Monday, 22 December 2014

Winter 2014/15 open forum

No Christmas layoffs for the TSF forums this year, but keep in touch as we close 2014 and begin a new year with new owners on the horizon.

Merry Christmas to all and to all the best in 2015.

73 comments:

  1. I know we all complain about the cuts by Quebecor but I think what is coming in 2015 will be on a scale that we have not seen before. Wishing for a good 2015 but being brutally aware of what is to come for many of us

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  2. It's basic business. You don't buy your competitor and then keep that company intact. You cut costs, reduce staff and overhead, target duplication, etc.

    The Suns will focus on local news, sports and conservative politics as those are considered the 'brands' - but that doesn't mean the same number of editors and reporters will be employed. Plenty of real estate to sell as the physical operations are relocated. National, QMI, corporate editorial and Canoe employees are toast. The pagination hubs will be merged until Hamilton is last hub standing. 24 Hours in Toronto and Vancouver are finished too.

    At the community papers, as long as you are making money you will be okay for the time being. But yes, the weak links in the chain will be shuttered (instead of hobbled again and again by Quebecor mismanagers).

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  3. Been said before...last one out turn out the lights. Just amazing how PKP and the group of yes men (and women) drove a business into the ground AGAIN. Anyone remember how PKP fixed Quebecor World? Good luck Quebec, you are gonna need it.

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  4. When I was first told PKP was running for the PQ, I responded, "Best thing to happen to federalism in a generation." I expected within weeks he would derail his party. Little did I know he had ALREADY done so with his opening-speech fist pump. Truly amazing.

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  5. Born in 1958 I watched the Sun grow into a fine newspaper, picked up a copy every morning and read it cover to cover. Unfortunately I had to stop reading the Sun, it just seems to me its loaded with drivel that I can get on a blog. I will subscribe to any newspaper that will bring me the actual news, investigated, reliable, factual news stories. I don't want to read what amounts to a printed twitter feed, nor do others it seems as revenues are down across all printed media. The Sun needs to get back to its roots and start redelivering a product that readers want, not the crap it has become.

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  6. Any news (or gossip) about how Moses Znaimer's bid to buy SNN is going?

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    1. Considering Moses wanted the deal done by end of the year, maybe it fell apart. Asking price was described as "very low" -- what a shock.

      If he does buy it, it won't be SNN for long. The overpriced ham-fisted hams will be gone. And I would think the whole thing will be rebranded. Sounds like Moses wants the broadcast space, not the content (and really, who would?)

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  7. Can any former non-union staff that have been laid off shed some light on how the process works (severance, benefits etc.). I think a lot of us will be in this position once PostMedia takes over.

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    1. Don't sign anything until you've spoken to a lawyer. There are many out there that will give you a brief consultation free of charge. Don't be bullied by them saying you need to sign this today. They will always try to undercut you, most corporations do that. Like everything Sun Media touches though, they will look for the easy way out if they get caught being to stingy. Post Media I'm sure will be the same way. Good luck to all this year, I fear we're going to need it

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    2. While you should always talk to a lawyer (and they give you sufficient time to do so), a good lawyer will tell you to take the buyout they offer. The amount is designed to avoid lawsuits - meaning that it is better than the legal minimum but well short of rich. They want to screw you, but not so much you take them to court.

      Going to court looking for more money will take months if not years, and in the end, you are going to only end up with a little more than the original offer.

      I don't know how Postmedia works, but Quebecor had layoffs to an art. Really, it was the only thing they were competent at executing.

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  8. If you're management (run/manage a department) you would likely get one month's pay for each year of work. That's what I got. Plus I had benefits still (dental/medical) for about the same length of time (one month for each year of work). I'm not sure what the severance is for non management. You can opt to take it in a lump sum or get your regular pay cheque every two weeks. One thing many may not be aware is that while you are "under severance" you can still work at another job and that money isn't deducted from any future EI payments. Also, your EI would kick in once you were done your severance. So if your severance lasted a year and you still had not found a suitable job, your EI payments would then kick in. Is what happened to me. I was also surprised to know that I could work at another job (term, part time or temorary), claim that money on my EI report and not have it deduced while under severance. Once you are laid off it's best to file for EI immediately, even if you don't think you need it. Once you file EI you can collect your severance for the entire time and you have the option of either reporting every two weeks or reactivate your EI claim once your severance is done. I kept mine active until my severance ran out and then I collected EI for several months. The only hit was income tax so you may want to consider your options there, ie put it into RRSP at end of year etc.

