OTTAWA — CWA Canada, the country's only all-media union, says Postmedia should drop its ill-advised plan to cut more jobs as it struggles under a self-created mountain of debt.
Postmedia CEO Paul Godrey announced today that corporate revenue was down 13.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016 and that the company is offering voluntary buyouts to help cut operating costs.
Postmedia blames shrinking print advertising for its woes but the biggest factor is its debt, which stands at a whopping $648 million.
“Let’s be clear: Cutting more jobs will not bring prosperity to Postmedia which is already cut to the bone,” CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said.
OTTAWA — Canadian media are facing a “crisis” as market forces shrink newsrooms, leaving fewer journalists to report the news vital to a vibrant democracy, the chair of Torstar warns.
John Honderich, chair of the board of Torstar, had blunt words Thursday for MPs studying the state of media in Canada.
“My message to you is a simple one: there is a crisis of declining good journalism across Canada and at this point we only see the situation getting worse,” Honderich told MPs on the Canadian Heritage committee.
| Toronto Star
Postmedia has closed its 24 Hours Vancouver office — but the free paper will keep printing, filled with content from other Postmedia websites.
Phyllise Gelfand, Postmedia’s spokesperson, confirmed to J-Source that the office was closed effective Sept. 29. “We will continue to publish the five-day-a-week print edition and its associated website,” she wrote in an email.
Content for the paper will be provided by other Postmedia sites, according Gelfand.
Rogers Media says it is overhauling its magazine division by eliminating some print editions, shifting to more digital content and selling off some publications.
The company said Friday that the magazines Flare, Sportsnet, MoneySense and Canadian Business will go exclusively digital starting in January. Their content will be available on the web and through apps.
Four other titles will keep their print editions, but reduce their frequency.
| CBC News
On Sept. 22, BBC officially opened its new Canadian edition of their website. Staffed by a three-person editorial team, including news editor Jessica Murphy, audience engagement producer Robin Levinson King and video journalist Dan Lytwyn, the new editorial group will work on stories aimed at growing the BBC’s already sizeable Canadian audience.
According to a press release sent out earlier this year, BBC.com gets about 5.6 million Canadian visits a month. In a report on Canadian media concentration released in November 2015, author Dwayne Winseck found that some international outlets like the BBC, CNN and MSN News trumped some Canadian outlets for traffic.
TORONTO — Forcing journalists to act as investigators for police would undermine the critical role news outlets play in a free society, a coalition of media organizations argue in documents filed with Ontario's top court.
Journalists, the group argues, must be able to gather news by communicating with citizens who are in an adversarial relationship with the state.
"If journalists or media organizations are too easily conscripted into serving as the de facto 'investigative arm of the police,' they will be unable to perform their vital societal role," they say. "Important stories will go untold."
| CP / HuffPo
CWA Canada has organized a Day of Action against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which poses a particular threat to freedom of expression. An academic forum, a postcard campaign and free Rock Against the TPP concert are set for this Friday in Toronto.
It’s part of a massive campaign against the TPP in North America, led north of the border by CWA Canada, a national union that represents about 6,000 media workers at major news organizations and newspapers across the country.
Friday’s Day of Action is intended to inform the public and journalists of the TPP’s detrimental effects and encourage them to oppose the deal. The hash tag #RockAgainstTheTPP is spreading the message on Twitter.
There will be an Academic Forum on the TPP with CWA Canada, the Canadian Environmental Law Association and Doctors Without Borders; a TPP information picket with a postcard campaign to Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland; and a free anti-TPP concert with Anti-Flag, Rebel Diaz, other artists and actor Evangeline Lilly.
A Canadian star is adding her voice to a chorus of advocacy and labour groups in denouncing the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, teaming up with punk rockers and hip hop artists in an effort to reach an audience that might not otherwise care about international trade.
Actress Evangeline Lilly, best known for her role in the hit TV series “Lost,” will be speaking at the Rock Against the TPP show in Toronto on Friday, the touring event’s only Canadian stop.
