The Halifax-based newspaper said the number of layoffs might be reduced if the union agrees to cost-cutting measures.

By Tamara Baluja, Associate Editor

The Chronicle Herald has laid off 20 newsroom staff.

The layoffs mean the Herald will lose approximately one-quarter of the unionized staff at the Halifax-based newspaper, according to an article published on the Herald website.

The article also states the union has been informed the company is trying to save $1.4 million in newsroom costs, and the company blames the decline on print advertising for these cuts.

“Newspapers across the country are being affected by a significant decline in national advertising,” said Mark Lever, CEO of Halifax Herald Ltd., in a statement emailed to J-Source. “We have responded by expanding our local digital and print offerings but the new investments have not yet generated sufficient revenues to offset the loss in national advertising.”

Lever said even after the layoffs, the Chronicle Herald will remain the largest newsroom in Atlantic Canada.

“We understand this is difficult but, after more than a century of operations at the Chronicle Herald, these steps are necessary to ensure that Canada’s last independently-owned daily newspaper continues to serve Nova Scotians,” he added.

The number of layoffs might be reduced if the union agrees to cost-cutting measures, such as concessions to pension cost sharing, mileage and a two-percent planned wage increase scheduled for next month.

With the layoff notices issued, the company will offer early retirements and listen to other suggestions from employees for cost savings for a 45-day period. This could also reduce the newsroom layoffs.

“I think we’re hopeful that we will find some common ground and be able to reduce that number of layoffs,” said union president Ingrid Bulmer in the Herald article.

According to The Coast, some of the 20 employees who received notices include reporters Selena Ross and Frances Willick—who won a CAJ award for their reporting on Rehtaeh Parsons—and reporters Brett Bundale, Laura Fraser, Mary Ellen MacIntyre and John McPhee. Features writer Lois Legge, business columnist Roger Taylor and photographers Adrien Veczan and Ryan Taplin also got layoff notices.

“This sucks for everyone in the Atlantic region,” said Jacob Boon, city editor of The Coast, in an article.Love or hate the management, the Herald consistently is the best coverage on matters national, provincial and local … That some of the youngest, best reporters in Nova Scotia could be out of a job in a month is a major blow.”