Thursday, 8 March 2007

Ottawa Sun -5

The Quebecor chainsaw massacre's newest victims are five full and part-time Ottawa Sun newsroom staffers, including the tabloid's proofreading crew.

Who needs proofreaders when you have spell check, right?

That's 20 Ottawa Sun newsroom jobs lost since last summer thanks to buyouts, layoffs and vacancies that haven't been filled. Plus the 40 pressroom workers axed when Quebecor's new printing plant opened in Montreal last fall.

Ottawa, the new home of English and French versions of Quebecor's free 24 Hours commuter papers, could become another Sun city to see the merging of Sun/24 Hours down the road.

The ever-shrinking Sun chain is becoming a Southern Ontario Newsmedia Guild battleground, with job loss disputes just about everywhere.

The Ottawa Sun, launched in 1988 during the glory days of the Sun, is still looking for its first SONG contract.

A Canadian Press story quotes a union rep saying the cuts will reduce the quality of the tabloid and reduce local coverage.

Well, stop the presses.

Quebecor can't hack away at newsrooms year after year without affecting the morale of staff and the quality of the product.

Exhibit A: The Toronto Sun.

Quebecor claims to be trimming "waste." Not! The Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa and Edmonton Suns have been largely fat-free from their launchings.

In our books, using the words "duplication" and "waste" only makes sense if the mindset includes the merging of Sun newspapers with 24 Hours.

But we'll leave Quebecor's thought process to the CP story:

Luc Lavoie, a spokesman for Quebecor, said the trimming is part of a necessary restructuring designed to strengthen the newspapers, which are part of an industry that is struggling across North America.

"We are trying to adjust to the new reality," Lavoie said. "We are eliminating duplication. ... We will survive. We will remain. There will be no more waste.

The union has complained the staff cuts will reduce local coverage, but Lavoie dismissed that.

"The truth of the matter is that we are not diminishing local coverage," he said.

Lavoie said the cuts are part of 120 announced by Sun Media Corp. last June, out of a total workforce of about 7,000 across Canada. The cuts are part of a reorganization intended to save about $4.6 million a year, introduce new technology and bolster online business.

The media company includes the Sun chain of tabloid newspapers, the London Free Press, Internet portal, the free 24 Hours commuter papers and Sun TV.

Lavoie said the company has invested heavily in new technology which will allow its newspapers to share and trade pages, rather than duplicating them in each city. He said the company is repositioning itself from a chain of daily and community papers into a multi-platform provider of media content."

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