Dear executives of Postmedia and Torstar,
You’re the reasons print media is failing. For so long I’ve been blaming society for becoming too lazy and not caring. I thought people just didn’t care too read or cared about the news. But that isn’t entirely the case. Sure people don’t read everything in the news like they once did, but you could’ve done better with print.
On Monday, Postmedia and Torstar agreed to swap multiple publications — all of which were community newspapers. Postmedia received 24 local newspapers, announcing they would close 22 of them. Only Exeter Times-Advocate and the Exeter Weekender will continue operations under Postmedia. On the other hand, Torstar will be receiving 17 titles, including the following Niagara based newspapers: Fort Erie Times, Inport News, Niagara Advance, Niagara Falls Review, Pelham News, St. Catharines Standard, Thorold Niagara News and Welland Tribune. Only the Standard, Review and Tribune will continue operations.
Postmedia didn’t waste any time, as the announcement of the 22 closures came right smack in the middle of the press release announcing the transactions.
It’s great for the executives of Postmedia that they can shut down 22 local community newspapers. It means the top executives of the company can continue to make large salaries and potentially receive bonuses as well.
In late November of 2016, Postmedia’s top five executives were awarded close to $2.3 million in retention bonuses, yet some of their best writers have been laid off to cut back costs. But let’s not feel so bad about the writers and editors that lost their jobs, because Paul Godfrey, chief executive officer of Postmedia, saw a decline in total compensation from $1.76 million in 2015 to $1.66 million in 2016.
Focusing specifically on the sports industry of journalism, a website like The Athletic opened up in January, 2016. The Athletic is an online site that requires a subscription to follow. Since its launch, The Athletic has succeeded, not because of the small fee readers have to pay, but because they’ve brought on writers that have been laid off around North America. The Athletic covers professional and college teams in Chicago, Toronto, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and San Francisco.
Some Toronto writers that have been laid off by Postmedia and Torstar that now work for The Athletic include, but not limited to: James Mirtle (Editor-in-Chief of The Athletic Toronto), Sean Fitz-Gerald (Managing Editor of The Athletic Toronto), John Lott, Kaitlyn McGrath and Eric Koreen.
However, local newspapers don’t just cover sports. It’s hard news that the community needs. City council meetings, community news and more. All of it is so important for municipalities — that’s not including major newspapers like the National Post, Toronto Star and Toronto Sun.
These top executives are the reasons many people have begun to rely on what they see on Facebook and other social media sites as hard news. It’s about their salaries and bonuses, rather than the writers and editors that work so hard on every piece they put together.
What sucks is it feels like it’s too late to stop the closures of print and the lay-offs. It’s now on the readers to help support print (or online medias) covering the local news. We will regret when print is gone, but the executives will be satisfied they got to milk every dollar they could.
So I say this to the executives of Postmedia and Torstar as I conclude: it’s not too late to save print, it’s not yet dead. You probably won’t say no to bonuses or take a decline in salary, but the situation your companies are in is no one’s fault, but yours.