Ottawa

Le Droit employees looking to buy their own paper

Employees of the financially troubled newspaper chain that owns local French-language daily Le Droit are coming together in a bid to become their own bosses. 

Financially troubled French-language daily could become part of co-op

Le Droit, a French-language newspaper that covers the Ottawa-Gatineau area, could become employee-owned after the Groupe Capitale Médias chain filed for bankruptcy in August. (Radio-Canada )

Employees of the financially troubled newspaper chain that owns local French-language daily Le Droit are coming together in a bid to become their own bosses. 

Groupe Capitale Médias, the owner of the Ottawa-Gatineau newspaper and six other daily papers in Quebec, sought bankruptcy protection in August.

Anyone looking to take over the papers now has until Friday to present their business plans to a bankruptcy court judge. The provincial government also offered up a $5 million loan in the summer to give the company more breathing room.

"We all know that the newspaper industry is in crisis and it has been for almost a decade now," said Pascale Saint-Onge, president of the Fédération nationale des communications, the union representing the company's staff.

Saint-Onge told CBC Radio's All In A Day they're trying to put together a bid for all the papers, including Le Droit, that would see them operate as a co-op. 

The co-op model would allow employees, advertisers and even readers to purchase a stake in the papers, she said. 

"We think this is a new project, a new business model, that can be very useful," Saint-Onge said.

Employees from Le Droit newspaper are hatching a plan to save their newspaper and its chain from bankruptcy. 9:48

Model exists in Quebec

Saint-Onge said they're collecting commitments from the communities the six newspapers operate in. Earlier this week, the City of Gatineau pledged it would spend $150,000 in advertising over the next three years. 

While this isn't a new concept, other Quebec papers that have tried forging a co-op are smaller, generally weekly operations, she said.

"There are other newspapers in Quebec that have this business model. The main difference in this one is that it's a much larger scale," she said. "It is a larger scale operation, but it's a model that already exists."

The court's decision could come within days of the bids being submitted, but the judge can also extended the deadline to allow more time for bids to come forward.

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