This week in Quebec City, unions for various media outlets met to denounce the “Montrealization” of French-language media in Quebec. Much like the Torontoization of English media in Canada, it’s all about big media companies reducing “redundancy” and centralizing similar services in one location.
The problem, of course, is that eventually the disconnect between this remotely-produced journalism and the local environment becomes apparent. We start seeing “regional” newscasts instead of local ones, to save money. A story about a province-wide issue is covered by a single journalist out of a big city and then copied to regional news outlets with no local spin added.
Newspapers are being split into two categories:
- Major dailies, which rely mostly on wire service stories, syndicated features like comics and crosswords, and a few columnists and police report rewriters.
- Community papers, which produce mostly fluff from its grossly underpaid journalists
The problems of local journalism are having a backlash effect though: Former Minneapolis Star-Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer-Press employees are producing a local news website called MinnPost, which is filling the gap created when the big papers failed in their commitment to local news (via).
The site has just launched, so it’s hard to say if it’s financial model is going to work (it probably won’t), but it’s still good to see things like this. One thing I’ve learned writing this blog and covering local issues is that people are very interested in what’s going on around them.
The problem is that local journalism will never make you rich. And big media is obsessed with making itself rich. But fortunately some journalists have a higher calling.