The Sackville Tribune-Post has closed its downtown offices at 80 Main Street until further notice, but will continue to publish the weekly paper on Wednesdays.
The money-saving measure will eliminate one part-time employee who worked the front desk.
Managing Editor Scott Doherty says more and more of the paper’s clients were renewing subscriptions or buying advertising space by e-mail and telephone, so instead of providing front-counter service in Sackville, the newspaper is asking clients to place their orders with staff at sister weekly papers in Amherst.
Doherty said the Tribune-Post will continue to employ himself as editor, Katie Tower as staff reporter and an advertising representative serving both Sackville and Amherst.
“The Tribune-Post isn’t going anywhere,” he said, “we’ll still be in the office for the foreseeable future.” He added, however, that he and Tower may eventually work from home.
“It’s still a healthy paper,” Doherty said, “we’re getting enough advertising.”
Sign of the times
The Tribune-Post, like many other small papers across the country, has been affected by an overall decline in print advertising including the loss of highly profitable classified ads that have shifted to the Internet.
According to figures compiled by professors April Lindgren and Jon Corbett, 212 newspapers have closed across Canada since 2008, most of them smaller community papers.
And although the weeklies in Sackville and Amherst have survived, they have not been immune to the economic troubles affecting the industry.
In a piece about her 20 years at the paper published last month, Katie Tower noted that, in that time, about seven full and part-time staff had been reduced to three.
“Although our office is still in the same location two decades later,” she wrote, “we have downsized to about half the space.”
And, the papers in Amherst have been affected by the state of the industry too.
In 2013, the Amherst Daily News ended 120 years of daily publication and became the weekly Amherst News along with the weekly Citizen-Record.
Just over a year ago, the Saltwire Network, which owns the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, bought 28 publications in Atlantic Canada from Transcontinental Inc. based in Quebec.
The sale included the Sackville Tribune-Post and its two sister weeklies in Amherst.
“This acquisition positions us for growth,” a news release quoted Mark Lever of the Chronicle-Herald as saying. “We are bringing together 950 talented employees to create a media network that will give national and regional brands access to 71 per cent of the region’s newspaper readers.”
At the time, Kelly Toughill, a journalism professor at King’s in Halifax expressed doubt that the sale would improve journalism in Atlantic Canada.
“I think they did this really to consolidate the advertising market and also because they’ve become much more interested with printing,” Toughill told the online publication J-Source, noting that the deal with Transcontinental included four new printing presses.