Friday, 11 December 2009

Sarnia DOA?

A writer up Sarnia way says Sun Media's Sarnia Observer building is up for sale with a $1.9 million asking price. He's calling the paper DOA.

"Okay. It's official. The Sarnia Observer is dead," writes Chris Cooke, a blogger who worked for the competition, the Gazette.

"After 156 years the owner of Sarnia's daily newspaper has killed it one cut at a time. As I write this the building that has housed the paper at 140 Front Street since 1977 is being sold. The asking price? $1.9 million."

Cooke also writes:

"Four years ago The Observer sold to Quebecor for about $17 million. What do you think it's worth today? What do you think a sinking daily without staff, building and presses is worth? That's pretty much what we thought too."

Interesting read.


  1. For God sake - leasebacks aren't a big deal. There's no benefit to be had in building ownership - there's maintenance, taxes etc. You sell it, you make your money and you let someone else deal with being a landlord.

  2. What's he talking about when he says the Observer's parent company just came out of bankruptcy protection? Confusing his Quebecors, I guess.

  3. Quebecor began divesting itself of owned properties in lieu of leases years ago. Selling a building that is wrought with unnecessary expenses sounds like a solid businsess decision that ensures a sustainable future for the Observer. There will be many similar sales of Quebecor's now oversized properties but they don't signal the death of the papers.

  4. Where does he get the $17 mil price tag? The O was part of the whole Osprey takeover attempt, not purchased on its own.

  5. So much for that article.

  6. It's quite easy to estimate the purchase price of a paper. Quebecor paid approx 10 times earnings or a little better. If the Observer made $1.7M profit their share of the purchase price would be $17M.
    Sifton has a huge smile on his face....and a lot of money in the bank.

  7. I don't think any of you people really 'get it.'

    The Observer and other papers like it are destined to exist in a group-mind, centralized factory of newspapers paginated, written and printed in one location. This is QMI's mandate.

    Selling off the building is just one more step towards this end. So, yes, this will likely mean the end of the Observer, if you consider them as a separate and individual product with its own direction, a dedicated staff and its own location.

    I really don't think it counts as legitimate individuality if it's to be part of a hive-like collective.

    Of course, it all depends upon how you perceive a newspaper.

  8. Well, I perceive a newspaper as a self-governing entity with its own staff. If it exists in name only within one of QMI's centralized 'factories,' as you so eloquently put it, then yes, I think the Observer should be considered 'DOA.'

  9. The survivors of "Black Tuesday" aren't very happy with the way things have turned out in the PKP world of "synergy." Neither are the readers, who see a paper printed in London (photo and print quality is a lot worse than before.)

    Chris Cooke fails to include in his piece that he runs a monthly newspaper, but makes most of his dough printing flyers for Americans. He keeps talking about setting up a new weekly, but won't do so because it's easier to complain from the sidelines than to walk the talk.

    Chris, you got a great press, why don't you put your money where your mouth is and set up a weekly? It would definitely give the daily a run for its money. PKP is too cheap to try and even compete adequately.

  10. He doesn't have to compete adequately. It's just a waiting game.
    Eventually, the competition dies through a war of attrition. That's just how it goes. Then Quebecor can get back to the business of destroying Canadian media and moving North American jobs to the third world.

  11. I don't think anything is printed in London anymore, is it? Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't virtually every newspaper that PKP gives a crap about move to their super-fantastic press site in Islington?
    Not that you would know, from the look of most of them.

  12. That was the plan a few years ago, but then PKP decided to keep the printing in London, but for how long is anyone's guess.