KILLING THE MESSENGERS

07-03-mcdavid

The newspaper business has been trudging along in a death march for years, bleeding out in a sea of red ink because of shrinking relevance and revenues created by a ponderous and often ham-handed transition from hard copy to digital. Self-inflicted wounds.

As expected, Postmedia spent Tuesday hacking away at its editorial staff again, this time cutting 90 jobs in four newsrooms across the country, including 35 in Edmonton. Having been on the leading edge of that blade myself in 2007, knowing it was coming didn’t make it easier to take.

The spin last April, when Postmedia acquired 175 Sun Media properties for $316 million, was that Edmonton’s two daily newspapers, the Journal and the Sun, would continue to operate independently, each with separate newsrooms. Competition, Postmedia president Paul Godfrey assured us with a straight face, was alive and well. Sure.

Tuesday. Godfrey announced the business model had been “disrupted” by debt load and further erosion of ad revenue. Newsrooms would be merged. Reporters would produce copy for both “brands,” leaving editors to tweak it for each paper. Of course, there would be casualties. Thirty-five editorial staff — like any semblance of competition between the sheets — got the bullet, some in person and others on the phone.


While some of you who come to this website to read about the Edmonton Oilers might shrug at all the above – times are tough all over, the economy sucks and a lot of people have lost jobs – I damn sure don’t. In an era when professional sports teams, like the Oilers, manage the message more than ever, when there are more reporters standing around in scrums but fewer storylines and actual insight, I want more competition, not less.

PLAYING FOR THE TIE

Messenger

In terms of people who cover the Oilers, Journal beat writer Joanne Ireland and columnist John MacKinnon were the casualties. Until Tuesday, coverage of the team involved two beat writers from each paper plus MacKinnon and Terry Jones from the Sun for a total of six. Now, it’s four – Jim Matheson, Jones, Rob Tychkowski and Derek Van Diest.

Ownership of two daily newspapers in one city by one company isn’t new. The broadsheet Vancouver Sun and tabloid Vancouver Province competed with each other for years. They had separate editorial staffs and distinctly different demographics. What we’ll have now, with one group of writers producing copy and editors dumbing it down and tarting it up for the tabloid in the name of branding, is not the same.

When I first walked into the Oiler dressing room during the 1989-90 season with Matheson, competition with the Sun was real. In my first six years, the Journal had columnist Cam Cole and Matheson, backed up over the years by Ray Turchansky, Mark Spector and I. The Sun countered with Jones, Dick Chubey, Dan Barnes, Mario Annicchiarico and Tychkowski. We spent every day trying to find the best angle, to break stories, to beat the other guys.

With no Twitter and no digital presence in the form of a live website, the best thing about getting the scoop on a player move or landing a juicy quote was the guys at the other sheet couldn’t catch up until the next day. We loved shoving it in the other guy’s ear for 24 hours. We lived in fear, at least I did, of having it go the other way. Barnes and Jones took care of that a time or two.

I felt the same way after I jumped to the Sun in 2000. I seldom snagged anything before Matheson, but the times I did were a pure shot of adrenaline. When newspapers finally started to address the growing appetite for immediate information by adding websites, the kick didn’t last as long, but it was still there. Now, with Twitter, breaking news is regurgitated within minutes of the original report. Fans don’t care as much as reporters do who gets the information first, they just want it now. Still, until Tuesday, Jones, Tychkowski and Van Diest from the Sun were going toe-to-toe with MacKinnon, Matheson and Ireland from the Journal trying to get the story first, even by a minute.

This merger puts an end to that. It eliminates any meaningful competition between the newspapers, be it hard copy or digital. What’s the motivation to break stories and explore different angles for readers? That used to be the lifeblood of the business. Worse yet, it comes at a time when pro teams insist on serving up the same pasteurized pablum to everybody. 

