By Jim Herder
This is not a glorious time to be in the newspaper business. Competition is keen, to say the least, as news options have never been greater, especially in a marketplace where several dailies are competing for readers and advertisers.
Toronto, with four dailies and a yaffle of other regional newspapers in centres in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), is an anomaly to be sure.
The Toronto Star proclaims itself as Canada‚Äôs largest newspaper, while its fierce rival, The Globe and Mail, proclaims itself as Canada‚Äôs ‚ÄúNational Newspaper.‚ÄĚ They have competed for the reading public‚Äôs attention for well over a century. The Toronto Telegram folded in 1971, and The Toronto Sun arose out of its ashes to attract mainly the blue collar market.
Then in 1998, Conrad Black, beaten by the Thomson family in his attempt to buy The Globe and Mail many years earlier, started The National Post in an already crowded market. National in name only, the Post has hemorrhaged money from Day 1, and it wasn‚Äôt until 2011 that the Post declared its first profitable year. It is assumed that the Post will be the first of the four to call it a day soon. It dropped its distribution in Newfoundland and Labrador some years ago.
Now The Globe and Mail has decided that ‚Äúwith 3,000 subscribers‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúlosing a million dollars a year‚ÄĚ it is also discontinuing its delivery of the paper in Newfoundland.
Globe publisher Phillip Crawley claimed on a radio interview with the CBC recently that the paper ‚Äúremains a national paper‚ÄĚ because it offers several online ‚Äúplatforms‚ÄĚ for readers to get their daily fix.
For avid newspaper readers, that is the wrong answer. If one cannot hold and read a newspaper anywhere in an entire province, that newspaper ceases to be ‚Äúnational‚ÄĚ in any way.
Crawley claims that 99 days this current year The Globe has been delayed being delivered to Newfoundland because of weather in Halifax or St. John‚Äôs. He does not break down how many times production difficulties at the printing plant in Halifax may have caused the delays.
Apparently, after that one
interview, Mr. Crawley played the ‚Äúnine-day wonder‚ÄĚ card, which is, go silent and hope the issue goes away.
The announcement of the cessation of delivery in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador was not published in the Globe. A check online finds items in The Huffington Post, something which calls itself J-Source, and Canadian Business. A search on The Globe‚Äôs own website produces a blank.
As well, The Globe ‚ÄĒ which publishes letters to the editor on just about any subject imaginable, did not print a single one on this particular news item, which in itself is rather strange.
Number pulled out of a hat?
This brings us to ‚Äúthe bottom line.‚ÄĚ
The amount ‚Äúlost‚ÄĚ of $1 million a year does seem excessive.
Could readers of The Globe be given more detail? It sounds like an arbitrary figure pulled out of the air.
So, what efforts were made by The Globe to increase circulation to attract a better economic result?
Has Globe management considered that the economy of St. John‚Äôs, in particular, is booming? Housing prices are increasing at a great rate, communities such as Torbay, Portugal Cove-St. Philip‚Äôs, Conception Bay South and Paradise near the capital city are growing at unprecedented rates, yet in the last several years one cannot get the Globe home delivered in those communities.
Partnership could‚Äôve worked
The St. John‚Äôs Telegram has a distribution system developed and maintained over decades by its circulation department.
Did The Globe bother to see if they could partner with The Telegram and have both newspapers delivered at the same time?
Preposterous you say? Two competing newspapers being delivered together?
Yet that is exactly what The Globe is doing in parts of Ontario.
The Toronto Star delivers The Globe and Mail in Aurora, Ont., and as reported earlier, the Star and the Globe are fierce competitors. The Globe doesn‚Äôt really compete with The Telegram as far as advertising goes, so did anyone study these synergies?
Obviously delivery of The Telegram costs more per home-delivered copy in Harbour Grace than it does in St. John‚Äôs, because the newspaper has to get the product there.
It is a cost of doing business.
Has Globe management considered the potential revenue loss
if the Newfoundland Department
of Tourism, because of this decision to cut off Newfoundland and Labrador, were to discontinue its full-page colour advertising campaign in their newspaper, and the ‚ÄúNational‚ÄĚ edition at that?
What would that cost The Globe? $1 million?
Possibly not, but probably hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Improvements in navigational technology are being upgraded at St. John‚Äôs International Airport. Some of the non-delivery days will be eliminated in time.
The Globe should not cut off its circulation in Newfoundland. It should recognize the huge potential that the oil economy has brought to this region, and increase its efforts to have a growing presence here.
Jim Herder writes from Aurora, Ont.