Thursday, March 26, 2020

Small newspapers in Canada, U.K. suspend printing; some in U.S. may due to pandemic-driven loss of ad revenue

We noted in an item earlier this week that loss of ad revenue has hurt small newspapers in Michigan. Many rural newspapers in the U.S. are considering temporarily suspending their print editions, says Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, which publishes The Rural Blog. New stories from Canada and the United Kingdom show that the phenomenon is even more widespread than that. 

"Halifax-based SaltWire Network announced Tuesday afternoon it's temporarily laying off 40 percent of its Atlantic Canadian workforce, suspending production of all weekly newspapers across Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, and producing only four daily publications: the St. John's Telegram, the Halifax Chronicle Herald, the Cape Breton Post and Prince Edward Island's Guardian," the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports. "The company intends for the layoffs and suspension of publications to continue for the next 12 weeks."

JPI Media, which owns dozens of newspapers in England, "told staff on Wednesday that all of its free newspapers delivered door-to-door would temporarily stop printing due to the logistical challenges of arranging delivery, alongside the catastrophic collapse in the local advertising market," Jim Waterson reports for The Guardian. "JPI Media said it intended to retain journalists at the non-printing outlets to run websites. But the decision to cease printing raises questions about how long this can sustained, given that sources have suggested digital advertising revenue was already minimal at many of these outlets. Instead they relied heavily on income from print advertising, which has been cut heavily as small businesses cut spending." The British government "has made clear that it considers reporters and print newspaper distribution staff as key workers during the crisis, due to the importance of getting accurate information to people’s homes," Waterson reports.

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