PAssages – December 15, 2017 – Employee Buy-Out of the Herald Announced

by Joan Champ

On December 15, 2017, the staff of the Prince Albert Daily Herald brought us good news: an employee buy-out is in the works, designed to prevent the 123-year-old newspaper from closing. This is a good thing for all the people of Prince Albert.

These tidings certainly made me happy. It has been a privilege to be a member of the Prince Albert Daily Herald team – albeit as an arms-length columnist – for these past several months. When my husband, Gordon Brewerton, was hired as publisher by Star News back in April, we were both impressed by the talented, hard-working, and dedicated staff members at the Herald. On December 1st, we moved to North Battleford where Gordon has been hired as Senior Group Publisher for Glacier Media, but we know the Prince Albert newspaper will be well looked after with the employee-buyout.

The Prince Albert Daily Herald started out as the Prince Albert Advocate in 1894. Established as a weekly newspaper in 1908, the Herald became a daily three years later, sometime during the summer of 1911. The newspaper has experienced its share of difficulties over the years. However, when the Herald celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1936 during the hard times of the Great Depression, it reported an increase in circulation.

“The present owners of The Herald have had but one idea in mind, namely, to improve the calibre of the newspaper’s service to the readers,” the paper wrote.

“By doing so, it was hoped greater circulation would, in turn, increase the value of the pages of the newspaper to advertisers.”

This policy evidently brought the hoped-for results. In the face of adversity, the paper had worked even harder to serve its readers – just like what is happening today with the employee takeover.

The Daily Herald remained a locally owned newspaper until 1949, when the Thompson Newspapers chain bought it. Thompson sold the Herald to the Hollinger chain in 1995. The paper went from chain to chain several times after that, to CanWest in 2000, to Transcontinental in 2002, and to Star News Publishing in 2016. As outside interests took over the paper, it became less and less a local affair. This is about to change. As the Herald becomes employee-owned, it becomes locally owned once again.

Local news matters. The people of this city know that. They value their daily newspaper. They also know that the Herald reporters can’t be expected to do their jobs for free. Community members need to support their local paper with their subscriptions and their advertising dollars.

Otherwise, Prince Albert will be facing “local news poverty” – the lack of critical information that citizens need for everyday life.
If you want to have Herald reporters covering local news, holding your local politicians accountable, reporting on crime stories and environmental issues like oil spills in the North Saskatchewan River, remember – this doesn’t come free. Please support, or continue to support, your local newspaper, the Prince Albert Daily Herald.

I know Gordon and I will. We will subscribe to the Herald, even though we now live in North Battleford.

And, with the assistance of the terrific volunteers at the Bill Smiley Archives, I will continue to write this PAssages column.