Newspaper closures in Postmedia-Metroland deal a threat to democracy that cannot be overstated: Unifor Local 87-M president

For Immediate Release:

The announced closure today of 36 Canadian newspapers is a devastating blow to their communities and the fabric of the nation’s democracy, says the union local representing most unionized newspaper employees in Ontario.

 

Unifor Local 87-M says the threat to democracy posed by the loss of almost 300 jobs announced today as part of a huge newspaper swap between media giants Postmedia and Torstar cannot be overstated.

 

“Canadians cannot have a functioning democracy without information,” said Paul Morse, Local 87-M president. “‘Click bait’ Internet blogs will not fill that gap.”

 

Postmedia Network Canada is acquiring 22 of Torstar’s community newspaper properties and 2 free commuter daily newspapers. Torstar, in exchange, is getting 15 of Postmedia’s community newspaper properties and 2 free commuter daily newspapers.

 

But 36 of the 41 acquired publications are being closed in an obvious attempt to lessen competition in the struggling newspaper industry.

 

Morse said the announcement gives new meaning to the term “Black Monday.”

 

“In a stroke of a pen, 36 publications have been put out of business, killing an important source of news and information in all of these communities.”

 

Postmedia is closing 23 out of the 24 papers it is acquiring from Torstar, eliminating the competition in markets where it already has a newspaper, as well as 244 jobs. Torstar is ceasing publication of the print and online editions of three daily newspapers and eight community newspapers purchased from Postmedia Network Inc., eliminating 46 jobs for a total job loss of 290 between the two companies.

 

Unifor Local 87-M, which represents publications such as the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Hamilton Spectator, Metroland and the London Free Press, has been lobbying federal politicians in cooperation with the national union for measures to help the struggling newspaper industry. But, to date, the government has been deaf to their pleas.

 

“This is a dramatic illustration of what’s coming in terms of citizen access to information and the threat to our democracy,” Morse said. “The federal government needs to act now to help newspapers survive the changes in information technology.”

 

Morse said the decline of newspapers – including the online versions – does not mean there is a declining need for the information they provide. Instead, it is all about the migration of advertising revenues from newspapers to American social media giants like Google and Facebook, a so-called ‘digital duopoly.’ With a global audience, Google and Facebook are able to sell advertising at much cheaper rates.

 

Unifor Local 87-M represents 11 full-time workers from Metroland Ottawa who will be losing their jobs as of Jan. 5. The affected members work for the Kanata Kourier-Standard, Nepean/Barrhaven News, Orléans News, Ottawa East News, Ottawa South News, Ottawa West News, Stittsville News and West Carleton News.

Metroland Ottawa will continue to operate the Smith Falls Record-News, Kemptville Advance, Perth Courier, Carleton Place-Almonte Canadian-Gazette, Arnprior Chronicle-Guide and Renfrew Mercury. These papers continue to be owned by Torstar and Unifor Local 87-M will continue to represent members there. 

 

For more information, contact:

Paul Morse,

President, Unifor Local 87-M

905-536-5650