TorStar cuts jobs

Torstar Corp., owner of the Toronto Star, Canada’s biggest-circulation daily, said in a press release that it will cut 160 jobs in its newspaper division. A report by Reuters said the job cuts come as “the book and newspaper publisher copes with a declining newspaper market.”

The news starkly contrasts with a release the previous week from the Canadian Newspaper Association of data the association said “show the revenue picture for Canada’s daily newspapers remained stable through 2007, with robust growth in online ad sales offsetting a mild decline in print advertising. This is in sharp contrast to the U.S., where a contracting economy helped drive print ad revenues to the biggest year over year fall in more than half a century.”

The CNA press release said 2007 revenues for Canadian newspapers, including online operations, were marginally lower (-0.8%) dipping to $3.576 billion, but a decline in print advertising of 2.4 per cent was offset by a 29 per cent growth in online revenues. It said, “this picture contrasts markedly with the performance of the U.S.newspaper industry, where total print advertising revenues in 2007 fell 9.4 per cent to $42 billion, according to the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), the biggest year-over-year decline since 1950, when the NAA first began charting the numbers.

        Added the release: “The narrative about newspapers in the U.S. has been consistently negative in recent years, and that negativity has unduly influenced perceptions of the health of the newspaper industry in Canada,” said Anne Kothawala, President and CEO of the Canadian Newspaper Association. “Advertisers and their agencies, many of whom are global businesses, should ensure that their Canadian buying decisions are not tainted by the US data….The real story is how well we are holding our own in an age of global media disruption.”

Perhaps TorStar — which reports say is eliminating its Internet production team — didn’t get the CNA message. A Canadian Press story noted that while most of the job cuts through severage packages, were already expected, “the Internet layoffs came as a surprise, said Maureen Dawson, an official with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. “Their message to the world is that they’re all dedicated to the Internet, but then they lay off the whole department,” she told The Canadian Press shortly after meeting with Torstar respresentatives.”