The Chronicle Herald announced Thursday that it has acquired the Atlantic Canadian newspaper and publishing holdings of Transcontinental Inc.
With the acquisition of TC Media's 28 newspaper and web properties, the new Herald-owned company SaltWire Network becomes the leading media company in the region, the Herald said in a release.
“SaltWire has journalists on the ground in over 30 communities in Atlantic Canada — more than any other media organization in the region,” said Mark Lever, president of both the Chronicle Herald and the new company.
But the Chronicle Herald still has 54 journalists alienated from its grounds — newsroom employees who have been on strike for more than 15 months. It is not clear how the acquisition will affect stalled negotiations with the newsroom.
"We were told that the Herald’s demise was imminent if it didn’t immediately cut wages and other benefits to newsroom staff,” said Ingrid Bulmer, president of the Halifax Typographical Union that represents striking newsroom staff.
“Apparently, that was a total fabrication. The company is not struggling but is instead planning to expand.”
The company and its vice-president, Ian Scott, declined comment about how the major financial investment in acquiring other news assets could be reconciled with a continual complaint of financial constraint in dealing with its newsroom staff.
The Transcontinental deal includes four printing plants in the region. Aside from the Herald, SaltWire holdings now include the Cape Breton Post, the Guardian in Charlottetown and the Telegram in St. John's, N.L.
“This acquisition positions us for growth," Lever said. "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."
The HTU questions whether Lever is the person to head that projected growth.
"He has proven to be incapable of running one newspaper," Bulmer said. "Now, he wants to expand his sphere of incompetence. It is simply mind-boggling.”
The TC Media newspapers included in this transaction are:
- Advertiser (The), Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L.
- Amherst News, N.S.
- Annapolis Valley Register (The), N.S.
- Aurora (The), Labrador, N.L.
- Beacon (The), Gander, N.L.
- Cape Breton Post, Sydney, N.S.
- Citizen Record (The), Amherst, N.S.
- Colchester Weekly News, N.S.
- Compass (The), Carbonear, N.L.
- Guardian (The), Charlottetown, P.E.I.
- Gulf News (The), Port aux Basques, N.L.
- Journal-Pioneer (The), Summerside, P.E.I.
- Labradorian (The), Labrador, N.L.
- News (The), New Glasgow, N.S.
- Northern Pen (The), St. Anthony, N.L.
- Nor'wester (The), Springdale, N.L.
- Packet (The), Clarenville, N.L.
- Pilot (The), Lewisporte, N.L.
- Queens County Advance (The), Liverpool, N.S.
- Sackville Tribune Post, Sackville, N.B.
- Southern Gazette (The), Marystown, N.L.
- Telegram (The), St. John's, N.L.
- Tri-County Extra (The), N.S.
- Tri-County Vanguard (The), Yarmouth, N.S.
- Truro Daily News, N.S.
- Valley Journal Advertiser, Kentville, N.S.
- Western Star (The), Corner Brook, N.L
Martin O’Hanlon, president of CWA Canada, the national union that represents the HTU members, said the news confirms that the Herald has been duplicitous in bargaining with the union.
“The Herald based its bargaining strategy on pleading poverty, yet even when we agreed to major concessions, it wasn’t enough for them,” O’Hanlon said. “Now we know why. This has never been about money, it has been about power and union busting.”