Nova Scotia

The Chronicle Herald faces major change — with or without a work stoppage

Industry professionals say the country's oldest independently owned newspaper needs to adapt to changing times.

Nova Scotia's main daily newspaper must adapt to new 'ecosystem,' industry professionals say

The Chronicle Herald may see a work stoppage as soon as Friday at midnight. (CBC)

Industry professionals say the country's oldest independently owned newspaper needs to adapt to changing times.

The Chronicle Herald is likely to — at least temporarily — stop producing news soon.

Editorial staff has voted to go on strike as early as Friday at midnight. Management warns it will impose new working conditions on the union, which would include pay cuts and longer hours.

Kelly Toughill, director of University of King's College's journalism school, says people in Nova Scotia shouldn't underestimate the importance of the Herald to the province.

"The Herald has sort of knit the province together," Toughill said Thursday.

"Provinces can be quite fractious: Digby against Yarmouth against Halifax against Cape Breton. I think the Chronicle Herald is one of the institutions that has helped us understand each other, particularly the urban and rural divide."

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Toughill says the Herald helps bridge the urban and rural divide. (CBC)

New media 'ecosystem' already starting

But both supporters and detractors of the Chronicle Herald say there is no room for old-style newspapers in the market anymore, despite the important role they once played.

Toughill says you can already see change in the media market in Nova Scotia.

"There's been a really interesting ecosystem that's been arising in Halifax, where you have a lot of different news organizations covering different parts of the community," she said.

"That's really healthy."

Tim Bousquet, editor and publisher of online news outlet Halifax Examiner, hopes the Herald survives.

"The reality of the situation, whether you like the Chronicle Herald or you don't, that old what we call legacy media just doesn't work any more," Bousquet said.

"The advertising revenue isn't there to support a daily newspaper of the kind you and I grew up with, the everything for everyone newspaper — it's just not there."

Bousquet, who started an online news outlet in recent years, says he wants the Herald to continue. (CBC)

'May it thrive and prosper'

It does seem to be a theme repeated from editors to reporters to columnists, such as Jim Meek, who said change is coming to the Chronicle Herald with or without a strike or lockout. 

"Obviously there is a lot of change, a lot of adaptation," Meek said.

"It's already happening. The media market, as everyone knows, is fragmenting. We can't pretend it is the type of market it was 20 years ago when you could be a dominant player. I still think it is very important. I still think it gives us some common ground.

"May it thrive and prosper."

Meek, a columnist for the Herald, says he's expecting change to come. (CBC)

'Handwriting on the wall'

As the province's oldest newspaper moves towards a work stoppage of some kind, many, including Bousquet, agree on one thing.

"Whether it's two years from now or five years from now, the handwriting is on the wall," Bousquet said.

"The Chronicle Herald won't exist in anything like we have known it before."