Postmedia management shuffle

In March of this year, we announced a new structure for three of our functional operating areas: Marketing, Manufacturing and Reader Sales & Service. We are taking the next steps and announcing a new structure for the rest of our functional areas.

This represents the most significant changes we have made toward redesigning our company. We have come to these decisions based on our audiences’ behaviours and meaningful discussions with our advertisers. Our employee survey results reflect your concerns that the incomplete transition of our company, and associated uncertainty, has had an effect on the engagement of our teams.

This company evolved from many different companies for different readers and advertisers using different tools and different technologies to produce different products. We stayed somewhat resistant to change for a long time because things were so good for so long. This industry felt unshakable – until it wasn’t.

Some may wonder what has taken us so long. But this much change takes careful consideration, planning and timing. In spite of that it may feel we’ve gone too far and too fast. The leadership of our company believes these changes are the right changes to strengthen the operations of our business and allow for the acceleration of our strategy.

The functional reporting changes we are announcing today include the following:

All content development and editorial functions across the organization will now report directly into Lou Clancy, Senior Vice President, Content. This will allow us to accelerate our efforts to centralize our non-local content production and allows the editors in our newspapers to focus resources on the exceptional hyper-local content that our audiences expect from their favourite newspaper brands.

We are creating one integrated sales organization and centralizing the reporting of all of our sales operations – PIA, Local Sales, Digital and 3i and creating a senior group of sales leaders led by Brandon Grosvenor, Senior Vice President, Advertising Sales. This integrated sales leadership team is comprised of Yuri Machado, Kim Campbell and Stephane Le Gal.

All digital functions will report into Wendy Desmarteaux, Senior Vice President, Transformation & Digital. This will allow us to accelerate product development, foster greater collaboration and allocate resources to projects from all our digital experts, across the organization.

All Human Resources functions will report into Michelle Hall, Executive Vice President, Human Resources. This will allow for greater consistency in employee programming, performance management and hiring practices.

All finance functions will report into Doug Lamb, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. This will allow for more standardized reporting, budgeting and make all of our financial processes, from accounts payable to internal forecasting, easier and more aligned.

We have appointed Gerry Nott to the role of Senior Vice President, Eastern Region with responsibility for transformation initiatives at The Gazette, the Ottawa Citizen, The Windsor Star and National Post.

Alan Allnutt has been appointed Senior Vice President, Prairie Region with responsibility for transformation initiatives at The StarPhoenix, the Leader-Post, the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald.

Earlier this year we appointed Gordon Fisher, President, Pacific Newspaper Group and Gord continues in this role focused on the unique challenges faced in our Vancouver operations.

These changes transform the way we run our newspaper operations. What we have created is a functional reporting structure where specialized areas each report into one senior leader rather than duplicating so many efforts at each of our ten newspapers.

What this also means is that some roles have been eliminated. We will no longer have publishers at our newspapers. Our three regional leaders: Gord Fisher, Gerry Nott and Alan Allnutt will focus on facilitating the transition from local silos to the new functional reporting structure and build local collaboration infrastructure within each of our three regions.

Part of what makes this type of change so hard is saying goodbye to colleagues and friends. Marty Klyne, publisher of the Leader-Post and The StarPhoenix, Guy Huntingford, publisher of the Calgary Herald and John Connolly, publisher of the Edmonton Journal will be leaving the organization. Bill Neill, who was instrumental in our national sales efforts, will be leaving the organization as well. Each have made great contributions and we wish them the very best in their future endeavours.

Marty Beneteau continues as Editor-in-Chief at The Windsor Star.

We know that this represents a lot of information and change. In the coming days and weeks you can expect to see our functional leaders at your operations as we work to make this as smooth and effective of a transformation as possible.

I believe, and our senior leaders believe, that this company is uniquely positioned to benefit from our size and regional diversity. With a redesigned structure, that puts focus on where we need to go as an organization and a roadmap for how we can get there, we will be even stronger and better poised for success.

Paul

 

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Star outsourcing memo

Office of the Publisher
Date: April 30, 2013

To: All Staff

From: John Cruickshank

Last month, the Star announced a proposal to outsource most page production and print design work currently performed in the Star’s newsroom. The Guild collective agreement outlines the union’s opportunity to present an alternative to company plans to outsource work, and the Guild has spent the last month developing such an alternative, which they presented to Star management last Friday. To support this effort, the Company provided paid time off, equipment, information additional to what was in the company’s business case, and confidential meeting space, to three newsroom staff, to assist them in preparing such an alternative.

This team of Star staffers, chosen by the Guild is to be congratulated for their hard work and diligence… They have grasped the challenges facing our company and our industry, and they identified a number of opportunities to make the Star’s newsroom more efficient and effective in serving the Star’s discerning readers. They are to be applauded for their work. Over the last few days, newsroom management and the union’s team have engaged in detailed and robust dialogue about the alternative put forward by the union. Both parties are to be commended for their efforts.

With all that said, the company is faced with a difficult decision. The state of our industry necessitates continued cost reductions, and we believe that it is better to find these efficiencies in the print production process rather than in our core work of news gathering and reporting. I must report that, despite the best efforts of the Guild’s team, we have made the decision to proceed with outsourcing of most page production and print design work for the Star to Pagemasters North America.

