Advertising sales departments at the North Bay Nugget, Sault Star, Sudbury Star, and the Timmins Daily Press are the latest casualties of Postmedia Network Canada Corp.'s recent slow-slicing of its Canadian newspaper operations.
The latest staffing cut "eliminates sales staff entirely at the North Bay Nugget, Kingston Whig-Standard, the Star in Sault Ste Marie and the Sudbury Star," the Canadian website of the Communications Workers of America (CWA Canada) reported last week. It's expected local sales will now be centralized, possibly out of Toronto or Vancouver.
"Transformation initiatives for the year ahead include a combination of streamlining resources, product mix rationalization, outsourcing where possible and real estate divesture," Postmedia said on Jan. 12 as it announced its results for the three months ending Nov. 30, 2022. "The company implemented cost reduction and transformation initiatives related to compensation expense reductions, real estate rationalization, production efficiencies, and other programs, which are expected to result in approximately $19 million of net annualized cost savings."
In July 2022 the Nugget building at 259 Worthington St. W., was sold, and the two remaining reporters work from home, although readers services and the editorial department still have a desk. CWA's North Bay Newspaper Guild (Local 30241) currently has a total membership of 14 working at The Nugget, with only two in editorial. "The total was 20 in April 2020, but the membership would have been more than double that 10 years ago," said President Glen Couvrette.
The new owner is Earl Wilson Electric of North Bay. The press room, where The Nugget, The Sudbury Star, The Sault Star and The Timmins Press are printed, remains.
In 2018 The Nugget cut its Monday edition, then last year dropped to only three days a week, half of what it printed just a few years ago.
See: Nugget drops Monday print edition
And: Nugget drops to three published issues per week
Last year, Postmedia stopped printing the Sault Star on Wednesdays and Fridays. The 111-year-old daily is now published on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays only.
Postmedia vacated its former Sault Star building at 145 Old Garden River Rd. at the end of November, 2020. Since then, all staff has worked from home.
"News of the latest cuts to its already bare-bones operations has left staff 'totally demoralized and disillusioned," said CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon. “I always think we’ve hit rock bottom, and then they find a new bottom. I just don’t know how you can run a successful media company with this level of staffing.”
O’Hanlon added that "the cuts only make the fight against disinformation and misinformation harder, are bad for democracy, and mean that “Postmedia is now treading water to survive.”
On Jan. 24 of this year, Postmedia announced it intended to lay off 11 per cent of its 650 editorial workers. Hardly a week after that, Postmedia said it would sell the office and printing plant of its Windsor Star daily, resulting in the loss of about 75 media jobs.
"Two weeks later, another axe fell, with 120 advertising sales staff on Postmedia’s chopping block," the CWA Canada website reported.
CWA Canada says its Sudbury local now has nine members working at the Sudbury Star, five in editorial positions. In 1990, the Sudbury Star had 36 journalists. By 2016, it had just nine.
In Timmins, the sales staff is also gone along with the sales manager/publisher. One Timmins editorial position was eliminated and the Timmins Press downtown building has been sold.
The company has identified what it believes are its three key growth areas:
- digital advertising
- digital subscriptions
- parcel services
An email to Phyllise Gelfand, VP of Communications at Postmedia sent last week asking for comment on this story was not returned.
With files from David Helwig.