Posted in Media, Montreal, Opinion

The return of Montréal-Matin

Nathalie Collard, who has been pretty solid in the media beat at La Presse, comes out this morning with the news that Claude J. Charron of La Semaine is going to launch a new media venture in Montreal, and he’s purchased the name Montréal-Matin, which has gone unused since the daily newspaper shut down in 1978 – brought down by a strike.

According to Collard, the new Montréal-Matin would be mainly an online venture, but with a weekly printed component, kind of like Rue Frontenac is trying to do, she notes.

Collard also outs Charron as the man behind a mysterious ad that appeared in La Presse and Le Devoir in March seeking employees for a “nouveau quotidien québécois”.

Charron certainly has a history launching publications in Quebec. He started Lundi and 7 jours, both since sold to Quebecor, and started La Semaine to compete with them once a non-compete clause expired (forever putting Charron on Quebecor’s naughty list).

But I can’t help wonder, as Collard herself did in March, how crazy this guy must be to launch a new francophone newspaper in Montreal, where there are already five daily newspapers, a website (and soon paper weekly) run by dozens of locked-out journalists, an alt-weekly in Voir and all sorts of other news outlets on the Web.

It’s particularly crazy considering Rue Frontenac, which quite obviously operates at a huge loss when labour costs are factored in. It would make a lot more sense to wait until that conflict ends before launching another competing news media venture.

Or, you know, not. There are plenty of markets more in need of better journalism. How about a free daily in Quebec City? Another English paper or website in Montreal? Or an English publication anywhere else in Quebec? A French daily in Trois-Rivières to compete with Le Nouvelliste and replace the Journal de Trois-Rivières?

As much as I love journalism and want to see more of it, the Montreal French-language market is the least in need of more journalists.

7 thoughts on “The return of Montréal-Matin

  1. wkh

    It was occuring to me today that the JDeM drama is quite… schadenfreude? For years JdeM has ran stories on those evil lazy piece of dirt union lackey Bleu Cols, and sold those papers to a subscription base raising fists and cheering right along with them… and did they expect this audience to care when THEY went on strike? Really? Did they not know their own audience?

    Reply
  2. AlexH

    I think it all comes down to simple math, really. Being the 4th or 5th paper in montreal (or 7th or 8th if you consider things like Voir) still puts you in the biggest potential marketplace for a french newspaper in North America. Getting even a small percentage of the Montreal market represents a bigger number of copies sold / given than you would get being 25% of the market in Trois Rivieres.

    I also think they are thinking right by being a mostly web based news service. Rue Frontenac has shown that it can be done, an online news service can break stories, they can garner media attenion, and they can get an audience. Montreal Matin will also have the bonus of not being the “journal striker site”, which may make it easier for them to attract advertisers and such.

    As more and more people move online to get their news, an increase in product is not a bad thing.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I think it all comes down to simple math, really. Being the 4th or 5th paper in montreal (or 7th or 8th if you consider things like Voir) still puts you in the biggest potential marketplace for a french newspaper in North America. Getting even a small percentage of the Montreal market represents a bigger number of copies sold / given than you would get being 25% of the market in Trois Rivieres.

      It’s an arguable point, but I’ll concede it. But my argument isn’t so much from a financial perspective as it is from a journalistic one. You really don’t have a chance of becoming a powerful player against La Presse or the Journal de Montréal. You’re practically guaranteed to lose if you try anything resembling professional journalism. So all you can do is be as super-cheap as possible to cut expenses.

      In another market – any market – you’d instantly become the #2 or #3 player and even if you didn’t have a huge market you could make a larger impact, I think.

      Rue Frontenac has shown that it can be done, an online news service can break stories, they can garner media attenion, and they can get an audience.

      But they haven’t shown that you can make money doing it. In fact, quite the opposite. Revenues are still far higher in print than online, and I suspect the print paper will bring in a lot more money than the website.

      Reply
      1. AlexH

        Rue Frontenac isn’t easy to pin down, because I am sure that there has been a lot of pressure on advertisers to avoid being part of the site. Montreal Matin will not have to deal with the sort of difficulties that Rue Frontenac sees.

        Which touches another reason to move to print (for both papers): It puts you back in the business of ad pages, and not of banners or text links. The format of advertising for most online sites is not the same sort of ad market that exists for print paper. Bridging the gap may allow them both to deal with companies that are more likely to take a full page, back cover, or similar type ad that is just not possible online, while at the same time giving them a chance to perhaps upsell them to some new sorts of online ads.

        One of the best formats for an online paper I have seen is the Hong Kong freebie The Standard (in english):

        http://paper.thestandard.com.hk/

        It takes a bit to load, but the actual pages are the same as the print edition, which means that the print advertisers get to work with a familiar layout, and they don’t have to worry so much about “web” based content.

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          It takes a bit to load, but the actual pages are the same as the print edition, which means that the print advertisers get to work with a familiar layout, and they don’t have to worry so much about “web” based content.

          Every newspaper in Montreal has a similar “digital edition” that replicates the print version (though the paid papers charge for it). Unfortunately it’s the worst of both worlds: you have to scroll up, down and sideways on pages constantly, zoom in and out, and can’t do the crossword. And you also can’t comment on stories, link to them easily, copy and paste text, and do a bunch of other stuff that the Web makes easier.

          Reply
  3. scrawnydude

    Truth is, you can get journalists to work for almost nothing. There are guys willing to do a full week for around $350 a week or so plus the ego tripping of a byline. Plus not printing a paper means no expenses there. The guy could run his operation on about $2,000 a week plus his weekly printing.

    Reply
  4. Jean Naimard

    I don’t think there would be enough bone in the world to sustain the amount of head-banging which is required after watching that TV commercial.

    Reply

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