Kevin Weedmark and Moosomin World-Spectator continue to thrive as big companies headline the apparent decline of the Canadian newspaper industry.
Weedmark purchased a weekly newspaper in southeastern Saskatchewan in 2002 with a circulation of 1,700. Today that number is about 5,000, and adding his two regional newspapers from this publisher brings the total circulation to 43,000.
“When I bought this newspaper, I didn’t think it was business first. I thought it was community service first,” Weedmark said Monday.
“There is nothing magical about Moosomin or what we have done here that nowhere else can. .”
This is in stark contrast to the reality unfolding for some major newspapers owned by Postmedia Network Corp.
The company last week announced that it lay off 11% of the editorial staffprinting presses, office space, changes in publishing schedules, etc.
Postmedia employs approximately 650 journalists across Canada and also owns two of Saskatchewan’s leading urban dailies, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and the Regina Reader Post.
We are selling the historic Star Phoenix building and all remaining journalists will be working from home. Newspaper presses will also move from Saskatoon to Esteban, Saskatoon, about 200 kilometers southeast of Regina.
Listen | What Does the Future of Newspapers in Saskatchewan Look Like?
blue sky50:02What does the future of newspapers in Saskatchewan look like?
Austin Davis, a Regina Leader-Post journalist since 2014, tweeted about the change on January 25th.
“There is more uncertainty for resilient newsrooms and hard-working reporters in distress,” Davis wrote.
“I cannot and will not defend these decisions.In the last nine years, I have seen dozens of my colleagues buy or leave due to burnout, stress, and low pay. Survivors are expected to continue publishing products of the same standard. That is not possible.”
“Angry and frustrating”
Trish Elliott, Distinguished Professor of Investigative and Community Journalism at Canadian Aboriginal University and executive member of J-Schools Canada, writes: CBC Saskatchewan opinion editorial Published on Monday and attended blue sky I will share her thoughts later in the day.
Elliott told CBC’s Heather Morrison, “It’s just crazy and frustrating.
“Every decade, the commission seems to say that we need to better regulate the way media is owned here. But nothing happens.”
Elliott pointed to the fact that her local newspaper in Saskatchewan is now owned by a US hedge fund
“Postmedia’s majority shareholders are in the United States, so we’re clearly not protected from foreign ownership. This is another failure of regulation,” she said.
Steve Nixon, executive director of the Saskatchewan Newspapers Association, also pointed to the impact of large corporations on the overall state of print media.
“Good journalism costs money,” said Nixon.
“The money being used to pay journalists is being siphoned off primarily by two large companies, neither owned by Canadian companies.”
See Independent Everyday Success
Jason Carr is editor of the employee-owned and operated Prince Albert Daily Herald, one of Canada’s few independent daily newspapers.
In 2017, a group of employees reached a tentative agreement to purchase paper from Star News Publishing Inc., preventing the paper from being folded. Started operations under Publishing Inc.
“It’s been a lot of work for sure, but it’s been very rewarding and the community has been very supportive of us,” Carr said.
Kerr, who has worked at the paper since 2015, said employee-owned and run has allowed the paper to focus on local stories and support local events.
Still, he noted that the number of newspapers in northern Saskatchewan was slowly declining.He pointed to the end of La Ronge Northerner. Weekly newspaper discontinued for the first time in 41 years 2015.
“It left a huge gap, so if you want to get your news from a printed newspaper, there aren’t many,” Carr said, adding that the North is often referred to as a “media desert.”
“There’s a lot going on there, a lot of good news and a lot of bad news, but there aren’t enough reporters out there to report it.”
The independent publisher behind The Herald is trying to fill that void. It prints an independent monthly newspaper called The Northern Advocate, which is distributed in northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Carr said another great thing about being an independent entity is the option to reinvest in the community and support local events.
“There really is no argument,” he said. “We just looked and said, ‘Yeah, this is something we want to support, and we support it.’