Summerside mayor, MLA pushing to keep Journal Pioneer going

Politicians in Summerside say they plan to do whatever they can to save the Journal Pioneer.  The city's mayor and provincial MLA's say the massive layoffs announced by SaltWire Network this week has them fearful for the future of the newspaper.  

Future of Prince County newspaper uncertain after permanent layoffs by SaltWire Network

Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart says if the Journal Pioneer doesn't start back up the area will lose more then just local news coverage. (Ken Linton)

Some politicians in Summerside say they plan to do whatever they can to help save the area's local newspaper, the Journal Pioneer. 

The city's mayor and local MLAs say the massive layoffs announced by SaltWire Network this week, combined with the fact the newspaper hasn't been printed since March, has them fearful for its future. 

"With these layoffs, it's foreboding," said Steve Howard, Summerside-South Drive's MLA. "It's just another tragedy if indeed Summerside loses that voice and ability to generate reliable, local news." 

'A worrisome trend' 

On P.E.I. 23 SaltWire employees have lost their jobs as part of the company's layoffs in the Atlantic region. 

All of those employees had been temporarily laid off back in March, amid the loss of advertising revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At the same time, SaltWire stopped printing the Journal Pioneer, and merged it with the Guardian. 

The company hasn't made it clear what its plans are for either P.E.I. newspaper, following this week's layoff announcement. 

"Jobs were affected all over the company," said Kaylee Hake, SaltWire's senior communications director, in an email to CBC. "In terms of suspended products, we're continuing to evaluate markets to determine when it is viable to restart publications that are dependent on local business conditions."

The Journal Pioneer stopped publishing in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Ken Linton )

Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart said if the newspaper doesn't start back up, the area will lose more than just local news coverage. 

"It's hard to put a number on it right now, what it would mean for business, not to be able to advertise daily in the local newspaper like we've been used to for the past 100 something years," said Stewart. "Plus there's the jobs that were here at the Journal, and those salaries not there. The list goes on. So it's disappointing."

Stewart said he hopes to get the community rallying behind the Journal Pioneer, and to meet with SaltWire officials soon to make a case for keeping the paper alive.

"There's strength in numbers. So if we can get the business community, as well as the city and other organizations promoting it, hopefully that will help," said Stewart. 

"I certainly hope it's not the end of the Journal Pioneer."

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