Rogers cuts one-third of dig­i­tal, pub­lish­ing depart­ment

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FINANCIAL POST - EMILY JACKSON

TORONTO Rogers Me­dia Inc. has slashed one-third of its dig­i­tal con­tent and pub­lish­ing depart­ment, lay­ing off 75 full-time staff mem­bers from legacy ti­tles in­clud­ing Maclean’s and Chate­laine in the face of widespread chal­lenges in the print me­dia in­dus­try.

The cuts come amid stag­nat­ing profit at Rogers Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc.’s me­dia di­vi­sion, which in­creas­ingly re­lies on sports con­tent to make money as ad­ver­tis­ers spend less on tra­di­tional print and tele­vi­sion ads in favour of ads on dig­i­tal plat­forms such as Google and Face­book.

Non-sports me­dia, how­ever, has been on the chop­ping block. In March, Rogers sold Ap­ple Inc. its stake in Tex­ture, a sub­scrip­tion mag­a­zine ser­vice, and in Jan­uary it ter­mi­nated a $100-mil­lion joint ven­ture with Vice Canada that in­cluded a pro­duc­tion stu­dio and tele­vi­sion chan­nel.

On Thurs­day, staff mem­bers at Rogers’ on­line and print pub­li­ca­tions were in­formed of the lat­est re­or­ga­ni­za­tion at a morn­ing meet­ing.

Af­ter the lay­offs, there will be about 150 peo­ple left in the dig­i­tal con­tent and pub­lish­ing depart­ment, Rogers Me­dia spokes­woman Andrea Goldstein said in an email.

The re­or­ga­ni­za­tion aims to make the busi­ness sus­tain­able given chal­lenges in the pub­lish­ing in­dus­try, she said. “Th­ese de­ci­sions are very dif­fi­cult. We rec­og­nize the mean­ing­ful work by our col­leagues and thank them for their con­tri­bu­tions to the busi­ness and for shar­ing their dis­tinc­tive voices with our au­di­ences.”

All of Rogers’ brands will con­tinue to op­er­ate and there will be no changes to the fre­quency of its print is­sues, she said, adding the changes “do not im­pact the qual­ity of the con­tent.”

Goldstein would not share specifics for each pub­li­ca­tion, but sources said there are only a hand­ful of ded­i­cated staffers left at ti­tles like Canadian Busi­ness and Flare.

Lianne Ge­orge, the ed­i­torin-chief of Chate­laine, an­nounced her de­par­ture on Twit­ter. Ear­lier this month, she won a Na­tional Mag­a­zine Award rec­og­niz­ing an ed­i­tor hav­ing an “out­stand­ing im­pact.”

The re­or­ga­ni­za­tion in­cludes the de­par­ture of Steve Maich, the se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of pub­lish­ing. Goldstein said he de­cided to leave Rogers later this sum­mer to “pur­sue his true pas­sion — jour­nal­ism.”

“Through­out his ex­tra­or­di­nary 14-year ten­ure at Rogers Me­dia, Steve Maich has left an in­deli­ble mark on all those who have had the plea­sure of work­ing with him, and all the loyal read­ers who have en­joyed his writ­ing,” Rogers Me­dia pres­i­dent Rick Brace said in a state­ment.

Sarah Trim­ble, a se­nior direc­tor of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, will re­place Maich. She pre­vi­ously worked in mar­ket­ing at Sears Canada.

As its print pub­li­ca­tions strug­gle fi­nan­cially, Rogers has leaned heav­ily on sports con­tent, which has the added ben­e­fit of keep­ing con­sumers at­tached to their cable TV pack­ages.

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