Lilly, who is Canadian but lives in the U.S., called the TPP a “backdoor way for multinationals to squeeze things into law” without the usual public scrutiny.
The Alberta-born actress said the deal affects everything, from fair wages and labour rights to Internet freedom and health-care costs.
| Globe and Mail
The Chronicle Herald has announced it's shutting down the Cape Breton Star, its weekly publication on the island.
The company said in a statement Thursday that the Cape Breton Star has "come up against a prevailing headwind of union sympathy in industrial Cape Breton."
Chronicle Herald journalists have been on strike across the province for the past eight months.
| CBC News
Chronicle Herald newsroom workers have been walking the picket line since management left them no choice but to go on strike more than seven months ago.
And they have been reporting the news.
The Local Xpress, a news website run entirely by striking reporters, photographers and editors, saw the light of day just one week after the strike began.
“We talked about doing a strike paper before we went on strike. It has been done in other places. We thought of it as another weapon in our fight for a fair contract,” says Pam Sword, editor and driving force behind the venture.
The workers are up against an owner that want to cut salaries and increase working hours, significantly reduce benefits in the defined benefit pension plan, and eliminate seniority considerations when staff are targeted for layoffs.
A small Ottawa charity that's been under tax audit for almost five years has launched a constitutional challenge of a section of the Income Tax Act that restricts the political activities of charities.
Canada Without Poverty filed notice in a Toronto court late last month, arguing the Act violates Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of association.
"We are asking why this legislation remains in place," Leilani Farha, executive director of the group, said in an interview with CBC News.
"It clearly restricts free expression, which is contrary to the charter. We think the government has to justify this restriction."
| CBC News
Unionized Chronicle Herald workers have been on strike for more than eight months, but the president of the union said there's no end in sight.
Ingrid Bulmer, president of the Halifax Typographical Union, said there is "backroom" dialogue between the company lawyer and union lawyer.
"They talk back and forth and it's all in the hopes that we can finally get back to the table where we can sit down face to face and actually negotiate a deal," she told CBC's Information Morning.
"But we're nowhere near that."
| CBC News
The federal government has dramatically shifted its advertising to the internet and away from daily newspapers even as it studies how to deal with the decline of the traditional newspaper industry in the digital age.
That's one finding of an internal report by Canadian Heritage, which is also funding a major think-tank review of the newspaper industry to examine whether Canada's laws and policies affecting the news business need revamping.
| CBC News
Now Magazine is an anomaly these days—it’s one of just a few surviving Canadian alternative news weeklies. But a months-long labour dispute might have put its future in jeopardy, according to the union representing workers there.
On Aug. 10, Unifor 87-M announced that the company requested a no board report, which would put them in a legal lock out or strike position on Aug. 27, after months of collective bargaining negotiations. Jonathan Goldsbie, staff writer at Now Magazine and chair of their bargaining unit, told the Toronto Star that management at Now Magazine has not made clear what their long-term plans are. The National Post, which broke the story, also reported that memos between Now employees and Unifor 87-M said that management had threatened to shutdown the alt-weekly.
Goldsbie told J-Source that since the initial news broke, management and the union have agreed not to either lock out workers or take strike action until after their next sit-down with the mediator on Aug. 30. It will be the first time the two sides have met since July 19.
A 92-per-cent majority of the editorial staff of legal news website Law360 voted for Guild representation in a government-run election on Wednesday, despite an intense three-week management anti-union campaign.
The Law360 staff of more than 130 reporters, editors and news assistants and apprentices across the United States voted 109 to nine in favor of Guild representation in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. Law360, a fast-growing publisher of legal news and analysis, is owned by LexisNexis Group, a subsidiary of RELX Group.
“Today’s result is a testament to the passionate efforts of Law360’s dedicated journalists,” said Sindhu Sundar, a Law360 features reporter. “We’re incredibly excited for this new chapter of our history.”
| The NewsGuild-CWA
The Toronto Star has been called “the best investigative newspaper in Canada.” Since Michael Cooke’s 2009 appointment as editor-in-chief, it has aggressively pursued stories exposing sexism, power imbalances, inappropriate behaviour and harassment at workplaces such as the CBC and in the restaurant industry.
