Thursday, 11 February 2010

Niagara squeeze

The Sun Media traffic flow down Niagara Falls Review-Welland Tribune way has been dizzying in the past year and there's more to come, says a TSF tipster.

The tipster writes:

"Apparently Sun Media in Niagara is going ahead with a plan to consolidate its editorial services, meaning several more hard-working reporters and editors are victims - but not in St. Catharines, where a silver spoon resides in the mouths of employees there.

"With Steve Gallagher's departure for Brantford, Gord Howard from Niagara Falls Review's night news desk moves to the St. Catharines Standard as his replacement. Gord has indeed fallen on his feet.

"The Review loses wire editor Brian Mann and community editor Lisa Rind, who is concerned her columnists and special weekly features, including an entire page written and produced by high school and college students, will fall by the wayside.

"The Welland Tribune loses reporters Maggie Riopelle, Mark Tayti and Wayne Campbell - three fewer experts to cover the Welland community.

"All will be missed as soon as the terminations take effect, which Sun Media says may not be until the end of February or early March.

"The Review's newsroom is apparently in contract negotiations right now. Brian and Lisa are two editorial union members. Let's hope they get their signing bonus, if negotiations wrap up before their termination takes effect.

"Since Gord moves to STC as early as next week, how long can it be before more reporters and editors find themselves in the same position as those mentioned here?

"Why do STC editors and reporters get to keep their jobs, with no open competition? Hardly fair, is it? But that's how SM operates - get used to it.

"Won't be long before there is only one paper in Niagara, but good luck on selling to three very different communities."

Thanks for the updates.

One regional paper instead of three community newspapers? That sounds familiar.

As in the Port Hope Evening Guide (Est. 1878), Cobourg Star (1831) and Colborne Chronicle (1959 from the ashes of the Colborne Express (1866) and Colborne Enterprise, (1886) being blended into one Northumberland Today paper last February.

Lots of flyers and Toronto-based Sun Media content, but minimal local news for the three communities to share.

Community newspapers that survived the Great Depression are falling like dominoes in PKP's tunnel vision world of force-fed centralization.

Buying respected, established community newspapers and reducing them to glorified shopping flyers is not new. Dave Radler and his Sterling Newspapers did it in the 1970s.

What is it they say about what goes around, comes around?


  1. In Niagara Falls, Brian Mann will really be missed. He's been a local journalist for about 25 years and has carried a heavy load on the continually shrinking Review editing desk for years. He's very well liked in the newsroom as well.

  2. We've been hearing this talk for a number of years here because of the closeness of so many of our papers, so this isn't a shock. The talk now is this is going to be the model for what is going to take place in other regions in 2010 which will be defined as the Year of Consolidation.

  3. former osprey staffer11 February 2010 at 13:24

    Just to remind bloggers, the St. Catharines Standard had 16 positions eliminated from its overall staff in January 2009... including five editorial positions. Several more would have lost their jobs (seven were due to be cut) but those people had moved on just before the cuts were announced. St. Catharines has NOT come out of this unscathed.

  4. Since we have to run all the Toronto Sun copy now, why don't we just print one mega Toronto Sun and close every other paper in Ontario... this company doesn't care about local news so let's just have The Sun and be done with it.

  5. St. Catharines may have had some layoffs, but the paper is indeed treated like some golden child by this company. It was the same way when Osprey owned it. Don't know why, the paper is no better than the other two in Niagara, despite what the people at the Standard say.
    My question is, why are they taking pagination to the Standard? It's a union environment and I am surprised PKP is allowing pages to be done in that environment. And with Niagara Falls in contract talks, does this decision not have some sort of bearing on that? What about the union at the Standard? Are they going to take this? Or are paginators considered management?

    Also, Mark Tayti at the Tribune is gone as of now, according to a good source. The other two reporters don't actually know when they'll be let go. It could be March or April before they are gone

  6. On the upside I noticed on some e-editions that editorial page content has be turned back to local editors.

  7. Don't lose sight of the fact all SM properties in Niagara are up for sale. Nobody is safe, especially since management for a regional paper won't need three city editors, MEs nor publishers.

  8. Northumberland Today has a whopping 3 much for that theory

  9. Single Niagara paper has been discussed and ruled out. But expect 3x a week in Welland soon.

  10. Oh no, they need three publishers in Niagara. It's hard work firing all those people, one person alone can't do it

  11. These cutbacks seem kind of random. Why cut half the reporters from Welland, and basically all the remaining deskers from Niagara Falls? Shouldn't cuts be consistent between both papers? I mean, if their plan is to do all the layout in St. Catharines, why keep copy editors in Welland? Sometimes I wonder if there's acutally any kind of plan behind all this.

  12. Since Welland doesn't have a union behind it, keeping copy and layout editors there, like Bernd Franke and Julie Greco, is likely a safety net. As the wrinkles iron themselves out, watch for more cuts. Seems like the plan is still being written.

  13. "Seems like the plan is still being written." That sounds like a good explanation about what is happening today across SM. Isn't Management 101 about having a plan before you begin?? That would be the course that immediately follows Leadership 101

  14. Don't forget night/page/copy news editors (whatever title they give them) Greg Furminger and Dave Johnson at the Trib. They are still there. Though who knows what role they'll have in the future

  15. There is no real "plan" behind this. Readers hate what we community dailies have become (McDonald's newspapers), our circulation has plummeted, our websites suck.
    Quebecor simply doesn't have a long-term plan.
    It's just cut, cut, cut...
    While I can understand their "we're doing this for financial viability" argument, it simply isn't good economics making a decent product bad.
    The big thing for me is their Internet approach - what is it? Does it even exist?
    If you buy the argument that physical newspapers are dying (and I do), the least you should have is a solid Internet strategy.
    Instead, we have lousy websites, no vision where they should go and a rapidly declining readership.
    If content is indeed king (and it is), the last thing you should be doing is getting rid of content providers.

    Sun Media's latest test is to get quanitifiable (spelling?) "content provided" numbers from editorial staff in the East region.
    Every day, we will now be required to submit "content provided" to our bosses.

    Yes it sounds like Big Brother - and I have serious doubts Sun Media really cares as much about content as they do about making every editorial employee nervous.

  16. Seems like the page editors could still be making pages - for an e-edition - showcasing the chain's creative prowess. Instead, website "news" is reduced to headlines and a graf or two, on a site where advertising obscures everything newsworthy. If you think readers hate what we have become as community papers, imagine how they'll hate having to navigate a website full of another community's advertising to find a line or two about a local athlete, or a school raising funds to build a well in Africa.

  17. Enough with the anger toward The Standard. That newsroom has been through just as much as the Review and Trib. And it was the best paper in the chain at one point, when Peter Conradi was city editor. Since he went to the Review as managing editor, the content of the Standard has noticeably declined in quality while the Review has vastly improved. Too bad for the Standard because there is amazing talent in that newsroom. It shows the importance of having a good leader despite working for a company like SM.

  18. Don't take it personally; it's not the people who work there - it's the parent company, unfortunately. Keep on doing what you do - only now, we expect you to cover ALL of Niagara.