Dubbed “NP in the Ottawa Citizen,”the daily print and e-paper product will feature between six to 10 pages of curated analysis, commentary and national, political and international news from the National Post.
It features the work of high-profile Postmedia journalists including Ottawa political bureau chief John Ivison as well as columnists Robert Fulford and Christie Blatchford.
Ottawa is the seventh Postmedia market to launch the National Post-branded product after Edmonton, Windsor, Montreal, Saskatoon, Regina and Calgary. Post president Gordon Fisher said he expected the product to debut in Vancouver in late March or April, .
“This kind of brand extension is critical to our future,” said Fisher.
Fisher said these types of innovations could ultimately save the newspaper industry by growing and engaging audiences and providing advertisers with new opportunities to reach them.
He said it was not a cost-cutting move for Postmedia, which continues to grapple with declining revenues, but one designed to “enhance” its local publications. He characterized it as a revenue and readership initiative, as well as a “dramatic expansion” of the National Post brand.
“By including National Post and Financial Post in our local markets, and by bringing the design and journalism and breadth of National Post and the decision-making of its editors to the local newspapers, we improve engagement with consumers at a local level,” he told Marketing.
Fisher said the move to incorporate more National Post coverage frees up local writers and editors to focus exclusively on content important to readers in those markets.
“If we can do a better job of bringing the resources of the National Post at the national and international level to local newspapers, that takes care of two of three [reader priorities] and if you can turn to local teams and say ‘All of your focus is now on your local community.’
“Most newspapers over the years have had large staffs involved in collecting, sorting wire services, poring over world and national stories, rewriting them, looking at pictures – sometimes doing a decent job and sometimes not. I think the expertise of the National Post is more than you could ever generate at a local level.”
Postmedia is selling the NP section to a combination of national, regional and local advertisers. “We’re seeing real signs of green shoots,” he said. “I think it’s going to be very successful.”
Fisher described the Ottawa rollout of the NP product as a continuation of Postmedia’s “Reimagined” process that began in May 2014 and saw the company introduce coverage from its Financial Post brand into its newspapers across the country.
He said the endeavours continue to grow the Post’s readership. “At some point this is going to translate into more success than people might anticipate,” he said. “I’m seeing some clear signs of green shoots out there.”
Fisher said Postmedia planned to roll out the National Post product across all of its major metropolitan markets before turning its attention to smaller Ontario markets such as Kingston, London and St. Catharines.
Postmedia is supporting the introduction of the Citizen’s new National Post section with ads that continue the “At Your Fingertips” marketing campaign developed by Sid Lee.
Postmedia attracted significant attention last month when it announced its intention to combine newsrooms in markets where it operates two publications – which includes Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa – following its 2015 acquisition of the Sun Media chain.
The decision resulted in approximately 90 job losses and led the union representing Postmedia journalists to call it a “betrayal of trust.” The union also said the state of the Canadian news media demanded the “immediate attention” of the new Liberal government.
Asked to characterize the start to 2016 for the Post, Fisher said continued declines in national advertising are being “somewhat mitigated.” “I’m not pessimistic – I think we’re doing a lot of the right things,” he said, noting the Post remains profitable (the paper turned its first profit in 2013, 15 years after its 1998 debut) and readership is growing.
“My focus is on making as much success as I can with the National Post through a mission of expansion instead of contraction,” he said. “There are not many newspapers that are doing that today.”