By Jon Robinson
Guy Crevier, publisher of North America’s largest French-language broadsheet newspaper, La Presse, said that the 125-year-old newspaper would cease publishing in print and online if the union is unwilling to make concessions by December 1, 2009.
The Canadian Press obtained an email Crevier sent to employees in which he described the challenges facing La Presse, writing, “Under its current business model, it has no chance for survival… As of Dec. 1, La Presse will no longer be able to pursue its activities without significant changes to its costs. If there’s no settlement by that date, the publication of La Presse will be suspended, on paper and on [the online edition] Cyberpresse. . .”
The situation is emphasized by Crevier’s offer to let union representatives see financial statements concerning the newspaper in hopes of reaching a workable contract to continue publishing into 2010. Executives also plan to eliminate around 100 jobs from the operation’s current staff of 700. At the end of June, La Presse stopped publishing its Sunday edition. The newspaper is printed by Transcontinental Inc.
The December 1 ultimatum comes as La Presse is celebrating its 125th year of operation. The newspaper is the prime print asset of Gesca Ltee, which is a wholly owned division of Power Corp. of Canada, controlled by the Desmarais family.