THE INSIDE TRACK

Insider

In Edmonton, like all NHL cities, the proliferation of media outlets means there’s infinitely more people with credentials now than when the Oilers were winning Stanley Cups. The problem, in every sport, is all those outlets are getting pretty much the same story, in large part because teams herd them around from scrum to scrum like cattle.

Time was, beat writers would wander into the Oiler dressing room before practice, grab a coffee and shoot the breeze one-on-one – on and off the record. You could stroll down the back hall to have a chat and a smoke with Ron Low. We’d huddle in the seats with Glen Sather. If players trusted you, you had their phone number. We got the best stuff that way, stuff nobody else had. Nobody played for a tie.

That kind of access is a thing of the past. A one-on-one? Maybe, if you go through the media relations department first or have time to hang around until everybody else has left the room. That’s assuming the player isn’t whisked away once the team media man has decided the scrum, 20 people crowding around the same guy getting the same quotes, is over. Is it any wonder fans feel like they’re getting the same story from everybody?

The best newspaper, radio and TV guys find a way around it. They find a way to sniff around, to get the story. They make calls. They get texts. Mark Spector at Sportsnet and Ryan Rishaug at TSN get after it. Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 doesn’t give up a thing to Bob Stauffer over at rights holder 630 CHED. He gets his share. The best guys still compete. Matheson and Jones will, too, just not against each other. That’s a damn shame.

MORE TO COME 

Plank

What’s really scary is Tuesday’s 90 job cuts nationwide will save Postmedia about $9 million. With $700 million of debt on the books, the company has stated it intends to trim $80 million in costs by the end of 2017. More jobs will be lost. Those who weren’t shown the door this time will get the bad news next time, or the time after that.

Whether it be radio, TV or newspapers, fans are best served with more people asking questions, competing and hustling for the story and refusing to settle for what’s spoon-fed in the scrums. Today, we have fewer, and it’s only going to get worse.

TWEAKS?

A bit of a late update based on what I’m hearing . . .

It sounds like Matheson and Tychkowski will be the writers covering the Oilers for both papers, while Van Diest is being moved off the beat into a catch-all position in the sports department. In addition, we could see a situation where each newspaper has its own columnist, with Jones writing for the Sun and the Journal filling MacKinnon’s spot from within. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Barnes ends up writing a column again. He’d be my first choice.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Good column, Robin. As a former newspaper editor/reporter who never ever made it to the show (unlike you), I can tell you that the news of the layoffs earlier this week was chilling. Some of my former co-workers – people who moved on to the Journal and the Sun – were among the cuts. I was glad to be a working journalist for as long as I was … but I’m also glad I got out when I did. Sad to say, but it’s true.

    What many people who aren’t in the media (or newspaper) business fail to grasp is the problem faced by traditional media isn’t a content issue, it’s a revenue-generation issue on the advertising side.

    Newspapers aren’t dying because print-reporters are getting outgunned or beaten to stories by bloggers and other forms of “new media.” Rather, newspapers are dying because no one in the business has figured out a way to make the same kind of money off the Internet as they did with good-old-fashioned print advertising.

    Yes, more and more people are going online for their news (and sport) coverage but the problem with that, from an advertising standpoint, is that you don’t have the same kind of “captive audience” with the Internet as you do with print. With newspapers, stories and ads sit side-by-each on the same piece of forest product. With the Internet, they don’t (not in the same way) and that means Internet ads aren’t nearly as profitable for websites as print ads were in newspapers.

    I left the newspaper business in 2007 and, a few years ago, I ran into the guy who was our advertising manager. He’d left the paper a couple of years after me.

    My former co-worker said the newspaper business was caught completely flat-footed by the Internet … but it’s not for the reasons that everyone thinks. He said if you asked any newspaper publisher what’s killing newspapers (in Canada, anyway), they’d all say: “Kijiji!”

    Kijiji, he said, has done more damage to the newspapers in this country than any other aspect of the Internet. By allowing users to post free ads with unlimited content and photos, Kijiji basically killed the classified ads sections of all the newspapers.

