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Postmedia cuts about debt, not newspaper industry: CWA

As former Postmedia journalists across the country report being let go on social media, one media group claims it’s not about declining newspaper revenues.

Communications Workers of America Canada President Martin O’Hanlon said following the news it’s a dark day for journalism.

“This is not because these papers aren’t making money, this is because Postmedia has a massive debt,” he said. “This money that they’re saving by laying people off is going to hedge fund managers in New York.”

O’Hanlon said none of his organization’s members are being laid off, but called the company’s actions arrogant and short-sighted.

“When you’re under tremendous debt loads, your long-term thinking isn’t logical sometimes,” he said. “They’re flying by the seat of their pants and Canadian journalism and democracy is suffering.”

O’Hanlon said they’ll be submitting two pieces of proposed legislation to the federal government.

One will be to break up Postmedia’s monopoly and another will be to stop debt-leverage takeovers.

Mount Royal University Associate Professor of Journalism Terry Field said the cuts didn’t come as a surprise, but they’re disappointing nonetheless.

“Some good people will lose jobs and it’s really an open question as to whether or not it’s going to be in the long run, a good move for Postmedia in terms of growing new audience, which is what it needs to do most,” Field said.

Field added as new media continues to grow with podcasts, blogs, experimental websites and other media outlets, Postmedia’s future will be in the spotlight.

“Whether or not they’re going to be part of the future or not and you can continue to cut, that’s one model,” he said. “But they have done very little to reach out to new audience and they haven’t been very creative about finding new audience and offering audiences different kinds of products so that they can capture more viewers, listeners and readers.”

According to Unifor, the only major newspapers Postmedia doesn’t own are the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and Winnipeg Free Press.