Editorial from a former editor : “Selling off the furniture to pay for the groceries”
So, last night I received this email from a former Postmedia editor, an update, a tip on the Dan Murphy story. The kind of thing you can take to the bank, if you know what I mean. I stand by it, and my source, who also forwarded me this link to a story this morning…the same link a reader sent to me today in the comments later on : http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Postmedia+sells+office/6846848/story.html#ixzz1z08sL8Xy
BY CHRISTINE DOBBEY, POSTMEDIA NEWS JUNE 27, 2012
Postmedia Network Canada Corp. has agreed to sell its Toronto head office for $24 million, money it will use to pay down its debt, the company said Tuesday.
The property is home to the media chain’s corporate head-quarters and the National Post.
The sale to property developer Rose and Thistle Group Ltd. is conditional on Postmedia leasing another property within 30 days.
The former editor had this to say: “They’re selling their house to pay the bills. Same thing happened in Vancouver when we moved from our own building at Sixth and Granville to downtown rental space, which has since been downsized about four times.That gives you an idea how much more they borrowed than they should have been allowed to and how tough a time they are having making money off the crap they are producing.It’s what’s so infuriating for journos when they go through all that lecturey bullshit about new revenue models online and “the old model is broken”. It isn’t. People want news and will pay for it, and cross-platforming really works well, both for content and profit. They just haven’t got a clue about either.”
Keep in mind, this was after the second great email to come my way from said former editor, one they agreed to let me publish, despite the fact ” the writing isn’t good”. I told them it doesn’t always have to be to reach people, sometimes it needs to be real, like regular people write to each other, you know?
So here it is, timely I think, because of the Dan Murphy Incident… I feel that deserves capitals, for some reason. Perhaps because it’s only the second time I can recall one of the troupe speaking out, since Kai Nagata walked away from a budding career… for not so different reasons.
Here it is, raw, unedited. Editorial from a former editor.
Not to belabour this when the focus is Enbridge, but I meant what I said. Much of the problem here is media concentration, and the poor managers at the company that has managed to assemble most Canadian papers under one roof.
People like Godfrey, and many of his managers, have zero understanding of the product they produce. Zero. That’s just a fact. They are running a chain of newspapers, which used to be like cash machines. And that’s why the hedge fund lent them money. Hedge funds get in and out fast; they expected this chain of Canadian newspapers to bring in cash. Sadly, the people running them (and Godfrey is a classic example) don’t know what to do to keep their product lively, bright and appealing. They don’t understand that people still want news. Or at least a print or online product organized around a core of news.
They talk ads, and deals and leveraging but they don’t talk news.
They don’t invest in news. In fact, they pull money continually away from their newsrooms.
They de-invest in their product.
And then they lose readers, and advertisers, and money.
Godfrey did a tour of Postmedia newsrooms a month or so back. He was at both the Sun and Province. He told them the papers are losing money faster and faster that advertisers are bailing, that the banks have gone to electronic media, for example, and those were big advertisers.
So when you have big ad money at risk, as with Enbridge, what do you do? If readers are bleeding away and advertisers with them, the ones who remain, and are willing to pay for print ads, or those lucrative few seconds at the beginning of online video clips, what do you do?
Postmedia has massive loans to repay.
The problem is that whole process that allowed a chain to grow and grow, for Conrad Black to assemble so much, and then Canwest, and then the same jokers who drove Canwest into the ground to get their hands on even more money and resurrect it as Postmedia.
This mess means that some guy can sit atop an empire, at a desk in Toronto, and take a call, and make a call, and what used to be an independent paper on the west coast is told to kill an opinion piece.
It’s a piece by a very popular cartoonist, an artist who the managers in fact like very much. He’s smart, he’s good and he attracts clicks, as we say. But they have no choice in the matter.
If that video had been a shared piece with the Sun, well, it would have been pulled from both outlets, because they’re all under the same thumb.
That’s a problem for communities all across Canada who need and deserve accurate, complete news. A lot of them got it, in varying degrees, when papers were independent. Or when there was competition. But all that is gone.
And when the guys left running what is almost the only game in town (commercial media-wise, anyway) are incompetent with news, well, the problem is heartbreaking.
So yes, the Enbridge thing is a scandal. And Postmedia’s response is a disgrace.
But it isn’t the first time it’s happened, and it won’t be the last.
That it can happen at all is just as troubling for journalists.