Posted February 5, 2014
It is a newspaper that has been around for a long time. Over the years, it has recorded the history of this city covering those events that affect the lives of its citizens.
But that was then and this is the harsh reality of today.
Running a daily newspaper has never been harder. Advertising revenues have tumbled as other media have consumed ever-growing portions of the advertising pool.
The Mercury’s decline started about six years ago when some six editorial staff were laid off.
Then the newspaper’s point of view swung from being in the centre of the political spectrum to the left, particularly following the 2006 civic election. To many loyal readers, the change became more noticeable as Mayor Karen Farbridge took full control of city council. The result was a leftist agenda that witnessed increased debt and spending on major capital projects.
The changing coverage didn’t happen overnight. The paper’s credibility was challenged as reporting of city administration actions and policies were one-sided with little critical ballast to give balanced coverage.
It also witnessed a declining base of local adverting lineage. Most of that went to a sister publication, the twice-weekly Guelph Tribune.
Shoring up the two newspapers revenues were the advertising inserts that come in a great wad on Thursdays and Fridays. Unfortunately, that business does not pay the bills.
This week, the Mercury announced it was laying off 36 employees and moving the production and printing operations to Hamilton.
What remains is a corporal’s guard of editorial and advertising staff to produce the paper six days a week.
It is only a matter of time before the Mercury building on Macdonnell Street will be put on the market. The next step will be opening a modest store-front that will house the remaining staff.
The present property is valuable and could turn out to be the greatest asset of the Mercury, or should we say MetroLand Publishing, the owners of the newspaper.
The sad part is that Guelph will eventually lose its daily newspaper. The blame however must be laid on a management, chiefly located in Kitchener that failed to conduct a fair and equitable editorial policy and allowed its local ad base to shrink.
Guelph deserved better.