Gesca to buy Rue Frontenac

Rue Frontenac's journalists would be pulled out of their spartan newsroom and given proper offices in the deal

It makes perfect sense, and yet it makes none.

According to senior officials, Rue Frontenac (the website and weekly newspaper run by locked-out employees of the Journal de Montréal that was set to split off into an independent company after a new labour contract was approved) is being purchased by Gesca, publisher of La Presse.

The deal, which would need to be ratified at a meeting likely to take place over the next couple of weeks, will see the website and newspaper purchased for a nominal fee (probably $1) and its remaining employees (those who haven’t returned to the Journal or taken retirement) offered employment within Gesca. Though the details have yet to be finalized, the most likely scenario would see Rue Frontenac published as a weekly insert to Gesca’s seven daily newspapers (six in Quebec, plus Ottawa’s Le Droit) that focuses on investigative reporting. A source within La Presse said that, for now, there are no plans to make major changes to the content of the newspaper, though in time Rue Frontenac’s journalists and other workers would be expected to integrate into newsrooms of La Presse and other papers. This also means that the paper’s current offices on Iberville St. would be vacated, either turned back to the Journal’s union or simply abandoned altogether.

The reaction of those employees who have heard about the deal is mixed. Most are a bit troubled that this essentially amounts to a takeover by a big media enterprise, and would have preferred that Rue Frontenac remain independent. But even the most hardcore of RF faithful know that the offer of employment to those who would otherwise be struggling to pay the bills is an offer too good to pass up.

“Our goal was to make sure everyone here could go back to work, and this offer gives them exactly that,” said one member of Rue Frontenac’s managerial committee who asked not to be named. “The downside is minimal comparatively.”

After the plan is approved, it would still take weeks, maybe months for the integration to be complete. Until then, the plan is to keep everything status quo. Rue Frontenac will still appear on Thursdays on newsstands, with breaking news at ruefrontenac.com.

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