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After only 11 months, the final challenge to the city’s Pacific Press newspaper monopoly disintegrates, as the Vancouver Times publishes its final full edition. “We’re Taking a Pause”, the headline will read, the following morning, signalling the short-lived independent newspaper’s abrupt, but entirely unsurprising demise.
The Times, started as an alternative to the “one-company control” of the Southam papers, has long struggled with low advertising revenues, a shaky editorial vision, and fiscal mismanagement (staff went through $200 of ballpoint pens in a single month), and despite a circulation of 40,000, and a long, desperate battle to keep it afloat, the fledgling publication can no longer afford to support itself.
“It is significant that until the end, The Times maintained a circulation of 40,000 copies a day,” Jack Webster will report in a Vancouver Sun moratorium. “These were people who liked the paper and wanted to see direct competition for The Sun and The Province. Other Vancouver people obviously resented the apparent monopoly of Pacific Press. . . . The Times’ promoters were banking, too, on advertiser resentment against Pacific Press. It failed to materialize.”
Despite a strong start, advertiser relations were never strong throughout the paper’s run (largely, it is speculated, due to pressure from the Pacific Press papers), and the aggressive management style of owner “Val” Warren resulted in dozens of resignations -including, eventually, his own.
“Even before it published its first edition, the seeds of the Times’ demise had been sown,” writer and Vancouver newspaper historian Marc Edge will recount in his analysis of the paper. “Of the $1.8 million received from share sales by then, almost $1 million had gone to initial ‘organization, development and finance costs.’ By the time the first papers hit the streets, the Times was so cash-strapped that it had less than $200,000 on hand to meet working costs and a payroll of more than 300.”
By the time the paper ceases publication, the newsroom consists of an editor, a managing editor, and two journalists. However, due to the demands of the Times’ competition, the Sun’s circulation has swelled to 240,000, and continues to grow.
“It will be many years, I fear,” Webster will lament, “before another effort is made to build a third daily newspaper from the ground up.”
IMAGE: Issues of the Vancouver Province, strewn and smoldering on Cambie Street during a pressman’s strike, circa 1946. Image Courtesy of the Vancouver Archives.