Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor

Leader-Post (Regina)

The Leader-Post is the only newspaper published in Regina, Saskatchewan. It is typical of the monopoly papers operated across Canada by the nation's biggest chain, the Hollinger organization, which owns not only the Leader-Post but also the Star-Phoenix in Saskatoon and the province's two other dailies in Moose Jaw and Prince Albert.

The L-P, as it is popularly known, was started by Nicholas Flood Davin, a flamboyant Irish lawyer, shortly after Regina was founded in 1882. Davin's small weekly paper, which he modestly called the Leader, reflected its owner's feisty personality. Davin, a Conservative, used the paper to propel himself into Parliament, then sold out to Walter Scott, a Liberal. Scott also used the Leader as a political stepping stone and eventually became Saskatchewan's first premier.

The Leader prospered and became a daily when Regina's economy boomed at the beginning of the twentieth century. After that, the paper went through several owners. Meanwhile, a competing paper, the Regina Daily Post, had started up. The Sifton family bought them both in 1928 and amalgamated them, enjoying a monopoly for the next seven decades before selling out to the profit-hungry Hollinger, which promptly fired a quarter of the staff to cut costs.

During its peak under the Siftons, the Leader-Post provided solid coverage of the city and southern Saskatchewan. It maintained bureaus in Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Yorkton, Weyburn, and Estevan as well as Ottawa. During those good years, from the 1950s to the 1970s, the L-P was the best source of news between Winnipeg and Calgary.

But over the past quarter-century, competition from television, declining reader interest, and a gradual shift in policy toward putting profit ahead of public service have combined to reduce the L-P to a shadow of its former self. It no longer holds a preeminent place in the journalistic community, and the remaining newsroom staffers have become so disgruntled that they recently voted to form a labor union.

Today's editions of the paper are filled with wire copy, human-interest features, and other easy-to-get material. The scaled-down newsroom staff attends car accidents and news conferences, but the paper offers little when it comes to enterprise or investigative reporting. An independent rival weekly recently failed, so the L-P has no competition and no incentive to improve.

News coverage is not the only thing that has declined. The once-spirited paper has become timid and bland. Today's editorial page comes out in favor of responsible citizenship, good government, and other banalities. The only thing the Leader-Post regularly gets upset about is the fate of the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team, which the sports department covers in the minutest detail.

The L-P is a big booster of the community, taking part in promotional events and beating the drum for good causes. The paper's appearance is better than its content. Its pages are well laid out, while reproduction of color ads and photos is good, thanks to a highquality press and a modern plant.

See also CITIES AND TOWNS: Regina, Saskatchewan.

Jim McKenzie University of Regina

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