The Globe and Mail quotes an expert who analyzes Canwest debt. He came to a conclusion everyone already knows: Canwest has been bleeding Canadian newspapers -- the dominant papers in almost every market in Canada -- to keep the bankers at bay.
The result: a downward spiral in Canadian journalism as bureaus are closed, local reporting weakens, and canned national filler takes up more space in what were once the country's leading papers. Readers aren't stupid. They gave up on newspapers that tried to charge more for less.
There are other problems, including the chain's inability to find and keep talent, especially at the managerial level. The result is newsrooms run by timid sycophants. Talented and experienced journalists had been leaving for years, mainly to the Globe and the Toronto Star, and, more recently, to Maclean's. Then the layoffs and buy-outs started.
Canwest papers' opinion pages are dismal. Their news analysis, other than material purchased cheaply from US sources like Salon and Slate, is a joke. Most of the feature articles are stale, predictable, pretentious, timid and boring.
Here in Ottawa, most city news is written by interns, bright recent college grads who work on a one-year contract before being replaced. Canwest has lost most of its good Hill reporters and the rest live in fear that the National Post will be killed, resulting in even more cuts.
Canwest, in another cost-cutting that backfired, pulled out of the Canadian Press news co-op and now finds itself regularly being beaten by CP staff and by non-Canwest reporters whose copy moves on the CP wires.
All in all, this is the great reckoning. Just over two years ago, I wrote on this blog that Canwest was one recession away from a break-up.
Well, it's here.