The morgue is dead

Postmedia, Canada’s largest newspaper publisher, is on a cost-cutting binge. Assuming Postmedia completes its current $80 million plan, the company will have slashed expenditures by more than $200 million since 2012. With debt still close to $800 million, it’s hard to see progress.

But for all the jobs gone, lives disrupted and communities poorly served, there is one disappearance that Postmedia has not announced – The Financial Post library – with its newspaper clippings dating back to 1912. Maintained by librarians and journalists alike for decades, the library – AKA “the morgue” – was tossed into the garbage.

During my time at The Financial Post and National Post, the library was usually my first stop when doing any story. In the last 15 years, nearly every book I’ve written began there, too. It didn’t matter the topic or the individual, there was one or more legal-sized file folders chock full of FP stories as well as clippings from other publications. For people like myself, who research and write about business, this is a substantial loss.

The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, The New York Times, and many other newspapers have digitized stories back into the mists of time, but not The Financial Post, the paper of record for business in Canada. Stories that ran in The Financial Post since 1985 are all that’s available through Infomart, a costly digital service run by Postmedia. If I had known they were going to dump this national treasure, I would’ve organized a fundraising campaign or sought an archive to take the collection that probably occupied no more than 500 sq ft. Too late, this unique and important research centre is gone forever. How do you forge a future if you don’t preserve the past?

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