    Classified ads, as you know, were basically the bread-and-butter of newspapers, big and small, for decades. Think of how many ads were in the Classified section of a paper. Hundreds? A thousand? And every one of those little 1″x1″ ads generated between $50 and $250 a week, depending on size. The rise of Kijiji killed all of that within 2-3 years of its launch.

    Many people think that newspapers made their money at the newsstand or via subscription, but it just ain’t true. Circulation helps drive ad rates, but it’s the sales of the ads that keep the lights on and the staff paid. And newspapers aren’t selling enough ads anymore, either because their traditional sources (classifieds) have been rendered obsolete, or because the bigger ad buyers are choosing to purchase cheaper online ads.

    Add it all up and it’s having just the effect everyone thinks: Less revenue = less budget for staff = less staff. No one’s been able to come up with a way of reversing that.

    But no one should ever think that it’s the fault of working journalists or the content they’re delivering, either on printed paper, on the airwaves or via HTML coding. Journalists have been, and always will be, the best developers of content in the media.

    The other day I read a comment online that summed up the ignorance of much of the public. Some dude said he wasn’t surprised at all of the layoffs because “he preferred getting his news from a website, rather than from a newspaper.”

    Someone, presumably a media-type, came back with the perfect response – “that’s like saying you prefer getting milk from a carton rather than a cow.”

    • Well said.

      Newspapers were slow to make the transition to digital and when they did, they never managed to figure out how to monetize it and make it work in the face of other online competition.

      I feel bad about what’s happening to the business and how it’s impacting people who set out with the best intentions to make a career in newspapers, but like I said in the very first paragraph, what’s unfolded now is largely self-inflicted.

      I wrote about the grim future facing newspapers on this website back in June of 2009. It’s been more than six years since then and it’s playing out as I thought it would.

      • Serious Gord

        Agreed with you on the above. What i disagree with is the opinion that this is a bad thing.

        Drudge, gawker et al are doing a far better job on the whole than the MSM has in keeping the world informed.

        As for monetizing content and the inability of traditional content manufacturers/providers to do that, how would you like to be selling ads for television right now? Netflix and other disruptors are annihilating that market in a far shorter time period than six years.

        Newspapers (and print magazines) are just the first recorded deaths in a seige of the MSM and entertainment sector. There will be many more to follow.

        (meanwhile the challenges of someone who is trying to advertise their product or service are no less severe.

        As one who is trying to do just that i can bear witness to the dramatic and frankly ruthless/cold-blooded changes to ones advertising strategy and plans that have happened even in the past 24 months or less. What worked 18 months ago has failed utterly in the last six months.

        If was just a simple task of writing a check to a different vendor/media form that would not be a problem, but that is not the case.

        Now and going forward, marketing is going to need to be a hands-on process where content and marketing are one of the same and it must be dynamic – ads, jingles and logos aren’t going to cut it. If that sounds exhausting, you would be correct. Very, very few enterprises will be able to rest on their laurels for very long. discouraging and invigorating in alternating currents.)

    • The internet changed everyone’s lives forever. Print is dead. High cost untimely news. That is the reality. Like the music industry with ITunes or postal delivery with Canada Post, adapt or die. Canada Post had a delivery monopoly that was high cost (like print). When online purchases became so dominant they had the opportunity to expand their business. All that expansion was taken by UPS/Fedex and CP is dying a slow death. In print, they had the writers and news access. They had to move to ENews or die.

      What is sad is that the leaders of these industries did not make dramatic change to adapt. They are trying to keep Print alive. Its a corpse. Find a way to utilize your assets in a changing world. Pretty soon there will be one daily paper in Edmonton and then none and nothing will change that. I miss my morning paper but now read online. RIP

  • Mr.Snrub

    I think the Edmonton mainstream sports media lost a lot of cred when they complained more about Dallas Eakins removing donuts from the menu then they did when God Emperor Lowe hired back and promoted Mac T and Scott Howson in 12-13.

