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🗞️ What's next for SaltWire?

Plus, Halifax comedy festival lands a big name

Good morning!

The Coast probably wouldn’t exist without the Chronicle-Herald. Daily newspapers across Canada and the US were well served by the 20th century—maybe a little too well, as the dominant media in many places became the rich, boring daily. In response a totally new, feisty newspaper model came along to offer a weekly alternative. New York’s Village Voice, started in 1955, was the first of these alt-weeklies, and hundreds more followed in its passionately local wake, including The Georgia Straight in Vancouver (1967) and The Coast (1993), which has since evolved to become your favourite newsletter publisher (2020).

Tragically for the Herald and its SaltWire parent company, this unwitting connection to The Coast is one of the rare business successes it can lay claim to. The challenges of the 21st century are obviously devastating to the media industry, with countless daily, weekly, monthly, web and broadcast outlets going dark. Although SaltWire’s outlasted all of them, this week’s big media news out of Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court hints at what this cost the company. According to documents filed Monday by a major creditor, SaltWire and its associated businesses owe more than $94 million, and have assets of less than $33 million. 

It’s expensive to print daily newspapers while the traditional advertising market is collapsing. But SaltWire built a lot of that debt through dubious expansion efforts. The company bought a string of papers across Atlantic Canada—including three more dailies—that another publisher wanted to unload. When COVID emptied out their Halifax offices, they built a TV studio in the space, yet have anemic YouTube viewership. They bought a security company and a t-shirt business. Maybe the strategy was to become too big to fail, or maybe it’s just too big. However it happened, SaltWire et al will be in court today seeking creditor protection.

My fears about what this could mean for Halifax, the Herald, Halifax and hundreds of SaltWire employees reminds me that local journalism is difficult and vital and hard. At this point I should reveal the secret to how we’ve been able to stick around this long: The Coast probably wouldn’t exist without you. Our newsletter readers, and the growing number of readers who become paying Insider members, provide a strong base for us to build from. Thank you for supporting local journalism.

– Kyle

🌡️ Traffic & Weather

Today: 🌨️ 5°

Tomorrow: ☀️ 

Next Day: 🌤️

🚌 Driving, biking or busing today? Check out the current traffic conditions and ongoing road closures.

EDUCATION

MSVU is back to school but rift between faculty and employer remains

📸 The Coast

Classes are on at Mount Saint Vincent University after faculty settled their three-week-long strike last week. Both faculty and students had to wait until late last Friday evening to learn their term will not be extended to make up for the weeks without classes.

And while the semester is back in swing with a fresh agreement between the university board and the union representing roughly 160 MSVU faculty, librarians and technicians, a rift remains between the two sides.

As The Coast’s Lauren Phillips reports, one professor feels the latest bargaining was “a litmus test” for what other universities are in for when their own collective agreements come due later this year.

🤔 Need To Know

🩺 Waiting for primary care? You’re not alone. More than 15,000 Nova Scotians have been waiting for a family doctor for more than three years, CBC News reports.

🎉 It's March Break! Get out and enjoy all the fun in Downtown Halifax, including free ferry from 11am-2pm daily until March 16.*

⚖️ Two Millbrook men face attempted murder and a rash of other charges after reports of gunshots prompted a lockdown this past Saturday.

🩺 A healthier world starts with you. Are you 18+? You could help CCfV learn more about respiratory illnesses through our inpatient study in Halifax.*

🪧 More than 1,000 faculty and support staff at Nova Scotia Community College could soon go on strike after union members voted to reject a recent offer from the college’s board.

*Sponsored Post

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March 22nd at 8:00 PM, Spatz Theatre

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Louisiana stand-up comic Theo Von to headline Halifax summer comedy festival

📸 Rick Diamond / Facebook

The most famous mullet in stand-up comedy is coming to Halifax this August. American comedian Theo Von will headline the third evening of the Great Outdoors Comedy Festival on Sunday, Aug. 11, alongside comics Chelcie Lynn (Tangerine) and Laura Peek (Iliza’s Locals).

