Alberta Politics

goodbye to the edmonton journal on sunday.

The last print copy of the Edmonton Journal’s Sunday edition hit the newsstands today. The decision to cut the Sunday Edition was made weeks ago as part of cost cutting measures by the Postmedia Corporation.

After years of profit loses caused by an outdated business model, media corporations across North America are shutting down some newspapers and cutting staff at others. At the Ottawa Citizen, the newsroom was downsized when a substantial number of staff were laid off. One Edmonton Journal staff member recently told me that their colleagues at the paper are expecting more staff cuts closer to home.

Some companies have decided to erect online subscription pay-walls to limit the number of articles that a reader can view for free on the Internet.

In an online world where information and opinion (both good and bad) is free and abundant, I wonder if some companies realize they are undercutting their most  valuable contribution to society by laying-off young journalists who have the ability, drive, and resources to report quality local news stories?

I believe reporters working for Alberta’s two big city newspapers, the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Journal, both owned by the Postmedia Corporation, did a fantastic job providing solid and fair reporting during the recent provincial election.

Local news is what makes newspapers like the Edmonton Journal valuable to a reader like me, even if I almost exclusively read the paper online. Cutting off the eyes, ears, and noses of a local newspaper to save the face of a newspaper corporation will make me less likely to turn to that newspaper as a source of local information.

After taking some time to about it, I remembered the last time I went to a newsstand and purchased a newspaper was November 5, 2008. 

Edmonton Journal November 5 2008
The front page of the Edmonton Journal on November 5, 2008.

8 replies on “goodbye to the edmonton journal on sunday.”

I had a digital subscription for the sole reason that the Journal doesn’t distribute papers where I live on Saturday and Sunday. They cut out the Sunday issue so I don’t see a point in paying for their services anymore. Now I don’t have a subscription at all and won’t buy print copies either.

I still find at work that a daily paper is useful. It’s much harder to browse through the day’s news on a website. I still rely on my daily Journal subscription at the office for full coverage of the previous day’s news.

Further, I get real news about the part of the city I work in from some of the great community papers. In Edmonton Highlands-Norwood we have the Rat Creek Press, Boyle McCauley News, and The Riverdalian that are all monthly community papers, as well as the quarterly Highlands Bellevue Highlights. All of those publications are very effective in their coverage of community issues. For communities that have them, those are the publications that really need support because, in my view, they’re actually providing the best local coverage. It’s kind of ironic because they’re almost exclusively volunteers.

The problem is that the online news is not free to produce and I think we’re reaching the end of the burn for news companies that have been supplying all this ‘free’ news. Online news in it’s current form does not seem able to generate the revenue necessary to pay good journalists.

What would be interesting is if the journalists ditched the news companies and started there own news site without the baggage of the big old news companies. Perhaps they could generate enough revenue to pay themselves and generate solid local news. While I like the local bloggers they often lack the qualities of the professional journalists.

I cancelled my subscription a few years back because I didn’t see the point of paying for advertising and wire-copy features that bore little relevance to Edmonton. I didn’t appreciate that entertainment stories and previews were most often NOT written by locals. I also didn’t like having to deal with the mounds of advertising inserts, which I never read, but had to recycle.

I WAS buying single copies on Fridays because of the TV Times insert, but now that’s gone as well, so The Journal has now completely lost this pair of eyes for its advertising. They seem to be cutting off their nose to spite their face.

And PostMedia seems to be doing this to prop up The National Post, which itself was an incredible act of foolish hubris by that famous ex-Canadian, Conrad Black. That paper has NEVER generated the revenue anticipated, and has NEVER (and probably NEVER WILL) be a credible alternative to The Globe and Mail.

I actually sent an e-mail concerning this to the Publisher, Managing Editor, etc. a few weeks back. Strangely enough, I never got a response!

I would be interested in knowing on what basis you consider that reporting of the election campaign was reasonable and balanced (or “solid and fair”). It would be an interesting exercise for some reader of this site to do an analysis of the headlines in the Journal and Herald during the campaign and record which were favourable and unfavourable to each of the major parties.

You said it yourself:

Local news is what makes newspapers like the Edmonton Journal valuable to a reader like me, even if I almost exclusively read the paper online.

You use the word “valuable” but from what I can understand, none of the compensation for that value is transferred from you to them to pay for the value they add.

I suppose an argument can be made that, as a blogger with a non-miniscule audience, you generate page clicks for articles you post, but that can’t begin to make up for the cost to them of providing that news.

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