For independents, it's business as usual in wake of Transcontinental deal
There may be upheaval in the Atlantic Canadian newspaper industry with news the Chronicle Herald's parent company is snapping up dozens of titles, but for independent publications dotted around the region it is business as usual.
"Our objective remains the same," said Andrew Brooks, the publisher and editor for The Victoria Standard, a bi-monthly paper in Baddeck on Cape Breton Island.
The sole daily paper dedicated to the island is the Cape Breton Post, one of 27 newspapers sold by Transcontinental Inc. to the newly created SaltWire Newtork Inc., which owns the Chronicle Herald. The deal was announced Thursday.
Independent newspapers may not be feeling anxiety about the Transcontinental deal but there is broader concern there are not enough independent papers serving local communities.
The charm is gone
Rankin MacDonald has been in the journalism industry for 41 years and works alongside two of his daughters at his paper, the Inverness Oran.
"When I go to a community the first thing I pick up is the local paper to get a feel for the community. When it's tilted to Halifax, it's just not the same," said MacDonald. "They can tell you it's going to be the same but it isn't."
MacDonald said independent papers unite communities in a way media corporations cannot.
"We use the Oran as a way to talk to each other," said MacDonald. "Every Wednesday is Oran day in Inverness county."
Cape Breton newsrooms react
There are journalists on the island with deep emotions about the newspaper purchase. Erin Pottie, a Herald reporter in Sydney who's been on strike for 16 months, called the deal "disheartening."
"You question the company's sincerity throughout it all. You wonder how much time they spend getting a deal with us versus working other business deals."
Pottie said said she is unsure about the next steps and hopes the Herald will reach a deal with its own striking newsroom.
"It's just a waiting game," Pottie said.
'Walking a very thin line'
Steve MacInnis, president of the union local at the Cape Breton Post, said the current situation with the Herald strike is concerning.
MacInnis said he has confirmed with the Post's new owners they are not going to turn the paper into a Herald bureau and will still focus on local news. But he said the relationship between the Herald and its striking employees has him worried.
"We are concerned about what is going on in Halifax, and how they balance crying poor mouth on one hand, but then going out and spending a pot full of money on the other."
The CBC's Canadian Media Guild belongs to the same parent union as the striking Herald employees, CWA Canada.