They’re baaack! Jamie Irving to head Postmedia Board of Directors

Jamie Irving (News Media Canada)

Reports that the Irvings had given up their New Brunswick newspaper empire have suddenly proven premature with the appointment of Jamie Irving as Executive Chair of the Postmedia Board of Directors.

The American-owned Postmedia chain that dominates the Canadian (and now the New Brunswick) newspaper industry announced last week that Irving will take over as the Board’s Executive Chair on January 1st. He will also serve as a senior adviser to Postmedia’s President and its Chief Executive Officer.

Irving joined the Postmedia Board in April after the company bought the Irving-owned Brunswick News which publishes a string of papers in the province including the Moncton Times & Transcript, the Saint John Telegraph-Journal and the Fredericton Gleaner.

For Mount Allison Professor Erin Steuter, neither Postmedia’s purchase of the New Brunswick papers nor Jamie Irving’s elevation to Board Chair status are welcome news.

Steuter, who has studied the Irving media empire for more than 20 years, wrote in an e-mail to Warktimes that while some had hoped that Jamie Irving’s background (he has a journalism degree from Columbia University) would be good news for the development of professional reporting at the Irving papers, it didn’t always work out that way after he became publisher of the Telegraph-Journal in 2004.

She points, for example, to a series of unprofessional incidents including a false report that Prime Minister Harper had pocketed a communion wafer at a state funeral and the firing of a student intern for reporting criticisms of New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham. To read a CTV news report on both incidents, click here.

Steuter also points to former Saint John Mayor Ivan Court’s complaint that Irving and senior Telegraph-Journal editors threatened, during a private meeting, to continue the paper’s negative coverage of municipal politics unless the city agreed to lower taxes and replace the city manager. To read a CBC report on that incident, click here.

Background

After the New Jersey hedge fund Chatham Asset Management acquired a two-thirds stake in Postmedia in 2016, the newspaper chain cut costs by closing papers across Canada, laying off hundreds of journalists, cutting the salaries and benefits of those who remained and centralizing its news operations while paying its top executives millions of dollars in bonuses.

It also began directing its journalists to write and report from right-wing or “conservative” points of view. For details on this move to centralized editorial control, click here.

Mt. A. Sociology Professor Erin Steuter

“When the news media are owned by a capitalist enterprise,” Steuter writes, “the voice of the corporate world speaks loudly and alternative business models are ridiculed or ignored.

“The Irving papers regularly make the case for big business to own and operate the natural resource sector at a profit. They actively lobby for the government to cut deals that are in the best interests of industrial actors, without due consideration of the costs to communities and the environment.”

Meantime, the Globe and Mail reported last week that “the company Mr. Irving will soon steer is trying to make a difficult transition to build a sustainable digital business as revenue from print advertising and circulation declines.”

According to the Globe, Postmedia lost nearly $17 million dollars in the most recent financial quarter, but its digital revenues rose by $2.4 million.

For a comprehensive look at Jamie Irving’s early career, click here.

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8 Responses to They’re baaack! Jamie Irving to head Postmedia Board of Directors

  1. Travis says:

    Just like everything in NB, Irvings control everything

  2. Susan says:

    Maybe they could run the CBC that organization could use more conservative media… its gone the otherway, to the far-left….It’s too bad their is no such thing as centrist based media or just plain good media in these large organizations. Just state the facts and leave the editorial opinions to the public, and a few others. But these larger organizations always seem to take a right or left swing. I stopped reading these larger newpapers and TV news for that reason, the best journalism is independenat now.

  3. Rob says:

    PostMedia’s publications stand out for their easily circumvented paywalls. My hunch is that the acquisition of Brunswick News was, in part, a means of replacing Paul Godfrey with someone who is more willing to go hard on a paywall and (consequently) “play hardball” with Alphabet and Meta..but it likely won’t work. Jamie’s had success with it here in his tin-pot fiefdom, but is the same strategy scalable the way that the fat cats at Chatham might be hoping it is?

  4. Mike Gallant says:

    I wasn’t born here. And I’m not sure about this “provincial sport” and this obsession with the Irvings? Does it make any difference (the obsession)? So they (The Irving’s) sold their media holdings to another (unacceptable) company and now a former Irving exec is involved? Do most people really care? Once again Academia (experts) miss the mark….,yawn..,,,

    • Les Hicks says:

      Hi Mike, I presume by your statement “you weren’t born here”, you mean the province of New Brunswick. Your ignorance of the Irving’s politicial influence and monopolization (and editorial control) of news outlets in this province is understandable if that is the case.

      To enlighten yourself on the subject, as well as Blaine Higgs continuing close ties to the Irvings, check out the 3 part article “The Man from Irving” on Canada’s National Observer : https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/09/16/news/man-irving

      After reading that article you should have a better understanding of why many New Brunswick residents share the concerns of academic experts about the control of local media that the Irvings have maintained for decades now.

      • Mike Gallant says:

        Well thanks for calling me ignorant and unenlightened – much appreciated. I’ve read numerous well researched books and business articles/criticisms in regard to the Irving empire. I figured you’d bite on this one – Mission accomplished.

      • Les Hicks says:

        Hi Mike,

        You stated in your initial comment that you weren’t born here and weren’t sure about the ‘obsession’ with the Irvings and whether it made any difference. You also questioned whether the fact that a member of the Irving corporation is still directly involved in the publishing of the daily newspapers in New Brunswick, that are now owned by Postmedia, is a matter to be concerned with, and you implied that most people (apart from academics) don’t care about this latest development in Irving’s control of local news media. These statements appeared to indicate that you weren’t aware of the past history of Irving owned news publications in New Brunswick or the dangers of one corporation controlling the majority of the news outlets in a province. The Oxford English Dictionary defines ignorance as “lacking knowledge or information about something” and defines enlighten as “to give someone information so that they understand something better”. That is why I provided the link to the National Observer article on Higgs and the Irving corporation so that you could check out the information yourself and be better informed about the seriousness of this issue than you appeared to be from your comment.

        In your reply to my comment you now indicate that you have read numerous books and articles on the Irvings – interesting, since in your initial comment you indicated a lack of knowledge of the history of the Irving’s. I am glad to hear that you do have some background knowledge about this issue after all, but your comment that you figured I’d bite on this one and mission accomplished indicates that you posted your comment, not to make a serious contribution to the discussion about Bruce’s article, but rather to act as a troll (Wikipedia definition : “a person who posts inflammatory, insincere,…messages…with the intent of provoking readers.”) As you said, mission accomplished.

  5. Kata List Productions says:

    Irving – with their massive financial wealth and holdings in New Brunswick – would have to make sure they have a voice in media here — it only makes sense! Why are academics so clueless about the world of business interests here? Isn’t Irving on record wanting Energy East Pipeline? Aren’t Mount Allison University anti-pipeline and anti-fossil fuels? I don’t share the concern about Irving to be honest the academics concern me more… that’s why I do the local blog for the Tantramarshire folks since 2015 — if the academics ran New Brunswick you would see a lot more poverty.

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