Senior editorial heads roll at Edmonton Journal and more may drop soon

Posted on January 19, 2016, 2:34 pm
5 mins

PHOTOS: The Edmonton Journal’s headquarters in downtown Edmonton, one of the Postmedia assets that still retains some value. Below: Departing Journal editor-in-chief Margo Goodhand and managing editor Stephanie Coombs.

There’s already blood on the floor at the Edmonton Journal (metaphorically speaking) and there may be more by the end of the day.

Other media are reporting at this hour that Journal Editor-in-Chief Margo Goodhand and Managing Editor Stephanie Coombs have been dismissed, and that former editor-in-chief Lucinda Chodan is back in the newsroom to help with the transition, whatever that means in the current circumstances.

Margo-May_2011“Effective immediately, the Edmonton Journal’s Editor Margo Goodhand and Managing Editor Stephanie Coombs have left the organization,” said Gerry Nott, a Postmedia Network Canada Corp. functionary in a note reported a few minutes ago by the Globe and Mail.

Needless to say, it is highly unusual for the two top news executives at any major newspaper to be canned in the same day. Nobody’s sayin’ nuthin’ about the reason, but it’s patently obvious it has something to do with Postmedia’s efforts to stay afloat by cutting core journalistic jobs and, in all likelihood, amalgamating its two daily newspapers in each of Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton.

The most likely explanation this morning’s news is that Ms. Goodhand and Ms. Coombs, both respected journalists, pushed back against Postmedia head office’s planned depredations. In this day and age, you may be able to fight city hall, but you can’t win against far-away corporate bosses.

It is unclear at this moment if it will be the wretched and propagandistic Suns bought by Postmedia last year or the still-marginally-better former Southam-Hollinger-Canwest dailies acquired by the Toronto-based company for far too much money in 2010 that go over the side, or if the company will gin up some kind of dreadful combined name like the Sun-Citizen, the Sun-Herald and the Sun-Journal to justify the mergers.

pmx0mn_bPerhaps we’ll know about the next purge victims by the end of the day, or maybe we’ll have to wait a little longer. Whatever, with Postmedia deeply in debt and its real advertising revenue in freefall, amalgamation is coming and Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton will all be one-newspaper towns soon. It lost $263.4 million last year.

At that time of the Sun acquisitions last April, Postmedia promised that both Postmedia and Sun newspapers would continue to operate independently of one another in markets where they competed directly before the acquisition. That was then and this is now, however.

Postmedia’s largest shareholder is Golden Tree Asset Management, a U.S. hedge fund of the sort often referred to as a “vulture capital” firm.

Other less distinguished heads are expected to roll throughout this afternoon at the still respectable Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal, according to the Globe’s report. No word on what’s going to happen at the Suns, which already operate on skeleton crews.

Media circles have been abuzz with the opinion something was going to happen this week since word leaked yesterday that Postmedia Chairman and CEO Paul Godfrey, the recipient of a substantial recent bonus for his handling of the Sun takeover, had asked for a meeting with Ottawa’s mayor to discuss … something. (One newspaper town, anyone?)

A rumour buzzing around this morning said he’d made the same request of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, although if the Globe is to be believed, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson hasn’t received the same courtesy.

“I speak to mayors all the time,” Mr. Godfrey told the national newspaper’s reporter. “So why should I bother telling you what I’m speaking to the mayor about?” Indeed. None of our business.

Just to give readers something to chew on while they contemplate what’s likely next at Postmedia, here’s a line from the company’s first-quarter report, published on Jan. 13: “Excluding the impact of the Sun Acquisition, revenue for the quarter was $147.4 million, a decrease of $22.2 million (13.1%) relative to the same period in the prior year. The revenue decline, which excludes the impact of the Sun Acquisition, was primarily due to decreases in print advertising revenue of $16.4 million (17.6%), print circulation revenue of $3.2 million (6.7%) and digital revenue of $1.4 million (5.7%).

6 Comments to: Senior editorial heads roll at Edmonton Journal and more may drop soon

  1. January 19th, 2016

    Shrinking one’s way to success always works so well.

    Reply
  2. Vladimir Poutine

    January 19th, 2016

    It’s the NDP’s fault ! LOL! Seriously, readership is down. They LIE and have Media Coverups. An example is the ‘refugee’ crisis in Germany. Refugees being complete pigs towards German Girls and Women. I get all my news from the Internet.

    Reply
  3. Sam Gunsch

    January 19th, 2016

    The hedge fund vampires done it.
    Not just the industry loss of advert revenue to internet.

    ( Can’t recall if any Climenhaga posts maybe already covered this ground? )

    But useful history explained here:

    http://ipolitics.ca/2015/12/21/the-post-is-toast-the-disintegration-of-the-postmedia-chain/

    excerpt: ‘S & P has little faith that Postmedia Inc. is going to be able to arrange financing to service the interest payments on the mushrooming debt it has to pay off just to keep afloat.’

    and here:

    http://www.nationalobserver.com/2015/11/24/news/tawdry-fall-postmedia-newspaper-empire

    excerpt: ‘Postmedia is also a ship taking on water, due to both self-inflicted and industry-wide wounds’

    Reply
  4. Sam Gunsch

    January 19th, 2016

    A schadenfreude bit directed at the ‘free-enterprise editorial cheerleaders’.

    excerpt: Postmedia Inc. isn’t facing a “sea of red” — it’s more like an ocean. The irresistible irony here is that this media chain is home to the nation’s leading free-enterprise editorial cheerleaders — people who have spent their careers lecturing the lefties on the importance of keeping the books balanced. Do as we say, not as we do.’

    http://goo.gl/9rQNwA

    Still…another sad crappy day for more journo’s whose jobs are the collateral damage of executive class incompetence.

    Reply
  5. Expat Albertan

    January 19th, 2016

    I can’t decide whether it’s ironic, fitting, or even consistent (with their worldview) that the free market has taken down the leading proponent of the free market. Mind you, the world is still an unhappy place with the likes of Terrence Corchran and the rest of the Financial Post editorial gang continuing to spew their nonsense.

    Reply
  6. jerrymacgp

    January 20th, 2016

    I wonder though, with the business model of traditional print media being so broken in a world where consumers of news are no longer willing to pay for it, because the Internet is supposed to be free… how can a viable journalistic enterprise exist?

    This is a symptom of a bigger problem: nobody wants to buy their news anymore.

    Reply

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