  • Rust In Peace

    With only 1 printed news source, does it immediately become biased? We have seen this with Fox, BBC, CNN, etc. swallowing up smaller media companies as well.

  • camdog

    When the Oilers play on the west coast is can take up to 2 days to get the information in print. Suffice to say by the time the paper is printed and distributed the information is old and dated.

    For me personally, the only way I would ever buy a local paper again is if it was a weekly or bi weekly and offered up more in depth reporting that isn’t given away for free.

  • Mr.Snrub

    K this is going to be an unpopular opinion here but…

    I had to ask on Twitter who got laid off. I didn’t know, I didn’t notice, because – as a 35 year old, at that – I don’t even rely on the papers any more.

    It’s the way of the world.

    Too bad though, McKinnon and Ireland were good people.

  • Serious Gord

    “Hey John, long time listener, first time caller.”

    These big media outlets need to take a hard look at their pricing models. Living in Calgary and hating the Godless Flames, my sources of Oiler info are:

    1. Oilers Nation
    2. Lowetide
    3. Cult of Hockey

    My issue is that Cult of Hockey is blocked to subscribers only and there is no way in Hell I am paying $100/year to subscribe online to the Journal to get a blog. Same thing with the Sun, I wouldn’t mind checking out their content on the Oilers too but I’m not paying for a whole year of the full online paper to read an article or two per week on the Oilers.

    My Father in Law lives in Vancouver and says the same thing.

    Why not price Cult of Hockey with or without the other Journal sports but under another model, say for $1 or $2 or whatever per month. I, and I’m sure many others would be all over that.

    Understand why they don’t as they would lose full subscribers who are mostly interested in sports but they are ignoring a whole other revenue stream from people who don’t live in Edmonton.

    Sad to hear about the job cuts though.

  • Oil City Roller

    If a sports writer wrote something that was unique and insightful I would pay to read it. Sports writers have access to the team that others don’t and it gives them an opportunity bloggers don’t have. I would love to read an interview with Chia, or MacT, or Lowe that asks tough questions about this teams record and the decisions they made. If someone wrote an article that provided a true look into the arena deal and the reams of academic research about the economic impact of such projects I would pay for it.

    The fact is sports writers in this town have been content to act as an extension of the Oilers PR department for the last three decades. The only difference now is I can get the same propaganda for free.

    Journalism is still alive and well in the world. The sports writers have never been journalists and now the times have passed them by. Times are tough for everyone right now. If you want me to spend a part of my hard earned money give me something I can’t get somewhere else.

  • Facts are almost every industry, not only the media / newspaper is cutting right now. Adapt. Change. Move on.

    We are human, made to be able to adapt. Sucks when anyone loses their job… Oilfield has especially been hit hard. Best of luck to EVERYONE who has no job, not just the media.

    All things are possible.

  • 3 Little Birds

    It’s never a good thing to hear about people losing their job.

    Unfortunately most people want everything now. Not tomorrow. By the time the newspaper hits the stands, it’s no longer news. It’s olds.

    I’m actually a bit surprised the newspapers are still in business. I hope they continue to be, but I don’t see a future for the past. And that’s where they are, with yesterdays news. It’s just a fact of progress.

  • Jordanzza

    A quote from a close friend involved in Media Buying (a company that actually buys the space and creates the strategy behind ad campaigns which run in media channels for their brand clients) :

    “The recent layoffs at Postmedia are not surprising nor are they the worst of what will inevitably happen. This started decades ago, with an arrogant executive who refused to change with the times. Postmedia was run the same way as it was in the 70s and 80s. Bloated layers of management and VPs for everything. Arrogant treatment of advertisers, their lifeblood. Cannibalization of their own. Instead of reducing costs in non-essential areas, they thinned out editorial and relied more on wire stories, bloggers and canned fluff.
    I hope for two things. 1) the demise to come quickly and 2) maybe some enterprising group will be waiting in the wings to form a new entity that will put real journalism back into play and build a modern media outlet that journalists and Canadians can be proud of.”

