The long-suffering creditors of CanWest Global have pried the would-be media giant's newspapers from its control and thrown them on the block. Such is the fate of barrel-bottom, hack journalism.
The publishing garage sale features such less-than-august publications as The National Post and The Calgary Herald, the Vancouver Province, the phantom ghost Windsor Star, and the somewhat more reputable Edmonton Journal, Vancouver Sun, Regina Leader-Post, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette.
The creditors are hoping the lot may possibly fetch half the sum originally paid by the late Izzy Asper.
According to the rarely credible National Post, Canwest CEO Lenny Asper memoed employees telling them that the loss of the newspaper business, "...furthers a plan that will, over time, see the broadcasting and publishing groups become more independent of one another." Lenny left out the part about "the plan" being the creditors' plan to salvage what they can, not his own.
As for the other arm of the CanWest media empire, the broadcasting side, held by CanWest Media Inc., it too shelters under bankruptcy protection sought in October after defaulting on a US$30-million interest payment in March.
Unfortunately a lot of good people and their families are thrown into financial insecurity thanks to the lack of business acumen in CanWest boardrooms and journalistic integrity in CanWest newsrooms. Asper Jr. chose to make his lead papers a veritable house organ for the far right in Canada. He chose to chase a niche readership that simply could not and would not return the revenue stream he needed to keep his Ship of Fools afloat.
Throughout North America, it's tough enough these days to keep quality newspapers in business. You simply cannot build a viable media empire on third-rate rags, at least not in Canada. Take the Post for example. Reality is not always predictable. Yet as reality unfolded in its day to day chaos, the way the Post covered it was always predictable. Like any propaganda service it became infected with its own numbing consistency. It might have been at times infuriating but the real problem was that it became boring.
Maybe that should be CanWest's epitaph - "It Bored Itself to Death."