Paul Godfrey is stepping down as CEO of Postmedia Network and will be replaced by Andrew MacLeod, the company announced Thursday.
Godfrey, who led Postmedia since its 2010 formation, will remain with the company as executive chair. The changes are part of a succession plan implemented in October 2017, when MacLeod—who joined the company in 2014 as executive VP, chief commercial officer—was appointed president and chief operating officer.
MacLeod assumes responsibility for more than 140 Postmedia brands spanning multiple media platforms, including the National Post, Ottawa Times, five Sun properties, Canada.com and Driving.ca.
In a release, Godfrey said that MacLeod has spent the past 15 months championing a strategy that has delivered continued growth in new revenues and “successful structural transformation” that will put the company on “strong footing.”
His appointment comes as Postmedia continues to struggle financially, with digital gains not enough to offset its massive print losses.
In its first quarter earnings report released Thursday, the company said that print advertising revenues for the three months ended Nov. 30 were $77.1 million, a 15.4% decline from $91.1 million in the corresponding year-earlier period. It attributed the losses to weakness in both local and national advertising.
Digital revenues were up by $1.5 million, or 4.7%, to $32.7 million during the same time period. Combined revenues for the quarter, including circulation were down more than 9% at $171.3 million, from $189 million a year earlier.
Postmedia initiated several cost-saving initiatives in 2018, including shuttering nine community newspapers, and said it would continue pursuing additional initiatives this year.
Godfrey’s recent tenure with Postmedia has been tumultuous, with he and his fellow executives being publicly castigated for accepting millions in bonuses after mass layoffs. During an October earnings call, he engaged in an extraordinary public spat with Leon Cooperman, the billionaire hedge-fund manager who owns slightly less than 14% of Postmedia.
Martin O’Hanlon, president of the media union CWA Canada—which represents Postmedia employees at several publications, including the Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star and Regina Leader-Post—said in a release that it’s a shame Godfrey didn’t step down earlier, calling him a “disaster” for the country’s newspaper industry.
“Godfrey has presided over the destruction of a once-proud chain, laying off thousands of staff and leaving decimated newsrooms,” he said. “It has been a nightmare for workers, bad for society, and damaging to our democracy.”
O’Hanlon also said there is little to suggest that things will be any different under MacLeod, noting that it was under his leadership that the company moved last year to close six community newspapers, cut back the publishing schedule for four more, and eliminate another 10% of its workforce by the end of August.