Randy French. *File photo by Kageaki Smith
Randy French. *File photo by Kageaki Smith

It is with sadness that Bermuda Sun Limited announces that the Bermuda Sun is to cease publication after 50 years.

The final issue will be published on July 30, 2014.

Regrettably, 23 positions of the paper’s editorial and advertising operation will be made redundant. The employees, all of whom have faithfully served the paper, will receive a full redundancy package and every effort is being made to assist them with securing alternative employment.

Despite our best efforts, the decline in advertising revenues over the past decade, exacerbated by the challenging economic climate and the impact of digital media on the print industry, has made it increasingly difficult for the company to meet the costs of producing the newspaper.

Since 2008, the Sun has been operating at an annual loss. It is the view of the Board of Directors that despite the considerable efforts and sacrifices of management and staff, such losses are no longer sustainable and that it financially has no alternative but to close the newspaper.

Businesses related to the Bermuda Sun, which include Island Press Limited, the tourism website Bermuda.com Limited and its print companion, Bermuda.com Guide Limited, will be amalgamated with subsidiary companies operated by Bermuda Press (Holdings) Limited. Details of the amalgamations are outlined in a separate statement issued by the Bermuda Press (Holdings) Limited today. The amalgamation is the best means for preserving jobs in those businesses.

The decision to cease publishing the Bermuda Sun has not been taken lightly. Over the past several years, the Board and indeed everyone at the paper has worked hard to  cut costs and exhausted every avenue to keep the newspaper afloat, including seeking a buyer. These efforts have proved unsuccessful. The economic reality is that a traditional print newspaper that publishes twice a week, such as the Sun, is no longer viable in a small market such as Bermuda.

Randy French, Publisher of the Bermuda Sun, said in a statement: "This is a very painful and difficult decision for the company.

"It is an especially sad day for my family. My father Donald together with Warren Brown started the Bermuda Sun in 1964 and various members of our family have worked for the paper ever since. We are very proud of what the newspaper has achieved in that time and of its position as a trusted and alternative media voice in the community. In doing so, it has made a valuable contribution to democracy in Bermuda.

"Our editorial and advertising staffs have been dedicated, creative and professional throughout the increasingly financial difficulties we have faced. The Board has nothing but the utmost gratitude and respect for their efforts and their passion. We have made every effort to continue publishing, but regrettably we can no longer avoid the inevitable. 

"The newspaper industry globally is experiencing profound economic and technological changes. These changes have already resulted in the reduction of many newspapers and printing companies around the world. According to Newspaper Association of America figures, newspaper print advertising revenues in 2013 were the lowest since 1950 and were down 50% over the last five years alone.

“We are not immune to global trends in Bermuda and at the Sun, we have made every effort to meet these challenges. We were the first media company in Bermuda to establish a web site and a strong social media presence. Earlier this year we were the first local media company to introduce augmented reality print technology.

"Despite our best innovative efforts, digital revenues have not grown at a fast enough rate to offset the fall in newspaper advertising revenue impacted by the decline of Bermuda's once thriving retail and tourism businesses. We are a casualty of a struggling economy and a population base that has significantly declined over the years.  While there are hopeful signs of improvement in Bermuda, we are unable to continue our business.
 

“Ending publication of the Bermuda Sun is truly the end of an era but its legacy is one of which everyone who worked for the paper can be extremely proud. Over many years we met an important need in Bermuda by offering editorials and articles on the events of the day, and reporting the news fairly and with integrity.  We would like to believe that in our own way we gave encouragement to Bermudians and residents to talk about the issues that impact their lives. That exchange of ideas and knowledge is good for Bermuda. We leave with sadness but are hopeful that as small as Bermuda is, there are viable and emerging forums for receiving and discussing the news.”

The Bermuda Sun’s historical archive will continue to be available online.