Bowes integrated into Sun Media

In what many fear is the death knell of the Bowes newspaper culture, Sun Media has eliminated the Bowes Newspaper Network, integrating it into the larger subsidiary of Quebecor.

Recent corporate restructuring by Sun Media, a subsidiary of Quebecor, will see the integration of the Bowes newspaper chain into Sun Media and a change of the reporting structure. The move will see the company move its Bowes Publishers small dailies and weekly publications into the Sun Media chain, organized by geography instead of size.

ÔÇ£This has been an evolution since Bill Dempsey, who was president of Bowes, was named Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Sun Media in November,ÔÇØ said Brockville (ON) Recorder and Times Publisher Bob Pearce. ÔÇ£At that point, we began the integration of Bowes into Sun Media.

ÔÇ£The new structure now is that there will be an Eastern Vice President of Sun Media (Toronto Sun Publisher Les Pyette) and a Western Vice President (Edmonton Sun Publisher Craig Martin). Everybody in the operating side will be reporting to them or through someone else to them. For example, the publisher of the London Free Press will report to Pyette,ÔÇØ he said.

Some group publishers have been eliminated and those remaining will expand their roles and report to their appropriate vice president. The Bowes administrative office in London has been sold, but the people and their positions will be moved to another location in London that is owned by Sun Media, the Gainsborough Road Operations.

Pearce, 45, recently replaced Recorder and Times Publisher Bob Doornenbal. Before becoming publisher, Pearce was a vice president at Bowes. As a vice president, Pearce was directly responsible for the St. Thomas Times Journal and a combination of 16 community newspapers and shoppers. He also supervised publishers of 29 other branches, including the group publisher of the Recorder and Times.

Pearce now reports to Ottawa Sun publisher Judy Bullis.

ÔÇ£I think it makes a lot more sense,ÔÇØ said Pearce. ÔÇ£Instead of having group publishers travelling all over the country, you can have a lot more synergies and opportunities for growth and trading resources.ÔÇØ

But some publishers fear that the Bowes culture, which valued the individuality of each paper and gave a special recognition to community newspapers within the chain will be lost now that all community papers are reporting through basically two daily newspapers.

Not so, said Pearce. ÔÇ£Bowes feels strongly about maintaining the individuality of each property,ÔÇØ he said. ÔÇ£Although this is a bit of a change because Bill used to run the entire community newspaper division, since he is moving into Sun Media, community papers will still have a strong voice.ÔÇØ

Dempsey agreed. ÔÇ£It is going to take an awful long time before the spirit and culture of Bowes Publishers is lost,ÔÇØ he said. ÔÇ£There is no doubt that Quebecor wants to bring Bowes Publishers in closer to the urban dailies and vice-versa. They want to emphasize on the savings and the synergies between their weeklies and their dailies. But as far as Quebecor or Sun Media sitting up there has very little effect in how we operate the paper in Saskatchewan. Maybe the way of reporting the financial figures is different, but the staff and publishers are the same. I think that the spirit of Bowes is alive and well.ÔÇØ

Dempsey is making his own changes, ones that may affect the new structure of Sun Media. He will be ÔÇÿpartially retiringÔÇÖ from Sun Media as of May 10 after 36 years with the company, leaving his position as COO of Sun Media.

Since both the Eastern and Western vice presidents were to report to Dempsey under the new management structure, this leaves a hole.

ÔÇ£It was on my recommendation to Pierre Francoeur (President and Chief Operating Officer of Sun Media) that he may not have to fill m