Job cuts impact quality journalism: CAJ



    OTTAWA, Jan. 5 /CNW/ - A flood of job cuts threatens to hobble
high-quality journalism in this country, the Canadian Association of
Journalists warns.
    The retrenchment is so profound that the CAJ fears journalism in Canada
is reaching a tipping point where the decline in the quality of news content
will lead to an industry death spiral of less content, smaller audiences, and
yet more cuts.
    In the last three months alone, Canadian media owners have slashed more
than 1,200 full-time employees.
    "When do we reach the point in Canada where so many jobs are lost that
our news becomes nothing more than rewritten press releases?" CAJ president
Mary Agnes Welch said. "The decisions taken this fall will lead to more
centralization of news in Canada, fewer opportunities for Canadians to learn
from different voices and will threaten the very existence of quality local
and investigative reporting."
    Many of those losing their jobs are journalists, while others are the
technical, sales and support staff who contribute to the viability of a
strong, independent and free press in this country. The latest cut, 600 across
the Sun Media chain, was the deepest yet, eclipsing the 560 jobs at CanWest in
November.
    "Many of the media outlets where these jobs were lost were already lean
operations," Welch said. Many of those that have not cut jobs have notified
employees of hiring freezes, forcing newsrooms to make do with less when
journalists take parental, illness or disability leaves or move on to other
employment.
    Media owners are blaming the recession's impact on profits for the
decision to lower costs by cutting jobs, cutting publishing days and reducing
news-broadcast hours.
    The economic downturn compounds the existing challenges of adapting to an
increasingly fragmented media marketplace and the related loss of audiences
and advertising revenue. Every major national private-sector media owner has
cut its workforce in the last year, a list that also includes TorStar, Rogers
Communications and CTVGlobemedia.
    The CAJ is aware media companies, like all businesses, have to find a way
to survive in these challenging times. At the same time, the CAJ remains
deeply concerned that current trends represent a growing threat to a free and
vigorous press.

    The CAJ is Canada's largest professional organization for journalists
from all media, with about 1,400 members across Canada. The CAJ's primary
roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and
public-interest advocacy.





For further information:

For further information: Mary Agnes Welch, CAJ president, (204)
943-6575; John Dickins, CAJ executive director, (613) 526-8061;
French-language contact: Robert Frank, (514) 697-7377


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