What happened to Canada News?

Summer 2000 CSANews Issue 35  |  Posted date : Mar 05, 2007.Back to list

This is a question that I've been asked many times since "The Weekly Newspaper Keeping Canadians In the Sunbelt Informed" stopped publishing last February after 18 years of providing a valuable service to Canadian snowbirds. The Burgoyne family of St. Catharines, Ont., publishers of that city's daily, The Standard (now owned by Southam), founded the paper in 1982. I joined Canada News as its publisher and only employee in September 1983. My wife, Sally, joined me the following year. Our office was our garage.

Ten years later, in the early '90s, circulation had reached 18,000 paid and 3,000 freely distributed. There were now nine full-time and three part-time employees publishing 26 winter and five summer issues from new offices in Auburndale, Fla. It was at that time that a competitor entered the market: The Sun Times of Canada, based in Tampa.

The market proved to be too small to support two papers, and although Canada News was holding its own, The Sun Times was going through some growing pains. In the fall of 1995, after months of negotiations, The Sun Times purchased Canada News. Under the new management of Canadian Media Enterprises-and to my disappointment-the new owners continued to publish both papers. In consideration of this decision and other issues, I resigned from my part-time duties with the paper in February 1996, but Sally remained.

Both papers were published until November 1999 when The Sun Times was merged with Canada News. When the paper ceased publishing last February, it's my estimation that it had a circulation of about 7,000, and that figure included both papers! There were only two full-time and several part-time employees. Sally left the paper three weeks prior to the closing.

What happened? As you can see, there was a dramatic decline in circulation. Some of it was due to the declining market and that pass-along (where a subscriber passes on his or her paper to other people) was a major problem, as it was from the paper's beginning. Don't misunderstand me, pass-along was a good thing: especially in the early years, it introduced the paper to other people. The problem, however, was getting those other people to subscribe. Also in my opinion, publishing both papers was a negative move.

As most of you know, advertising is the lifeblood of the media. Unfortunately, the winter issues of the paper lacked this very important commodity. When the two papers papers were merged the advertising rates nearly doubled and some advertisers objected to paying these high rates and either cancelled their ads or reduced their size.

Here's another question I was asked quite frequently: "Do you think there will be any subscriber refunds?" So I spoke with Barbara Boyd, one of the owners, who told me, "Yes, there will be and they will be processed in May or June and sent to subscribers at their addresses in Canada."

I also asked Barbara if the paper was for sale. She responded, "No, not now." I took it one step further and asked if they were looking for new financing. She said yes, and that they were currently speaking with some interested prospects. She also told me that they hope to publish this summer and maybe even this fall-let's hope that happens!

As of August 9, to my knowledge no refund has been sent out.