From both a short-term and long-term perspective, outsourcing of this work provides the best solution for the Star. We have reached this conclusion following considerable deliberation and only after carefully exploring other possibilities, including in particular the alternative that the Guild has put forward. Outsourcing provides the most cost effective and flexible financial basis for the production and design work associated with the Star’s print publication, now and in the future. It frees the Star’s newsroom from this work, thereby enabling newsroom resources to be focused on leading-edge news gathering and reporting across multiple platforms, and digital publishing. It is consistent with the approach taken by leading newspapers around the world. The union’s proposed plan does not match the savings that we will achieve from outsourcing of print page production work, nor does it provide the cost flexibility that will be necessary to respond to future market realities.

We recognize that this decision will result in the departure of some of our valued newsroom colleagues from the Star. We will continue to support these individuals in the transition that lies ahead. This is a difficult, but necessary, step that enables the Star’s newsroom to focus its resources on continuing to produce great journalism that makes a real difference in the lives of Canadians.

On behalf of our senior management team, I want to express our appreciation to the newsroom staff who prepared the alternative presented by the Guild last week. Their presentation demonstrated great insights about the challenges and opportunities facing our company and our industry, and their work is greatly appreciated. The ideas and insights provided by this team will undoubtedly prove beneficial as we move forward.

Michael Cooke will be providing further details on this decision, and next steps, to newsroom staff.

John Cruickshank
Publisher

 

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Star union comes back with offer

Newsroom plan presented I Guild team gives publisher, company way to save money and avoid contracting out of page desk Plan would avoid most layoffs and save company 50% more than contracting out Guild leaders and editorial team of deskers today presented our plan to dramatically evolve newsroom production, retooling the newsroom as a true multi-platform production machine. The efficiencies gained are dramatic — $1.46 million in annual savings.

This is a minimum $362,000 improvement over the company’s estimated annual cost savings from its plan to contract out page production to PageMasters.

Publisher John Cruickshank, Editor Michael Cooke and Managing Editor Jane Davenport were among the company executives who received the multimedia presentation Friday morning.
Much discussion followed, which will continue into next week.
There is no deadline for a final company decision on whether to continue with layoffs or negotiate a new plan based in part on today’s guild proposals.

Among the highlights:

Creation of one Multimedia Production Desk based on breaking departmental silos and creating a true cross-trained pool of paginators and editors for both pages and the web.

We identified dramatic efficiencies that would allow the company to save a minimum of $1.46 million annually. The company estimates maximum savings of $1.2 million through its contracting out plan. Night differential would be eliminated for all staffers.

Conversion of four full-time page editors (or designers) to permanent part-time positions. Downsizing of 11 positions through VSP and layoff instead of the planned 26 production layoffs. Expanded use of weekly “flex hours” to all page editors

By far the biggest change would be the evolutionary move from separate page, copy and web editing silos to one efficient production desk.
Follow your union on Twitter: twitter.com/torontostarunit


 

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Star’s public editor on controversial sex assault column

Earlier this week, Star columnist Rosie DiManno wrote a piece about an alleged sexual assault of a man by four women, and some people got upset. Several wrote to the Star’s public editor Kathy English, or at least enough of them to compel her to draw up a letter she sent to each of them to address their concerns in more than 140 characters (the paper plans to run some letters on the weekend, too, I’m told).

Here it is.

I am writing in response to your concern about Rosie DiManno’s April 9 column on the alleged sexual assault on a young man by four women.

DiManno is an opinion columnist for the Toronto Star. Her column falls within her role as a popular columnist who expresses strong, often controversial, opinions that sometimes offend. Columnists at the Star are given wide latitude to express their opinions. But columnists always speak for themselves, not for the Toronto Star. Only editorials, which are published on the editorial page, express the views of the Star as an organization.

The Star believes in the widest possible expression of free speech, in line with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Star’s policy manual states that: “Columnists and Op-Ed writers have wide latitude to express their own views in the Star, including views directly contrary to the Star’s editorial views, as long as they fall within the boundaries of good taste and the laws of libel.”

As public editor of the Star, it is outside the scope of my role to weigh in on whether the views of any opinion columnist are “fair” “appropriate” or “in good taste” While I as an individual, and the Star as institution, do not agree with every opinion expressed by columnists in the Star and sometimes vehemently disagree with some columnist’s views on some subjects, I will always defend any opinion columnist’s freedom to express views some readers might find offensive or even repugnant.

Taste is always a subjective matter and a judgment call for newsroom editors seeking to balance questions of sensitivity of subject matter with the imperative for free expression for opinion writers and the desire not to demand conformity from columnists. Certainly the best columnists often do enrage and offend. In doing so they can provoke public discussion of important issues – as this column certainly has. On that regard, I expect the Star will publish a selection of the opinions of readers who disagree with DiManno’s opinion and the manner in which she expressed her views.

I have now had opportunity to discuss your concerns with senior newsroom editors. They tell me they gave careful consideration to this column prior to its publication and believe that the column is fairly done and falls within the bounds of fair comment and the Star’s policies for columnists.

While I personally appreciate and understand your points about sexual assault and gender, I agree the column is in line with the Star’s policies and is indeed fair comment.

Best Regards,

Kathy English

 

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