Uncertainty surrounds the future of newspapers

A bomb was dropped on the Canadian media industry last week and many journalists, including myself, are still struggling come to terms with the destruction.

First came the announcement that the Toronto Star would be closing down its printing plant, a move that will eliminate 220 full-time and 65 part-time jobs. A series of editorial job cuts at the Star also followed.

Then Postmedia got in on the act and fired 90 journalists from daily newspapers right across the country. The majority of those cuts came in Edmonton and Calgary, where 60 staff members at the Sun, Herald and Journal lost their jobs.

When the dust settled eight newsrooms at papers in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa had been pooled together and four amalgamated newsrooms were left standing.

As I dig deeper into the historic gutting of the newspaper industry, I can’t help but worry about the future.

As an aspiring young journalist, I am sitting at the bottom of an industry surrounded by uncertainty.

I had hoped to be on a path that would take me to a major daily newspaper, where I could live the dream and cover a Canadian NHL team. This path just got a lot more challenging as those jobs, which were already tough to obtain, just got a whole lot more scarce.

The Calgary Sun’s NHL reporter, who had covered the Flames for 16 years, was fired. The National Post’s Toronto Maple Leafs beat reporter was fired, along with their NBA reporter.

Over a dozen elite sports reporters lost their jobs, as Postmedia decided to form a national sports team, to be managed by a single editor.

So many aspects of recent media job cuts are unsettling. The first, and by far the most unnerving aspect, is realizing just how many quality journalists received the axe.

Reporters with 15, 25 and 35 or more years of experience, long-tenured columnists, well-respected sports journalists and other editors were all relieved of their duties. Heck, even Margo Goodhand, the Editor-in-Chief of the Edmonton Journal, lost her job.

It didn’t matter about age, experience, tenure, or ability; the jobs cuts took out a wide-range of journalists right across Canada.

So while most reporters are reeling, trying to understand what is happening to the Canadian media industry, the Toronto Star dished out another blow.

Not only did them shut down their printing plant, but they put the fate of their newspaper in questions.

Starting in July the Star will enter into a five-year printing agreement with Transcontinental Inc., a deal which “can be extended if printed papers are still considered vital by that time.”

So in five years the Toronto Star will be deciding whether to stop printing a hard copy paper all together.

Confusion, uncertainty and a general uneasiness surround most people involved in journalism right now.

Not only did a ton of positions get eliminated last week, but there are now 90 elite, experienced journalists all looking at reviving their careers in the newspaper industry. Whether that is a possibility, no one really knows.

As a reporter at a weekly newspaper, I’d like to think that the Nouvelle is going to be around a while.

The cuts might have taken a huge chunk out of the daily newspaper industry, but small, weekly newspapers are still chugging along.

With the help and support of the community, I feel the Nouvelle, which is one of very few local information sources, can keep providing residents with relevant, timely news they need.

As for me, who knows what the future holds; my trek through the newspaper chain just got a whole lot more tedious.


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