New Brunswick

Expect less local, more conservative news with Postmedia, says media expert

If the past is any indication, readers can expect less local news and a more conservative bent from New Brunswick newspapers when Postmedia takes them over, says a journalist writing a book about the Toronto-based conglomerate. 

Media journalist Marc Edge says New Brunswick looking at bare-bones journalism when Postmedia owns papers

Postmedia is buying Brunswick News Inc., which publishes three daily newspapers in New Brunswick — the Daily Gleaner, Telegraph-Journal and the Times & Transcript —and six weeklies. (Gabrielle Fahmy)

If the past is any indication, readers can expect less local news and a more conservative bent from New Brunswick newspapers when Postmedia takes them over, says a journalist writing a book about the Toronto-based conglomerate. 

Marc Edge, who has long written about the media landscape in Canada, said Postmedia has bought up scores of papers since its founding in 2010. By centralizing much of production, the company can make more money, he said.

"The bigger you get, the more your average costs go down because you only need one head office," Edge said. 

"All of the administration and everything will be moving out of New Brunswick and into Ontario, and I wouldn't be surprised if they make a lot of other job cuts in your province."

Postmedia announced last week that it will buy Brunswick News Inc., the Irving-owned company that puts out three daily newspapers and six weeklies in New Brunswick.

Edge said Postmedia is in the business of making money, not news, as shown by the fact it's owned in part by hedge fund companies.

The focus on profit has seen once-thriving local papers reduced to "very bare bones journalism," he said.

"You're going to be seeing a certain sameness in journalism.

"I would be very surprised if they didn't close some of the newspapers or merge them. … You're going to be seeing a lot of the content produced in Ontario, and so you probably will see less local content, more national content."

On the conservative side

Postmedia was created in 2010 when the owners of the National Post looked to acquire newspapers owned by Canwest.

In 2014, the conglomerate went on to buy the Sun family of newspapers.

The National Post was founded in 1998 by Conrad Black, who has connections to conservative politics and sat as a Conservative Party member of the United Kingdom's House of Lords. The Post has always been aligned with the right side of the political spectrum.

Edge said this conservative editorial bent continues today, even though Black has been gone for years.

Sees little to be optimistic about

"Just in the past couple of years, Postmedia has issued an edict stating that they should move even farther to the right, so they're very reliably conservative," said Edge. 

"In fact, [they] endorse Conservative candidates often over the objections of their local editors." 

Edge said he can see little upside in the sale of BNI papers to Postmedia.

"The only upside is that the Irvings no longer own most of the media in the province. … So there is some possibility that the journalism might improve, might get more independent, but I'm not holding my breath."

With files from Information Morning Fredericton

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