As Canada's newsrooms shrink, concerns over coverage grow

Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:53pm EST
 
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian newsrooms are shrinking in increasing numbers as an oil shock rocks the economy and curtails the appetite of advertisers already distracted by digital outlets.

The media retreat is touching small-city newspapers thousands of kilometers apart and television stations tucked into larger telecom companies that struggle to turn a profit.

Last month, the Black Press' [BLKPRP.UL] Nanaimo Daily News closed and Torstar's Guelph Mercury stopped publishing a broadsheet edition, keeping its website going with content from other outlets.

Those cuts came just as the country's biggest chain, Postmedia Network Canada Corp, fired 90 journalists and merged its tabloid and broadsheet newsrooms in four major cities, including the capital Ottawa.

The moves from the indebted publisher came less than a year after the competition watchdog approved its purchase of the Sun tabloid chain and have led to accusations it has broken a promise to retain each paper as a distinct operation.

"The promise was that they weren't going to do this," said Brian Masse, a New Democratic Party parliamentarian said ahead of a hearing on Tuesday that will examine how Canadians are informed by the media, the erosion of local news reporting and the consequences of news media concentration.

A Postmedia spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment. The Competition Bureau said it had not sought assurances the publisher would not fire journalists or close newspapers.

The sharp reduction in the size of Canada's press corps also has some questioning the media's ability to investigate and report on corporate malfeasance and political chicanery.   Continued...