    Personally, I think people should pay for what they get (good news), but even in the days where most people had the paper delivered for a fee, the bulk of newspaper revenue always was advertising. These big companies fumbled the internet ball when they had a chance to run with it, but as we’ve seen time and time again with large industries and new tech, those that entrench and don’t innovate get weeded out.

    Consumers don’t care what revenue model is streaming their content to them. Look at Netflix.

    It is on content distributers and creators to build audiences and a business to support the creation.

    Oilersnation has been my go to source for Oilers news for years, it only took a few clicks on Blog articles i didn’t have access to to not even bother with the Journal anymore.

    Hire Joanne Ireland!!!

  • Borbs

    Robin, it was a sad day for me to hear about these cuts, and it was worse when I saw who it was. I really enjoyed Ireland and MacKinnon’s writing a great deal. I was sad when I heard you were axed back in the day. Who better to pump for information on Ryan Smyth’s holdout, or some other player’s injury, than the beat reporter you catch sneaking out for a dart before the anthem is over? I still prefer print over digital, internet or otherwise. Anyone who doesn’t realize Jim Matheson is one of the most plugged in hockey writers in the entire business is a fool. I usually don’t pay attention to any trade rumours until he mentions it. The beat writers still travel with the team, unlike the bloggers, and still have access to the best stories about the team. Of course, that’s when the damn team itself will allow it. Sometimes, and especially in this case, CHANGE SUCKS!

  • Oil City Roller

    Great piece here Robin. I agree it’s sad what is happening to newspapers. I think it’s the past vs. the future yes but also it’s a cycle.

    People today are obsessed with free content. Yes I”ll listen to Ryan Rishaug and read Jim Matheson.. if it’s free. Want to charge me? No thanks I’ll go read Joe Bloe’s blog regarding the GM’s most recent press conference and then I’ll comment on it and hopefully get a bunch of likes.

    Maybe one day I’ll get so many likes for my hockey blog comments they put me in the hockey hall of fame in the builders category.

    People who think the newspapers are dinosaurs and it’s time to move on need to realize that resources drive the story. A hockey blog you can access for free that has one KFC ad banner in the corner of it’s homepage isn’t breaking any stories. It’s piggybacking it’s content off salaried media people.

    It’s the age of the editorial piece followed by lively comment section debate. Eventually we’ll be so hungry for the insight of people who have access to what is actually happening behind the high walls of our favourite team that we’ll be willing to pay for it. We got used to papers and movies and music being free. The future was free. But big business caught up to piracy and slowly we’ll come to grips with the fact that just like cell phones and cable packages on line content costs money.

  • Serious Gord

    It is shame that good writers have lost their jobs. What amazes me is people like Bob Stauffer and Drew Remenda still have theirs. Both are beyond pitiful in what they do, rarely if ever does an intelligent thing come out of their mouths.
    It’s unfortunate that the Oiler games are unwatchable because of the ridiculous comments and statements that come out of Remenda’s mouth. No wonder San Jose got rid of him.

  • For sports news reporting the newspapers are no longer relevant.

    They offer no greater depth and they lack in timeliness.

    Sorry to hear when anybody gets laid off but this is certainly no surprise.

  • Jordanzza

    I used to write for the Calgary SUN back in the day (videogames and electronic entertainment news), and while there I saw a lot of talent in those newsrooms, particularly anything dealing with local news.

    I look at writers today in the National Post and the like who are downright LAZY, and compare them to local beat writers who are relentless and passionate.

    I don’t think the torch was handed down to a newer generation of editors and business planners. As a result, the internet caught these papers flat footed.

    The downfall of these papers has little to do with the writers (though there have been some bad hires in recent years), it has so much more to do with the paper’s archaic business model led by dinosaurs.

