A large number of Saskatchewan’s newspapers have a new owner.
Alberta-based Star News Publishing has bought thirteen papers across the province from former owners Transcontinental. The papers include the Southwest Booster, the Prince Albert Daily Herald and the Moose Jaw Times-Herald.
“I’m a community newspaper person,” said Star News publisher Robert Holmes. “Community newspapers are what we know very well. Community newspapers are strong and healthy, and it just seemed like a good opportunity to grow our base.”
Based out of Wainwright, Alta, Star News Publishing currently owns three newspapers in Saskatchewan and two in Alberta.
“We think Saskatchewan is the new Alberta,” said Holmes. “All of us are struggling a little bit in the west, but we think Saskatchewan is going to come back, and we think this is a very good opportune time to invest in Saskatchewan.”
In a news release, Transcontinental said it was “simply not efficient” to operate a small number of newspapers in western Canada.
While there are no layoffs planned in newsrooms, Star News plans to shut down the Transcontinental press operation in Saskatoon. 30 people will lose their jobs. The press work will be transferred to Wainwright.
“If we removed those papers out of that plant, then that plant doesn’t become viable anymore,” he said.
While most stories about print journalism are full of doom and gloom, Holmes is confident that small community papers have a strong future.
“Community newspapers are still doing very well,” he said. “They’re still a very important source of local news for the local people and local advertising, and we see a lot of strength in print.”