Media layoffs continue at Canadian Press, Corus

Matt Gurney was among those caught up in layoffs this week at 640 Toronto.

The Canadian Press has made more layoffs, following the elimination of its video department in January.

In the Atlantic bureau alone, reporters Brett Bundale, Aly Thomson, Keith Doucette and Alex Cooke were casualties, effectively halving the resources of the Halifax newsroom. Business journalist Tara Deschamps and reporter Alanna Rizza, were among those who lost their jobs in Toronto. Office administration staff in Vancouver were also impacted.

The newswire service announced last month it would be scaling back its French-language radio headlines service and closing the CP video desk by the end of February, with plans to outsource video editing. Between the Toronto and Montreal bureaus, the Canadian Media Guild (CMG) confirmed eight full-time employees and several part-time employees would lose their jobs. Among them Ben Singer, Dane Coote, Shetu Modi, Kat McCallum, and Marie-Esperance Cerda.

Layoffs neither “fair nor reasonable”: union

Ongoing cuts now amount to a 15 per cent reduction in CP staff over the last year, according to a statement released Friday by Terry Pedwell, president, Canadian Press Branch, Canadian Media Guild, and vice-president Mike Blanchfield.

“Over the last year, the impact on operations across the country has been extremely difficult. Our work demands great responsibility, integrity and skill. Asking staff who are already working all-out to carry an ever-increasing load, while our colleagues are laid-off, is neither fair nor reasonable. The owners of the company, The Canadian Press Enterprises, need to understand how demoralizing and disappointing this all is. Ultimately, the employees who remain will once again carry the weight,” reads the statement.

“At the same time, we must support each other, in each bureau and city as we reckon with the impact of these successive cuts that affect both our journalism and the infrastructure that makes it possible. It is devastating and angering to witness the shrinking of our 102-year-old press service. Cutbacks are not a path to excellence.”

Pedwell said the union has told the company, existing staff are unable to keep delivering at the same pace as before the cuts and that management has been asked to come up with a realistic plan to reduce the workload for employees left struggling to fill service gaps created by the layoffs.

Corus cuts staff in Toronto

Corus Entertainment also undertook restructuring in Toronto this week with spokesperson Rishma Govani confirming that there were “a handful of staffing changes” at 640 Toronto (CFMJ-AM).

Govani told Broadcast Dialogue the majority of the positions were “off-air.”

These business decisions were made as part of our ongoing exercise to be more efficient in an ever-changing media landscape,” Govani wrote in an emailed statement. “With that being said, it’s important to point out that we are adding positions that will be more reflective of the kind of work we are doing in our station now. Also, we we continue to grow and hire in other areas of our business.”

Matt Gurney, host of The Exchange with Matt Gurney, is among those no longer with the station. Gurney had been with 640 since 2016.

“As of yesterday, I was told that, due to a restructuring, Global News, though very grateful for all my contributions, no longer required them,” Gurney wrote on Twitter.

Gurney indicated he’s taking the layoff in stride, saying it’s the first time he’s been “at liberty” in 12 years.

“As news of this has been slowly getting out over the last day or so, I’ve had a lot of kind notes and texts/calls from old friends and colleagues, all asking if I’m OK. For anyone who’s worried, don’t be. I am fine,” Gurney continued. “That’s not false bravado. Sincerely — I’m fine. Getting let go from a radio job isn’t exactly unforeseeable, so I made sure I was prepared, emotionally and otherwise, for this day. It came sooner than I might have once hoped. But I knew with certainty it would.”

Almost exactly one year ago, Corus cut nearly 80 jobs, mostly in TV production at Global News, as part of restructuring aimed at ramping up its online coverage. At the time, it said it planned to add 50 positions, mostly journalists, to cover smaller markets where local newspaper consolidation had taken place.

This latest round of job losses in the Canadian media sector follows an estimated 2,200 layoffs in the U.S. alone since the start of the year between VICE Media; BuzzFeed; Verizon; The McClatchy Company, which operates 29 daily newspapers in 14 states; online video producer Machinima; and Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the U.S.