Under Hedge Fund Set to Own McClatchy, Canadian Newspapers Endured Big Cuts

“It’s pretty frustrating,” said Brian Gibson, the president of the local union that represents 140 editorial staff at Postmedia’s Vancouver papers. “They give us a lowdown on how much money we’re losing and the need for cost cutting, but then they go and give these big bonuses. It’s a huge problem, and it’s getting to the point where it’s unacceptable.”

Since 2017, Postmedia has paid out over $6.2 million Canadian, or about $4.5 million, in bonuses to its five top executives, including Mr. MacLeod, the chief executive, and Paul Godfrey, the executive chairman of the board.

In that same period, the editorial ranks at The National Post, its flagship paper, have been reduced by about a third, according to three of the people. The number of journalists at its Vancouver papers — the Vancouver Sun and The Province — have been cut in half, according to Mr. Gibson. Altogether, the company has cut over 1,600 employees since 2016, or 38 percent of its staff, based on company filings.

“We have less boots on the ground,” Mr. Gibson said. “We’re not even covering some City Hall things, which we miss.”

Postmedia said in a statement that it did not “share specific numbers” on staffing. But Mr. MacLeod, the chief executive, acknowledged complaints about the cuts. “That’s something we wrestle with,” he said. “It’s a fair question.”

Hedge funds and private equity companies have become a force in the news industry. Alden Global Capital controls roughly 200 outlets through its newspaper chain, MediaNews Group. It has made money in an ailing business partly by cutting the number of reporters and editors at The Denver Post and other publications, moves that have angered journalists and press advocates who accuse the firm of diminishing local news coverage.