Post ready to sell soul; pulls back at the brink

Well, they’ve done it a couple of times now, so it seems to be a policy. The Arts and Life section has a cover that looks like an editorial, but is actually an ad, this time (Tuesday Dec. 6), an ad for hmv for Amy Winehouse’s postmortem album. This is ethically dodgy enough to begin with, but when you open to the editorial page, there is a cover pic and review of the same album. Expecting an adman’s gush job on the album, I was pleasantly surprised that a proper, objective review of the album was done by Mike Doherty, noting as other reviewers did that this is an assemblage of outtakes and songs earlier not deemed fit for release, and hence for fans only. Still, I wonder how long it will be before the ad guys start “suggesting” lines for the editorial side. This is very close to the edge for the National Post.

National Post makes money; bleeds dailies dry

Well, PostMedia announced recently that the NP, after 13 years, was making money. It also announced that the “profit” are largely due to $17.3 million in costcutting across the chain, mostly for salaries in the dailies. I’m sure they feel real good about that across the chain; they are profitable, so they take staff cuts to prop up a “national” newspaper that wouldn’t float otherwise.

In other news, PostMedia announced again that it would start charging for users for on-line access, again following the crowd.

And in local news, I’ve let my subscription to the Leader Post lapse. I finally got fed up with paying $400 a year to read every morning what I read the day before on the web. I used to spend ten minutes a day on the L-P and eight minutes of that was on Wonderword.

Tomorrow, I’ll do something positive, and examine a newspaper model in Canada that works and should be emulated if the daily business wants to survive in the digital age.

CEP challenges Postmedia investors

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union has formally challenged Postmedia’s 92 per cent foreign ownership, citing 500 job losses and the potential of closures (though the closure of the National Post would be welcomed in each newsroom of the Postmedia dailies, which support the 13 year money pit.) CEP sent a letter to Heritage Minister James Moore, using the net benefit argument that killed the Potash takeover and threatens the TSX “merger”.  What effect this will have on the feds is dubious; they like the National Post’s neoconservative editorial line, and don’t have a consistent practice when it comes to foreign ownership. Still, nice to see someone standing up for Canadian ownership of a chain that was built and properly managed till the Aspers bought it and ran it into bankruptcy.

Digital Journal/CNW, Feb. 25 2011

Questions for Paul Godfrey

So,  Postmedia owner Paul Godfrey will be addressing the Regina Chamber of Commerce on Monday Dec. 20. I’d go, but I don’t want to waste $50 to hear the same blather about uniting the web and newspapers (it’s so 1999.) Some questions from the investment/business side that I hope the audience raises with him:

1. Why haven’t you fired everyone above the rank of publisher from the old CanWest days, for cause (the cause being they managed the company into bankruptcy)?

2. Why haven’t you shut down the National Post, which has consistently lost money for the past 12 years, and is leeching money from the profitable dailies?

3. Why are you giving your content away free on the net today while subscribers pay to read about it in tomorrow’s newspaper?

4. Why not adapt the New York Times model, and only allow subscribers to have free access to the website; anyone else who wants to visit your sites should pay a fee?

5. And why can’t you settle whatever problem you’re having with Greyhound so stores in Alberta and Saskatchewan can receive the National Post? And how do you expect to have a national newspaper that won’t provide home delivery in six provinces (Atlantic Canada, Manitoba and Saskatchewan) And one more time, why don’t you just shut it down? I haven’t read it in two months since I can’t buy it herer and can honestly say I’m not missing it.

A brief diatribe against Postmedia editorial policy

So, I open up the business section of today’s (Wed. July 21) Regina Leader Post, and what do I see: a reprint from Saturday July 17′s National Post. Not only is it dated, it also sucks up a whole page of newsprint that could have better been spent on local business news (and local business is booming, thank you.) Not only do I reject old news, I challenge Postmedia’s business strategy: surely they want people to buy their local daily as well as the national one, but why bother buying the national when you’re just going to get reprints from the national anyway, not just in business but in sports, news and commentary? Do these guys have a strategy, or are they just trying to save money by recycling old news?

“More of the same but better”: new business motto at Postmedia

Well, here we go again. Postmedia pres Paul Godfrey is moving news into the internet age, arming reporters with mincameras (hope he actually trains them in videography; the Aspers just dumped cameras on reporters’ desks and told them to go out and shoot) and multitasking them. Didn’t we hear all this in 2000? At least he didn’t use the phrase convergence, but the same bilge is there: multiple platforms, advanced deadlines. And in his pic he’s looking more like Izzy Asper than ever before.

National Post, July 14 2010

CBC, National Post in joint ad deal

Well, it’s not exactly a merger of the strong, but two of the weakest (financially) media outlets have signed an agreement offering each of its clients access, presumably at a discount, to the others advertising. Since Global is no longer part of the CanWest empire, it doesn’t provide a conflict, but it is odd of CBC to hitch its post to a dying star. Yes, Paul Godfrey is convinced of the viability of the Post, but he could have picked a stronger partner, like CTV, which has never lacked for money or leverage.

National Post, May 27 2010

National Post axes summer Monday edition

CanWest announced today that it would cancel its Monday edition for nine weeks over the summer, from July to early Sept. while saying they won’t do the same for the other CanWest dailies. Traditionally for all newspapers, Monday is the lightest day for ads (and for news), so it makes some sense economically. Summer is also the lightest time of the year for newspapers in terms of their size and amount of advertising. Typically it picks up in mid-August for some commodities (clothes, computers, books) for back to school, then ratchets up to a frenzy till Dec. 26, then collapses again for January/February. If CanWest hasn’t got its financial house in order by then, expect it to axe its Monday edition during Jan./Feb. 2010, unless it can swing a lot of Olympics ads.

Paul Godfrey wins daunting task of running National Post

Former Sun chain CEO and ex Blue Jays CEO Paul Godfrey has just been named President and CEO of the National Post, the daily newspaper that only publishes in four of 10 provinces. Despite my skepticism, given ten years of red ink at the Post, Mr. Godfrey managed both the Sun and the Blue Jays to success and profitability. Best wishes Mr. Godfrey; it would be nice if you could redefine what this newspaper is about and extend it to being a genuine national newspaper.

Globe and Mail, Dec. 1, 2008

The future of newspapers in Canada, by Jonathan Kay

Since the National Post no longer publishes on the prairies, I have to rely on Google Alerts to let me know what their columnists are saying. Despite his defence of the National Post, Mr. Kay does have some insights into the future of newspapers in Canada.

National Post, November 7 2008

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