Kerri Breen has been laid off as Editor of The Business Post and the Irish Loop Post. She was hired to that role in October of 2010, when Craig Westcott, owner of both papers, accepted a position as communications director with the Liberal Opposition.
Breen was given the news a week before Christmas. I learned about it through one of her Twitter updates. When I contacted her, Breen declined to comment in any detail. She was told that advertising revenue was down, and that the publisher, Shannon Duff, would now be responsible for editorial as well.
I called Westcott, who said much the same thing.
“The quality of her (Breen’s) work was great,” Westcott said. “She is going to be a great journalist one of these days.”
Westcott said revenues were holding steady in the Irish Loop Post, but were down significantly in The Business Post. He said advertising sales dropped “from the best September/October I’ve had since I started the paper. But November/December just plummeted.”
And that was a time of year when revenues should be up. (Westcott’s papers, it should be noted, have a free distribution so advertising revenue is critical.)
There was a transition around that time in sales staff, Westcott said, during which he endured a few weeks without a full-time salesperson. He thinks this loss of continuity may have influenced the drop in revenue.
However, Westcott thinks “part of the reason” for the drop in sales is the controversial email that was released by the premier’s office, when he took the position of communications director.
“I had one advertiser cancel altogether. He didn’t say why, but he was a long-term advertiser.”
In the short term, Westcott plans to use Shannon Duff and a network of freelancers to generate content for his publications.
“The bottom line is, the two papers are going to continue (publishing),” Westcott said. “I just have to figure out an arrangement that works…”