Sunday, 10 January 2010

Canwest papers

Updated re CEP comments
The sell-off of Canwest newspapers could be the light at the end of the tunnel for print media in Canada if the papers are sold to private interests.

To have one of today's struggling media conglomerates buy all of the newspapers would be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

Canwest employees, including those at the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Regina Leader-Post, Ottawa Citizen, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Victoria Times-Colonist, Windsor Star, Vancouver's Sun and the Province, must be fretting about their futures.

And cringing at the thought of Quebecor's PKP keeping an eye on the Canwest pickings.

Torstar has also shown an interest in the wake of chopping Toronto Star and Metroland jobs.

It would be refreshing if all of the Canwest dailies and weeklies were purchased by private interests and managed by people with newsroom experience on their resumes.

Have you noticed how many of today's Sun Media publishers and CEOs are from advertising backgrounds, not newsrooms?

Freeing Canwest newspapers from the bonds of unstable, profit-motivated conglomerates would be a great day for journalism.

News reports suggest Canwest papers might be sold as a package deal. Why not attach a price to each and every newspaper, big and small, to encourage sales to people within the communities?

How much would it cost to buy the Windsor Star? Ottawa Citizen? Montreal Gazette? Calgary Herald? Richmond News? Commox Valley Echo?

Perhaps men and women with printer's ink in their blood and the core principles of journalism in their hearts might consider pooling their resources to buy papers in their community.

The other, less desirable scenario, is a conglomerate buys the complete package, eliminates newspapers that were in competition with its products and trims others to the core.

So, Canwest employees, we are thinking about the future of your newspapers and your jobs.

Bob McKenzie, publisher of the 152-year-old Victoria Times Colonist, says Canwest's bankruptcy filing will not affect readers and advertisers.

"You can read our commitment to the community on every page of this newspaper, and that is not going to change," he says in a message to readers.

But ask former Osprey Media/Sun Media employees about new owners and change.

It is all a matter of priorities.

As Peter Murdoch, vice president of media for the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, notes in a press release:

"It is important to note these papers are profitable, but they were encumbered by the enormous debt of too ambitious ownership.

"We need responsible ownership who treat the papers with more respect than a simple gamble on the stock market."


  1. If there are any sensibilities left in this world, someone PLEASE divert PKP's attention AWAY from buying this lot of papers. Bad enough he's already helped in destroying the Sun Media empire. Why have him contribute further to humiliate what's left of journalism in English Canada?

  2. Here's hoping a certain-you-know-who who was ditched by Sun Media a year ago will come back into the newspaper spotlight as head of a new group that buys these papers. Wouldn't that be great.... to see a respected newspaper man back in the business with his equally respected mission statement of visions, values and integrity that as also ripped apart when he got dumped

  3. Even if PKP decided he wanted some of that action - the competition bureau would certainly have a say in which, if any, of the papers he could own due to the lack of diversity in control of the media voices any such sale would create. And you can bet he wouldn't be allowed to own the Journal (Edm), Herald (Cgy) or the Citizen (Ott) for sure along with one of the two Vancouver (Sun or Province) papers.

  4. He owns the Timmins Times and then took the Timmins Daily Press when he bought the Osprey papers and they're both still in business. Competition bureau never said a thing.

  5. Why is it the comment about Sun media publishers and CEO's are from advertising backgrounds and not newsroom so important to point out time and time again? I'm sick of reading it here..
    What makes newsroom people so important that they can actually 'run' a newspaper? Do they know the business side of it ?

    Sure, they can investigate and write a story; Edit spelling mistakes; Write headlines? etc. etc.

    Show some gumption and work your way up in a company and perhaps it would happen to a newsroom person again...


  6. Answer this: Does a person with an advertising background possess experience with something called, um, news judgment? Enough said.

  7. Editors require good news judgment. Publishers require good business judgment....including the ability to hire good editors.
    That doesn't mean an editor can't make a good publisher...but their news judgment won't cut it.

  8. To "Sheesh" at 4:32 p.m.:

    It isn't about "gumption" and working your way up in a company, it's about ownership and shareholder value. Newspapers these days are owned by media giants, and are not run as newspapers, or as newspapers used to be, but as assets in a multi-media, multi-platform synergistic conglomerate — and the shareholder must be kept happy at all costs, so bean-counters are called upon to run the papers. They understand the shareholders, but not the newspapers or the news business.

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