By Justin Seward
Newspapers have seen an immense impact since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic 10 months ago.
“COVID-19 continues to be challenging for all businesses, and our newspapers were no different” said Ryan McAdams, Alberta Newspaper Group’s (ANG) group publisher.
“It is impacted every aspect of our business. One of the more challenging aspects of the pandemic is the uncertainty, not knowing what next week will bring.” McAdams says he can’t think of a department that has not been impacted in some way, shape or form by the pandemic. “Whether it’s increased costs due to COVID safety measures; reduction in hours or even layoffs, all staff and managers are doing extra duty to maintain our publication schedule.”
“But in terms of the biggest hit; where it’s impacted any business, is the ability of the business to generate revenue. It’s across all sectors not just newspapers; and it has resulted in reduced cash flow and operational closures. We chose to close our offices, when the case count spiked before Christmas – out an abundance of caution for our staff and our community.”
During the office closures, ANG had a majority of its employees work from home, some staff are still working in-office, but are distanced from their fellow co-workers – many employees have become accustomed to working in either a remote work environment or work on a staggered work schedule over the last 10 months in effort to reduce their exposure, he added.
McAdams believes one of the biggest misconceptions is people thinking the wage subsidy is the “silver bullet” to solve all the pandemic issues. “The wage subsidy is a valuable part of our business and while it does contribute – it doesn’t come close to covering our lost revenue,” he said.
The newsrooms are also facing obstacles,
“The reporters and editors are constantly challenged for content, fewer activities, less things to cover, and as a result – it is harder to generate stories. Give credit to our team of news staff – they are finding ways to produce a newspaper each week; under a difficult situation, he said.
“We are in this together – as a community, a newspaper, and an company that spans across southern Alberta and into Saskatchewan – we need to support each other, follow the health experts’ guidelines and keep yourself and your community safe.”
When asked about if he has been through anything close to this world health crisis, McAdams simply stated, “No, not even close.”