Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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A departing editor’s view of downsizing

On Jan. 19, 25 people were let go from the Edmonton Journal, including editor-in-chief Margo Goodhand (Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey said some bosses had to go to, along with the worker bees).

Goodhand penned an article for Walrus magazine about the experience and what it means to newspapers.

From the Walrus (“Above the fold“):

ON MY LAST DAY with Postmedia, a 7 a.m. email from Nott arrived, asking to meet him in an hour at a downtown hotel. By 8 a.m., I was out the door. I got a call from a deeply distressed (managing editor Stephanie) Coombs. “I’m gone, too,” she said.

Nott announced our dismissals to staff at 11 a.m., and then he and former Journal editor Lucinda Chodan, who had flown in from Montreal for the week, called them down one by one to be let go, or invited to stay on as one of the team.

That team was a new bold initiative to save costs at Postmedia. Why duplicate services in two separate newsrooms? Combine the two-paper towns into one newsroom each, serving both platforms. Cut local “content producers” by half. Editors choose and tailor content for both papers. Columnists keep their jobs because they represent each paper’s brand and personality.

Hopefully, the readers don’t notice.

The 133­-year-­old Calgary Herald also lost almost 40 percent of its staff, and merged with a shadow of the Calgary Sun newsroom to put out two papers. The 171­-year-­old Ottawa Citizen merged newsrooms with theOttawa Sun; the Vancouver Sun and Province to follow. A national desk was set up to run sports for each paper, allowing Postmedia to cut local sports desks as well.

“This was absolutely not the plan from the start. It was a plan formed on the basis of the realities we face every day,” Nott later told the Financial Post, adding that it was a sad day for everybody.

Those realities Postmedia faces are fierce and bleak. At this rate of decline, most of the country’s newspapers could be gone by 2017. No one in Canada, apparently, is noticing.

Thu, February 4 2016 » Main Page, Media