Sale of Post would “change the face of journalism in this country”

For SaleIn his column today, The Globe and Mail‘s  Lawrence Martin considers the impact the possible sale of the National Post would have on debate in Canada. The Globe recently published an article outlining CanWest’s financial woes and reporting that a group led by Senator Jerry Grafstein has been looking to put together a bid for the Post.

Martin then wonders how this would play out in both political and journalistic circles. The right-wing news approach of the Post is the mark of the paper’s former owner Conrad Black, but should a Liberal Senator take over, Martin says, “it would substantially alter the face of journalism in the country.”

He writes:

“If his [Grafstein’s] bid succeeds, if Liberals get their hands on the Post, down
would go the Conservative Party’s media flagship, its ideological promo
sheet. It would be like the Liberals losing the
Toronto Star.”

Martin notes that the bid “appears to be a long shot” but says a new owner could attempt to change the paper to suit today’s markets:

“Although it would be a daunting task, a new proprietor could
conceivably retool the Post to make it more viable in today’s difficult
newspaper market. The Post’s Texas-styled ideology has been a nice fit
for Alberta, but it has had trouble finding a growing audience east of
Moose Jaw. Its difficulties were compounded by its inability to keep
star performers such as Mark Steyn, Andrew Coyne, Christie Blatchford
and Paul Wells.”

Meanwhile, in a blog response to the original Globe article about CanWest, Paul Well’s at Maclean’s wonders how the logistics of a Post purchase would really work and whether it makes any sense. He writes:

“…it’s hardly clear how the surgery would work. The Post comes
attached to a country-wide (well, Montreal on westward) chain of
newspapers, and it has announced a divorce from the Canadian Press
news-gathering collective. Neither the
Post nor other member papers have autonomous reporting staff in Ottawa any more; a new Post
buyer would basically have to staff Ottawa up from zero, or allow
CanWest News Service to make most staffing and coverage decisions for
the paper, which calls into question the logic of a purchase, if there
ever was any such logic.”