Deep cuts at Sun, Province signal crisis in newspaper industry, further decline in flow of information

Only the Georgia Straight‘s Charlie Smith appears to have noticed last week’s massive staff cuts at the Vancouver Sun and The Province, the result of a soft economy and the digital revolution that is reshaping how we follow the news.

During last fall’s election campaign, I was invited to the Sun to debate the NPA’s Mike Klassen — on video for the web! We sat on stools in a vast expanse of empty newsroom while three senior reporters managed a handheld video camera to record our immortal words. A full third of the old newsroom was completely stripped of furniture.

The latest cuts are deep into the bone; fat was eliminated a long time ago. The result is a less useful product. Beat reporters who knew the big picture of provincial politics, sports, the environment or any number of other issues, are disappearing. Fewer issues will be covered in depth. More inane wire copy from around the world will fill the pages.

Also closing: the incredible Pacific Press library, a treasure trove of the province’s history that lucky reporters could always access. This is a vital cultural asset that should be protected.

On top of 70 pressroom mailers laid off last week, editorial staff will be reduced as follows, according to one reporter’s notes that reached my inbox:

For The Province:
12 copy editors
2 wire editors
2 deputy news editors
2 cartoonists

For the Sun:
8 news editors
1 national editor
1 life editor
1 news desk employee
1 designer
1 senior finance editor
1 city desk clerk
1 editorial clerk
1 wire editor