Photo slide show / Christian Laforce
A large crowd gathered in front of Halifax City Hall on Saturday to support the Halifax Typographical
Union's 'Keep Our News Local' campaign. The man with the microphone is Local president Peter Duffy.

15 March 2009

Elimination of newsroom jobs
hurts vital public service, rally hears

Halifax Chronicle Herald cutting 25% of editorial department staff

Halifax Typographical Union | CWA Canada Local 30130

A strong Chronicle Herald newsroom is a vital part of Nova Scotia, a long list of speakers told a Saturday afternoon rally in support of local news coverage.

Christian Laforce photo
Christian Laforce photo
Herald employee Pam Sword (top photo) and Dave Moore, representing the Municipal Association of Police Personnel, joined dozens of other activists at the rally.

The “Keep Our News Local” event staged in front of city hall was organized by the Halifax Typographical Union, which represents about 140 employees in the newsroom, composing and pressroom at Atlantic Canada's largest daily newspaper.

The Halifax Herald Ltd. announced Feb. 3 its intention to eliminate 24 newsroom jobs. Layoffs and voluntary buyouts among unionized staff are to take effect on Thursday.

Labour representatives decried the elimination of 25 per cent of the Herald’s unionized newsroom staff, saying the company should look for other ways to save money.

Several speakers said they’re worried that looming cuts to news staff will hobble a vital public service.

“The answer is not to diminish local news; it is to enhance local news,” said Stephen Kimber, the Rogers Communications Chair in Journalism at the University of Kings College in Halifax.

Kimber, who teaches in the School of Journalism, noted the Herald’s recent coverage of Nova Scotia’s restaurant inspection system resulted in reports being made public and posted online for the first time.

Politicians, labour representatives and other community leaders agreed the public needs to know what’s happening in their communities, instead of having to rely more on news produced in larger centres such as Ottawa and Toronto.

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26 December 2008
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11 August 2005
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“The Chronicle Herald is the way we have a conversation with each other and tell each other our stories,” said Halifax Needham MLA Maureen MacDonald, representing the provincial New Democratic Party Caucus.

New Democrat MPs Megan Leslie (Halifax) and Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Eastern Shore) also attended the rally, as did several MLAs and Halifax Regional councillors.

Kings South MLA David Morse, representing the Progressive Conservative Caucus of Nova Scotia, said he depends daily on local media, including the Herald, to help him do his job.

“We’re losing some (local content) and that’s a concern,” Morse, who is also provincial environment minister, told the crowd. He noted these are difficult times for the Dennis family, which owns the newspaper, as well as for employees.

"You provide a vital service to Nova Scotians,” said Martha Brown, first vice-president of the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union. “These cuts will affect the quality of news coverage.”

Officials from the Canadian Labour Congress, Halifax-Dartmouth and District Labour Council and the Municipal Association of Police Personnel also attended the rally.

In addition to Saturday’s rally, HTU has also launched an online Keep Our News Local campaign. The public is invited to join by visiting www.htunion.ca.

(This article is an edited version of a news release that first appeared on the HTU website.)