But recent allegations surrounding the suicide of award-winning reporter Raveena Aulakh open the organization up to questions about whether its own practices are adequate and how a company should respond when employees raise allegations of inappropriate behaviour.
| Financial Post
CWA Canada, the country’s only all-media union, has a great opportunity for a Student/Associate Membership Co-ordinator. This is a full-time, one-year contract based in Toronto and includes excellent wages and benefits. The deadline is Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016.
If Andrew Douglas is worried about being charged with breaching a publication ban, he’s not showing it.
The managing editor of Halifax’s scandal and satire magazine Frank not only published an article titled "Stupid is as stupid does, publication ban edition," but he says Frank (which is not affiliated with the Ottawa magazine of the same name) has printed mock wedding invitations welcoming readers to Douglas’ court date on Sept. 6 at Halifax Provincial Court.
The charge is related to the trial of Christopher Garnier, who faces a second-degree murder charge in the death of Catherine Campbell, a Truro, N.S., police officer. Her body was found under a bridge in the Halifax area on Sept. 16, 2015.
SARASOTA, Florida — The newsroom staff of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Sarasota Herald-Tribune took a major step Aug. 17 to form a union that will advocate for top-quality journalism and the interests of readers amid a changing newspaper industry.
"The Herald-Tribune newsroom takes pride in providing a voice for Sarasota and its neighbors," said Elizabeth Johnson, an investigative reporter and staff member for three years. "Negotiating a good contract will allow us to preserve and continue the quality journalism we've given our community for more than 90 years."
Reporters, photographers, copy editors and other employees in the Herald-Tribune newsroom signed cards stating their desire to be represented by The NewsGuild-CWA. The cards, filed at the Tampa regional office of the National Labor Relations Board, will trigger an NLRB-monitored election by Herald-Tribune staff members in the next 20 to 40 days.
| The NewsGuild-CWA
LAKELAND, Florida — Journalists at The Lakeland Ledger voted overwhelmingly Thursday to form a union, becoming the only unionized newsroom staff in Florida.
The 22-3 vote by the staff of Polk County's daily newspaper means The NewsGuild will represent The Ledger's newsroom employees as they bargain their first labor contract with the paper's owner, GateHouse Media.
"Not only is Thursday's action a historic moment for journalism in Florida, I'm confident it is a positive step for The Ledger," said Gary White, a Ledger reporter for 14 years and a leader in the organizing drive.
"This landslide vote sends an unmistakable signal that employees demand to have a voice in critical decisions that will determine how The Ledger responds to the challenges of an industry in transition," White said.
| The NewsGuild-CWA
Inspired by the Slow Food Movement, which aims for quality food, produced in a way that doesn't harm the environment, is accessibly priced, and gives a fair return to its producers, Peter Laufer, an award-winning author, journalist, and broadcaster launched his Slow News Movement – a "healthier" approach to journalism, offering the audience a balanced and nutritious news diet.
Bill C-51, the counter-terrorism legislation passed by the previous Conservative government, remains unchanged despite Liberal promises to amend it if they came to power. That raises concerns for all Canadians, and some particular worries for journalists.
One of the law’s provisions allows the government to “order the removal of terrorist propaganda” from the web. A judicial order and the support of the attorney-general would be required, but there is no clear definition of what might constitute terrorist propaganda. Might that include reporting on a terrorist group, publishing an interview (as Vice News did in 2014) with a known ISIS fighter, or even linking from a news report to a video posted by a terrorist organization?
A media outlet could be ordered to take down content posted as part of its reporting, “even if you’re condemning the material in question,” Duncan Pike, campaigns and advocacy co-ordinator for Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, told J-Source. That risk might lead to self-censorship, particularly for smaller independent media outlets, though even major media organizations could be affected.
