewpotter, 105 currently in the #Ottawa Citizen newsroom. So basically, a quarter are going. Talk about significant.Emma Godmere

On paywalls

Postmedia's announcement of adding paywalls comes on the heels of a similar one made by The Globe and Mail last week.
Ottawa Citizen is one of the papers Postmedia identified for a paywall some time soon (joining Montreal).Steve Ladurantaye
Source says 20 jobs out of Citizen newsroom, centralized pages to come out of Hamilton, paywall asap, no Sunday paper.Steve Ladurantaye

Some context

It has been a dismal spring for Canadian print media — Postmedia not excluded. In the span of about 6 weeks they have announced quarterly losses, an advertising picture that shows miniscule digital growth and an exit from the wire service industry. 
Context: Postmedia lost $11-million in the last quarter, staring down $516-million in debt.Steve Ladurantaye
Postmedia reports second quarter loss, decrease in ad revenue | J-source.caPostmedia Network has reported its second quarter results for a net loss of over $11 million, and revenue that sits 7.6 per cent below wh...
Postmedia to exit wire service business, strikes new deal with The Canadian Press | J-source.caPostmedia will exit the wire service business and sign back up with The Canadian Press in an attempt to save money and "refocus" the news...
The full memo from Postmedia and the Montreal Gazette, from Steve Ladurantaye's website:
Steve Ladurantaye" Postmedia memo " Steve LadurantayeSince Postmedia Network was formed nearly two years ago, our company and our industry have been undergoing a significant transformation. ...

The reaction online

Much of the reaction online focused on the fact the news industry has got it backward: News costs money to produce, but consumers are so accustomed to getting it for free.
How long did we think free newspapers were going to remain viable, though? I mean, really.Andrew Snowdon
Call me crazy, but I think it's time we started paying for the news. Online, print, wherever.David George-Cosh
Like the content produced by newspaper journalists? Subscribe to a newspaper. Or don't complain when that content is gone.Dan Gardner
These cuts at #Postmedia hurt everyone in our industry.Wilf Dinnick
Just checking the Calgary Herald obituaries--there ought to be one here for the Sunday Calgary Herald... #postmediaSteve Burgess
A prediction: Postmedia's paywall program will not end well. #journalism #cdnmediaNorman Spector
Over at GigaOM, Mathew Ingram summarized the cuts fairly well:
Print dies a little more as Postmedia announces cutsThe decline of print seems to be picking up speed. Just days after U.S. media conglomerate Advance Publications introduced production cut...

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