    Failure to adapt to competing services available online, failure to cover emerging trends (I got my job at the SUN after I failed to convince the Herald to have a videogame review section alongside their VHS reviews section…they said games were too niche), failure to diversify its staff of writers to be able to cover more in the city, failure to use their platform as a way to engage with their communities, and featuring editors that had a chokehold on content so that these papers became one-dimensional in their coverage of any topic.

    There was more than enough time to adapt and they didn’t.

    There are many new opportunities though, and I hope the talent that was let go are able to take advantage of them.

    (As an aside point, people comparing journalists to Remenda, Stauffer, Principe are not making a fair comparison. None of those guys will claim to be journalists, they are presenters. They go in front of a camera to speak about the sport, and it requires a different skillset. They are not going to ask tough questions, they are going to ask questions that their broadcast team expects them to ask.)

    Again, I hope these talented people find work soon. I know a lot of them had an admirable work ethic. Those sorts of hard workers will thrive anywhere, and I hope that it happens sooner than later.

    • KACaribou

      The print media should have paid attention to what happened to the “music” industry a dozen years ago!Speaking of failure to cover emerging trends.

      They first ignored and totally fought the idea that this digital world was the way of the future music consumer.

      Someone from outside the music biz knew what the consumers wanted , which is always primarily driven by the youth market.[hello I tunes etc.]

      The music big wigs were chumping their cigars, while reading the morning newspaper,playing their CD’s.

      We know how the music industry ended up.

      The same is now happening with the newspaper media.

  • I’m sure I’m over-simplifying it, and there are much smarter people than me trying to figure this stuff out, but my take is this; why on earth don’t writers with access do interesting articles? I’d love to read about player X’s road to the show, etc. This crap like “focus on the process”, and “200 foot game”, is absolute garbage reading. Tell us something we don’t know or hear 5 times a day and we might be willing to pay for it. Look at Prime Time Sports….#1 radio show, and it’s a sports show, yet he almost never has athletes on because they say nothing. He digs for the stories from other sources, finds interesting angles. This 50 year old drivel of “interviewing” athletes is so tired and pointless. I can’t believe people have been getting a paycheque to do it this long.

  • KACaribou

    Great article Robin.

    The newspaper used to dominate the media. 100 years ago the newspaper writers were celebrities in a city.

    Today they have lost a great deal of their share of the market. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a share. It’s still plenty in terms of small business.

    The problem is that Post Media is being run by stock market managers. The company is public. It is forced to make more and more profit, essentially sucking blood from a stone, to satisfy investors.

    That affects the little guy. The writers. The most talented people at the newspaper, who have always typically been underpaid, now are expendable.

    Post is a poorly run company. The Sun purchase defies logic. The company is circling the drain.

    The best thing it can do is sell to an independent.

    I ask you, could you successfully run a company like the Edmonton Journal if you brought in over $10s of thousands of $ a day in revenue? An independent businessman could.

    No the newspaper business will no longer dominate, but there could still be a market if it were private and willing to accept less.

  • KACaribou

    Oh, one more thing.

    If people are given their own choices as they are on the internet, they tend to bookmark only things they agree with. They are not being presented with new ideas. So they may never find different ways of looking at things.

    The great thing about newspapers and magazines compared to the internet, is that even by accident you stumble over stories of alternate interests; things a person might never read and learn about otherwise, things it is important to know.

    The internet develops a society of “comic book” readers being fed pablum, who have never even accidentally stumbled across the novel “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

  • Jordanzza

    I for one am not surprised. This was inevitable as soon as the Post Media purchase was approved. Whsts done is done. What can we do? If you told me that to survive OilersNation needed yo charge me a subscription fee of 5.99 a month say for example I for one would send my cheque in tomorrow. The newspapers cost me 25ish plus a month. I buy the paper never. Well not never. But once a month is probably more reasonable.This amalgamation of newsrooms makes 2 dailys even more irrelevant.