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    1. At the Toronto Sun, unionized workers received 2.4 weeks per year of service to a max of 1.5 years. But non-union at the Sun received 2.6 weeks per year of service for the same time period.

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    2. Better to be part of a union, at least you can bump out someone before they bump you out (if you have the seniority that is)

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    3. If you're a female you get half that amount

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  9. I see an end to many of the weekly community papers. for the most part they bring in little revenue for the expense. At this point there are more and more new start up newspapers butting heads with them, and from what I've been reading are doing pretty well.

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  10. Postmedia had its quarterly report on Thursday. It only lost $10M this past quarter, which is actually an improvement from the same time last year. Yeesh. Revenue down, down, down on the print side and, unsurprisingly, while they like to note the uptick in digital, you're still talking pennies. Would have been worse except for Ontario tax credits and cost cutting.

    As for Sun Media, Godfrey expects the deal to be final by the end of the next quarter. He says their focus is the "approval process with the Competition Bureau for the Sun Media acquisition, working on the integration plan and, subject to regulatory approval, ultimately welcoming new brands and new audiences into the fold."

    Hmmm...what do you think that "integration plan" will entail?

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    1. Integration is one of those words that might mean blending together or if they don't fit in the picture, move them out. Might be an issue with competition bureau, they will own far too much in some markets impeding any competition at all. Certainly not good for the consumer or the reader. Next couple of quarters will be very interesting to watch, although sadly it will mean a few of us will be outside looking in.

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  11. you think they would just shut them down, maybe in markets where they are competing in a small demographic area at least.. hard to say

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    1. If Post Media has the same chip on their shoulder as the soon to be defunct Stun Media, they'll let them run into the ground and blame someone else for their troubles...remember the economic downturn hurt Sun Media, (not the poor management at the top). Hope I'm wrong and they do the right thing, sell them to the staff they will let go so they can try to get them half way back to a real newspaper FOR the community they serve.

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  12. Just got into St Catharines today and grabbed the local papers, looks like Niagara this Week is taking the insert business away from Sun Media, when did Canadian Tire jump ship? Looks like tough times ahead for Niagara Sun papers

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  13. People, people, people.

    Forget about "buyouts". Buyout time is over. Say bye-bye to the pretty green money.

    Say "Bye-bye, money", because that window has slammed shut.

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    1. And you know this how?

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  14. something is going on, lots of questions that they should already know the answers to. nervous people in our office. I guess we should all be a little nervous.

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  15. Sounds kind of scary doesn't it. Also to the previous post both toys r us and sport check have made the switch. More to come I think

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  16. this is far to good to imagine. Metroland is like a shark in the water and it smells blood. Sun Media has has been crippled by the sale and they are closing in on a much depleted business. All of the managers that could react or could have seen this coming are either working for Metroland or have moved on to better pasture. See 333 experience means EVERYTHING. What did you save by cutting all that staff? PM better hurry and get this deal done before there's nothing left. Picture this...$315m and as we speak revenue is jumping ship. Another success by 333 and PKPs yes men and women. Turn out the lights, this party is almost over.

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  17. Sharp, good read from the Toronto Star about Postmedia, the hedge funds who own it, how it continues to defy gravity despite horrible financials and what it will mean for Sun Media (i.e.: get your cvs ready).

    http://www.thestar.com/business/2015/01/23/postmedia-and-the-heavy-price-it-pays-to-survive-olive.html

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    1. You wonder how this sale will get past the competition bureau. How can anyone see that this is leading to a monopoly in some markets and is not going to be best for either advertiser or reader. Who would want a newspaper without a press? or much of a staff? or no local content? Any money we make will go to paying off a huge debt, that frankly how can it ever be paid down?

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    2. Takes out rubber stamp - THUMP
      That's how it gets past the competition bureau.

