Torstar, Postmedia close community newspapers across Canada

Postmedia and Torstar are both shuttering a number of small dailies and laying off hundreds of journalists

Stacked newspapers close up. (Stefan Wolny/Shutterstock)

Stacked newspapers close up. (Stefan Wolny/Shutterstock)

TORONTO – Torstar Corp. and Postmedia Network Inc. will close a number of community and daily newspapers including free dailies in Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Ottawa as part of a deal to swap titles.

Postmedia (TSX:PNC.A, TSX:PNC.B) announced Monday it will cut 244 jobs as it plans to shutter 21 of the 22 community newspaper properties it has acquired from Torstar as well as the Metro Winnipeg and Metro Ottawa free dailies.

“What makes this particularly difficult is that it means we will say goodbye to many dedicated newspaper people,” Postmedia executive chairman and CEO Paul Godfrey said in a statement.

“However, the continuing costs of producing dozens of small community newspapers in these regions in the face of significantly declining advertising revenues means that most of these operations no longer have viable business models.”

Meanwhile, Torstar’s Metroland Media Group Ltd. said it will close three of the seven daily newspapers in Ontario it acquired from Postmedia as well as the eight community newspapers purchased.

The daily publications that will close are the Barrie Examiner, Orillia Packet & Times and Northumberland Today, while it expects to continue to publish St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review, Welland Tribune and Peterborough Examiner. The closure of the newspapers will affect 46 full-time and part-time employees.

Torstar (TSX:TS.B) will also close the free dailies 24Hours Toronto and 24Hours Vancouver, a move that will result in the loss of one job.

“This transaction will allow us to operate more efficiently through increased geographic synergies in a number of our primary regions,” Torstar CEO John Boynton said in a statement.

“By acquiring publications within or adjacent to our primary areas and selling publications outside our primary areas we will be able to put a greater focus on regions where we believe we can be more effective in serving both customers and clients.”

The companies said the transaction is effectively a non-cash deal, as the consideration for the publications being purchased is roughly equal to that of the publications being sold.

Torstar holds an investment in The Canadian Press as part of a joint agreement with a subsidiary of the Globe and Mail and the parent company of Montreal’s La Presse.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.