Yesterday Sun Media announced it was closing 11 “papers” and laying off 360 staff across the country. Unfortunately this doesn’t include 24Hrs here in Vancouver. The announcement comes on the heels of a 60% reduction, year over year, in owner Quebecor’s first quarter profit.
Similarly, Torstar, the publisher of Metro and the Toronto Star reported a 70% drop in profits.
Six weeks ago, Postmedia – owners of the Sun and Province – led the bad news cycle with a dismal first quarter report showing their pay-wall strategy is a failure while print advertisers continue to flee Postmedia’s papers.
All these media conglomerates responded with cutback strategies, strategies that show no sign of working. Meanwhile media commentators continue their hand-ringing, seeing no end to Canada’s newspaper crisis, while bemoaning the loss of our ‘national voice’.
So am I the only one with a smile on my face?
I think the rapid collapse of English Canada’s newspaper industry is one of the most important opportunities for progressives in years.
Here’s a question for anyone in the four bottom income quintiles: Since when do any of these ‘important public institutions’ actually represent your lives?
Today’s Globe advises us on the “best” way to grill lobster and scallops. It makes a pleasant read while we think about the article on Canaccord’s gold stock advice.
Over at the Vancouver Sun we get the government’s apologia for a bribe in the ethnicgate scandal. Global News has already made a mockery out of that story.
Then there are the pics of unaffordable real estate and also – surprise! – a recipe for lobster Cobb salad. What the hell is it with lobster anyway? Is the 4,000 mile, $4,000 diet the newest thing and how did I miss it?
I have a different view of the death of Canada’s newspaper industry. I see it as the death of one of the ways Canada’s elite communicates with itself and sets the political, social and economic agenda for the rest of us.
That there is a death knell sounding can only be a good thing for those who have suffered from the agenda that Canada’s newspapers have pushed on behalf of the economic elites since Brian Mulroney – free trade, deregulation, deunionization, privatization, and on and on.
Taking advantage of the opportunity should be a priority for Canada’s progressives. But that doesn’t necessarily mean buying a paper, or reproducing a version of a closed paper on-line. Or a limited interest newsmagazine: The Tyee isn’t the model.
And despite my friends losing their jobs, it’s also not about saving industry jobs.
It’s about understanding how ordinary people communicate today and coming up with a progressive model that works for them and generates a common understanding of the social and economic future they face.
Before the other side figures it out. Because they will.