    Joanne Ireland would be an excellent addition to OilersNation. I really think that we at the Nation understand the economic realities of the world at large. If I am asked to pony up and scratch a cheque to Oilers Nation so I can continue to enjoy this blog I will be more than happy to.

  • KACaribou

    RB, I feel your pain. It is an unfortunate reality of the times. We all want to trust our employer, however what they say is seldom what they do. Shareholders dictate have the ultimate say in management decisions.

    Why not get together with you colleagues and start your own online sports news identity. Compete directly with the new, and the traditional media.

    Thank you and Good luck!

  • KACaribou

    My hubby is of the old school, watches the news on TV and likes to read the paper. I read the news on the internet and I’m usually a day ahead of what he sees. Newspapers and TV are behind social media. More often than not he will say “you have to listen to/see this” and I tell him “I already did, yesterday”

    I love reading about the Oilers and actually search for comments/blogs about them. I DO feel sorry for Joanne I and John M, but with their talents they could quite easily start up a website of their own. Times are changing, and sometimes not for the better. We all have to adapt to changes and part of the process is finding out where and what our talents are. Joanne and John should have no trouble finding employment. Good luck to them both and to every other person involved in searching for a new job. I have been there/done that.

    • KACaribou

      I appreciate knowing your info, and opinion.

      The trouble is, the writers here are not making a living writing a blog. So Joanne and John could most certainly not just start up a blog and expect to make the living they made as a professional journalist.

      If newspapers could make the same money digital, they would rush to do so – getting rid of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of printing bills and distribution costs. But digital ads are not producing the results people initially thought they would.

      Ask the owners of this site how much they are able to pay their writers… And compared to the Journal, where exactly are the ads on this site to pay for such? Oh, and BTW the Journal between its online product and print product attract multiple XXX more people daily than ON.

  • The market will always choose its favourite product. If you’re not in that pile, then make changes to up the ante or be ready for your chips to slowly but surely dwindle away.

    Some people want info, some want entertainment, some want both, and everyone wants it for free. If you can provide all those things better than the next guy, and the market finds out about you, the ad revenue will follow.

    The days of charging people for any media that is available digitally are fading. Whether it’s movies, TV shows, podcasts, articles,music, or whatever else is available digitally, you need to find a way to generate revenue without charging the customer directly.

    The only digital media that gets my money? Netflix and CraveTV. Not cineplex, not Shaw, not telus, etc etc.
    And if the free movie/TV sites weren’t so frikkin crappy, Netflix and Crave would be SOL as well.

    The JRE Experience is 100% free 3 hrs/day and 4 days/week, and they make plenty of revenue.

    Even HBO is taking steps to make their shows damn near free.

  • .

    First of all, good piece Robin. The latest merger and job cuts, not just in sports, are bad for readers, bad for fans, bad for the axed journalists, bad for everybody except Paul Godfrey and the US hedge fund that owns Postmedia. As westerners we just love being told what to think and how to vote by a Toronto corporation and its US owners that knows nothing and cares less about us. They want our money, that all.

    Thanks to the Harper-appointed idiots at the Competition Bureau, Postmedia was able to buy the Sun chain, which has inevitably led to this move and will later lead to one paper in Edmonton and one in Calgary. The only question is when. A year or two at the most, I suspect.

    A lot of good people whom I have known for years have lost their jobs and you are absolutely right that the loss of hockey writers will dilute the competition here that leads to more information getting to the public. It’s a very sad day for everyone except the wealthy jerks who made the call. John, Joanne and George Johnson will be missed.

    • Serious Gord

      Has The Feds said no to the merger half of the parts would have been closed and these people would have been let go much sooner. There is plenty of competition in the media today – that’s a big part of why these dinosaurs are dying.

  • Serious Gord

    Robin thanks for the article.

