Remedial Media: Axe of Godfrey

Paul Godfrey, the septuagenarian, cosmetically-enhanced ruler of the Postmedia empire has been out all week, trying to rationalize the rationalization of its newspaper chain’s finances, and his chainsaw-through-the-newsrooms announcement this week that left as many as 150 hacks looking for work.

But the mastermind behind Postmedia’s latest convulsion to deal with its $670-million dollar debt works outside the public view.

Gordon Fisher, no spring chicken either, has built a career on arguing for consolidation of newsrooms.

He’s the president of the National Post, but mainly he’s Godfrey’s brain in running newspapers.

Fisher’s story track is compelling: once a John Candyesque gas station operator in Fort Macleod, AB, he whittled down his weight almost as much as he has trimmed newsrooms over the years, with stops in Ottawa, Vancouver, Kingston and Toronto.

“Why are five of our guys in the press box at the Grey Cup,” he wailed almost four decades ago.

Now he gets to invoke his mantra as newsrooms are blended in Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa and Calgary. And everyone in the country will get precisely the same sports section, to boot.

Here’s the problem, journalistically: Fewer notepads on the ground mean fewer stories.

You can fill your newspapers and websites (platforms, in Postspeak) with words, but more reporters find more things out.

Throughout his time, Fisher has never been interested in breaking stories or comforting the afflicted. Instead, his focus has been on peaceful relations with the establishment and convincing car dealers to advertise.

As Frank reported last month, killing off the Sun papers was an option. This does it by killing off their newsrooms. All the layoffs in Ottawa, for example, were Sun reporters, who lacked the benefit of a CBA enjoyed by their new Petfinder colleagues.

The dangling noose of Postmedia’s $670-million debt is the driving force. Godfrey insists all papers are revenue-positive, but creditors need their money, and he needs to feed the beast.

Side note: Edmonton, aka Redmonton, in some circles, had its editorial leadership guillotined.  Journal editor Margo Goodhand and her managing editor Stephanie Coombs and Edmonton Sun managing editor Donna Harker were all sacked.

Speculation has it that girls are too pink for Godfrey, but the papers’ over-enthusiasm for Rachel Notley’s new government is much more likely the reason that the only management dismissals in the round of firings came there.

Relax, boys are back in charge.

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4 comments on “Remedial Media: Axe of Godfrey
  1. John MacLachlan Gray says:

    By the time the Postmedia chain is broken up & papers are sold individually, there will be nothing to sell.

  2. anonymous says:

    Looking at the the Postmedia wreckage, I was trying to figure out this morning why I hate Lorne Motley, the new Herald editor, so much, I mean, other than the fact he was a scab MF in the Herald strike of 1999-2000. (He would argue he wasn’t, as he was in “management” at the time. Screw that. He was doing bargaining unit work.)
    It’s not that he’s not an “OK guy” when you meet him. Polite enough. It’s mainly just that he’s such a no-talent. The Calgary Herald is the paper that used to be run by Bill Gold, a colossus by today’s standards. The Journal was the only non-U.S. newspaper, I think, to win a Pulitzer, after a fashion anyway.
    Lorne has done … well, basically nothing in his useless life. The guy has no visible talent. Can he write? Who knows? I mean, who has ever read anything he’s written? Can he manage? There’s no evidence of it, but then, he’s never really managed anything (unlike Margo Goodhand … who has more balls than Lorne ever will).
    He just carries out orders from above. Useless

    Anon

  3. gormab says:

    In an organization like Postmedia, being the only news executives sacked means that they’re the only news executives worth a damn.

  4. daveS says:

    I was shocked today 26 January 2016 to read in a CP story on CBC that Paul Godfrey is 77!

    Is this a deathwatch then, that the media put his age in every story?

    Normal life expectancy from that height is what, 5 more years?

    Frank is much kinder and says “septuagenarian.”

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