Fifteen eastern Ontario newspapers will be shut down by mid-January after being acquired by Postmedia, the company announced Monday.
Included in those publications was Metro Ottawa. Staff said on Twitter their paper had been shut down effective immediately and there would be no issue on Tuesday.
In all, Postmedia acquired 26 properties from Torstar in the exchange, which involves no cash, while Torstar acquired 17 from Postmedia.
Postmedia is shutting down 24 of the 26 papers acquired, including the following from eastern Ontario:
- Metro Ottawa.
- Belleville News.
- Central Hastings News.
- Frontenac Gazette.
- Kanata Kourier-Standard.
- Kingston Heritage.
- Nepean/Barrhaven News.
- Orléans News.
- Ottawa East News.
- Ottawa South News.
- Ottawa West News.
- Quinte West News.
- Stittsville News.
- St. Lawrence News.
- West Carleton Review.
In a news release issued Monday, Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey is quoted saying that the move will allow the company to focus on "strategic areas and core products ... in a deeply disrupted industry."
"What makes this particularly difficult is that it means we will say goodbye to many dedicated newspaper people. 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," Godfrey is quoted saying.
The transaction is not subject to the provisions of the Competition Act and no regulatory clearance is required to close it, Postmedia said.
However, the Competition Bureau said they "will be undertaking a review of the transaction."
Smaller communities will suffer
Papers like the Kanata Kourier-Standard have been operating for decades in growing communities.
"Today, with all the huge amount of media it's hard to be known, hard to get anybody to pay for it," said Neil Thomson, the president of the Kanata Beaverbrook Community Association.
"I was not necessarily surprised, but very disappointed."
Most people in suburbs like Kanata rely on the paper to learn about events, notices or jobs, he said, but now there's going to be no way to get the message out.
Alex Munter, president and CEO of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, also commented Monday. He started the Kanata Kourier-Standard in 1982.
yep. brought into the office and told the paper was officially done. no warning.— @k_delamont
1/2 People read about themselves and learn about their neighbours+community in local newspapers. Truly sorry to hear that these vehicles for building community connection are being shut down.https://t.co/Lw8EGC71YP— @AlexMunter_
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson also commented on the news, calling the loss of the community papers "very sad."
2/2 Personally, much of what I've achieved in my life traces its roots back to the things I learned after I started the Kanata Kourier. Thank you to everyone who supported a kid with a dream in 1982 and who then kept that dream alive for 35 years. pic.twitter.com/1Nf2Zxcf7m— @AlexMunter_
A Postmedia 'monopoly'
While some mourned the loss of smaller community papers, one observer saw it coming.
"The decline of newspapers is something that's been going on for quite a while," Christopher Waddell, a journalism professor at Carleton University, said.
He explained the move was likely about monopolizing advertising revenue, which can account for 80 per cent of a paper's income. If you get rid of your competitors, their business could move to your paper, he said.
"Metro was offering real competition for the Citizen and the Sun," Waddell said.
"We've created a monopoly in Eastern Ontario for Postmedia."