Torstar is laying off 52 staff, including 19 permanent unionized newsroom staff at the Toronto Star, and 26 contract temporary staff, mostly from Star Touch, who will depart the organization in the coming weeks.
A memo released on Aug. 9 confirmed the layoffs.
“These changes are another important step in the Star’s strategic evolution along a path towards the multi-platform news media organization of the future,” said David Holland, acting publisher, Toronto Star, and acting president, Star Media Group, said in the memo.
A breakdown in bargaining between Now magazine’s ownership and its staff has thrown the future of Toronto’s mainstay alternative publication into question.
Employees at the left-leaning weekly have been without a contract since December, and talks have broken down after a failed attempt at conciliation.
Company management requested a no-board report, issued Wednesday, which would put the magazine in a legal strike or lockout position after 17 days.
The backdrop to the bargaining impasse is an environment of change and uncertainty that has, by some accounts, left the 35-year-old publication flirting with closing.
| The Globe and Mail
There hasn’t been a lot of good news at Postmedia lately. But senior management is hoping that a new venture in one of Ontario’s technology centres might be a good news story.
On Aug. 2, Postmedia announced it is opening a new digital development lab at Communitech, an innovation centre based in downtown Kitchener, Ont.
“As we embark on a journey to try to transform our business model we believe that a lot of our success again will be predicated on our ability to work with the dominant new platforms,” Andrew MacLeod, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Postmedia, told J-Source, citing both Google and Facebook. “In order to do that we are seeking to accelerate our ability to develop products, services and solutions in the language of these new platforms.” | J-Source
CWA Canada’s National Representative Council unanimously adopted Canada’s first guidelines on educational media internships at the union’s annual meeting in Calgary from April 29-30 to establish fair standards across the media industry.
The CWA Canada Associate Members Steering Committee wrote the 15 internship guidelines. The union’s list of priorities includes guaranteed minimum honoraria and structured training programs to ensure student interns get valuable work experience and get paid.
Eric Wynne waits for a ten-year-old boy to step off a platform and fly along a zip line on the Halifax waterfront.
His camera snaps and snaps, but only three months ago he was in hospital after suffering a stroke on the picket line.
"This is what we like to call the year from hell," he said in an interview Wednesday.
Wynne, 49, is a striking multimedia editor and photographer at the Chronicle Herald, the oldest independently owned newspaper in Canada.
Wynne and his colleagues are on strike for the seventh month, holding out over a contract experts have said would effectively kill the union.
| CBC News
After six months, the Chronicle Herald unionized employees and management still haven't settled a dispute over contract changes.
Unionized employees of the Chronicle Herald newsroom began the strike on Jan. 23.
The administration of the daily newspaper is standing firm on its demands, instead hiring temporary workers to replace the strikers. | CBC News
Employers must have just cause for firing a federally regulated worker who lacks union protection, the Supreme Court of Canada says.
In a ruling Thursday, the high court said the dismissal of an Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. employee without a valid reason was prohibited under the Canada Labour Code.
The Canadian Labour Congress hailed the decision as a win for all federally regulated employees, particularly half a million non-union workers at banks, telecommunications firms, transportation companies and some Crown corporations. | Toronto Star
Latest debt-shedding move gives citizens the chance to press for a different future for Canada's papers
Postmedia's escape from bankruptcy this week offers at least a tiny opportunity for critics who want the giant corporation's grip on Canadian newspapers loosened.
Postmedia, which owns the Sun, Province, and 24 Hours in Vancouver and 170-plus newspapers across the country, has been stumbling toward insolvency. Its stock is almost worthless, revenues are in freefall — down another 12.9 per cent according to Thursday's quarterly report — and management has no credible plan. It's barely able to pay the interest on its $648-million debt.
So Postmedia went to the people who were owed that money and cut a deal, giving control of Canada's largest newspaper company to an "ad hoc" group of creditors apparently led by Chatham Asset Management, a New Jersey hedge fund. | The Tyee
Postmedia management has made a deal with the majority of its bondholders and shareholders that will see some of its lenders become majority owners of the company, and wipe out $307 million worth of debt in the process.
