Nova Scotia

The Coast shuts down print paper, lays off staff

After 27 years, Halifax's alternative weekly announced it won't be printing papers for the indefinite future because COVID-19 shuttered the businesses that support the paper through advertising revenue.

Free alternative weekly paper lost advertising revenue as businesses shut down

The Coast has laid off 20 staff members as it pauses printing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It says a bare-bones editorial staff will remain to keep it operating online. (Taryn Grant/CBC)

Halifax's alternative weekly newspaper is halting its print production for the time being because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The final edition of the Coast for the indefinite future came out Thursday morning.

In a letter posted to the Coast's website titled "Pause the presses," publisher Christine Oreskovich and editor Kyle Shaw said COVID-19 "has turned things upside down for our readers, our staff, our city, our world."

"The base of local businesses whose advertising helps support The Coast — a base that tilts towards bars, restaurants and events — has been shut down," the letter said.

These shutdowns also affect other sources of revenue for the Coast, like its ticketing service and events like Halifax Burger Week, which has been postponed until June 2020.

The letter said nearly 20 staff members were laid off. A "bare-bones" editorial staff will remain to keep reporting for the Coast online.

"This is a difficult step, without precedent in The Coast's 27 years," it said.

Continuing online

The letter made a point to thank Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, for helping the province prepare for COVID-19.

It said the final issue's cover, which shows a bathroom sink with the text "This machine kills coronavirus," is dedicated to him.

"Strang has been revealed as the leader you wish for in a crisis, and from the first inklings of coronavirus concern he has given us the simple, practical, utterly Nova Scotian advice that washing your hands is a real weapon in this fight," the letter said.

The final issue of the Coast came out Thursday morning. (Alex Cooke/CBC)

It said the paper will continue to produce work about the coronavirus on its website.

The Coast was founded in 1993 and is known for its coverage of Halifax issues and events.

In November, TC Transcontinental, which printed the Coast and the now-defunct StarMetro Halifax newspaper, laid off at least 15 people in Atlantic Canada, leaving the Coast to find a new place to print.

In February, the Coast announced it had begun printing on the Chronicle Herald's printing press.