Finance Vice-President David Becker and Reader Sales and Marketing VP Stroud McDonald are among the latest 18 Edmonton Journal employees out the door in the aftermath of the Postmedia Network Inc. takeover of the Canwest newspaper chain.
Journal employees were greeted yesterday morning by a terse email memo from management stating:
"A total of 18 staff positions have been eliminated through a combination of voluntary and involuntary reductions. Management positions have been reduced in all departments including our Vice President of Finance, David Becker and our Vice President of Reader Sales and Marketing Stroud McDonald. No department has been exempt from reductions and every department will have to work differently and invent streamlined business processes to meet the needs of our readers, advertisers and internal/external stakeholders."
Now, a couple of senior managers over the side is not likely to do much in the short term to harm the quality of the Alberta capital's principal daily newspaper, but many of the other losses in this latest round of head-office-induced bloodletting will badly hurt the ability of the Journal to cover news.
Monday's cuts come on top of another 20 or so -- some voluntary, some less so -- about a month ago.
Newsroom employees among the recently or soon to be departed include:
- Senior editor Ashley Geddes, the Journal’s news editor, although he went by another title, a universally respected journalist the paper depended on for his sound news judgment. He will be gone in about 10 days.
- Editor-in-Chief Alan Mayer, who bade farewell last week.
- Editorial writer Alan Kellogg.
- Business reporter Dave Finlayson.
- General reporter Florence Loyie.
- Columnist Scott McKeen, who bought himself a new pair of spectacles and got out the door just in time to seek employment from the people of Edmonton as a councilor in the current civic election. The jury remains out, of course, on whether McKeen’s plan for a post-journalism career will succeed. The election is Oct. 18.
Every name on that partial list was an experienced journalist or newsroom executive without whom the paper, already a pale reflection of its influential past, will be considerably worse off.
Word among the few remaining newsroom denizens is that all departments of all Postmedia Network papers in Canada were told to cut their staffing budgets by 5 per cent, and that if sufficient numbers of employees failed to depart voluntarily, candidates were to found and made to walk the plank. Needless to say, such strategy does not leave the papers with their very best employees, something that the chain’s current management appears not to be concerned about.
Gloomy Journal employees now expect the next company asset to go to be the paper's valuable east-side printing press, which is conveniently located mere steps away from the nowadays largely empty offices of the Edmonton Sun. Could this be the first step toward a precarious all-Internet future, along the lines of Seattle’s venerable Post-Intelligencer? That, of course, is pure speculation on your blogger's part.
Speaking of the Sun, Journal staffers are also convinced that Victoria Times-Colonist Editor-in-Chief and Edmonton Sun alumna Lucinda Chodan will be named Journal's editor-in-chief within days. Chodan's phone message yesterday, alas, said she was out of the Daily Hyphen's office until next Tuesday, so we are unable to confirm this report.
But such an appointment would make sense given the history of Paul Godfrey, once the publisher of the Toronto Sun and now Postmedia's newly established Great Helmsman. It would be another step in the "Sunification" of the Southam>Hollinger>Canwest>Postmedia newspapers that began in the late 1990s at the Calgary Herald.
Chodan, after all, began her career as an entertainment reporter at Sun Media's Oil City tabloid.
This trend naturally worries Postmedia employees because, notwithstanding the Journal's parlous state, for the moment at least it remains a better gig than the Edmonton Sun, the likely model for its future. That paper is now edited out of Calgary, a city some distance to the south of Edmonton that many suspect is believed to be the capital of Alberta by the brainiacs at Sun Media's head office, which is thought to be somewhere in Central Canada.
As if all this were not enough, the Journal may soon face another challenge of an entirely different sort emanating from the Sun if reports in newspaper circles elsewhere in the city are true that the tabloid is about to pull the plug on its free "24" commuter paper and begin giving away the Sun itself.
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.