At least 20 jobs cut at TV stations and newspapers in northern Ontario

Some 20 jobs have been cut at TV stations and newspapers in northern Ontario in recent weeks.

Postmedia and Bell Media not releasing details of job cuts or how coverage will be affected.

A lonely and empty Sudbury Star newspaper box in downtown Sudbury. (Erik White/CBC)

Some 20 jobs have been cut at TV stations and newspapers in northern Ontario in recent weeks.

According to the unions representing workers, at least 10 people at Postmedia newspapers in the northeast have been laid off or taken buyouts and another 10 have taken buyouts at CTV Northern Ontario.

Postmedia and Bell Media, the parent company of CTV, would only confirm that some employees in the region have taken buyouts.

Martin O'Hanlon, the national president of the CWA Canada union, said six jobs are being cut at the North Bay Nugget, three at the Sudbury Star and at least one at the Sault Star.

He said there likely could also be positions shed at some of the Postmedia papers in the northeast that don't have union representation and he said his members are also bracing for more possible layoffs.

"Getting information out of Postmedia is like pulling teeth. We still expect there could be more layoffs at other papers, but we just don't know. And to be honest with you, I don't think they know 100 per cent," he said.

O'Hanlon said while the job loss numbers are small compared to other industries, the cutting of journalists can have a big impact on a community.

"How the hell can you have four people covering a city? It doesn't make any sense. There's no way you're the guardian of democracy that you're supposed to be," said O'Hanlon, who would like to see newspapers sold to non-profit community ownership groups.

Sponsored content is nothing new, but it cannot be allowed to become commonplace, argues Michael Enright. (Erik White/CBC )

Digital only news organizations, like Village Media, are stepping into the void with sites in Timmins, North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie.

President Jeff Elgie says with 11 journalists, the web-only Soo Today now has the largest newsroom in the Sault.

He said they were "born digital" while other news organizations are trying to adjust to the new medium.

"The majority of our revenues get put towards staff that are there to produce local content and sell local ads as well," Elgie said.

But other northerners are turning to do-it yourself news.

Jessica Bard is an administrator on a facebook page called Elliot Lake Buzz with 4,500 members who post everything from political articles to things they notice around town.

Bard says she stopped getting the local weekly newspaper the Elliot Lake Standard, because it is so often behind the Buzz.

"I thought it was absolutely perfect to have a site with so many people on it in town where we can get news quicker than we'd get it from the newspaper," Bard said.