Postmedia Network Canada Corp. PNC-B-T will lay off 11 per cent of its 650 editorial employees, the company said Tuesday, as it contends with rising costs and declining advertising and circulation revenue.
The media company, which owns more than 130 brands including the National Post, announced the cuts at an employee town hall. “There’s no question that we are in an existential fight for our lives,” said acting senior vice-president of editorial Gerry Nott, according to a recording obtained by The Globe and Mail. “I do think that we’re transforming … It’s clear to me that we need to hasten the speed.”
The restructuring will affect all titles across the chain, except for those acquired from Brunswick News last year, Mr. Nott said.
Postmedia did not immediately return a request for comment.
The details follow a company memo last week stating an unspecified number of roles will be eliminated over the coming months through layoffs and by not filling job vacancies. The sales, editorial, production and distribution departments will all be affected.
Other cost-saving measures announced last week include moving a dozen Alberta community newspapers to a digital-only format starting at the end of February, selling a building in Saskatoon and subleasing offices in Regina. All employees in Saskatchewan will permanently work remotely. Separately, the company said last week it sold the Calgary Herald building for $17.25-million to U-Haul Co. (Canada) Ltd.
Postmedia also struck a deal with Glacier Media to move its printing operations for Saskatchewan to Estevan Printing.
The changes are just the latest in a series of cost-cutting measures at Postmedia over the past few years amid a profound shift in reader habits and in the business model for news. Print advertising and circulation revenue have long been in decline, and newspapers are trying to adjust by building digital ad revenue – an area dominated by Google and Facebook – and by developing new income streams. Postmedia, for example, has a parcel delivery business, and has sought to boost its fortunes through consolidation, such as the Brunswick News acquisition.
Despite these efforts, Postmedia implemented layoffs, offered buyouts, shuttered some titles and curtailed the print frequency of others. Last October, it stopped printing Monday editions of nine daily newspapers, including the Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette. Since 2015, the number of employees has fallen by more than half to 2,098, as of August, 2022, according to company filings.
The challenges are evident in Postmedia’s latest quarterly results. Earlier this month, the company reported a $15.9-million loss compared with $4.4-million in the same period a year ago, along with declines in revenue from advertising and circulation.
Postmedia president and chief executive officer Andrew MacLeod said in an employee address last week that the company has been hit with a “perfect storm” of falling revenue and rising costs owing to inflation. “We need to have our costs be more in balance with the revenue environment that we find ourselves in,” he said.