MédiaMatinQuébec, which has been produced by the workers of the Journal de Québec daily since the lock-out/strike started in April, has handed out its two-millionth copy.
The post contains an article which, though clearly one-sided (Quebecor wants to make as much money as possible — duh), has some insightful criticism of the way they’re gutting regional journalism when, if they really want to compete, they should be doing the opposite.
I’m tempted to compare this labour disruption, now in its third month, to the labour disruption that eventually led to the powerhouse Montreal Star in the 1970s. But the ubiquity of wire services makes me reconsider that conclusion. There are free newspapers out there like 24 Heures and Metro with no or little original reporting. But people still gobble them up.
Maybe that’s the future of media here. Big newspapers that photocopy New York Times features and briefs from Associated Press, and small community weeklies that produce fluff pieces by underpaid young journalists about that 100-year-old grandma and her war stories.
The way things are going, it’s hard not to be cynical.
UPDATE: For those of you curious, here’s a PDF version of a recent issue of the paper. Apparently they’re soon going to be going online. Which sounds great except that this is an unsustainable strike paper with no advertising or subscription revenue and far more staff than it needs.
The Journal de Québec is the dominant daily in Quebec city. I’m not sure that in order to compete they need more regional journalism. They get to that dominant with substandard local reporting. According to the data that surfaced during the dispute between the Journal de Montréal union and the cie over the use of the Montreal news room content in the Quebec paper during the conflict, a “normal” issue of the Journal de Québec is made of only 30% original, localy produced news. The rest is made of content produced in Montreal for the Journal de Montréal (30 to 40%) or the various news agency (CP, AFP, AP, etc…. 30 to 40%). On the other side, the “competition” have the biggest newsroom –bigger then every other media– and produce localy some 70% of it’s content. Despise that, Le Soleil is only a shadow of it’s former self and only get about a third of the market.
A note on Media Matin Quebec: the only thing they have in comon with 24H, Metro and other free dailies is that they are… free (and produced 5 days a week). They have much, much, much more staff (140 people + the printing crew!) with a hell of a lot more experience (usualy, you dont get people with 40 years of experience writting for a free paper). Most of the content is purely local and original (I’d say 90%). Article are longueur (but shorter then in the Journal de Québec) and there are more pictures. And almost no advertisement. So, it’s about 20 full pages of news every morning with a focus on purely local stuff.
UPDATE: They’re online now.
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