Canwest’s newspaper division will emerge from bankruptcy with the major debt holders paid off, new owners and a new lease on life.

That’s great news. Relieved of the debt that dragged Canwest into oblivion, the money-making newspaper division will have a chance to carry on. Even better news comes in the early words of Paul Godfrey, who will head the new company. He has said that all pension obligations and the like are intact, that all full-time employees have jobs, and so do “substantially all” of part-timers.

All this is great news for the newspapers and the people who put them together.

But I have some concerns.

One is that the money-losing National Post is going to be a continuing drain on the chain. It has rarely made money in its 10 or so years, and the general trends among newspapers (falling circulation, disrupted advertising and overwhelming competition for attention), aren’t in its favour.

Another is the plan of the new company to go public. The health of publicly-held companies depends on keeping shareholders happy. In the newspaper biz, that’s meant focussing on quarterly results and high levels of profit. The first interferes with longer-term planning; the second is something most folks don’t think we’ll see again in most forms of mass media. It is possible, however, for the chain to focus on investor returns by concentrating on titles that generate high levels of profit (such as newspapers with local monopolies) and cutting others adrift.

Canwest’s secured creditors come out of the deal happy, because they get their money back. The new owners include some who bought Canwest debt at a deep discount (reports as as little as 30 cents on the dollar), which might make it tempting to get out with a healthy profit if there’s a successful IPO (or to get out quickly if the IPO falls flatish.

While the news is good, for now, it wouldn’t surprise me if there aren’t more ownership changes coming for some of the newspapers that make up the chain.