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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

RIP, Halifax Daily News

I heard yesterday that the Daily News had closed down, but I didn’t realize how it had happened.

Ninety-two staffers showed up to work yesterday and were called into a meeting, where they were told that the paper was shutting down. No more Daily News. Instead, the parent company is launching a free daily called “Metro”, and a few of the staff will get to work there. Everyone else is out of luck.

Apparently the company has known for months that the paper was closing, but decided not to tell the staff until the last possible moment. Here are some quotes from executives:

Marc-Noel Ouellette, senior vice president of Transcontinental: “We’re sad for these people. But at the same time we’re enthusiastic. Metro is designed to read in 20 minutes. It’s a young option, and people can read it quickly.”

Greg Lutes, publisher: “It’s good news for Halifax. This is a paper that’s around the world. We will develop a group of new readers, it’s a young, non-traditional audience.”

Executives of the world, please allow me to give you some unsolicited communications advice: If you need to lay people off, do NOT tell them it’s good news. Do NOT tell them you’re enthusiastic. And do NOT say that you’ll develop a group of new readers/clients. These are things you secretly think to yourself while you count your money. Or, if you’re a decent person, you don’t think them at all. Instead, you tell people you’re really sorry it had to happen, and you give them more than half an hour’s notice that their jobs are disappearing.

My alma mater’s journalism school has produced a special issue of the regular journalism review.


Jackie S said...

I read this, and just shook my head in disbelief.

I can't believe its closing, I can't believe Transcon. said that... I can't believe the best selection of Saturday comics in NS is gone.

I also have a small bit of relief for a friend's uncle who was a 20-year vet of the paper, and who was "let go" a year ago...

And is now full time (I think) at your alma mater.

Megan said...

Dean Jobb?

He was part-time when I was there in the nineties: he taught investigative journalism and media law.

Nicole said...

That sucks. I can't believe they get away with short notices like that :(

And the comments are utterly unbelievable :S

Nicole said...

PS: I found the Comments RSS - doooh ;)

Megan said...

No problem. I think you have to subscribe to each post's comments individually, though.

This is why I put up the comment feed on the right: it was hard to check every post individually for new comments. It's still not perfect, though.

Alison said...

I heard about this yesterday too and was shocked at how the company handled breaking the news. (Oooh, sorry for the unfortunate pun.) While it doesn't seem to be en vogue to treat employees like human beings this day and age, could we at least aim for something a little higher up the scale than garbage?

As a side note, We have Metro here in Belgium and I've always associated it with public transportation. Because it's free, you often find it on the trains (and Metros... oddly enough). It's a good little paper and a quick read, but no replacement for a real newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Laying people off with almost zero notice is not a new thing. My local paper, the Bangor Daily News, did the same thing a year or so ago. While they didn't shut down, they laid off a good chunk of veteran employees. How did they do it? They sent other employees out by car, timing it just right, so that each of those messengers would arrive and give the bad news at approximately the same time. The veterans would have no opportunity to give anyone else a heads up.

towniebastard said...

Well, as a former employee of Transcon whose newspaper was shut down (the late Express in St. John's) I can't say I'm surprised it happened or the way they handled it. Fortunately I was gone before they pulled the plug on the Express, so I didn't get screwed that badly. And by that point they had slashed the staff so badly there were only a few people left.

This is at least the third paper Transcon has shut down in the last 4 years. Perhaps there are more. And I don't know the situation at the Daily News. Maybe the paper has been struggling for a long time. But nothing I've seen with that company indicates to me that they know how to turn around struggling newspapers. Other than closing them, of course.

I didn't know you were a King's alum. Me as well. I was there 94-95.

Megan said...

We would have just missed each other. I was there from '95-'99.

We still might know each other, though. I worked for Robinson-Blackmore (now Optipress, I think) in the summer of 1997 and CBC St. John's in early 2000.

I've also worked for the Bangor Daily News, although they didn't play any dirty tricks on their staff when I was there in 1998.

towniebastard said...

Nope, kept missing each other. I started with R-B in '98 with the Packet. Oh, and Optipress was bought by Transcon in '03.

I realize it's probably not wise to bad mouth a former employer, but really, I don't have much good to say about Transcon and the way they do business.