Advertising sales departments at the Kingston Whig-Standard and several Northern Ontario newspapers have been eliminated, according to new reports.
The latest round of cuts at Postmedia “eliminates sales staff entirely at the Kingston Whig-Standard, North Bay Nugget, the Star in Sault Ste Marie and the Sudbury Star,” the Canadian website of the Communications Workers of America (CWA Canada) said last week.
The staffing cuts come a few weeks after Postmedia announced that it would lay off 11% of its editorial staff on January 24th. Less than a week after that announcement, Postmedia announced that it would sell off the Windsor Star office and printing plant.
Going forward, postmedia says it will be focusing on three “key growth areas” including digital advertising, digital subscriptions and parcel services.
“Transformation initiatives for the year ahead include a combination of streamlining resources, product mix rationalization, outsourcing where possible and real estate divestiture,” Postmedia said in a report on January 12 as it announced its results for the three months ending Nov. 30, 2022.
CWA President Martin O’Hanlon says that the cuts have left staff “totally demoralized and disillusioned.”
“I always think we’ve hit rock bottom, and then they find a new bottom. I just don’t know how you can run a successful media company with this level of staffing,” said O’Hanlon.
Postmedia newspapers are resorting to their Collective Agreements to assert control over how staff layoffs are handled. This can include forcing the employer to accept voluntary resignations. In total, 120 advertising sales staff positions have been eliminated at Postmedia.
CWA Canada says its Kingston local (The Kingston Typographical Union) currently has seven reporters. In 1990, the union had 55 members in editorial positions at the Whig-Standard. By 2016, it had just 14.
In 2020, Kingston Whig-Standard announced that it would be moving to a permanent work from home model and would not be renewing its lease on 6 Cataraqui Street.