Nova Scotia

Daily News disappears from Halifax

Transcontinental Media is shutting down the Halifax Daily News and laying off more than 90 people.

Parent company is launching free daily paper instead

Transcontinental Media is shutting down the Halifax Daily News immediately and laying off more than 90 people.

Employees were given the news Monday morning, when the company announced it is launching a free daily newspaper, Metro, this week..

"It was a shock to me," said David Rodenhiser, a longtime columnist.

"I have worked for this paper for 18 years through various owners, and you don't expect when you are coming in on a Monday morning that there will be strange guys you haven't seen before with their hands folded and looking very stern and telling you to go into the executive boardroom. Then you know it's done."

The Daily News was launched in 1974. Transcontinental bought the newspaper in 2002, when it had a circulation of 20,000.

Marc-Noel Ouellette, a senior vice-president with Transcontinental, said closing the paper was a tough decision.

"It's financial," he said. "We bought this paper within a group of papers years ago and it has been losing money ever since."

The company said the 92 employees will be offered severance packages and help finding other work, though a few would be offered positions with other Transcontinental newspapers in the province.

Free paper out Thursday

The first edition of Metro will be out in Halifax on Thursday.

The Daily News website, meanwhile, has already been changed, to Metro Halifax.

It will be smaller and have less emphasis on original, local news, and be targeted at a hip and trendy audience, Ouellette said.

The disappearance of the Daily News leaves the independently owned Chronicle Herald without a competitor.

However, Ouellette believes Halifax just isn't big enough for two traditional daily papers.

"Halifax is over-mediatized, as far as I'm concerned. There's media here up to the wazoo, so I don't think people are not going to be well informed," he said.

Former Daily News political reporter Brian Flinn disagrees.

"In this town and in this province after today there will be one print source, so that's one set of eyes, that's one point of view that ultimately everything is being generated from. And that's not good for our society and that's not good for our democracy," Flinn said.

Expect ripple effect: Kimber

Stephen Kimber, acting director of the school of journalism at the University of King's College, expects the loss of the Daily News will have an effect on the Herald.

With no competition, the Herald will likely reassess how it chooses what stories to cover, such as investigative pieces or stories that require travel overseas, Kimber said.

"Those were editorial decisions that suddenly become economic decisions. 'Why do we have to put that much money into this? We don't have anybody to compete with anymore,'" he told CBC News.

Sarah Dennis, vice-president of the Chronicle Herald, said she's sad to see a formidable competitor disappear, but it will business as usual at her newspaper.

"We've outlasted Conrad Black and Southam, and now Transcon on the daily newspaper front, so we're just going to continue to do our job as we've been doing," Dennis said.

Transcontinental has about 800 employees in Nova Scotia, at several daily and weekly newspapers, and two printing facilities.

The company is publishing Metro in partnership with Metro International S.A. and the Toronto-based Torstar Corp. Copies are already available in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.