By H.G. Watson, Managing Editor
Starting this winter, print editions of the Globe and Mail will no longer be available in any of the Atlantic provinces.
Globe and Mail publisher and CEO Phillip Crawley confirmed on Aug. 21 that all print distribution to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick will end on Nov. 30. “Obviously this reflects the fact that there is an increasing trend to digital consumption,” he told J-Source. “As our print subscribers go down we gain about twice as many digital subscribers as we are losing on the print side.”
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Crawley added that it didn’t make sense to deliver a shrinking number of print copies across long distances. He pegs the cost savings for cutting print distribution in the Atlantic provinces at about $1 million a year. “We think the money is better spent in investing in content,” he said.
Atlantic subscribers to the Globe’s print edition were notified today about the discontinuation of the service. They have several options to continue as digital subscribers. Crawley said he has also spoken with local distributors and carriers, and some of the premiers, mayors and presidents of universities in the Atlantic region.
This isn’t the first time the Globe has stopped regional print distribution as a cost saving measure. In 2013, print distribution was ended in Newfoundland and Labrador. And in 2012, the Globe stopped sending print editions to Thunder Bay, a community in northwest Ontario not far from the border of Minnesota. Both those times were also because of cost considerations due to distance, said Crawley. He added that it can cost $14 to deliver the paper to a household in some rural communities in Ontario as it is.
“Clearly we make a judgment on how many subscribers we’ve got in a particular region, what cost that is, and we’ll carry on doing that,” he said.
The Globe is not alone in this. The National Post also no longer sends print copies to Newfoundland and Labrador, and executives announced in July that they were discontinuing distribution to Saskatchewan.
Kelly Toughill, an associate professor of journalism at University of King’s College in Halifax, said she is always sorry to see print go — but she’d rather see good business decisions be made. “News companies need to make really difficult economic decisions,” she said. “And I’m all in favour of them making the economic decisions that they think will help their companies survive.”
She also believes that while the Globe is a really good newspaper, it isn’t the first place that Canadians in the Atlantic provinces are going to get in depth local political and economic news. “The loss of the Globe here is kind of sad and might be a little bit irritating, but it’s not going to keep anybody up at night.”
What will be key is whether the Globe can continue to provide content that its loyal Atlantic Canadian readers can access easily online. The paper recently hired Jessica Leeder as a full-time Atlantic bureau chief, to be based in Halifax. “The content is still there,” Crawley said. “We are very interested in covering still stories from the Atlantic region.”
Toughill is encouraged by the hire. “If I had to choose between a print newspaper and a regional reporter, I’d chose a regional reporter every single time,” she said.
The Globe and Mail’s website and mobile app, running on the Arc Publishing system developed by the Washington Post, is also being upgraded.
“We’re spending money on improving our digital products and you will see improvements both to our mobile and to our desktop delivery of content,” Crawley said.