Back in March, after the NDG Monitor shut down its print operation after 83 years and decided to go online-only to save costs, the borough of Côte-des-Neiges-NDG relaunched its borough newsletter Le Citoyen to make it more newspaper-like. The Monitor’s Toula Foscolos took this as a direct attack on freedom of the press and blasted the paper in a (now-online) column.
Two weeks ago, she did it again, criticizing the paper for being a mouthpiece of the government (which it is).
This prompted a nasty response from borough spokesperson Michel Therrien, saying Foscolos is bitter about the Monitor shutting down and is taking it out on the borough (via Andy Riga). His letter in turn prompted a nasty response from Foscolos, who said it’s her job to criticize the borough newsletter.
Both sides are being a bit childish here. A government official complaining that a newspaper is too critical is kind of absurd on its face, no matter what they may think the journalist’s motives are. But Foscolos’s response, which talks about how the paper’s number changed and that’s why she didn’t get his messages, sounds like the kind of stuff I used to hear from student politicians who thought it better to have an hour-long public screaming match about miscommunication than a two-minute phone call that would have resolved the issue.
What annoys me is that with all the bitter exchanges back and forth (Foscolos is helped out by supportive letters she publishes from her readers) is that the Monitor and Le Citoyen are basically the same. Both of them republish press releases without commentary, write fluff stories about community events and do little original journalism – Le Citoyen because that’s not its function, and the Monitor because it doesn’t have the budget to report. Instead of spending what little precious time she has doing original reporting, Foscolos leafs through the borough newsletter and complaining that it’s not a newspaper.
This city already has enough self-important blowhards who nitpick the media instead of doing original reporting. It doesn’t need more.