The newspaper chain announced a "recapitalization transaction" that will see bondholders get 98 per cent of the equity of the company, leaving existing shareholders at just two per cent.
Postmedia shares have been effectively worthless for much of the past year, dropping from a high of over $15 a share five years ago to 1.5 cents per share today. Postmedia shares were halted on the TSX Thursday while shareholders digest the news. When trading reopened, the shares jumped to 2.5 cents.
The complex transaction effectively allows the company to shore up its balance sheet by eliminating a good portion of its large debt load. | CBC News
When Keith Mullins played a recording of Just Another Day during a gig at the Inverary Resort in Baddeck, the song resonated immediately.
"Two or three sets of tables, blue-collar-looking people, asked me 'Where can I get that song?' " the singer-songwriter says by phone from his home in Hunters Mountain, Cape Breton.
Mullins hopes the song, co-written with Randy Jones, an editor and reporter at The Chronicle Herald for 31 years before he was forced out on strike nearly five months ago, will hit a chord with workers everywhere.
Two CWA Canada Locals have ratified new contracts that contain salary increases for workers at news operations in Ottawa and Medicine Hat, Alta.
CTV Ottawa unit members of the Ottawa Newspaper Guild (Local 30205) voted this week to accept a five-year deal that gives them a retroactive lump sum payment for 2014 equal to 1.5 per cent of salary and increases of 1.75 per cent for years 2015 through 2018.
After months of meetings, discussions, card signings and an official vote conducted by the federal labour board, it was confirmed this week that two thirds of VICE Canada workers chose to join the Canadian Media Guild (CMG).
“We are thrilled to welcome employees at VICE Canada” into the Guild, said President Carmel Smyth. “We look forward to working with them and one of Canada’s most innovative and exciting digital media organizations to create a positive workplace now and for the future.”
The new bargaining unit includes all VICE employees across Canada working in editorial, marketing, production and post-production, with the exception of managers and people working in sales.
CWA Canada is urging its striking Halifax newsroom workers to stand firm in the face of an “insulting” contract offer that torpedoed mediation talks on Wednesday.
President Martin O’Hanlon, in a message to the 57 journalists and support staff who were forced out on a defensive strike on Jan. 23 by The Chronicle Herald, said he shares their anger and bitter disappointment.
The Halifax Typographical Union’s bargaining team, he said, did everything it could to break the stalemate and get a deal. It “went well beyond its comfort level” in presenting a “major concessionary offer that addressed the company’s key demands.”
“Any fair-minded employer would have jumped on the offer,” said O’Hanlon. Instead, the Herald’s response was a “worse offer than previously, lowlighted by even more layoffs” which proves “beyond doubt” that CEO Mark Lever is not “interested in an agreement unless the union is emasculated.”
HALIFAX — Talks between The Chronicle Herald and its striking newsroom workers broke off today when the company tabled a position worse than the one that forced workers to strike in January.
David Wilson, lead negotiator for the union, said the stance taken by Herald is “unworkable and insulting.”
Wilson, a staff representative with CWA Canada, says the Herald’s position is unlike that of any other newspaper company in the country.
The country’s premier award for reporting on labour issues is being shared this year by journalists at CBC News and the Aboriginal People’s Television Network.
They were among many CWA Canada members who won Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) awards at a weekend ceremony in Edmonton.
Joint winners of the CWA Canada / CAJ Award for Labour Reporting were Melissa Ridgen of APTN Investigates for Hurting for Work and Nick Purdon and Leonardo Palleja of CBC’s The National for Up Close: Prison Guards.
Newsroom workers in Halifax today relaunched LocalXpress.ca as a full-spectrum online strike newspaper to compete with their employer’s flagship publication.
