Alberta Politics
Mark Iype on his 40th birthday in the Edmonton Journal newsroom in 2015 (Photo: Facebook).

Postmedia seeks new editor for Edmonton Journal – what became of the old one?

Posted on August 09, 2019, 1:18 am
7 mins

Postmedia is now advertising for a new editor-in-chief for the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun.

It may come as something of a surprise to Edmonton readers that English Canada’s largest newspaper corporation is seeking “a dynamic, innovative journalistic leader to oversee the editorial vision and content of Postmedia’s Edmonton newsroom, which includes both the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun.”

Kevin Libin’s ironically cropped Linkedin portrait (Photo: Linkedin).

After all, didn’t they have just such a person in Mark Iype, who was appointed to the same position barely three years ago?

“Mark is a passionate leader who cares deeply about delivering outstanding editorial content,” Lorne Motley, Postmedia’s vice-president of editorial for its Western Canadian newspapers, said in an email to staff on Sept. 21, 2016. For the past three years, staff at the two Edmonton newspapers seemed to agree.

Mr. Iype’s appointment had an inauspicious start, immediately following the purge of three respected women editors, Journal editor-in-chief Margo Goodhand, Journal managing editor Stephanie Coombs, and Sun managing editor Donna Harker, as well as the combination of the two papers’ newsrooms into a single workplace.

Mr. Libin’s former colleague and boyhood friend, Ezra Levant (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

But from an outsider’s perspective, he has done a good job as editor-in-chief, presiding over an editorial board that was even willing on occasion to express opinions that reflected the Edmonton community rather than the hard-right market fundamentalism which daily seems more prevalent within Postmedia. On May 24, the Journal even dared to run an editorial calling on Premier Jason Kenney’s then-new United Conservative Party Government to keep the NDP’s carbon tax!

“Killing the provincial carbon tax is one political promise that will be better to break,” the editorial boldly proclaimed – no doubt to the deep dissatisfaction of Postmedia executives in Toronto and the corporation’s owners in the United States.

So what happened to Mr. Iype? That isn’t immediately clear. While his name disappeared from the Journal’s masthead earlier this week, he is said to be still toiling for Postmedia, perhaps figuring out ways to save money on newsprint, in the Journal’s building in downtown Edmonton. His Twitter account’s thumbnail biography, rather evocatively, now says only, “I’d rather be sailing.”

Postmedia Western Canada VP Lorne Motley (Photo: Facebook).

The question must be asked if the departure of Mr. Iype has anything to do with the arrival of Kevin Libin as Postmedia executive in charge of all political coverage, federal and provincial, in the pages of Postmedia’s daily newspapers and the websites that are nowadays their main presence with readers.

Mr. Libin is well known as one of Canada’s most right-wing commentators. He was founding editor of the Western Standard, the far-right magazine published by his boyhood friend Ezra Levant, who later went on to create the Rebel Media video blog.

In 2015, the British Columbia Supreme Court awarded damages of $50,000 to climate scientist Andrew Weaver, now the Leader of the Green Party in the B.C. Legislature, for articles published in the National Post in 2010. Mr. Libin and other writers and editors where named in Mr. Weaver’s suit. In 2017, however, the ruling was overturned on appeal and a new trial was ordered.

Senior Postmedia content executive Lucinda Chodan (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Mr. Libin’s appointment, a Maclean’s Magazine commentator asserted on Tuesday, “means a single voice – and an ideological one – will now oversee or directly run political coverage in a fleet of papers, many of which are not conservative papers at all, beginning in an election year.”

It’s a bit of a reach to say many Postmedia papers are not conservative at all, but the Maclean’s piece by Sarmishta Subramanian sums up the problem of having a political commissar, who once characterized opponents of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project as assassins, now organizing the political coverage by one of the country’s largest media corporations during an election campaign.

Under Mr. Iype, political reporters at Postmedia’s Edmonton papers – as opposed to the corporation’s stable of consistently right-leaning Alberta commentators – still had the freedom to cover news stories responsibly. They must now be deeply concerned about their professional futures under the leadership of an ideologue.

None of Mr. Iype, Mr. Libin, Mr. Motley, or Lucinda Chodan – the Montreal-based Postmedia editor and executive who recently informed Edmonton Journal and Sun employees of Mr. Libin’s new role in an email – responded before publication to emailed requests for comment on this story. Mr. Libin eventually did, however, several days after the story was published, referring all questions to Postmedia Communications VP Phylise Gelfand for comment.

NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the fact the ruling in B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver’s defamation suit was overturned by the B.C. Court of Appeal in April 2017 and a new trial ordered, which was omitted from the original version, as well as to note that one person emailed for comment eventually responded after the story had been published.

