Glacier Media Inc. is shutting three more community newspapers in British Columbia as the company continues to cut costs to offset declining revenue.
Staff at the Burnaby News Leader, New Westminster News Leader and Tri-Cities Now learned Thursday morning that their papers will be shuttered after publishing their Oct. 1 editions.
Glacier bought the two News Leader papers from the province's other major publisher, Black Press, in a deal last December that swapped titles and doubled Glacier's presence several cities. Although the company's chief executive officer, Jonathon Kennedy, suggested at the time that it planned to keep the titles open, Glacier has since slashed its community news portfolio, also shutting the Richmond Review last July after 83 years in print.
"That was the hope and time has passed since then, and we feel it's a better model going forward with a single title," said Alvin Brouwer, president of Glacier's Lower Mainland Publishing group.
The closings are perhaps not surprising given that Glacier had come to own two community papers in each of the Tri-Cities, Burnaby and Richmond, and had already cut some of their publication schedules from two weekly editions to one.
Mr. Brouwer said Glacier will continue to serve the markets "very well" with its remaining titles. "We're not abandoning the market by any stretch," he said. Two of the remaining titles in those communities – Tri-City News and Burnaby Now – still publish twice a week, on Wednesdays and Fridays.
When asked about which Glacier papers were profitable and which lost money, he offered "no comment," and said the number of staff affected by the closings is "undetermined at this point" as it is "possible" some employees could move to continuing papers.
The reason for the move is financial. The company has suffered as "print revenue has been declining as a result of the shift to digital media," the company said in its most recent quarterly report.
Glacier's revenue fell 8.5 per cent in its most recent quarter, compared with the prior year, and its profit was roughly cut in half, to less than $3-million. The company hinted in August that cuts or even the sale of some papers could be coming, telling investors that "efforts will be made to restructure community media assets to create greater direct value and simplicity for Glacier, or monetize where appropriate value can be realized."
"The last issue of the Tri-Cities Now will be published Thursday, Oct. 1," the newspaper said in a note published Thursday. "We want to thank our readers for their support. It's been a privilege to serve our community for more than 30 years."
James Moore, the federal Industry Minister who has represented the riding of Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam but is soon leaving politics, expressed his regrets in a tweet: "Sorry to hear that @TheTriCitiesNow is ceasing publication. It has been a staple of the community & will be missed."
Mr. Kennedy could not be reached for comment.