The union representing workers at the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal says it's worried by recent developments at the paper.

John Webster, the staff representative with Unifor, says a decision by the Chronicle Journal to stop paying some columnists — and to lay off local reporters — is taking a toll.

"This is extreme. This is definitely going to affect the paper,” he said.

"I guess it's not your paper anymore. It's going to be filled with wire service stories and not local stories that I think are so important to a paper like the Chronicle."

A union member at the paper tells him people are cancelling their newspaper subscriptions, Webster added.

John Miller

John Miller, professor emeritus of journalism at Ryerson University, says papers are looking for any way to increase profits. (Supplied)

Local, local, local

A Ryerson University journalism professor says papers are looking for any way to increase profits.

"When newspapers find that profits are declining, the readership is declining, they often look to the cost side for making things better,” John Miller said.

But Miller said most people buy papers to read local news, written by local people.

"If you live in a community, you identify with the community, you're closer to the community institutions. You want to read about what your neighbours are doing."

Webster agreed.

"I should have a reason to pick up my Chronicle,” he said. “And that may be to read certain columnists or to read the latest that's happening in Thunder Bay. Otherwise, I'm just going to go online and read the Globe and Mail."

John Webster

John Webster, staff representative with Unifor — the union representing workers — says a decision by the Chronicle Journal to stop paying some columnists, and to lay off local reporters, is taking a toll. (Supplied)

He added the union is looking at creating a campaign to raise awareness about the cuts at the paper. The paper has been brought down to a “skeleton staff” and mentions it was already understaffed. Two full-time reporters remain  — one in Marathon and one in Dryden. There are no longer any full-time reporters in Thunder Bay.

Owners ‘taken it to a new low’

Webster says employees are now doing two or three jobs each, such as photographers laying out pages and writing articles.

“The ownership in Thunder Bay has taken it to a new low,” Webster said.

“Maybe they will shut that paper down. The speculation is rife throughout the building.”

Webster said readers need to put pressure on the paper's owner to reverse the cuts.

CBC News asked to speak with David Radler, the owner of BC-based Continential Newspapers, but was told to contact the newspaper management in Thunder Bay. So far they have not provided a comment.