The president and CEO of Canada's largest independently owned newspaper appears to be embracing new media by getting into Twitter fights with readers. Over the last 14 hours, the @CH_MLever account has been on the defensive against critics of the Herald’s managerial decisions in the wake of Saturday's union strike and layoff notices.
The account bears the name and image of the paper's president and CEO, Mark Lever. Now, for most of this protracted labour battle Lever has chosen to issue statements via letters in his own paper. So a Twitter account going after his haters just as employees go on strike does set off some bullshit alarms. The account is registered to a ml****@H*****.ca, though, and the newspaper boss’ email is mlever@Herald.ca. Those would be extraordinary—but not impossible—lengths for someone to go to fake an account.
The Mark Lever tweeter maintains that up to 1,200 Nova Scotians work for the daily newspaper—an estimate questioned by former Herald reporter Laura Fraser (now with CBC in Ontario).
Tweeting Lever’s cat then walks across his keyboard as he lists a series of abbreviations for the Herald’s 1,200-strong, non-unionized workforce.
Some people point out that a newspaper with 1,200 employees and only 61 actual newsroom workers may be kinda top-heavy.
Newsroom employees protested today outside the Herald's offices. Halifax Typographical Union vice-president Francis Campbell told CBC the union had been in contact with Herald management yesterday in an effort not to strike, provided the company’s new employment contract wasn’t imposed today.
The union represents 61 reporters, editors, photographers, columnists and support staff. Today, 18 of those employees (12 editors, four photographers and two page technicians) received layoff notices.
@IamMattDowling why do you ALL make this so personal?— Mark Lever (@CH_MLever) January 23, 2016
Meanwhile, the paper’s official Twitter account took a moment to accuse the union of manipulating negotiating timetables with a message some Donald Trump-level hashtagging. "After agreeing to negotiate all weekend, union still not available to meet until tomorrow," it writes. "#thinkaboutit."
It wasn't received very well. Other users called the tweet classless and advised the paper to rethink its PR strategy.
While the labour crisis goes on, the HTU says it will launch a competing new product, Local Xpress, to publish news from the striking reporters. No word yet on what that will look like. The only links up so far that might possibly be related are this eggy Twitter account and a Wordpress site created back in August.