Tag Archives: Ottawa Citizen

Montreal Gazette loses managing editor to Ottawa Citizen/Sun

Michelle Richardson, who in 2004 was a copy editing intern on the Montreal Gazette news desk, will become the next editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen and Sun, it was announced on Monday.

She succeeds Andrew Potter, who left as Citizen editor to return to academia — funny enough, at McGill in Montreal. Keith Bonnell, who was the Sun’s editor, will be deputy editor for the two papers’ merged newsroom.

The company says it hired her for the job mainly because of her success helping to guide the Gazette through a tough digital transition.

I won’t go into too much detail because she’s a close colleague, but I will say it sucks to be losing yet another strong, young talent, even if she’s staying in the Postmedia family.

Richardson was the copy editing intern the year before I was. So I just assume I’ll also be offered an editor-in-chief position some time in 2017.

UPDATE: Concordia University with a brief profile of Richardson.

I, for one, welcome our new consortium overlords

Over the past few months, rumours had been circulating around the newsroom that some local rich guys were interested in buying a part of the Canwest newspaper chain, including The Gazette.

Today, those rumours prove true. A consortium led by Jerry Grafstein, Raymond Heard and Beryl Wajsman announced it will be submitting a bid to buy The Gazette, the Ottawa Citizen and the National Post, pending due dilligence.

The coverage – Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, CBC, Reuters, Editor & Publisher, Financial Post – all say the same thing, quoting liberally from the news release and saying the three consortium leaders believe in local control of local newspapers.

No price has been mentioned, nor are the other financial backers named.

All three have media cred: Grafstein, a recently retired senator, founded Citytv in Toronto. Heard was managing editor of the Montreal Star and then worked as news director at Global TV in the 80s. Wajsman is the editor of The Suburban and publisher of The Métropolitain. The Globe’s Jane Taber has analysis of their political leanings, in case anyone really cares.

Unions (and unionized employees) look favourably at the central idea of this bid (Lise Lareau of the Canadian Media Guild calls it good news) because it seems to reject a lot of Canwest’s anti-union moves, like centralization and outsourcing, and it’s making all the right noises about local control of local newspapers.

There’s also the unsaid implication that these three care more about respect than profit. (Like sports teams, media outlets tend to be more about ego than the bottom line.)

Looking at Wajsman’s newspapers, there’s at least some reason for optimism. The Suburban is big for a community paper, and while it’s not pure as the white snow, it’s not filled with press releases and it does actually employ journalists. The Métropolitain, meanwhile, is more of a think-tank than anything else, and is clearly not motivated by profit.

But looking at those newspapers also leaves some worried. Wajsman’s editorials are a bit much for even some staunch federalists, and the papers have some clear editorial biases when it comes to things like the Israeli-Palestinian issue (something the Suburban doesn’t have to deal with much but which The Gazette would have to deal with on a daily basis).

Many will also focus on Wajsman’s political past. One person reminded me of his alleged connection to the adscam scandal, others have already created a Facebook group to protest his bid because of his pro-Israel, pro-business, anti-union stances.

Though I disagree with most of what he writes in Suburban editorials (and most of the opinions written in The Métropolitain), I’m tempted to ask how a right-wing, pro-Israel owner will somehow be different than Canwest. And if “progressive anglos” don’t want their paper to fall in his hands, they’re more than welcome to submit a bid of their own.

There are other obstacles to Grafstein and Co.’s plan, even if they have the money. The biggest is that Canwest (and the banks arranging for the chain’s sale) want Canwest Publications sold as a unit. That centralized services include websites, customer service, advertising, page layout and Canwest News Service. Undoing that might be difficult and expensive (but it might also mean hiring more journalists, programmers and copy editors, which would clearly work in my favour).

And there might be other bids. The Globe is convinced Paul Godfrey is putting one together with his own financial backers. Other names being bandied about include Torstar, Quebecor, Transcontinenal, FP Newspapers and that guy Joe at the end of the bar.

Ottawa Citizen workers accept contract deal

Members of the Ottawa Newspaper Guild, which represents workers in the newsroom of the Ottawa Citizen, have accepted a contract offer that includes wage increases of 2.5% the first year, 2% the next three years and 2.5% the final year.

This sets the stage for a coming strike vote at the Gazette this Sunday.

And the union executive isn’t happy about the rejecting of their recommendation.

Citizen in strike position, and Gazette may follow

The Ottawa Newspaper Guild, which represents employees of the Ottawa Citizen took a strike vote on Thursday, its members voting 83% in favour of a strike mandate. This is a bargaining tactic, showing the employer the union is serious and that its members are prepared to walk off the job to get their demands. However, the union has said it has no plans to follow through with a strike so long as productive negotiations are continuing. The Citizen’s contract expired July 20, and the major issue standing in the way of a new one is wages: the employer is offering increases of 1%, 1%, 1.5%, 2% and 2% over five years, which represents a pay cut compared to inflation.

Meanwhile, the Montreal Newspaper Guild, which represents employees of the Gazette (including myself), has called a strike vote for Sept. 28. Same deal about this being a bargaining tactic (the sides go back to the table Sept. 30). Negotiations haven’t progressed to the wage discussion stage, but among the contentious issues is an employer demand that removes the distinction between reporter and photographer, which would mean journalists have to perform both functions.

Regret the Error roundup

Regret the Error presents a roundup of this year’s funny corrections and cases of plagiarism and fabrication.

No Montreal media appear on either list, though the Toronto Star gets two dishonorable mentions, for prematurely killing off Morley Safer and for bringing the Detroit murder rate up by a factor of 50. The Ottawa Citizen, meanwhile, put a photo of an innocent man on a section front, identifying him as a pedophile.