Faced with the by-now familiar story of digital revenue failing to outpace print losses, two of Canada’s biggest newspaper publishers, Postmedia Network and The Globe and Mail, announced more staff cuts on Monday.
During a town hall meeting with staff on Monday, The Globe and Mail announced its intention to eliminate 18 positions, including nine in editorial (among them three copy editors and three photographers) as well as in advertising and circulation.
In an internal memo to staff posted on JSource.ca, Globe and Mail publisher and CEO Phillip Crawley said that while the national daily has taken steps to position itself for the future through the launch of services such as the digital subscription service Globe Unlimited, digital revenues aren’t increasing fast enough to offset the declines in print.
Crawley said that a Transformation Team comprised of representatives from across the organization that was created last summer helped identify efficiencies across the Globe’s entire operation.
Those findings resulted in changes to the publication’s practice of distributing free copies to hotels and other public areas, as well as the elimination or renegotiation of existing service contracts and a reduction in travel and entertainment costs.
The memo also outlined cost-savings created by a voluntary separation program; a voluntary flexible time away program in 2012 and 2013 whereby staff could take up to three months off without pay; the elimination of more than 100 positions since September 2012 (including non-union layoffs last fall and voluntary departures); leaving some vacancies unfilled and a reduction in the use of independent contractors and freelancers.
“While these measures have helped, they are not sufficiently offsetting print revenue declines,” said the memo. “We need to further reduce costs through employee layoffs.”
The Globe has asked for employees willing to take voluntary layoffs to indicate their desire to do so by Jan. 31, with their departure coming on March 31.
“This decision was made only after considering all other remaining options, and I recognize that it creates uncertainty and discomfort,” said Crawley. “Our objective is to make the right decisions now that will ensure our future success, while not compromising the high-quality newspaper, magazine and online products we bring to the market.”
The Globe announcement came on the heels that Postmedia, which operates several major-market dailies including the National Post, Calgary Herald and Gazette (Montreal), is closing its classified advertising call centre in Calgary and laying off most of its 48 employees.
The call centre will close in the spring or summer said the company, with its classified advertising being handled by Williamsville, NY-based Media Sales Plus. Postmedia reported a first quarter loss of $11.8 million last week, attributing the losses to lower ad revenues and costs of reworking its operations.
The Post has reportedly also eliminated several newsroom positions, among them social media editor Jeremy Barker, who tweeted on Monday afternoon, “I am now @nationalpost’s former social media editor. Laid off this afternoon with a few others.”