Postmedia signs three-year deal with The Canadian Press after five-year absence

TORONTO – Postmedia Network Inc. — the proprietor of some of Canada’s most storied newspapers, including the National Post, the Montreal Gazette and the Ottawa Citizen — is returning as a client of The Canadian Press after a five-year absence, the national news agency announced Monday.

The three-year agreement with Postmedia (TSX:PNC.B), which is effective immediately, is an “incredible vote of confidence” in the new direction of the 95-year-old news service, said Canadian Press co-president Jim Jennings.

“They are one of the largest and most respected news organizations in Canada, and they have given a vote of confidence, a vote of trust, in The Canadian Press to help them move their goals forward,” said Jennings, whose specific focus at CP is in revenue and business development.

“They understand what we do, they recognize that we are a provider of high-quality content and services, and we at CP are very pleased that they view what we do with this kind of respect and understanding.”

Postmedia, Canada’s largest publisher by circulation of paid English-language daily papers, also owns the Vancouver Province, the Vancouver Sun, the Edmonton Journal, the Calgary Herald, the Regina Leader-Post, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and the Windsor Star, as well as the online news and information portal.

The decision in 2007 to sever ties with CP and establish an in-house alternative, called Postmedia News, was the right decision at the time, Postmedia said Monday in a statement.

“Since then, much has changed for our company and our industry,” the statement said.

“The way commodity news, such as international, breaking news and general interest health and lifestyle issues, is consumed is changing and no longer requires us to cover all of it directly.”

Postmedia News allowed the company to improve the sharing and exchange of content across all of Postmedia’s properties, and wield more control over original content. But an in-house, full-service newswire business “no longer supports our strategy,” the company said.

“This also means we will say goodbye to some of our colleagues at Postmedia News. This is the most difficult part of such a decision and our gratitude and best wishes are with them.”

It was not immediately clear how many Postmedia jobs would be impacted by the decision.

Postmedia’s business model has changed significantly in recent years, morphing from a traditional newspaper publisher into a company more directly focused on making digital content a fundamental and central part of its operations, Jennings said.

“In the last two, maybe three years, you’ve seen them move more and more to a digital-first philosophy, to a point where the business and the emphasis on how they do business has changed, and changed dramatically,” he said.

“I think they see what we do as bringing more value today than it might have in the past.”

Change has also been a persistent theme at The Canadian Press in recent years.

Long a fixture in Canadian newsrooms, where it is known simply as “CP,” The Canadian Press was created almost a century ago to provide the country’s newspapers with a wide selection of news reports from across the country and around the world. It now serves newspapers, broadcasters and – thanks to a renewed focus over the last five years on online news and video – countless digital clients. In total, CP sells its content to more than 1,200 clients.

The company, conceived in 1917 as a non-profit co-operative that was owned by dozens of daily newspapers across Canada, has faced financial struggles in recent years – most notably the departures of the Postmedia newspapers in 2007, when the chain was then owned by Canwest, and in 2010 by newspapers owned by Quebecor.

In 2010, CP became a privately owned for-profit company called Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., owned by the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star parent Torstar Corp. and Square Victoria Communications Group, the parent of Gesca Ltee, publisher of Montreal’s La Presse newspaper.