Friday, 23 March 2007

Stats sound empty

Do you have a pinch of salt handy? You might need it to swallow the following press release today from CCNMatthews.

While reading the press release, think about:

The 80 talented Toronto Sun newsroom staffers axed since Quebecor purchased Sun Media in 1999;

The loss of key talent in management through resignations;

The loss of numerous other jobs throughout 333 King Street East;

And think about all-time low morale and the lingering fear of more job cuts.

The press release:

Toronto Sun: Fastest Growing Newspaper in GTA

Toronto, Ontario - (CCNMatthews - March 23, 2007) - The Toronto Sun is the fastest growing newspaper in the Toronto marketplace. Data from the independent NADbank shows the Toronto Sun weekday readership was up seven per cent among adult readers 18 and older to 483,400.

"The numbers show clearly that our distribution and content strategies are paying off among discriminating readers in Toronto," said Kin-Man Lee, Publisher and CEO of the Toronto Sun. "When we combine the Toronto Sun and our sister publication, 24 hours, we have the most Toronto readers in the desired 18-49 year old category."

The data from NADbank - the research organization whose members represent daily newspapers, advertising agencies, media companies and advertisers - show that the Toronto Sun's adult weekday readership increased by seven per cent or 30,100 in 2006 compared to 2005, the fastest growth among all the dailies in the competitive Toronto marketplace.

"This research validates that the Toronto Sun is very much alive in Toronto for the long haul. In fact, we are continuing to make investments to improve the quality of the paper," said Mr. Lee. "In addition to new content, including multimedia innovations, we will soon have access to a new multi-million-dollar printing plant later this year that will improve the reproduction quality of our newspapers, as well as increase our colour capacity."

The NADbank research shows that the amount of time adults spend reading a newspaper is stabilizing and that there is incremental growth for readership of the online editions of newspapers, an area where the Sun organization is uniquely positioned to make use of its multimedia, multiplatform assets.

Our question is, does that seven per cent increase on the backs of surviving Toronto Sun employees mean the layoffs and firings are history and the re-hiring of laid off staffers will begin?

That is what was expected of management from 1971 through the early 1990s when circulation went up and Doug Creighton, founding publisher, most often delivered.

Cynics among us think not, especially when reviewing Quebecor's track record.

While Quebecor chief Pierre Karl PĂ©ladeau has told the Toronto Sun morphing the tabloid into a free Sun/24 Hours commuter paper is definitely not in the cards, the feeling is there are more cutbacks to come and morphing is inevitable.

A veteran Toronto Sun reporter who was laid off says "While (Quebecor spokesman) Luc Lavoie can deny all he wants, anyone with a pair of eyes can see 24 is morphing into the Sun and the Sun is morphing into 24 physically. The similarities are just too striking."

So take that seven per cent circulation hike with a pinch of sale and wake us when the tabloid we knew and loved is resuscitated and bursting with enthusiasm and positive vibes.

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