The following memo was sent to Toronto Star staff on Jan. 15 from editor Michael Cooke.
By now you will have heard that the company is closing the print centre and has announced a new voluntary severance program.
Jobs are being cut in a number of departments and I’m sorry to say that our newsroom is also affected.
Thirteen people will be departing: 10 from the tablet team, three from digital. Twelve of the people losing their jobs are on temporary contracts that are being ended earlier than originally scheduled. The other person will (along with Unifor) receive formal notice under layoff provisions of the collective agreement.
Many outstanding employees – in our newsroom, the press centre and elsewhere in the company – will be leaving, sadly. There is no way to put a positive face on that, but I can tell you that I am admiring and grateful for the contributions of our journalists who are leaving, and I am deeply sorry to see them go.
These job losses are obviously related to the challenging economic realities in which we operate. I’m sure you read all the newspaper industry stories I read about what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen in the next year or two. Growing our digital operation in 2014-15, and launching Toronto Star Touch last fall, were moves we made with a degree of experimentation and uncertainty about what was needed in the marketplace and what the revenue impacts would be. Digital revenue continues to be a work in progress for virtually every media company, but we have had some success on the web and we are seeing a steady and encouraging increase in the number of Star Touch users. And as we anticipated would happen, tablet production has become more efficient each week since the launch.
While the audience for Star Touch keeps growing, achieving long-term success will take time. We will continue to refine and improve the product, while also adapting to new production schedules necessitated by the closing of the printing centre. We have begun reviewing the ramifications of that change, including the impact on some newsroom deadlines, and I will provide more information as fast as I can.
HR will distribute an information package on the Voluntary Separation Program (VSP) on Monday. While the program is formally open to employees represented by the Guild only, I encourage any non-union newsroom staff to come forward if you are interested in considering the program.