News / Ottawa

Postmedia to merge Ottawa Sun, Ottawa Citizen newsrooms

Ottawa Sun newsroom gutted as part of nationwide Postmedia changes.

Multimedia reporter Sam Cooley makes his way to his car after being laid off from the Ottawa Sun in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. Postmedia has cut approximately 90 jobs and merged newsrooms in four cities as it steps up plans to slash costs amid mounting revenue losses.The company owns two newspapers in each of the cities of Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Multimedia reporter Sam Cooley makes his way to his car after being laid off from the Ottawa Sun in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. Postmedia has cut approximately 90 jobs and merged newsrooms in four cities as it steps up plans to slash costs amid mounting revenue losses.The company owns two newspapers in each of the cities of Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.

A dozen laid-off Ottawa Sun journalists left their newsroom on Tuesday afternoon carrying boxes full of their belongings after Postmedia Network, which owns the paper, announced deep cuts across its newspaper chain.

The Sun journalists were among the 90 Postmedia journalists who lost their jobs as the company tries to find $80 million in savings.

Part of that exercise involves merging the newsrooms of the Sun and the Ottawa Citizen, which is also owned by Postmedia, with a single editor tasked with overseeing both newspapers.

The company is also merging its Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton papers and offering buyout packages in Vancouver and Ottawa.

In a memo, Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey said the company would continue producing separate brands in each market, and will try to meet its goal of finding $80 million in savings by the end of the 2017 fiscal year.

“That significant of an initiative requires looking at everything in a new way and considering approaches we have never taken – truly nothing is off the table,” he said.

Paul Morse, president of Unifor Local 87-M, which represents 3,000 Ontario media employees, called the cuts “dramatic.” Merging newspapers hurts journalistic independence, he said.

“This is a really horrible day for the news folks affected across Postmedia newspapers,” he said.

The union will explore all legal options, he said.

CWA Canada is taking it a step further. The union that represents 6,000 media employees is calling on the federal government to limit media ownership and “prevent destructive debt-leveraged takeovers of important national companies.”

“It is an outright scam and there should be financial regulations to prevent it,” said CWA Canada President Martin O’Hanlon in a press release. “It's particularly egregious in this case because they’re not just destroying a company and hurting shareholders, they are well on their way to destroying quality print journalism in Canada – a huge blow to the public good.”

On Monday, news broke that Godfrey wanted an urgent phone meeting with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. Buzzfeed reported on the news after an email was accidentally leaked to a UK-based reporter with a similar name, Jim Waterson.

Brook Simpson, a spokesperson for the Ottawa mayor, confirmed Watson was among several mayors who was briefed on Postmedia’s changes.

Ottawa Citizen editor-in-chief Andrew Potter recently announced he would be leaving the newspaper for a job in academia.

The Edmonton Journal’s editor-in-chief Margo Goodhand and managing editor Stephanie Coombs were also laid off.

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