      But don't expect Postmedia to keep all the papers it is acquiring with the deal. As the Star story noted, the only way it's going to be able to keep making those interest payments for the hedge funds owners is to cut costs and sell off assets. That will include everything from property to papers.

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    3. Another piece on Postmedia's dire financials wonders if Vancouver will one day be without a newspaper.
      http://thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2015/02/03/Vancouver-Without-Newspapers/

      Personally, I think while the end of the industry is inevitable, it's probably another 10-20 years away. (More like 1-2 years for anyone currently at a Sun Media paper, particularly at ones where there is already a well-established PM broadsheet across the street.)

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  18. Far to much expanse and rapidly declining revenue. Sounds like a few titles will be sold to someone out there. Thanks to PKP and his group there is little left. Our paper has only 20 percent of the staff it had 10 years ago and the few left...well they arent making the grade anymore. We have overpriced sales people that from what I can see everyday are not selling enough ads to keep the lights on. Our circulation people are run into the ground and the few reporters in our pool have limited resources and as they say are overworked and underpaid. Where are we all going to end up in April? I venture with a few independent owners trying to pick up the pieces and crumbs of what is left.

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  19. As Springsteen sang: "I got debts that no honest man can pay..."

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  20. Layoffs at Postmedia under way. National writers - entertainment, life and science - axed; voluntary buyouts sought elsewhere in PM newsrooms. And the Sun Media deal isn't even complete yet!
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/postmedia-cuts-national-writer-jobs-offers-newsroom-buyouts/article22819241/

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    1. Just the beginning of the blood letting to come. To think this will be an easy transition...rough and bumpy road ahead for all. I was secure thinking that smaller papers might be overlooked, doubt that will be the case. So much debt no money coming in, this spells of disaster.

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    2. Interesting that they dumped Katherine Monk and Alex Strachan, just as they're about to pick up a Toronto Sun bullpen full of entertainment writers, like Jim Slotek and Bill Harris.

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    3. Postmedia already has a bullpen of entertainment staff (and freelancers) at the National Post, which is why Monk and Strachan were let go. It's not because they are buying Sun Media.

      If anything, the fact that these layoffs targeted duplication should worry all those Sun writers.

      Should be fairly easy to start running NP movie reviews, celeb interviews, TV stories, in Sun Media papers once the sale is final. Just as it will be to have all Sun papers paginated in Hamilton.

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  21. "In the midst of a rights offering and final prospectus filed by PostMedia Inc, reports are now circulating that the Canadian newspaper conglomerate has announced layoffs and offered voluntary buyouts at three of its news outlets. In order to cut costs, and presumably to raise the needed $173.5 million through its rights offering on February 17, an undisclosed number of national reporters have been laid off."

    http://www.windsorsquare.ca/archives/79982/cost-cutting-postmedia-offers-buyouts-at-windsor-star

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  22. Given these notices. Can the competition bureau NOT see the writing on the wall? If they rubber stamp this sale, the newspaper industry in Canada will be written off far sooner than experts at 333 even could imagine. A note to my fellow Sun Media workers, be nice to the competitor in your market, I know some of you will be looking for work, sooner than later. For me, if/when it's offered, time to run with the cash, while the cash is still there.

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  23. When you look at what was purchased, there is little left. Declining ad revenue, seriously depleted circ numbers. No presses. Leased office space, off shore call centres, Jamaca I think for circulation, ads being built in India, what did they purchase? PKP's bank account is totally depleted, PM has no money to build the products all they try to do is pay the interest on loans. Many more to lose jobs and those left will look through the office and wonder what can happen next. Look for more closures and a few to be sold off, but to whom? Who would buy a newspaper without a press? Kinda like buying a car with no motor, it looks good but doesn't get you down the street. Good luck PM a lot of money spent for no return.

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    1. So the press in Rexdale is not part of the deal?

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  24. Everything in English Canada was purchased, to my knowledge. That given, one more press for so many newspapers does not a newspaper make. Look for press consolidation, London becomes very expensive with a bigger faster press at Islington, and with many fewer people running it as well. Given what they sold all of the others presses for, they might get another $1 or 2M for the presses in London.

