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QuickQuotes: What CEO Mark Lever says about blockbuster Atlantic newspaper deal

Last Updated Apr 13, 2017 at 1:40 pm PST

HALIFAX – Canada’s oldest independent newspaper has bought the newspaper assets of Transcontinental Media in Atlantic Canada. The Halifax Chronicle Herald said Thursday that a new company, SaltWire Network, will include 27 Transcontinental newspapers, the novanewsnow.com website and the Herald’s own publications.

Here is what Mark Lever, president and CEO of SaltWire Network, had to say about the deal:

On how the deal with Transcontinental came together:

“We’ve worked with (Transcontinental) in Nova Scotia… We tried to, where we could, support one another. So there was a bit of back and forth and a mutual respect and the conversation came out of that. The deal, interestingly, as big as it is, came together quite quickly… Really it was us ultimately approaching them with a ‘why not consider us’ idea.”

On the ongoing Herald newsroom strike as it relates to the Transcontinental deal:

“The union and this deal are two very separate things, but both are connected in that we’re looking for a deal with the union that is a fair and reasonable one and one about our future. The same goes for our SaltWire announcement (Thursday) — it’s about our future. We feel strongly that the deal that we presented to the union in Halifax is very fair, and frankly to give them what they are demanding and what they’re striking over is a cheque that we simply can’t cash over time. It does not fit with the changing media landscape.”

On sharing content between SaltWire Network newspapers:

“We want to have stories written from a very local perspective, but when a story is of reasonable consequence, certainly the content will be shared from that local perspective. If we’re sharing stuff broadly and it has Atlantic Canadian or national or even international relevance, then it might be a story that appears very similarly in each paper or identically.”

On the concentration of media ownership in Atlantic Canada:

“You just have to look at the fragmentation in the media sector today. Media has never been more fragmented. Someone with a computer in their basement is now a viable competitor so we see the advantage of having a network with people in these communities. But there’s never been more competition.”

On buying newspaper properties at a time when print journalism is struggling financially:

“I think we know the media business, especially at a local level. The learnings we’ve had at the Herald over the last number of years give us a lot of hope that connecting this new network of brands around Atlantic Canada provides us a renewed relevance … But the success here is going to be about connecting with our audiences and engaging them and obviously, like every media organization, we’ve got to find a way to monetize that successfully going forward.”