Friday, 5 June 2009

Whig gutted

The Kingston Whig-Standard lost five more newsroom employees last night, leaving demoralized employees wondering if cutbacks at Canada's oldest daily newspaper will ever end.

Pink slipped at 6 p.m. were reporter Jordan Press; photographer Mark Bergin; deputy news editor Tim Gordanier; copy editor Peter Hendra; features department editor Mike Onesi.

One TSF source said the paper is "down to 10 full-time editorial employees, including reporters, photogs and paginators. And that's putting out a paper six days a week. Do the math. The company won't."

The once proud Whig-Standard is being gutted rather than being cherished for the historic, flagship Ontario daily that it is, says another source.

"They're down to about half of where they were a year ago. And that's a paper that should matter. With its history, they should be moulding it into a flagship, not destroying it."

The latest Whig casualties?

"(Jordan was) the best young reporter they've had in decades (the other great young reporter, Brock Harrison, left last year for Alberta government because the writing was on the wall). Tim was the best paginator they had. (and) Peter one of the sharpest copy editors."

When features department editor Sarah Crosbie was fired, they gave the job to Mike Onesi, "then six months later, she's working at a radio station and he's out on his ass. Brutal."

Generations of cub reporters scouting Ontario dailies to gain experience looked to the Whig-Standard over the years, along with the Toronto dailies and Ottawa.

It all began in 1834 as a weekly with the founding of the British Whig, which merged with the Kingston Daily Standard in 1926.

Various families ran the newspaper for 166 years, until 1990 when the first of several conglomerates took over. That would be Southam, followed by Hollinger, followed by Osprey, followed by Quebecor in 2007.

Osprey employees had witnessed eight years of cutbacks at Sun Media tabloids when Quebecor bought their newspapers in the summer of 2007.

Family ownership is now looking good to the surviving Whig-Standard employees.


  1. Just a tiny note of clarification. Mark Bergin was a full-time photographer, Tim Gordanier was deputy news editor and Mike Onesi was assistant features editor, I believe.
    Apparently, the entire paper will be paginated elsewhere (probably at a new Centre of Excellence?!?!?!?) and anyone left will now become some kind of a reporter.
    I assume keeping the other five on as reporters wasn't an option.

  2. Oh for the days of Thomson and Hollinger. They may have been cheap, but they were never as dumb as this company seems to be.

  3. They were cheap, but they were newspaper people.

  4. Today's Whig is a shell of what it used to be.
    It's a damned shame.
    What was once a very original, respectable newspaper is now just another Sun Media cookie-cutter Big Mac production.
    What PKP is doing to our industry is sickening.

  5. I worked for both Thomson and Southam, the latter in the Conrad Black era. I think, overall, that Thomson was the best chain to work for, other than the old Southam pre-Black. Thomson had its flaws and was far from perfect, but I was actually treated well by that company overall. Too bad Thomson isn't still in the newspaper business (other than stake in Globe).

  6. I give PKP two years before he attempts to sell the papers after he realizes what a mess he or his lackeys have made.

  7. PKP may attempt to sell off newspapers, but because of what has happend to this industry as a whole here and in the US, no company is going to want to buy newspapers anymore. I think we're stuck with Sun Media.

  8. Does it worry anyone else that the last time the Whig got hit (, the rest of the chain got the same treatment a few weeks later? If Quebecor thinks 10 people is enough to produce what used to be one the flagships of the Osprey chain, that might not bode so well for papers with lower circulation than the Whig (every Osprey paper but St. Catharines, I think) that have more than 10 people working in the newsroom.

  9. Quebececor might think 10 people is enough but readers will certainly notice the difference and eventually this has to end.

    I laughed when I read the Whig-Standard history with a comment from PKP when he bought the Osprey papers
    "While the expectations of Canadians are changing, the constants remains the value of solid editorial content, credibility and the ability to reach beyond ‘commodity’ news.”

    Solid content? Just how do you expect that when you've gutted every newsroom to bare bones.

    Yes, I'm afraid more cuts are coming. If Kingston is the flagship, then the rest of us going to need some life preservers.

  10. Well in another situation where national is killing local, national columns will now run four days a week instead of three as was first introduced.

  11. Point of clarification..... Whig won't be down to 10.... will be 17 or 18. Five minus 20 something doesn't get down to 10.... maybe 10 union plus management but won't be down to 10