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