In a sign of US journalism cutbacks, the last American newspaper bureau in Canada is to close.
Late this summer the Washington Post will shut its Toronto bureau and recall its correspondent. All over the world American newspapers and news agencies are closing their bureaus leaving their coverage to stringers or freelancers.
Among the major newspapers that have already closed their Canadian bureaus are the Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times which now relies on two stringers for its coverage of its northern neighbour.
The closure of so many bureaus has distressed many journalists – not just because of the loss of jobs – but also the feeling that America can't really know what is going on in Canada with no on-the-ground representation There is also the suspicion that cutting back on coverage will widen the gap between the US and Canada, two big countries which some say don't understand each other very well anyway.
But the economic factor is behind many of the closings – not just in Canada but elsewhere. Many small and medium sized newspapers in the US have closed bureaus all over the world. One survey indicates a 30 per cent drop in foreign correspondents since 2000, The cost – and danger – of keeping correspondents in Iraq is another factor. A professor at the Poynter Institute, a journalism school in Florida, suggested that when a newspaper closes a foreign bureau you lose expertise about that part of the world.
Many embassies also deplore the trend. "It doesn't make our job any easier", Bernie Etzinger attached to the Canadian Embassy in Washington told the Toronto Star.
Shortly the only full time US coverage of Canada journalistically will be from Associated Press and Dow Jones and the Bloomberg news service although both of these agencies concentrate mostly on business news. Reuters says it will continue to maintain bureaus in Canada.