The Globe and Mail has offered buyouts to staffers to try to cut $10 million a year from its payroll. A big buyout, in 2013, saw the paper lose some of its best newsroom talent. Kirk Makin, Canada’s premier justice and legal reporter, left the paper, along with several top investigative reporters like Stan Oziewicz, feature writer Tim Appleby, regional writers Rod Mickleburgh and Dawn Walton, Michael Kesterton, who’d created and written the popular Facts and Arguments feature, and some top business writers. The paper also lost some talented editors.
The paper also made cuts in 2014 and 2016.
A $10 million annual payroll reduction will mean cuts that will be at least as deep as those of six years ago at a paper that can ill-afford them. The Globe has bet its future on a paywall system that is fairly easily subverted. And the New York Times, along with the Washington Post, is after the Globe’s affluent subscribers. The Times has more online subscribers in Canada than the Globe. Some 27 per cent of Times international digital subscribers are Canadian, a number that should be a wake-up all to Canadian media companies.
The Globe has tried to put a positive spin on its circulation and ad losses. Most Canadian newspapers, including the Globe, now talk of “weekly readership” instead of individual sales, using a formula that starts with the premise that every print newspaper is passed around several times. It also contains the hidden fact that “readers” might see only one paper a week. The Audit Bureau of Circulation, which calculates actual sales, is rarely quoted, and Canadian newspaper sales figures are now a trade secret.
The Canadian newspaper business is actually in free fall. Paywalls aren’t generating much money, ad sales are way down, and the sale of actual newspapers is at the lowest level in Canadian history. Many corner stores have removed their newspaper racks (and magazine stands) and newspaper sales boxes have become rare. The bizarre reaction by Canadian publishers has been to cut the size of the papers, get rid of experienced reporters who knew their beats and communities, and charge much more for the papers.
Meanwhile, CTV has set up staff meetings in its newsrooms across the country today. Those are rarely held to share good news.
Update — First news from the CTV meetings: 15 jobs cut in the Montreal newsroom.
Another Update — The Ford government has released its annual spending estimates. Some $2 million, about 5% of TV Ontario’s budget, has been cut.