Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

How's the Free Press doing?

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It's the question that I get asked virtually every time I am out in public: "How's the Free Press doing?"

It often comes with a note of concern, given the heavy dose of bad publicity newspapers have been getting in recent years about their future.

Luckily, I have the facts right at my fingertips on how the Free Press is doing.

The newspaper is by far the largest part of FP Canadian Newspapers, which is 49 per cent owned by FP Newspapers Inc., a publicly traded company.

That means that we must report every three months on how we are doing. We released our latest financial results on Thursday. You can find a Free Press story on them and also look at all the numbers in our full report.

The answer on how we are doing is that last year FP saw a decrease in revenues and earnings, but remains a profitable and stable news media company in Manitoba. We have our readers and advertisers to thank for that, and we are very thankful.

Year after year, the Free Press remains the most read newspaper in its community in Canada, when you look at large markets with competitive newspapers. Our audience has actually grown in recent years thanks to the powerful combination of both our print and digital content.

We do not take that loyalty for granted, but work every day to earn it. Being financially accountable is part of what we do as a public company in Manitoba.

Interestingly, if you ask how other news outlets in Winnipeg are doing, you generally will not be able to find an answer.

Most are part of large corporations headquartered in Toronto, Montreal or Calgary. Those companies report only aggregated results for their media properties.

So, Quebecor, owner of the Winnipeg Sun, reported its financial numbers this week, but broke down its figures only to the level of its news media segment, which includes 43 daily newspapers and hundreds of community papers.

Shaw Communications, owner of Global Winnipeg, breaks down numbers only to the level of Shaw Media, which includes not just all Global stations across Canada, but also 19 specialty channels.

It's a similar story at broadcast outlets owned by Bell (CTV, TSN), Rogers and Corus (CJOB).

There really is no financial information publicly available about the Winnipeg operations of any of these companies.

FP isn't just the Free Press and it does aggregate results. The company also owns the Brandon Sun , the Steinbach Carillon and a half dozen community papers in Winnipeg. But the Free Press is the dominant business unit and it is safe to say that FP results reflect what is happening at the paper.

As for how we're doing, we're doing fine. The world of news media is changing rapidly and we're working every day to change with it. We're determined to keep the numbers healthy as we adapt to the future.

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About Bob Cox

Bob Cox was named publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press in November 2007. He joined the newspaper as editor in May 2005.

"Rejoined" is a better word for it, because Bob first worked at the newspaper as a reporter in January 1984. He covered crime and courts for three years before getting restless and moving on to other journalism jobs.

Since then, his career has spanned four provinces and five cities. Highlights include working in Ottawa for the Canadian Press covering Prime Minister Jean Chrétien during his first term in office, and five years at the Globe and Mail in Toronto, first as national editor and later as night editor.

Bob grew up on a farm in southwestern Ontario, but has spent most of his adult life in Western Canada in Winnipeg, Regina and Edmonton.

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