Sun Media Policy undermines local editorial independence

    OTTAWA, April 11 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists has deep
concerns over the loss of local content, and thus local voices, after a recent
Sun Media Corp. move dictating that its newspapers run national editorials and
mandatory chain-wide opinion columns.
    As a result, the CAJ believes that Sun Media newspapers have lost local
autonomy because they're expected to run opinions dictated by a corporate
    Since the policy was implemented last month, Sun Media papers are
required to run national editorials most days of the week.
    The introduction of national columnists has been accompanied by a cutback
of locally produced columns in Sun newspapers. Sun daily newspapers include
the London Free Press and Suns in Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and
    "We as an association understand the need for newspapers to become more
efficient," says CAJ president Paul Schneidereit. "But this goes beyond that.
    "This is a significant loss of newspaper independence and a loss of local
voices that are key to informing the public in individual markets.
    "We urge Sun Media management - controlled by Quebecor Inc. - to rethink
this move and to allow the total editorial independence of local newspapers in
the chain."
    Sun Media officials say the moves are being made for competitive reasons,
but deny that quality or their papers' local viewpoints are seriously
    "For any journalist looking at it from the outside who's concerned about
quality - that has to be my first concern too," says Glenn Garnett, executive
editor in chief for Sun Media's English urban newspapers. "Sun papers still
have a very strong local voice."
    But the CAJ says the move to nationalization has seen a flood of newsroom
employees leaving Sun Media or being bought out. In many cases their jobs have
not been filled at the local level.
    "Ultimately, this is a disservice to Canadian daily newspaper readers,
some of whom have already questioned why there is a visible reduction in local
editorials, features and editorial cartoonists," Schneidereit says.

    The Canadian Association of Journalists is a national, non-profit,
professional organization with more than 1,500 members across Canada. The
CAJ's primary roles are public interest advocacy work and providing
high-quality professional development for journalists.

For further information:

For further information: Paul Schneidereit, CAJ president, (902)
426-1124; Robert Cribb, CAJ past-president, (416) 869-4411; John Dickins, CAJ
executive director, (613) 526-8061, Cell (613) 868-5442; FRENCH: Charles Bury,
vice-chair, (819) 875-5793

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