Newspapers everywhere are experiencing financial strain. In the US, gay news outlets are dropping like flies. Even in Europe, former cultural mainstays like Spain’s Zero have shut their doors. Here in Canada, the situation is no different.
Capital Xtra is a not-for-profit community newspaper owned by Pink Triangle Press (PTP). In addition to our two sister papers, Xtra in Toronto and Xtra West in Vancouver, PTP also owns Fab and Guide magazines. They are hardly cash cows; Capital Xtra, for one, has never posted a profit in its 16-year history. We run two business ventures, Cruiseline and Squirt.org (see ads in the back of this paper), and the money from them supplements the paper you’re reading.
There’s a whole basket of issues that have put financial strain on all newspapers, gay and straight. Advertising in mainstream products fell dramatically at the onset of the recession, starting in the fall of 2008. Readers are migrating to the web, but publishers have yet to find a profitable (or even break-even) model for online news.
PTP has also been affected by the high Canadian dollar, since Squirt collects much of its revenue in US currency.
Unfortunately, the press must adapt to these new realities. Capital Xtra will continue to operate, with a virtual office in Ottawa that will include a full-time mobile journalist and an advertising representative on the ground. We will still put out a paper that is packed with provocative local content.
However, as of Jan 29, Xtra will close its physical office in Ottawa to the public. By the middle of March, the office will be completely shut down. We regret having to let go of some talented, hard-working staff and contractors as a result.
Production, design and senior management of the press will continue to operate from Toronto.
We will continue to rely on the best and brightest freelance writers from Ottawa and around the country to contribute news, arts reporting, analysis, photos and illustrations.
With regret, Capital Xtra will cease operating the 237-XTRA community telephone directory (Xtensions), due to declining usership. Its last day of operation is expected to be Feb 19.
I suspect that casual readers will not notice a big difference in the officeless Capital Xtra. However, in March, the Xtra newspapers — including the Ottawa edition — will be relaunched with a significantly different look and feel. We hope that readers will find this rethink both useful and entertaining.
These changes have been made in the interest of maintaining a vibrant, modern, financially sustainable presence in Ottawa. Our work will continue in the Ottawa community in 2010 and beyond.