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Friday, September 21, 2012

Winnipeg Free Press fires its best and brightest

Earlier this week, my local newspaper the Winnipeg Free Press laid off seven of its employees. Five reporters, an online editor, and a copy editor all got the ol' heave-ho from the paper, which is arguably the city's most-trusted and most-read print news source.

A Free Press cover from 1941. Photo from

The cuts were based on seniority. The people fired were the ones who'd worked there the shortest time. They were also some of the youngest staffers, and the most well-versed and active on social media.

Truthfully, they were the only reporters I read, and could relate to.

In an industry that's constantly changing and trying desperately to remain relevant and attract a younger audience, you would think these reporters would be the paper's most valuable assets. But no. Alas.

It's funny how things work out sometimes.

While the Freep's layoffs surprised and disappointed me, I think what shocked me the most was the paper's own silence on the subject. Many other local media outlets covered it. It was all over Twitter. It was certainly not a secret, and yet there was nothing reported in the Free Press.

I understand this can be a conflict of interest, but I was expecting at least an official statement posted on the website. Something sincere and regretful from a senior editor, expressing disappointment in the reality that this is the way the business rolls, and wishing the best of luck to those let go. But not a word.

As a long-time Free Press reader and fan of the reporters who were let go, I would have appreciated some communication from those in charge.

Luckily a couple of the reporters who were let go let us in on the secret. Melissa Martin wrote a stunning blog post on the subject, as did Adam Wazny.

What do you think, readers? Did I miss something - did the Free Press comment on this after all, and I didn't see it? Was this a smart move by Free Press management, or just the way the cookie crumbles in this industry? Let me know!

EDIT: Long-time Free Press columnist Gordon Sinclair Jr. addressed the situation today in this piece. It appeared on the front page of the City & Business section.



    Dan Lett took a different take in his column, and it is well worth the read.

    1. Interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing the link!