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  25. End of SNN?

    https://cartt.ca/article/employees-believe-sun-news-about-go-dark-sale-zoomer-falls-through

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  26. The end for Sun News Network?
    https://cartt.ca/article/employees-believe-sun-news-about-go-dark-sale-zoomer-falls-through


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    1. I feel for the behind-the-scenes production people and lower-tier on-air personalities -- no one wants someone to lose their job.

      BUT hugely satisfying to see the likes of Ezra, Lilly, etc., fall on their faces.

      Let's think about the tens of millions of dollars washed down the drain on this network while round after round of layoffs occurred at the businesses that actually still make some money (the newspapers).

      And let's remember this was PKP's attempt to become the Rupert Murdoch of the North. Another glaring failure for Quebecor's infant terrible.

      A telling footnote, if this article is accurate, is that the deal to Zoomer, which would have saved jobs, fell through because Moses was unwillingly to give gold-plated severance packages to Sun network executives, Kory included. That's a glimpse into the mind of a Harper-ite for you: screw everyone if I don't get my six figures.

      Ah well. So heads roll at SNN. Next up: Sun Media's corporate offices.



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  27. It's over, folks. SNN shuts down Friday.

    Feb 12 (Reuters) - Sun News Network is about to shut down permanently as the Canadian cable news television network struggled to attract viewers, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC) reported, citing sources.

    The news channel will shut down as early as Friday, CBC said. (http://bit.ly/1FF4MXj)
    http://www.trust.org/item/20150213024944-puth2/

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  28. "A telling footnote, if this article is accurate, is that the deal to Zoomer, which would have saved jobs, fell through because Moses was unwillingly to give gold-plated severance packages to Sun network executives, Kory included. That's a glimpse into the mind of a Harper-ite for you: screw everyone if I don't get my six figures."

    I don't totally doubt it, but Harper? Really? What exactly was there for Zoomer to buy? Everyone knows SNN is going to be bumped from cable this spring so its spot in the high numbers was worthless and what else are you getting? You've lost what little national newspaper network you had, the rest is overpaid executives and right-wing, litigation-prone on-air talent and bunch of rented desks and mixing boards and techs that you don't need if you already employ a bunch for your existing channel. It's like the newspapers, all the money has been sucked out.

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  29. A lesson of what an overblown EGO will do to a company. My 16 year old has more business smarts than these people. All that money down the drain, what a waste. On the backs of well meaning people (at the bottom) was amoney pit from the beggining.

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  30. I heard from an ad salesperson that they are more than a little concerned about the future. The sales market is tough, but now advertisers are becoming aware of where all the work has gone to build their ads (India) for those that are not aware. They are more and more upset that so many local jobs have been taken out of the community and sent offshore. Ever try to call about a newspaper that has gone missing or to get your paper stopped for vacation? Good luck, those jobs are in the sunny Caribbean. Maybe PM will catch on that this has spiraled out of control. Ad staff might be a little worried...there are very few ads in our paper lately. Hope it all works out, but the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be a train, headed right for us, and I don't think we can get off the tracks before it hits us.

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  31. It's too quiet. Calm before the storm?

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  32. I read that PM won't be closing any newspapers down? How can they afford to keep something open just to lose more money? I'm an old long time employee and remember the Thomson days..remember when we thought they were cheap? Maybe they just knew how to run newspapers? I darn sure know that Sun Media doesn't, hope that Post Media does and hope all can weather the storm that is on the horizon.

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  33. All you need to know is in the Star piece. As long as Godfrey can make the interest payments, the hedge fund owners are happy. The only way to make the payments is by cutting. The papers might be kept around simply for the brand value, but no one should expect the people and property to go untouched.

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  34. Wouldn't it be nice if they rubber stamped it already so we could at least get on with our lives. It would be better to know...versus waking up everyday not knowing.

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  35. Agreed. But by end of this month, it should be done. Then you have another 2-3 months of anxiety and not-knowing while they sift through the smoking ruins Quebecor left behind. Then the first big whack around June; that will be in the corporate offices (goodbye, PKP yesmen). Give it another six months after that when they really start rolling - merging Barrie with Hamilton, cutting what few desker jobs remain, streamlining all national content (wires, entertainment, life, web) under one roof at the Post... etc. Along the way, expect various buildings and papers to be sold off piecemeal. It's entirely possible that by 2016, there won't be five Suns in Canada.

