UPDATE: Ottawa Citizen cutting newsroom jobs, ceasing Sunday newspaper

Elizabeth Howell
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The Ottawa Citizen will cut an undisclosed number of positions and stop publishing the newspaper on Sundays, according to a spokesperson at parent company Postmedia.

(Stock image)

Postmedia is looking to reduce its "print-related infrastructure costs" by cutting jobs in all of its newsrooms while centralizing and expanding editorial services in Hamilton, said Phyllise Gelfand, Postmedia's vice-president of communications.

Three newspapers, including the Ottawa Citizen, the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald, will also stop publishing Sunday editions. The National Post will continue its practice of ceasing Monday production in the summer, a measure it has implemented for the past three years, she said.

Reports indicated that 25 positions at the Citizen will be eliminated as a result of the measure, but Ms. Gelfand said Postmedia would not speak to specific job cuts at individual newspapers.

"What was just announced today - it's a process. It's beginning," she said in an interview with OBJ. Publication schedules at all newspapers will be reviewed in the coming months, she added.

In an open letter, Citizen publisher Gerry Nott said the Sunday edition was performing poorly, but added its elimination was nevertheless a "difficult" decision.

"In its 23-year existence, the Sunday paper has been the least attractive of our seven day cycle with both advertisers and readers," he wrote.

"The elimination of the Sunday print edition comes at a time when the Citizen is enjoying record breaking digital advertising support and soaring readership on the web, through mobile devices and tablets."

Earlier this year, Postmedia closed its in-house wire service as it rejoined The Canadian Press, which reportedly resulted in 25 jobs – mostly in Ottawa – being cut.

In a speech in Ottawa last week, Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey blasted federal regulations that effectively limit foreign ownership of Canadian newspapers, but not digital news platforms such as the Huffington Post.

"We know that print advertising revenue decline is ongoing across the industry," Mr. Godfrey wrote in an internal memo to employees announcing Monday's changes that was subsequently published by several media outlets.

"And a lot of the lost revenue in Canada is going to foreign-owned and controlled digital companies who, without any regulation, are accessing Canadian audiences and eroding Canadian media revenues."

Postmedia was founded in 2010 after it acquiring the chain of newspapers formerly owned by financially troubled media company Canwest. New York-based Golden Tree Asset Management LP reportedly owns 28 per cent of Postmedia and is looking to exit its investment in the coming years.

In April, Postmedia posted second quarter losses of $11.1 million, compared with a loss of $12.5 million the year previous. The company is approximately $516-million in debt, according to media reports.

In Postmedia's most recent quarterly results, for the three months ended February 2012, the company stated that it has seen significant print advertising declines as a result of the economic downturn as well as the industry trend towards advertising online.

Print advertising revenue declined by 10.6 per cent during the second quarter.

"We expect the print advertising market to remain challenging throughout the remainder of fiscal 2012," the company stated.

Declines in circulation volume have also been a problem over the last few years, a trend that Postmedia states it expects to continue.

-With reports by OBJ staff

Organizations: Ottawa Citizen, Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald National Post

Geographic location: Ottawa, Hamilton

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Recent comments

  • Mike Ligeza
    July 01, 2012 - 14:44

    When does the Ottawa Citizen cease Sunday publication and what will happen to the TV guide that is normally published in the Sunday edition?