Hour’s website being left to die slowly

The racks that used to carry Hour sit empty (others are just filled with extra copies of Voir)

Though everyone knew the announcement last week that Hour Community would cease publishing meant the death of the brand, owner Communications Voir left a bit open by saying it would become online-only. Publisher Pierre Paquet wouldn’t return calls to clarify what that meant.

So, one week after the final articles went up, I checked hour.ca to see what this online-only publication would be. And … nothing. Same stuff from last week. No new content at all.

It’s obviously not surprising. Kevin Laforest was the only full-time staff member, and he was let go. Even when he was working, the paper had far fewer than the minimum necessary to provide useful content on a weekly basis. Now there’s simply nobody left there to provide content to this publication, online-only or not. Its reliance on “community” (i.e. user-generated) content seems fruitless since the “community” section hasn’t been updated since March.

If Hour.ca is being kept alive merely for historical purposes, to keep its archives available, then good. I’m all for that. Put up an announcement saying you’re no longer publishing and leave it at that. But leaving it in limbo like this seems unfair. Hour deserves more than to simply be forgotten like an old Geocities page online.

UPDATE (May 22): Voir has also shut down sister paper Ottawa XPress in similarly noncommunicative fashion. Coverage from CBC and the Ottawa Citizen.

2 thoughts on “Hour’s website being left to die slowly

  1. Michael Black

    The odd thing is, Hour did not archive things forever. At least, I had things bookmarked that were no longer there later. For a long time they’d have URLs for the current week, which would then become invalid, but a new URL was issued; as long as you bookmarked the more recent URL things were fine, until the articles themselves disappeared.

    The Mirror has archived, back to when they first had a webpage. It can be handy, though I think their search mechanism is lacking. I recall trying to find something, and having no success. On the other hand, last week I wanted to check something that I knew was in a letter of mine which they published, and google found it fine.

    It makes sense to keep it there, though with a notice. Some of it is historical, if old newspapers are being digitized, recent newspapers that were online have all the hard work done. I wanted to check something from a few years back at Hour, and that article is at least still there.

    People forget, Hour wasn’t always a weak runner up. It started with a bang, there was a period when some of the most known Mirror writers went over to Hour. For a while, Hour did do better with Arts coverage, indeed right up till last year’s “makeover” they regularly (though not every week) had someone writing about dance, not just a preview but actual commentary on the art, while the Mirror has a bit of a blurb on the Artsweek page, which seems missing in recent weeks. Hour had its share of political coverage too, when it was fat. They ran Tooker Gomberg’s columns. When Gaetan Charlebois went from the Mirror to Hour in 1997, he did daily bits online each day during the Fringe festival, solving a problem of a weekly that comes out once during the festival. it got better and became interactive, preceeding a lot of what came later elsewhere. Sadly, when Hour again became a Fringe sponsor a few years back, they did online coverage yet either forgot or never knew that they’d done it before, until the meltdown of 2001.

    When ICI disappeared, I seem to recall the webpage disappeared, but that weekly never had an online version, they just had a marker, so the webpage disappearing meant nothing.




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