 

14 Comments to: Postmedia seeks new editor for Edmonton Journal – what became of the old one?

  1. ronmac

    August 9th, 2019

    Wonder when Postmedia is going to be helping themselves to some of that sweet coin in Justin Trudeau’s newspaper fund. Can’t wait for the day when Libin will be editorializing on the virtues of free markets in the morning and cashing a check courtesy of the Canadian taxpayer in the afternoon.

    Reply
  2. Bob Raynard

    August 9th, 2019

    Move even farther to the right – that will sell more newspapers!

    Reply
  3. J.E. Molnar

    August 9th, 2019

    I for one am totally shocked — not likely!

    Most discerning media consumers likely theorized that the merging of the two Edmonton Postmedia newsrooms was the thin edge of the wedge toward unbridled Fox News-like conservative coverage — it was just a matter of time. With the addition of Mr. Libin the master plan is complete and the all systems go for the forthcoming federal election that will see unfettered support for Andrew Scheer and the CPC — with heightened Justin Trudeau bashing. All he’s really missing now… are Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity.

    Reply
  4. Dave

    August 9th, 2019

    I am guessing the ad did not say Liberals and Socialists need not apply, but I suspect Post mortal media’s reputation probably allows potential applicant to figure it that out.

    We are going into a Federal election campaign soon, so it seems these newspapers will make every effort to provide partisan support to the Conservatives, even at the expense of diminished credibility with readers. I am not sure it is a good business decision to alienate even more readers, but if the owners were making good business decisions, their papers might be in better financial shape. Yes, they continue to use the excuse of on line news and advertising for their poor financial performance, and no doubt it does make the business much more challenging, but some other publications have found a way to survive and some even thrive in this era.

    No doubt, the Post will just lay off a few more staff in response to further revenue declines. Most of the more liberal columnists have already gone or been laid off, so it will be interesting to see the reaction by the more conservative columnists who tow the company line if they get a pink slip. In the end, I doubt their will be much reward for them, they may eventually go down with the ship anyways. Ask Sears employees how well that went for them. However, I am sure the newspaper owners know that there are few things like fear of losing their jobs to make most employees more compliant and obedient, at least in the short run.

    Reply
  5. pogo

    August 9th, 2019

    And I award the award to the most unaward-worthy awardee of any award in any epoch of award worthy awardees! I say the infinitely sought but hardly awarded Jason Kenney pan universal, cheap suit serenader award goes to? No! It can’t be?! Is God real? Jason Kenney!? For me mom and all us lesser lights in the church belfry! https://youtu.be/gUjcjUF-urU

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      August 10th, 2019

      In fairness, Premier Kenney has two nice suits, one grey and one grey-blue, or maybe blue-grey. His favourite blue blazer looks hideous and gives his advisors the vapours, especially when he wears it with his baggy chinos. I’ve been saying for weeks he got the nice suits from Sam, who until the NDP came to town was the tailor to the political stars in Alberta. I simply assumed, because who else could make a suit that nicely cut in Edmonton? But I now have it on good authority they came from the Henry Singer haberdashery. Whoever did the work, I doff my homburg to any tailor who can make Mr. Kenney look sharp. You must have a song for that, Pogo. No? DJC

      Reply
      • tom in ontario

        August 10th, 2019

        On the other hand, Premier Kenney is one of those guys who really look good in cheap clothes.

        Reply
        • Dave

          August 12th, 2019

          I think it could be said the cheap suits suit him!

          Reply
  6. Expat Albertan

    August 10th, 2019

    Kevin Libin’s brother, Mark, was my roommate for two years when we were Masters students at U of T. Mark was a great roommate…quiet, thoughtful guy with an appreciation for good literature and quality pop culture (he was an English student, after all). Lost contact with him after we finished our degrees but googled him the other day and saw a great photo of him on the picket lines of a faculty strike at U of Manitoba, where he is a prof. I expect the political talk around the dinner table during extended family get-togethers could get rather interesting.

    Reply
  7. Ron

    August 11th, 2019

    from the Edmonton Journal …
    “Keith Gerein: Five big questions for Alberta politics regarding the upcoming federal election”
    but for the lower case ‘p’ I thought they’d finally deferred to the best political commentator in Canada!

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      August 12th, 2019

      Thank you, Ron. DJC

      Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      August 14th, 2019

      Yes I have, Jerry, as well as the related piece in Press Progress. I will have more to say about this general topic in the days and weeks ahead. I will say now that in one significant respect, I think the Canadalandshow story is too soft: A Canadian Fox News is exactly what Postmedia hopes to create. I expect their are looking for a broadcast partner as we speak. Global News? DJC

      Reply

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