(Adds union comment, details)
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Canadian newspapers owned by Postmedia Network Canada Corp have cut 90 journalists, or about 8 percent of its editorial workforce, the publisher said on Tuesday, as it merged tabloid and broadsheet newsrooms in four major cities.
The publisher of the National Post, Toronto Sun and a host of other major Canadian newspapers said last week that it was aiming to wring C$30 million ($20.60 million) more in annual cost savings as advertising revenue dries up.
Postmedia bought the Sun tabloid newspaper chain from Quebecor Inc in a deal that closed in April last year and gave it control of most of the major English-language dailies in Canada.
The cuts are the latest in a series of moves since 2010, when Postmedia Chief Executive Officer Paul Godfrey bought the titles out of Canwest’s bankruptcy.
Under the unified newsroom model, reporters who previously wrote for either the Ottawa Sun or the Ottawa Citizen, for example, will be expected to work with an editing desk to create copy for both styles, Postmedia spokeswoman Phyllise Gelfand said.
Postmedia said the cuts were effective immediately for 35 jobs in Edmonton, 25 in Calgary and 12 in Ottawa. Vancouver newsrooms will also be merged, with as many as 50 voluntary buyouts to be offered in Vancouver and Ottawa starting in coming days.
As part of a related change in sports coverage, five jobs were eliminated from the National Post based in Toronto, as well as one in Windsor and one in Saskatoon.
The CWA Canada union, which represents about 6,000 media workers including many Postmedia journalists, said the federal government should move to limit concentrated ownership in media.
“We’re now seeing why it’s so dangerous to let one corporation have so much control,” President Martin O’Hanlon said in a statement. “It’s bad for journalism, the economy, and democracy.”
In mid-2011, Godfrey had forecast that by 2015 a quarter of revenue would come from digital platforms, compared to around 10 percent at the time. It accounted for just 12 percent in the company’s most recent quarter.
“This is certainly an initiative aimed at cost reduction,” said Gelfand. “The rapidly shifting revenue climate has required that we change the cost structure that was built for a different revenue model.”
$1 = 1.4561 Canadian dollars Reporting by Alastair Sharp; editing by Lisa Shumaker, Bernard Orr