It’s a story we see all too often. Another layoff happened at Rogers Media, this time impacting many talented people at publications including Chatelaine, Maclean’s and Today’s Parent. The move cuts 75 jobs, a significant hit to Canada’s media landscape as the company reorganizes its publishing and digital content business.
Sadly, this is just the latest in a number of cost-cutting moves by Rogers Media, one of Canada’s most prominent publishers. In 2016, Rogers cut 200 jobs across TV, radio, and print, and made major changes to its publishing arm by reducing Chatelaine and Today's Parent from 12 issues a year to six and in 2017, cutting print editions of Flare, Sportsnet, MoneySense and Canadian Business, as well as shifting Canada’s newsmagazine MacLean’s from a weekly to a monthly publication schedule. They are not alone in these moves, as Canadian media across the board have been adversely impacted by the changing behaviors of readers, industry consolidation and staggering losses in print advertising dollars. As a result, publishers are turning to cost-cutting measures on almost a yearly basis as they struggle with the shift to new models driven by web and smartphones consumption patterns.
It's a harsh reality for Canadian journalists, at a time where the profession seems to be under attack from every side—from presidential “fake news” tweets to attacks on media abroad and even here in Canada. As a PR professional, people often think the relationship between “hacks” and “flacks” is combative. But from my experience, that isn’t the case. Instead, it is more symbiotic—and works best with a level of mutual respect. That respect extends to those let go from their positions this week.
Beyond the obvious impact to those 75, there’s also an impact for those that remain. Rogers’ plans to continue publishing the affected titles, but now with a third less staff. Resources already stretched will be stretched further, making it harder to compete for journalists’ time and attention. This reality makes it even more imperative that we nourish our media relationships, provide the most compelling story ideas, and look for ways to adjust how we work to their new reality--including helping them meet demands that go beyond the printed page to include online, video and social content.
In the meantime, we wait to see what might come from the 2018 Federal Budget, which opened the door to grant charitable status for “not-for-profit provision of journalism.” While still early, Montréal's La Presse is already championing its plan to become a non-profit. It seems there’s never a dull moment in Canada’s evolving media landscape.