Monday, November 27, 2017

Torstar and Postmedia swap and close most of 40 dailies and weeklies

The news released on Monday about the swap of some 40 daily and weekly titles in Ontario between Postmedia and Torstar -- and the imminent closure of most of them -- is a tragedy for small and medium-sized towns and cities. 

While the acquirers/swappers can rationalize the outcomes as just business, local news and information is taking a real hit. This kind of sweeping consolidation means that local content will not be replaced and readers will be taking a hit, as will the people who have been employed reporting and producing local news. 

Torstar says it expects the deal will result in cost saving synergies of between $5 and $7 million. It is not known what savings Postmedia expects to achieve. The Torstar closures, which are effective immediately, will affect 46 full-time and part-time employees; a total of about 250 full- and part-time employees will lose their jobs at the two companies as a result of the transaction.

The usual recent excuse -- that printed papers would be displaced or replaced by online versions -- is not even being suggested; essentially, the casualties are being attributed to failing business models, where declining advertising revenues means the publications have outlived their traditional business models. 

The dailies  St. Catharines StandardNiagara Falls ReviewWelland Tribune  and Peterborough Examiner will continue to operate.  Some longstanding titles are likely going to disappear as a result of the swap, such as the Barrie Examiner,  Orillia Packet and Times, the Fort Erie Times plus several dozen smaller community weeklies such as the 150-year old St. Marys Journal Argus. 

The same fate is true of Torstar freepapers under the Metro banner in Ottawa and Winnipeg, which Postmedia will likely close in favour of their own free-circulation weeklies. Torstar has in turn acquired freepapers 24 Hours Toronto and 24 Hours Vancouver. from Postmedia and will probably shut them down. 

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