Opinion

Letter from the editor: News and notes

The Information Accelerator 2019 participants listen to The Information's founder and CEO, Jessica Lessin, and The Athletic's co-founder, Alex Mather, discuss subscription news publications. Jan. 16, 2019. The Information
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I hope you’re having a great weekend.

I’m writing from our hometown in Toronto, where both the transit system and nerves have been frayed by some frigid January temperatures.

For me, the weather is a far cry from last week’s, when I was in rainy San Francisco for The Information Accelerator program. It was a wonderful experience learning from The Information’s founder and editor-in chief, Jessica Lessin, and her team, along with meeting the other members of our cohort.

Left in our wake, however, was an absolutely brutal week of layoffs in the journalism world. About 1,000 reporters and editors lost their jobs within BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, and Gannett newsrooms. Meanwhile, following The Logic‘s reporting that Apple News was exploring a Canadian expansion, the company announced its arrival north.

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It’s a timely topic in Canadian media circles, with publishers and foundations vying for a piece of the government’s $645- million news bailout, a portion of which is expected to be allocated—or at least announced—during the upcoming federal budget.

I’ve written before about the journalism bailout in Canada and why I don’t think it’s needed, so I won’t wax on here. However, having spent years studying the future of journalism, I remain optimistic that this craft can survive and thrive.

The best thing about meeting The Information’s team was getting a glimpse into the future. I encountered a vibrant newsroom, just five years old, that was filled with reporters and editors bustling with scoops, a loyal readership and a growing business.

Our industry moves forward, one story and one subscription at a time.

In other news and notes:

A subscriber pointed me to a Bloomberg report on Crescat Capital, a small but successful U.S. hedge fund that’s shorting Canadian banks. That in and of itself is interesting, but what really struck me was a statistic mentioned almost in passing halfway through the article: “Crescat calculates that about 80 per cent of Canadian non-financial stocks have been cash-flow negative in the past 12 months.”

That’s cash flow from operations minus capital expenditures.

The company attributes the measurement to zombie firms, something that I wrote about last October.

As a follow-up to my last column on disability inclusion, there was a session devoted to the topic at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It’s a must-watch. Bloomberg chairman Peter Grauer (22:54) and former Unilever CEO Paul Polman (46:05) were both moved to tears. As the team at Quartz noted, “It felt like a turning point in how disability gets discussed by global business leaders in Davos and beyond.”

This week, we emailed invitations to subscribers for our official launch party in Toronto on March 4, where the team will be grilled on why we started The Logic by the inimitable Steve Paikin, host of TVO’s The Agenda and author. If you’re a subscriber to The Logic and haven’t received an invite, please check your spam filters. If you can’t find the invite, please email me. We only have about 30 tickets left, so RSVP today.

And, last but not least, next Tuesday, I’ll be interviewing Jim Balsillie, former chairman and co-CEO of Research In Motion (now BlackBerry), on stage at the CanTech Investment Conference in Toronto. Tickets are still available.

Hope to see you there.