You might think that my coming back to work there would be the biggest news at The Gazette this week, and it is, but there are a few other things happening too as the paper changes, shifts its focus from print to online, and manages with the impact of losing over a dozen staff to buyouts.
Among changes that directly affect readers:
- The Friday event listings pages have been cut from two to one, by concentrating on larger venues and more important events. Expanded listings are provided online. It’s another step in the slow decline of agate pages (you’ll recall something similar happened to the Saturday stock pages in September), which require a lot of work, take up a lot of space, and quickly become outdated.
- The full-page comics section (Monday-Saturday) is being reduced in size to accommodate the syndicated Annie’s Mailbox advice column, which previously appeared in a seemingly random place anywhere in the paper it would fit. The change results in the discontinuing of four comics which the paper deemed unworthy:
- Hi and Lois: “Too old, less relevant”
- Hägar the Horrible: “Predictable, sexist, repetitive”
- Wizard of Id: Died with its creators long ago
- Between Friends: “Hasn’t lived up to the original promise” Readers think differently, with more than 100 writing in asking editors to restore the strip. It’s brought back after a week, replacing Lio, which “received little acclaim from readers.”
- Habs Inside/Out has added a new blogger. Chris Aung-Thwin will write “Views from the Blues,” which is apparently a “fan’s perspective” of the team.
- The Thursday Urban Life page has been discontinued. Articles about living in the city will run in the regular lifestyle pages.
- The West Island section is adding a new social column, set to begin within the next month.
An updated list of departing and status-changing columnists appears below. The latest edition is Gaetan Charlebois, whose final Chaud Show column was last weekend.
Everyone must go!
Full-time staff taking buyouts to become freelance columnists:
- Jack Todd (Sports columnist/Monday Morning Quarterback): Took the buyout to concentrate on writing fiction. Expected to return with a serious Monday sports column in March.
- Mary Lamey (Homefront columnist): Leaving the Business department as a reporter, but keeping her weekly Homefront column.
- Julian Armstrong (Food editor): Best Buys, Table Talk and Six O’Clock Solution will continue freelance.
- Donna Nebenzahl (Workology): Leaving the Life section as a writer but continuing her weekly Working section column.
Full-time columnists leaving entirely with a suitcase full of buyout cash:
- Matt Radz (Theatre): Replaced on that beat by former books columnist Pat Donnelly. (He had a few comments about Canwest now that he doesn’t have to worry about being loyal)
Freelance columnists discontinuing their columns:
- Lisa Fitterman (Monday Life): Last column was New Year’s Eve.
- Jordan W. Charness (Wednesday Driving): Doesn’t pretend otherwise in his final driving law column Feb. 13: “Because of circumstances beyond my control, I’ve been advised this will be my final column in this paper.”
- Sandra Phillips (Smart Shopping): Gone, though her book is still around.
- Len Henry (Car Doctor, Saturday Classified): A column almost designed never to be found in a huge Saturday paper, its demise was predictable.
Other cancelled columns:
- Mark Stachiew (Canwest’s NETworthy syndicated column in Monday Business): Column appears to be discontinued chainwide in favour of the Web Junkie blog. Last column in The Gazette was Jan. 14.
- Maxine Mendelssohn‘s In Person column has been a victim of the Urban Life section’s demise. Her Weekend Life Retail Detail column continues, and she’s also contributing fashion-related freelance pieces.
- Paul Delean (Horse racing, Monday sports): Put out to pasture Jan. 21 after 18 years, to the displeasure of some. Delean continues to write for business.
- Gaetan Charlebois (Chaud Show, Sunday): His swan song was Jan. 27. He continues to write La Télé, which focuses on French-language TV.
- Jennifer Campbell (Social Notes, Sunday): Her column undergoes a new format starting Feb. 3, which focuses more on large photos of events and less on reciting the guest list in bold.
- Raymond Beauchemin, foreign editor: Took the buyout to run off to Abu Dhabi as part of a new English-language newspaper starting up there.
- Doug Sweet, national editor: Resigned to become director of media relations at McGill University.
- Lynn Farrell, photo editor: Leaving in March with a buyout.