Sun Media cutting 360 jobs, shutting down 8 publications and 3 free dailies

Sun Media Corporation announced hundreds of job cuts and the closure of several publications Tuesday.  

Sun Media Corporation announced hundreds of job cuts and the closure of several publications Tuesday.  

The "strategic" overhaul includes cutting 360 jobs representing about eight per cent of Sun Media's workforce, according to an internal memo. Eight publications will be shut down along with three branches of the free 24 Hours daily: in Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton. The memo stated the last publication date for 24 Hours in those cities will be August 2, 2013.

“The management decisions we are making are difficult and highly regrettable, particularly the job cuts," Julie Tremblay, chief operating officer, Sun Media Corporation said in a statement. "However, the downsizing is necessary to maintain a strong positioning for our news media outlets on all platforms, and more broadly to secure our corporation’s future success in an industry that is being revolutionized by the advent of digital."

Tremblay noted digital consumption of news is not just a strong trend, as young people "almost exclusively" get their news from digitial sources. "We are therefore making investments and expanding our high-potential newspapers and publications across all platforms, print and digital.”

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Martin O'Hanlon, director of CWA Canada, which represents workers at several Sun Media newspapers, questions how the chain will expand its digital presence with fewer journalists producing fewer news items. 

"Yes they're going to expand their product across some digital platforms, but it's going to have less news … spread over a bigger area," he said. "It's trying to do more with less and I haven't seen many places where that works."  

Tremblay's memo to staff noted that Sun Media "will continue to focus on great journalism," but O'Hanlon said the chain should be honest about how the cuts affect the quality of journalism.

"Nobody in the world can produce a better quality of journalism with less journalists. It's just not something you can do — it's delusional or it's dishonest," he said.

The publications that have or will stop publishing are: The Lindsay Daily Post (Ontario), The Midland Free Press (Ontario); The Meadow Lake Progress (Saskatchewan); The Lac du Bonnet Leader (Manitoba); The Beausejour Review (Manitoba); and the following publications in Quebec: L’Action Régionale in Montérégie, Le Magazine Saint-Lambert and Le Progrès de Bellechasse.

Sun Media said it will however, keep the 24 Hours brand in Montreal and Toronto because each city's mass transit system warrants the need for another paper. The newspaper chain said it decided to focus on one urban newspaper in Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton, and will keep publishing 24 Hours in Vancouver, where Sun Media does not have another newspaper. 

The job cuts affect those who work at newspapers that are still in production too. 

The Southern Ontario News Media Guild represents workers at 13 Sun Media papers in Ontario and 15 of its members have lost their jobs, according to its president.

Paul Morse told the Canadian Press that the Toronto Sun and the St. Catherines Standard have each let five employees go, while the Brantford Expositor cut three positions and one job was lost at each of the London Free Press and the Ottawa Sun.

Sun Media is Canada's largest newspaper chain with 36 paid-circulation daily newspapers and six (includes all 24 Hours papers currently in production) free dailies. The chain also has close to 200 community newspapers, shopping guides and other specialty publications.