    Anytime a person loses their job it’s a sad day. When we lose a number of people who would provide us another perspective, insight, idea that too is a loss. Concentrating more content to a single person, entity, etc is a very dangerous place for a democracy.

    We can argue the Internet gives us many voices but it does not allow people a place to hone their craft day in and day out….a place where people could do this for a living which allowed us to get the best message, the best angle, the truest story, etc. Your story Robin tells us this … That’s where you learned from the best and allowed you to develop into the writer, journalist you became.

    Losing these voices all be it temporarily is a loss. A big loss.

  • .

    I don’t want to go too far down the politics and journalism road here, but it turns out Serious Gord knows even less about it than he does about hockey, which I thought was impossible.

    AC88 is absolutely right about the fact that research shows viewers of Fox News are far less informed than the viewers of other major news sources. Which should be no surprise to anyone who has ever watched it. My kids and I used to Watch O’Reilly just for laughs, but you can only chuckle at the lies, distortions and hate for so long. Remember, the station is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the same guy whose staffers at News of The World broke into the cell phone message box of a murdered young girl, giving her parents false hope that she was still alive and used it to sell papers. And lied about it until it was proven. Very classy.

    As for Paul Krugman, I’m sure the blue ribbon committee that awarded him the Nobel Prize in Economics knows less about economics than you do, George. In your opinion. Stop embarrassing yourself about blogging, journalism and economics and get back to embarrassing yourselves about hockey.

    • Serious Gord

      They are less formally educated. Not far less informed.

      Other Nobel winners:

      Al gore, Barack Obama, yasser Arafat and the doctor who developed the frontal lobotomy. Krugman’s nobel was for a very limited piece of economic science if I recall. He is a blathering lefty looney on the practice of economics much as David Suzuki is considered some kind of genius on the environment/agw when he has his Ph.D. In fruit fly breeding.

      And that sort of makes my point – highly educated in a very narrow way but clueless in the areas of common sense and natural law and determinedly Incurious about opinions that differ from their own – content to throw ad hominems at those who differ from them rated than actually make a reasoned/researched argument.

  • Serious Gord

    Robin, I am completely in agreement with you that it is awful these people have lost their jobs and that for all intents and purposes the death knell for the newspaper business in Edmonton and also in general has sounded. That being said, the absolute hopeless optimist in me wonders if one paper in Edmonton, people not getting to choose their “version” of the “truth,” might lead to a more informed electorate.

    I imagine your response might be “maybe if the Journal editor rather than the Sun editor had been given the reigns” and i can’t say I’d disagree with that pretend thing I just made you say, but being faced with an opinion you don’t share is a faster route to actively pursuing change than getting to read the liberal or conservative version of the truth that placates you. Not you specifically, of course.

    It’s a dark day for the newspaper industry and I’m sorry to have had so many voices silenced at once.

    W

  • Serious Gord

    Robin, I am completely in agreement with you that it is awful these people have lost their jobs and that for all intents and purposes the death knell for the newspaper business in Edmonton and also in general has sounded. That being said, the absolute hopeless optimist in me wonders if one paper in Edmonton, people not getting to choose their “version” of the “truth,” might lead to a more informed electorate.

    I imagine your response might be “maybe if the Journal editor rather than the Sun editor had been given the reigns” and i can’t say I’d disagree with that pretend thing I just made you say, but being faced with an opinion you don’t share is a faster route to actively pursuing change than getting to read the liberal or conservative version of the truth that placates you. Not you specifically, of course.

    It’s a dark day for the newspaper industry and I’m sorry to have had so many voices silenced at once.

    W

  • Risto's Canon

    Losing your job sucks but at some point, when all the record stores and typewriter repair shops seem to be closing, it might be time to look at transitioning to a new vocation.

  • Serious Gord

    How do you compete with a drunken bag of milk providing the postmortem on another Oilers debacle, while MSM is still fact checking the info on the toe tag? You don’t and who cares really cares its a game played by millionaires.