Postmedia

Newspapers, Endorsements, and Legitimacy

When a newspaper endorses a political party or a candidate during an election, the public assessment of the endorsement tends to turn on two factors: the reasoning leading to the endorsement, and the perceived legitimacy of the newspaper itself. But, as in any kind of legitimacy judgement of an organization, the perception of a newspaper’s legitimacy isn’t based on a single event or piece of information. It’s based on multiple factors, including the perceiver’s beliefs about whether the organization’s actions “are desirable, proper, [or] appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs, and definitions”. And that is where the Postmedia newspapers in Canada went so spectacularly wrong with their endorsement of the incumbent Conservative Party in the upcoming federal election. (more…)

Good Content, Bad Design: Not What A Struggling Newspaper Needs

When I last wrote about recent events at my former place of employment, the Vancouver Sun newspaper, I commented on the leak of a doom-laden memo from newly appointed publisher Gordon Fisher, warning of financial crisis, threatening staff layoffs, and telling employees to be “part of the solution”. Since then, 62 Sun employees have taken a voluntary staff buyout and left the paper, while Postmedia (the Sun‘s corporate owner) reported a financial loss of $112 million in its most recent three months of operation.

On July 3, Fisher issued another memo, this time to the print subscribers of the Sun and the Province, the other Vancouver daily newspaper owned by Postmedia. In full-page ads published in both papers, Fisher announced that on August 1 print subscription rates would be “adjusted” – as in, increased – and promised “platform-specific content”. He wasn’t too clear on what exactly this would look like, or how this “content” would be produced with a significantly reduced workforce. But I’m really hoping that one part of last Saturday’s print version of the Sun is not representative of what the Sun’s print readers will get in the future – especially if they have to pay more for it. (more…)