Jan. 29 was a dark day for Canada’s daily newspaper industry. In Ontario, the Guelph Mercury put out its final edition after 149 years, while in British Columbia, the Nanaimo Daily News said goodbye after serving the community for 141 years.
The twin closings come on the heels of other grim media consolidation moves north of the border. From Toronto Globe and Mail columnist Roy MacGregor’s weekend ode to the Mercury:
“It’s funny,” says Mercury sports reporter and photographer Tony Saxon, “but schools don’t ask for journalists to come in and talk about their jobs on Career Day any more…”
Saxon never saw it coming. Nor did his co-workers. They knew circulation had fallen to 9,000 from 22,000, but they believed their leaner operation was working. He heard about the closing by telephone message from a colleague at another paper.
When the Mercury journalists turned up to console each other and talk about what had just happened to them, managers told staff they would be paid until week’s end but didn’t need to work through Friday – and every single one of them decided to keep going as long as they could.
On the final front page above, colleague Rob O’Flanagan took stock of the paper’s rich history and alumnus. Dave Carter, 73, spent almost 50 years working at the Mercury before retiring in 2008:
Carter started with the paper at the age of 15 as an office boy. He may have lied about this age, he said…
“I’m angry that they closed the place up. A town of this size [130,000] still needs a local daily paper. It’s going to be tough for people to find out what is going on.”
Former San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner staffer Andrea Rosato-Taylor, who moved initially to Canada to work for the Vancouver Sun and Province, used her final column to thank readers for nine wonderful years at the Daily News:
Everywhere I went business leaders were lending their support to organizations that supported those who were less fortunate.
I joined Rotary, became involved as a director of the Chamber of Commerce (which I loved), was co-chairwoman of the symphony fundraiser, worked on a merchandise committee for Dragonboat and more. The experience was always the same — people who really cared about each other and the community in which they serve.
In this community I found my “Why?” because of my experience at the Nanaimo Daily News and the experience of living and working in this city.
Some people go on treks to India, or other exotic places to find themselves. I found my heart and soul in Nanaimo.