Mon, 03/27/2017 - 22:20

Patricia W. Elliott's picture
Posted by Patricia W. Elliott on January 30, 2017
Sun and Province need their own clear identities — and better editing. Photo courtesy of Phillip Jeffrey/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Sun and Province need their own clear identities — and better editing. Photo courtesy of Phillip Jeffrey/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

By Darren Atwater for The Tyee

During a short visit to my hometown of Vancouver, I did something most Vancouverites rarely do — I read the two daily papers, the Sun and the Province.

These two papers were once unusual in Canada in that they were both owned by the same company, with combined back offices but adversarial newsrooms. However, last year the papers’ latest owner, Postmedia, combined the two newsrooms with one editor-in-chief, a scheme that was replicated in three other cities where the corporation owns two papers.

Sure, we all like the idea of daily newspapers battling it out every day, with hard-bitten journalists exposing corruption in pages printed by ink-stained craftspeople in the press hall and delivered by bright-eyed paper carriers to eager citizens.

Except that’s fantasy now. Delivery is by adults in cars, printing is by low-bid third-party printers, and the hard-bitten journalists have mostly taken their buy-outs.

Unlike many people, I’m not opposed to the combined newsroom. Combining the newsrooms was an opportunity to finally create two distinctive papers, assign stories based on the best person for the job and distinguish them by editing and by story focus. But rather than re-invent themselves, the Sun and the Province chose to create two newspapers that are essentially the same. Same articles, same bylines. No difference in point of view.

J-Source and ProjetJ are publications of the Canadian Journalism Project, a venture among post-secondary journalism schools and programs across Canada, led by Ryerson University, Université Laval and Carleton University and supported by a group of donors.