Glum news overnight for newspapers in Germany, the US and Canada with closures, job losses and the threat of more to come. The most notable move was by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway group which overnight decided to close a paper recently bought from struggling publisher, Media General.
The job cuts include 33 employees of the Manassas News & Messenger in Virginia. A total of 105 jobs will be lost from the paper which was one of 60 papers picked up from Media General earlier this year. The paper had sales of around 10,000 a day. In addition to the jobs at the paper, a further 72 other positions will go, mostly corporate staff who moved to Berkshire’s newspaper unit, World Media Enterprises.
Berkshire agreed in May to pay $US142 million for 63 newspapers from Media General. It also lent $US400 million to Media General (at a rate Bloomberg said was a juicy 10.5%, compared to official interest rates of close to zero). The paper, which circulates in the northern Virginian suburbs of Washington, faces competition from the Washington Post where Berkshire Hathaway is the largest shareholder.
In Germany, a leading paper in the country’s financial capital of Frankfurt has filed to bankruptcy. The Guardian reported the Frankfurter Rundschau had had an interim insolvency administrator appointed to it because of its worsening financial position and falling sales Sales of the paper (which was described as being left-leaning) had fallen to 118,000 a day across Germany, while staff numbers had fallen to 487 from 1,5000 back in 2001.
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And in Canada, Québecor Media, the owners of the Toronto Sun, one of Canada’s major daily papers, is cutting 500 jobs from the paper and other dailies and community papers in its Sun Media division across the country. The Montreal-based conglomerate is to close two facilities that, along with the job cuts, will save $C45 million (around $A44 million) a year. As well the company will introduce more paywalls on the websites of its major Canadian publications.
The group’s main paper is the Toronto Sun. Its other Sun titles are in Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg and Edmonton. Québecor also publishes Le Journal de Montréal and Le Journal de Québec.