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Postmedia has aquired 175 more newspapers across Canada. Photo by Kailey Guillemin.

It was big news in Canadian journalism this week as Postmedia Network Canada Corp announced it was buying 175 English newspapers from Quebecor Inc.

 

The $316 million deal will allow Postmedia to take control over Sun Media and their papers in places like Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto. Postmedia says that this deal will also make them the largest provider of digital content in Canada – meaning they’ll own the majority of online content to the majority of Canadian viewers.

 

"This is a great endorsement in the future of made in Canada journalism. We’re excited about what the future holds,” Postmedia spokesperson Phyllise Gelfand said in an email.

 

Stephen Whitworth, editor of Regina’s alternative weekly news magazine Prairie Dog, worries about the effect this will have on Canadian journalism.

 

“I think it’s just a terrible idea that large companies can control virtually all media sources in the country,” Whitworth said. “It can lead to a real narrowing of news.”

 

Whitworth also worries it could “lead to a lot of layoffs.” Cutbacks with staff and reporters could be in the future which would not be good for Canadian journalism as it has already been faced with cutbacks, Whitworth said.

 

But Gelfand said that “the newspaper industry is rapidly evolving, which requires us to continue to cut legacy costs while increasing investment in high-growth areas.”

 

Gelfand continued on to say that “our intention is to keep open the major urban daily newspapers. Beyond that, until regulatory approvals are in place and the transaction closes, we can’t speculate on the future.”

 

It’s no secret print journalism has had its challenges past few years in Canada. Although Whitworth does believe people still want to read the newspaper, “it certainly doesn’t give one confidence that print is going to be able to slow its decline at all.”

 

Layoffs aren’t his only concern though. “(The deal) means less coverage, it means possibly outsized power for handpicked editors to direct the news in ways.” Whitworth also worries about the conservative management behind both Postmedia and Sun Media and that this “could mean that both their report rates are more skewed to a conservative friendly perspective.”

 

Gelfand used the example of Vancouver to show “(they) have a long tradition of operating two competing brands in one market for more than 30 years.”

 

Could this deal have an affect closer to home in Regina? Well even though the Leader-Post already was being published by Postmedia, Whitworth says “we won’t be hit by this one,” meaning the buyout of Sun Media papers.

 

“Quality journalism is something we believe in strongly and will continue to support,” Gelfand said in response to the quality of reporting from this deal.

 

“All my thoughts were this is not a good time for Canadian print,” Whitworth said, as he recalled hearing the announcement for the first time. “This isn’t good for journalism, it’s not good for readers, it’s not good for democracy in society which requires good reporting.”