Barrie Examiner, Orillia Packet & Times to close after newspaper swap
A Barrie institution is among the casualties of a massive shift in Canada’s newspaper industry.
Postmedia Network Inc. and Torstar Corp. announced Monday that it was closing several newspapers, as part of a large deal.
Metroland Media Group Ltd., a subsidiary of Torstar, acquired 15 community papers and two free commuter papers from Postmedia. The company then announced the closure of daily newspapers The Barrie Examiner, Orillia Packet & Times and Northumberland Today.
“I never felt like I worked for a company or the person who signed my cheques. It was about serving the community and I think that's what all of us felt like here,” says Ian McInroy, Barrie Examiner reporter.
The Bradford Times, Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin, and the Innisfil Examiner, Fort Erie Times, Niagara Advance, Pelham News, Inport News and the Thorold Niagara News are also closing.
The closures will affect 46 full-time and part-time employees.
“We were hoping for the best, but when we got here there was a sign on the door saying we were closed,” says long-time Barrie Examiner reporter Cheryl Browne. “The government didn’t bail us out. Bombardier who got funding and the car industry, but community newspapers, the guts, the heart of every community, this is exactly what happened. We’ve all lost our jobs here.”
At the same time, Postmedia acquired 22 community newspapers from Torstar. It will cut 244 jobs as it closes 21 community newspapers. The only paper to stay open will be the Exeter Times-Advocate.
“It means no job, I lose my truck and no Christmas for my kids,” says Jay Rice, a subcontractor for the Barrie Examiner. He found out he lost his job when he showed up at work.
Both Metroland Media and Postmedia say the closures are a result of difficult times in the newspaper industry.
“Metroland Media concluded the only realistic option was to close the affected papers due to their falling advertising revenues and Metroland’s projections of their future performance,” the company said in a news release.
Postmedia executive chairman and CEO Paul Godfrey called the situation “particularly difficult.”
"However, the continuing costs of producing dozens of small community newspapers in these regions in the face of significantly declining advertising revenues means that most of these operations no longer have viable business models."
The companies said the transaction is effectively a non-cash deal, as the consideration for the publications being purchased is roughly equal to that of the publications being sold.
The Examiner was first established in 1864, while the Packet & Times was formed from the merger of two other papers in 1926.
Residents and politicans shared their shock online.
Devastating news that our city has lost the @BarrieExaminer. Thinking today of the incredible journalists, editors, and staff I've had the honour of working with. It was founded in 1864 and has served Barrie since then.— Jeff Lehman (@Mayor_Jeff) November 27, 2017
It's a sad day in #Barrie #Innisfil. My comments today in the House of Commons on the sudden news that the @BarrieExaminer & @InnisfilExamin1 newspapers have closed their doors. #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/vY6nz9oT1T— John Brassard (@JohnBrassardCPC) November 27, 2017
With files from The Canadian Press.