Postmedia to close community newspapers across southern Ontario
Sale of community and commuter newspapers between Torstar and Postmedia announced. Exeter paper will stay open
Pat Payton was at the St. Marys Journal-Argus until almost midnight Sunday night, putting together the sports section.
When he arrived at work Monday, he was told those pages would never see the light of day.
That paper, along with more than two dozen others, has stopped operating, effective immediately.
"I guess a 34-year newspaper career is over. It's just really surreal," said Payton, who has worked at the paper since he was 27 years old.
A deal between media giants Postmedia and Torstar will result in the closing of many community newspapers.
In this region, Our London will be closed, as will the St. Marys Journal-Argus, the St. Marys Weekender, the St. Thomas/Elgin Weekly News and the Stratford City Gazette.
"This transaction allows Postmedia to focus on strategic areas and core products, and allows us to continue with a suite of community-based products, in a deeply disrupted industry," said Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey in a statement.
The Exeter Times-Advocate and the Exeter Weekender will continue to publish.
"That's shocking after so many years," said St. Marys mayor Al Strathdee noting that the Journal-Argus has been publishing since the mid 1850s.
It's been a great run at Our London, but the news is true, we will be closing in 6 weeks. There are some excellent people here who will be looking for a place to land so please contact them (or me) if you have any ideas. Until then, we have a few more issues to publish. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ldnont?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ldnont</a>—@TaylorInLondon
Editor Scott Taylor broke the news on social media saying Our London started out as a "big idea" that has been a success.
Torstar bought eight community publications, seven daily newspapers and two free dailies from Postmedia. They are:
- Barrie Examiner
- Niagara Falls Review
- Northumberland Today
- Orillia Packet & Times
- Peterborough Examiner
- St. Catharines Standard
- Welland Tribune
- Bradford Times
- Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin
- Fort Erie Times
- Innisfil Examiner
- Niagara Advance
- Pelham News
- Inport News (Port Colborne)
- Thorold Niagara News
The Niagara Falls Review, the Peterborough Examiner, St. Catharines Standard and Welland Tribune will stay open.
Torstar also bought the free dailies 24Hours in Toronto and Vancouver, which will close.
In the same transaction, Torstar sold Metro in Winnipeg and Ottawa to Postmedia, and the following weekly community newspapers.
- Brant News
- Belleville News
- Central Hastings News
- Frontenac Gazette
- Kingston Heritage
- Kanata Kourier-Standard
- Nepean/Barrhaven News
- Orleans News
- Ottawa East News
- Ottawa South News
- Ottawa West News
- Stittsville News
- West Carleton Review
- Quinte West News
- St. Lawrence News
- Our London
- St. Thomas/Elgin Weekly News
- Exeter Times-Advocate
- St. Marys Journal Argus
- Stratford City Gazette
- Norfolk News
- Meaford Express
All but the Exeter papers are to close.
"What makes this particularly difficult is that it means we will say goodbye to many dedicated newspaper people," said Godfrey in the statement.
"However, the continuing costs of producing dozens of small community newspapers in these regions in the face of significantly declining advertising revenues means that most of these operations no longer have viable business models."
The transaction will allow Torstar to operate "more efficiently through increased geographic synergies," said president and CEO John Boynton.
"By acquiring publications within or adjacent to our primary areas and selling publications outside our primary areas we will be able to put a greater focus on regions where we believe we can be more effective in serving both customers and clients."
The Competition Bureau confirmed it will be reviewing the deal.
By law, the Competition Bureau must generally be given advance notice of any deal involving Canadian assets worth more than $88 million.
Because no cash changed hands in this case, the bureau wasn't informed — but that doesn't mean it's being bypassed, or that the deal doesn't require its approval.
"I can confirm that the Competition Bureau will be undertaking a review of the transaction," a spokesperson told CBC News in a statement.