05.28.2012 04:50 PM

The death of broadsheets

Quote:

Reeling from a drop in advertising revenue, Postmedia Network Inc. will axe dozens of newsroom jobs across the country and stop the publication of Sunday papers in several of its largest markets.

It’s the second time this month the company has announced layoffs, after cutting 25 out of 58 jobs in its Postmedia News division. It made the decision to close the wire service and go with Canadian Press content for “commodity news” that can be produced by a wire service instead of staff reporters.

The company told employees Monday afternoon that Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton would lose their Sunday papers and that the National Post would stop printing on Mondays through the summer for the fourth year in a row. The chain will also stop publishing on holidays such as Victoria Day and Canada Day.

I was at the Herald when they commenced publishing the Sunday magazine – they gave me my first break as a freelancer, in fact – and at the Citizen when the Sunday edition started up. So I find this all very sad.

You don’t have to be an economist to know where this is all headed: the end of broadsheets. It all seems like this inexorable downward spiral, which started when media organization themselves started to give away content online, and in commuter tabloids and so on. If you act like your stuff doesn’t have any value, nobody else will think it does, either.

They’re now fighting a rearguard action, and it’s too late. They can’t put the genie back in the bottle.

17 Comments

  1. Dan says:

    You can get commodity news anywhere.

    But as evidenced by this site, you can get value-added commentary anywhere too. (Even for those of us with differing measures of “value”.)

    Newspapers didn’t screw up. Times are just changing.

  2. AP says:

    “If you act like your stuff doesn’t have any value, nobody else will think it does, either.”

    Yes.

    Kind of like when the LPC gives away party memberships for free to people, calls them “supporters” and then has them elect your party leader.

    Just sayin’

  3. Lorne says:

    Of course, a simpler explanation might be that Post Media productions are not worth the subscription costs. While you proclaim the death of the broadsheet, how do you explain the fact that the newspaper with a social agenda, The Toronto Star, enjoys both healthy profits and the highest circulation in Canada?

    • Juan trippe says:

      This is true, it’s funny though since postmedia took over the National post the conservative rhetoric isnt as mean sprited unlike when canwest was calling the shots. It seems the globe has picked up that torch.

  4. jack says:

    the online content give away lament continues, but iuts not that simple.

    First, you have to ask why people don’t think there is value. Some has to do with online content available but other reasons are that the journalism today is poor at best. We see the outlets rely and report on polls that are not reliable at all given todays electronic and cell phone age where representative samples are very tough to get.

    The “journalism” now is often political talking points pushed through a biased publisher or someone trying to gain a political advantage.

    People have grown very cynical of jornalism and journalists as they should be. Investigative journalism has pretty much been halted.

    There are ways for these to survive but these people have yet to adjust their thinking and their paradigm to evolve to a business model that works. And there are some that will work and other ideas that can be tried. But other than suggesting to pay for content, no one has stepped out of the box to focus and come up with new creative ideas. It takes hard work.

  5. CQ says:

    Bullsh*t on this one. Postmedia, as Canwest before it – wants to lose money. Look at me, doing nothing, look at them losing $omething. Yet, I could find a thousand missed opportunities for them, before even the lunch hour. (And I’m strictly a nobody, at that.)
    Maybe their new owners from Shaw care, but top to bottom – a few too many ‘personages’ there do not wish to improve, innovate, nor grow. Just wring out a diminishing quarterly profit and then say ah, screw it all to h*ll.

  6. Kelly says:

    If Post Media reflected a wider range of viewpoints, rather than millionaire elites and cranks, they might make money like the Toronto Star and the G & M.

  7. I just read that the New Orleans newspaper is cutting the paper edition to Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Weird how Sunday is the most popular day in New Orleans and yet it is Saturday in Ottawa. Ottawa is a relatively small market considering that only 75% of the 1 million Ottawa-Gatineau residents have English as a first language (the francophone Le droit is also Monday to Saturday). Ottawa isn’t New Orleans small, but it is still small. I would have cut Monday and Tuesday like the Times Picayune, but who am I to judge, I’m just a $50 a year blogger (yes, I have a day job).

    I don’t buy your they shouldn’t have given it for free argument. People are online: Facebook, p0rn, Wikipedia, online banking. The Times Transcript here in Moncton now charges full subscription prices for their online edition. So I read the CBC, the New York Times, The Guardian and the Toronto Star. I didn’t read The Guardian when I lived in London! But I do here in Moncton, because I have the Internet in my pocket and the local newspaper doesn’t fit.

  8. patrick deberg says:

    My take on this.

    The paper post media group is frankly not worth the money. I read 4 to 10 papers a day and you start to see the pattern in a short order of time. A story in one paper shows up a few days in a sister publication. An opinion piece is regurgatated ad nauseum if you follow closely enough. See the problem is with the radler black approach to content. That is don’t really offer any. Scoop the add money and run straight to prison as the gifted intellectuals found out. So really why lament the passing of the broadsheet when the very people entrusted with it’s care drowned it in a bath tub?
    The best deal on the block is the sunday star with the NYT inside. The truth of the matter is the same people that cheer for the post papers are the ones that cheer the current CPC government. And look how that’s going. I never for the life of me thought I would see an NDP government that was in first place in the polls in my lifetime. The same cadre of fools have destroyed America and a little group of Harris retreads are trying to do the same here. We are smarter, that’s our saving grace. But the conservative stalwards are trying to dumb us down as fast as they can. So to conclude if you offer crap then only people that love crap will buy it…

  9. Anne Peterson says:

    Newspapers did screw up. They forgot to tell us what we need to know. I have to go to other sites to find out all kinds of thing that are going on in parliament. The Tyee, ipolitics and the Guardian. I find out Canadian news from the Guardian for god’s sake. As I read that list I realize how to the right some of the papers have moved. e.g. one of the most important scientific sites in the world has been closed by the cons and not one msm has mentioned it. Instead they feature every murder and weird thing that every happens in the US. And stories about drunken cows. Seems like they are deserving what they get.

  10. JamesHalifax says:

    Warren wrote:
    “You don’t have to be an economist to know where this is all headed………………………………… If you act like your stuff doesn’t have any value, nobody else will think it does, either.

    Thereby laying out basic micro-economics for those who may be interested. The news chains increased the SUPPLY of their “product”, but only met the EXISTING DEMAND. This invariably leads to what we see today. The only recourse now, is to either decrease the supply (stop online publishing) or increase the DEMAND……meaning, write more of what people are interested in and want to see more of.

    Granted, there is nothing better than grabbing a weekend paper and sitting at the table with a coffee and smoke for some morning reading.

  11. Doug says:

    My perspective is that the production cost of a newspaper makes it too expensive for what it’s trying to deliver. Especially since there is such a small amount of content in a typical newspaper that’s actually worth anything. I gladly pay for “The Economist” because it provides me with valuable information that I would have a hard time collecting in such a convenient form anywhere else. There’s no way I’ll pay for a general interest newspaper because it delivers way too little value for money.

  12. Tim L says:

    I just got back from a few days in London, which is Heaven for newspaper lovers. Four broadsheets and probably as many tabloids. And most of them demolish the Post and Globe in terms of quality international coverage (ie not just reprinting Associated Press articles, but all having real reporters in faraway places).
    Its sad to come back here to find the papers I like getting skimpier and skimpier.
    I assume papers can do better there simply because there’s a much bigger reader base, or maybe there’s just more of a tradition of valuing printed papers.

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