Members of the Halifax Typographical Union (HTU), who were forced out on a defensive strike on Jan. 23 by The Chronicle Herald, which has not budged from its union-busting contract demands made late last year, have been producing the news site since Jan. 30.
The HTU announced at a press conference and in a news release this morning that Local Xpress will now be offering local, regional and national news, business, entertainment and sports coverage, as well as accepting advertising.
Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly recently launched a comprehensive review of Canada’s media and cultural sectors, saying that “everything is on the table.” This seems to mean reviewing the mandate of all media and national cultural institutions, as well as the legislative and regulatory mechanisms that govern them such as the Broadcasting Act and the CRTC.
The review starts with a survey — Strengthening Canadian Content Creation, Discovery and Export in a Digital World — which is available online until Friday, May 20. | CMG.ca
CWA Canada's largest Local, the Canadian Media Guild, applied today to the Canada Industrial Relations Board for the right to represent employees at Vice Canada.
“A strong majority of employees at Vice across Canada have signed a union card and we are delighted to welcome them into our union,” says Carmel Smyth, national president of the CMG. “We look forward to supporting them to find their collective voice in the workplace and to negotiate the kinds of progressive working conditions and benefits that digital media workers expect in 2016.” | CMG.ca
Editorial employees at Vice Media, who unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East last summer, have tentatively agreed on their first union contract. It comes with a big raise.
Many editorial staffers at Vice were notoriously poorly paid for many years, even by the relatively modest standards of online media. In recent years, the company has said that its salaries have improved, though the 70 writers and editors who make up the Vice union were almost certainly at the very lowest end of the company pay scale. (Gawker Media editorial staffers are also members of the WGAE.) Now, they have won a deal that will bring them close to a 30% pay increase over the next three years, as well as a reported $45,000 minimum annual salary for union members. | Gawker.com
HALIFAX – We largely ignore the fiction coming out of the Chronicle Herald these days, but the latest outrageous piece of propaganda from company CEO Mark Lever demands a response.
In an April 22 letter to advertisers, Mark had the audacity to claim that the Herald is “doing everything in our power, short of capitulating to the union’s threats and intimidation, to reach a fair and reasonable agreement.”
Let me be blunt: that is a damned lie.
Summer internship season is about to begin. But decently paid internships, like jobs, are hard to find. Still, internships are often seen as the pathway to a job in journalism. That’s why media unions in Canada have been leading efforts to help emerging journalists find paid placements. What are unions doing to ensure that students get this vital experience and also get paid?
Some unionized media outlets, such as the Canadian Press (CP) and The Globe and Mail, pay summer interns the equivalent of the entry-level employee rates outlined in their collective agreements. Both internship programs, based in Toronto, are still thriving. While The Globe usually hires up to 20 summer interns, CP normally accepts about six applicants.
At other media outlets such as the Victoria Times Colonist, unions have created paid journalism internship programs. The internship program at the Times Colonist was established in 2002 by the Victoria Vancouver Island Newspaper Guild (CWA Canada Local 30223). | TheStoryboard.ca
A new report from the global press freedom watchdog, Reporters Without Border (RSF), describes the tenure of former prime minister Stephen Harper as a “dark age” for journalism in Canada, citing his hermetically-sealed style of government and the shameful state of our access to information system. The report notes that current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken strongly for media freedom but “only time will tell” if he follows through on his promises.
RSF’s assessment, from its annual World Press Freedom Index released on April 20, highlights how the Canadian public’s right to know was systematically undermined by the previous federal government’s penchant for secrecy and control. | Canadian Journalists for Freedom of Expression
Eric Plummer, editor of the Alberni Valley Times, remembers the day last September when two representatives from Black Press told him his paper was closing.
“They came in, I think it was like 4:00 or 4:30,” he said. “I don’t think that we’d even finished the paper yet, actually.”
The daily paper, which served the 25,000 people of Alberni Valley on Vancouver Island from 1967 to 2015, was one of 11 British Columbia community newspapers that Black Press bought from Glacier Media in 2014. | J-Source.ca