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The Globe and Mail

Sing Tao Daily lays off Canadian copy editors, translators

Cof Sing Tao Daily, published by Torstar and Ming Pao, are seen in a 2004 file photo.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Sing Tao Daily has laid off its Canadian copy editors and translators, opting to send the jobs to Hong Kong in a bid to cut costs in a difficult advertising market that has seen newspapers across the country turn to outside agencies to handle their stories.

The newspaper is a partnership between Torstar Inc. and Sing Tao's Daily's Chinese holding company. It doesn't release circulation figures, but vice-president of operations Peter Li said Thursday that about 200,000 readers a week flip through its pages.

Newspapers across the country are struggling as sharp declines in print advertising compromise their budgets. Online advertising is growing rapidly, but recent research indicates that for every $7 lost in print revenue the papers are only earning $1 in online revenue.

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The challenge was highlighted Thursday as Postmedia Network – which publishes the National Post and several large-city dailies across the country – posted an $11-million loss due to a 10-per-cent drop in print advertising over the last year.

Sing Tao will lose 7 copy editors and 8 translators from an editorial staff of about 75 journalists. The paper's stories will be sent overseas after they are written to be edited and placed on a page, which will be sent back to Canada as a digital file ready to be printed.

"We are facing the same challenges as others in the industry," said Mr. Li. "We are thinking of the problems that we may be facing down the road and have decided to outsource that work for the sake of cost efficiency. We will then be able to reinvest in our core business and enhance our competitiveness."

Late last year, Thomson Reuters shut down its online news desk, laying off 22 journalists and moving their jobs to Bangalore.

It's a trend in Canadian newsrooms, as copy editing and page design work is being moved out of newsrooms and into centralized locations that service several papers at once.

Sun Media has several hubs to services its dozens of papers across the country, while Postmedia handles a lot of copy editing and pagination from its newspapers across the country from a centre in Hamilton. The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star both send some work to Pagemasters North America, a division of The Canadian Press.

"It worries me because it's not hard to picture the boardroom discussions where managers feel the need to justify their operations," said Howard Law, a national representative at the Southern Ontario Newspaper Guild. "They see others get their management trophies for outsourcing, and get asked why they haven't saved the same dollars."

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The daily newspapers haven't moved their editing offshore, said Mr. Law, although the Toronto Sun did have a plan to look overseas at one point before deciding to abandon the project.

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