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Sometimes, how the story was broken becomes a story in itself.

First, yesterday’s big news was that Postmedia News offered the National Post‘s entire newsroom buyouts. An internal memo, sent to all Post staff last Friday, informed employees they had until the end of this week to accept the deal, which offers three weeks of pay per year on the job, to a maximum of $125,000.

Considering Paul Godfrey’s recent takeover of then-Canwest — something that ushered in a new era of hope for the chain, as well as a name change — word of buyouts at the flagship paper seemed somewhat shocking.

The news came from the Canadian Journalism Project’s j-source.ca website, was tweeted to their over 2,000 followers on Twitter, then quickly picked up by other media.

But as the day progressed, a Postmedia spokeswoman explained that the buyouts are only the latest in a series across the country, part of the chain’s attempt to cut operating costs. The staff had also previously been offered buyouts near the time the company offered bankruptcy protection.

“Voluntary buyouts are a tool that are available to operations as they undertake budget and strategy reviews for the new fiscal year,” Phyllise Gelfand told the Canadian Press. 

She said not everyone who agrees to take the offer will get it, adding that Ottawa Citizen employees have already been offered buyouts, as have staff at the Victoria Times Colonist, the Province and the Vancouver Sun. 

In other words, don’t worry — journalists are being asked to leave their jobs nation-wide, not just at the Post. Besides, it’s not the first time.

As word spread that this was, sadly, not big news, the interfolk — particularly Post staff — on Twitter began jumping on j-source.ca, saying the site was overreacting. One Post sports columnist, Bruce Arthur, was particularly blunt.

“In conclusion: Please cut the alarmist crap @jsource. And you too, @BlogTO. Try to practice, oh, I don’t know, journalism,” he tweeted Tuesday.

Others, as a Toronto Life blogger pointed out, simply didn’t see it as a big deal.

But perhaps the best tweet of all came today, from Post senior producer of digital media Chris Boutet:

“BREAKING: Entire National Post newsroom to show up for work today, just like every other day. Some may eat lunch later. Follow @jsource more”.

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About the author

Wendy Gillis was the Senior Editor for the Winter 2011 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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