Postmedia to shutter 3 southwestern Ontario newspapers to 'stabilize costs'

Postmedia has announced the closure of the Ingersoll Times, Norwich Gazette and the Petrolia Topic in an effort to 'stabilize costs.'

The Ingersoll Times, Norwich Gazette and the Petrolia Topic will all close in an effort to save money

Postmedia has announced the closure of the Ingersoll Times, Norwich Gazette and the Petrolia Topic in an effort to 'stabilize costs.' (David Donnelly/CBC)

Postmedia announced it will end the publication of three community newspapers in southwestern Ontario, including The Ingersoll Times, Norwich Gazette and The Petrolia Topic, cutting thousands of people off from a fundamental source of information about their local communities, all in an effort to "stabilize costs." 

We're seeing a threat to local news and it's one of the pillars of democracy.- Paul Morse

The three papers were among a number of publications across Canada that the Toronto-based media giant said would be either shuttered or scaled back as part of a continued effort to pare down expenses as print revenues fall faster than growth in digital revenue. 

In total, Postmedia said it will close six small town newspapers and cut print publication of four more, as well cut about
a tenth of its workforce across the newspaper chain.

Paul Morse, the head of UNIFOR local 87-M, the union representing a number of Postmedia newspapers, including the Pembroke Observer and the London Free Press, said staff at the affected papers were told earlier today. 

"It was a very difficult meeting, obviously a lot of tears and shock," he said. "The newspaper industry in particular is really struggling right now. It's caught in this advertising revenue crisis." 

"Those dollars are now being syphoned off into large tech giants like Google or Facebook and it's disappearing without any benefit to Canada or Canadians. It goes out tax free, it doesn't benefit the community in any way, it's just gone and as a result we're seeing a threat to local news and it's one of the pillars of democracy."

In addition to the shutdowns in Southwestern Ontario, the company said Tuesday is will shut down the Camrose Canadian and Strathmore Standard in Alberta and the Kapuskasing Northern Times.

It will also stop printing the Graphic in Manitoba and the Northern News and Pembroke Observer in Ontario.

Those publications will continue to have a digital presence.

The publisher will continue to print free weekly publications -- the Herald Leader in Portage La Prairie, Kirkland Lake Northern News This Week and the weekly Pembroke News -- in those three communities.

It will also reduce the printing of the High River Times in Alberta from two days per week to weekly.

The company also announced a staff reduction targeting 10 per cent of salaries across the newspaper chain by the end of the fiscal year in August.

with files from the Canadian Press