Born in Covington, Louisiana, the 43-year-old Von rose to fame first as a competitor on MTV’s The Challenge, before winning “fan favourite” honours in an online competition tied to Last Comic Standing in 2006. His humour is a little bit like if David Spade’s Joe Dirt met Charles Bukowski: A mix of stories from his Southern upbringing, combined with stream-of-consciousness riffs about the banalities of life. It’s proven remarkably successful, earning Von a pair of Netflix specials—most recently in 2021, for Regular People.

This summer marks the second year for the comedy fest at the Garrison Grounds. Last year’s debut brought comics Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Burr to Halifax. In addition to Von, this year’s Great Outdoors Comedy Festival will feature headlining sets from Nate Bartgatze and Tom Segura, along with sets from Gerry Dee, Bobby Lee and Jessica Kirson. The festival runs Aug. 9-11, 2024.

🗞️ In Other News

💸 A Nova Scotia mechanic says the province’s potholed roads have cost him thousands of dollars. He wants the government to foot the bill.

🏠 Lower Sackville’s Beacon House Shelter says it will offer online updates in lieu of another public session about its Pallet shelter village, after the last forum prompted vocal opposition to the shelters from some neighbours.

📉 Amid recent controversy, a new Angus Reid poll finds Tim Houston’s approval rating is the lowest it’s been during his near-three-year tenure as premier.

🔋 Nova Scotia Power is floating the idea of expanding a pilot project to put backup power batteries into more homes across the province.

🚬 It appears Nova Scotians are smoking more pot—or at least buying more from the province. The NSLC says cannabis sales rose 12% between Oct. and Dec. 2023.

🪱 For Mi’kmaw eel fishers, the species represents more than just money—it’s a traditional source of food and part of cultural ceremony as well. And it’s a species in dwindling supply.

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🗓️ Things To Do

Looking for something to do this week? Check out these Coast picks:

🗓 Something to Believe In: Halifax singer-songwriter Jenn Grant has a new collection of visual works on display at The Prow Gallery through the end of the month | Until Mar. 30 | Times vary | Free

🗓 Black Women in Electoral Politics Panel: Postponed from last week due to weather, an all-star panel of local leaders—Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard, Twila Grosse, Angela Simmonds, Yvonne Atwell, Suzy Hansen and Iona Stoddard—are coming together in honour of International Women’s Day | Mar. 13 | 5:30-8:30pm | Free

🗓 Mat Hughes w/ Daniel James McFadyen: Catch two Nova Scotia singer-songwriters at The Carleton as they perform a sold-out show this Thursday | Mar. 14 | 7:30pm | $20 (waitlist)

🗓 Halifax Mooseheads: The hot-streaking Herd are second in the QMJHL’s Eastern Conference and host the Charlottetown Islanders tomorrow evening | Mar. 14 | 7pm | From $21

Find more Halifax events in The Coast listings

⚓️ What’s In The Harbour

➡️ The 141,377-tonne Erving container ship leaves Halifax for New York City around 6am this morning.

🚢 The 296-metre-long Atlantic Star container ship is expected to arrive at Halifax’s Fairview Cove Terminal around 3:20pm. It’s inbound from Liverpool, UK.

➡️ The 72-metre-long IT Integrity cable layer is expected to leave Halifax around 6pm this evening. Its next destination isn’t yet clear.

➡️ The Sonderborg container ship is slated to leave Halifax for West Palm Beach, FL, around 6pm this evening.

🛍️ Shop Talk

🥪 Sub sandwich shop Buddy’s Deli will open on Blowers Street this Thursday. The fast-food restaurant promises “locally sourced meats and ingredients.”

📸 Martin Bauman / The Coast

👀 In Case You Missed It

⛺ A single tent is all that remains of the former Grand Parade encampment after HRM crews continued clearing the square of unhoused residents and their belongings amid calls for housing support earlier this week.

🌲 Nova Scotia’s forests are now emitting more carbon than they sequester, Halifax’s Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee heard last week.

🎞️ Halifax-born filmmaker Ben Proudfoot calls his second Oscar win “absolutely incredible” and “hard to believe” after taking home honours for Best Short Documentary this past weekend.

📷 What happens when a Photoshop job goes wrong? In the case of Kate Middleton’s recent family photo op, it makes for a Royal-sized scandal.

That’s it!

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