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    1. How many offices do they still own? Most had already been sold and they rent the office space. Nothing or very little left to sell off. Oh my this is gonna be a rough one.

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    2. I believe the Calgary Sun building is still owned by Sun Media. PM meanwhile has been trying to sell the Calgary Herald building. So they will soon have not one, but two, buildings in the city. I wonder for how long....

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    3. No way is it going to take six months to a year, it'll all happen the day after the buyout is approved. PM already has a plan, and I'm betting it doesn't involve paying salary to surplus headcount when they could be giving that money to their hedge fund.

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  36. Remember back in the 90's when The Star was thinking of buying the Sun? Remember when a group of self righteous and ultimately foolish employees started the 'SOS' (Save Our Sun) campaign to find an alternate buyer? Remember what it got them? Wonder where they are now? Promoted to management or columnist/Rob Ford 'fartcatcher' or laid off? Careful what you wish for!!

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    1. The past-their-prime Tor Sun employees who cheered when Quebecor bought the Sun are the same batch who cheered the purchase by PM. Basically, the naval-gazing, weren't-the-1970s-amazing boomer set. And they never learn.

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    2. Any publication that prints whatever Joe Warmington punches out deserves its fate

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  37. what do you think will happen with alberta weeklies, merging with the journal maybe

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    1. "Merging with?" What, like a JOA? No that's not going to happen.

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  38. It will be a rough ride for some newspapers. My CV is all updated and have met with a couple of people already. Oddly they are waiting for the culling to start, I hope I am one of the first to go, at least they'll give me some sort of a buyout.

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  39. We were thinking we would have heard about the sale being finalized by now. Communication in this company is terrible. We learn more from this blog and our customers than from 333 King. Hopefully PM will be a little more forthcoming with their communication to the people that keep the business running???

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  40. They are waiting for the big competition bureau stamp to say approved. Once that is complete, they will layout the plan, which I imagine they have been working on for years!

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  41. They've always said they hoped the sale would be finalized by the end of the first quarter. So still a few more weeks. That said, while not the hapless nightmare that Quebecor's Sun Media is, this might be a good primer on how layoffs work at PM.

    http://rrj.ca/i-was-the-only-writer-left-at-canada-com/

    The first-person account of an intern who discovered that, after everyone else at canada.com had been fired, he was suddenly in charge. Funny and telling.

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  42. Come on folks, you still have a job, and there are few out there. Do what you can with what you have. Might not be as bad with Post Media as one might think?

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  43. 'Might not be as bad....?' Hahahahahahaha. Ha.

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  44. Can it be worse? is the question of the day

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    1. being without a job...is a LOT worse. Suck it up people, it's a rough world out there for anyone in the newspaper industry.

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  45. Depends entirely where you are.

    Are you in a position that already has an equivalent in PM? Or is already covered off on the PM sites by CP? Then it's probably worse, cause you're going to be gone.

    If you are working in local news or local sports, you may find it an improvement.

    Again, it's all perspective.

    Corporate, web and nationalized/wire service types should have all their CVs ready. The clock is ticking.

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  46. Oh, and if you are at a paper in a city where PM already has a paper (a la Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa)... Well, it's probably going to be worse for you too. Maybe not a lot worse at first, but ....

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  47. Just think how much fun you'll have covering all of the charity events or 'formal balls' that Gina Godfrey will be hosting. Remember the 'good old' days when you spent all that time and all those resources covering all the stuff that Gina wanted covered? Remember when Paul would send down the request from the 6th? Remember how he wanted both a reporter and a photographer to cover a 'Gina' event. Remember how the 'good ole boys' on the City Desk would grumble but capitulate none the less? Well, GOOD NEWS!! Those days are back!! And there's just enough former management 'lackeys' from Sun that are now management 'lackeys' at the Post to make it happen all over again! Enjoy. Or,you can just MOVE ON and come to terms with the fact that the 'Good Ole Days' weren't really.

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  48. It sounds like everything is wrapping up...

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