Monthly Archives: February 2009

Courrier Laval loses half its reporting staff


The fallout from the cuts at Transcontinental are starting to trickle down. The Courrier Laval has lost two of its four reporters, leaving two people to write all the news from across the island.

One of the reporters losing her job is Nathalie Villeneuve. You might remember her as the person whose story TVA picked up without attribution. Now what will TV news report on?

Meanwhile, the union representing employees at Transcon’s community weeklies is bemoaning the situation at papers in the centre of the island of Montreal (Villeray, Rosemont, Ville-Marie, etc.) who have even fewer journalists and can’t do much journalism of their own.

I can attest to that. There’s plenty of syndicated content (mostly about cars), but very little of local interest comes out of those papers.

UPDATE: Voir’s Steve Boudrias calls this cut “absurd”, with some thoughts on the state of community journalism.

Journal lockout hits one month

(Once again, my real job kept me from my self-appointed Journal-monitoring rounds, this time for a full week. Here’s what we missed)

A view of the Journal de Montréal building, from the offices of the STIJM

A view of the Journal de Montréal building, from the offices of the STIJM

The big news, sadly, is no news. One month into the Journal de Montréal lockout, there are no negotiations scheduled, no sign that any end is near.

But there’s plenty of other stuff going on. Here’s what I’ve found:

Habs stories top all others

Shortly before that big La Presse thing, when everyone was still talking about Alex Kovalev and how much the Habs sucked, Rue Frontenac posted an article from Marc de Foy about what Kovy supposedly said to his peeps back home, namely blaming other players for the team’s misfortune.

Pretty standard fare for the Journal, because it sells papers to bring up stuff like this that has about a half-and-half chance of being true. De Foy was interviewed on CKAC, reports circulated on RDS and other Habs-crazy places, and that was enough to bring down for a few hours on Wednesday evening.

That was enough to worry some hard-core followers. But don’t worry, the site is still there.

Mongrain is the new Martineau

Jean-Luc Mongrain, formerly of TQS, has returned from a relaxing vacation and will begin giving blowjobs to all three of Quebecor’s penises on March 2 when he starts a show on LCN. He’ll also have a column in the Journal de Montréal (lockout shmockout) and a blog on Canoë (even though he says he’s never seen a blog before).

You’ll recall Richard Martineau already has an LCN show, a Journal column, and a Canoë blog, but Mongrain still thinks his will be new somehow (I think he means new to him).

He sees himself being a doorway to “citizen journalism” because people can email him ideas. I’m not sure he understands what “citizen journalism” means, but it involves a bit more than that.

Canoe has a video interview with Mongrain about his new multiplatform initiative.


Ad placement is everything

Daily Mirror, June 13, 2008

Daily Mirror, June 13, 2008

This page from London’s Daily Mirror from last year is getting passed around online as of late. A fellow editor spotted it on LiveJournal. It’s also on Reddit, which pointed directly to an image on Joey deVilla’s blog. Here’s his blog post from June, where the image originates.

The layout of the article here looks funny to me, but that’s because I work for a broadsheet instead of a tabloid. It also shows the problem when editorial and advertising put together parts of a page without seeing what the other is doing until after edition.

Wikimocracifying Quebec

Saturday’s Gazette has a feature piece from civic affairs reporter Linda Gyulai on Julie Graff and her Wiki Démocratie party (which, despite its name and look, uses a website that is not a wiki). She wants to become mayor of Quebec City so she can, among other things, use its employees’ pension plan to buy an NHL team and bring it there.

(The story is illustrated in the paper with a photo from Francis Vachon. He has another version of the profile shot on his blog.)

The Great La Presse Habs Scoop of 2009

La Presse scored the jackpot in Friday’s paper when it combined the four things that journalists and their bosses have wet dreams about:

  1. A scoop, a story that nobody else has
  2. A story filled with anonymous sources about a crime boss/drug lord/mafia king
  3. A story about a celebrity scandal
  4. A story about the Canadiens

The news dominated coverage yesterday and today, even as everyone was talking about Alex Kovalev’s performance problems.

Part of that was because of La Presse, whose hockey analysts were dropping hints on every TV sports show they could find Thursday night to say that a huge scoop would appear in the next day’s paper.

The various news sources did all they could to try and match La Presse’s story before it came out, but couldn’t gather enough before publication to put it all together. So while most just waited until it was out and summarized La Presse’s story or re-researched it, Quebecor-owned 24 Heures put out its exclusive story that four Canadiens players had been arrested.

The story, still available in the Google cache, by reporter Maxime Deland, quotes a single anonymous source “very close” to the Canadiens saying four players had been arrested on Thursday night on their return from Pittsburgh.

Of course, no such thing happened, so 24 Heures deleted the story. I found no correction on their website, and the story was not in Friday’s edition of the paper.

The story has gotten so big now we have the second (third?) day stories about whether the media is blowing this out of proportion. This piece at Fanatique summarizes the timeline of stories from the various news outlets, while Yves Boisvert, Patrick Lagacé and Mike Boone defend the media’s insane interest in the Canadiens as a mere reflection of what the fans want to read.

UPDATE (Feb. 26): Pierre Trudel says La Presse did a good job with its scoop… in an article in La Presse.

The block that time forgot

Funny story: I was walking along Ste. Catherine St. W. with a friend from out of town yesterday after having seen this Slumdog Millionnaire movie that everyone’s talking about (and now I know why). As we walked by the boarded one-block slum between Lambert-Closse and Chomedey, I described the old Seville Theatre as “the block that time forgot” and how the fact that it’s dead space has put an economic damper on the block and its surroundings.

As we get to the corner of Chomedey, I spot Gazette reporter Jan Ravensbergen and photographer Pierre Obendrauf. Turns out they’re doing a story about how the Seville Theatre building is going to be torn down for a development project.

This actually got turned into two stories for today’s paper: one about the development project itself and another about local reaction to it.

The project would require the tearing down of a once architecturally significant building façade. But even the architects and heritage activists admit there’s nothing worth saving anymore.

STM to add Habs West Island shuttle bus

Thanks to Linda Gyulai’s most excellent CityHallReport Twitter account for tipping me off to the fact that starting Tuesday, the STM will be offering a shuttle service for Canadiens fans in the West Island as part of a partnership with the team and its The Goal is Green campaign.

It’s a one-way shuttle, leaving the Bell Centre 15 minutes after home games, and dropping off at “three specific locations”: Dorval, Pointe-Claire and Fairview.

Regular STM fares apply.

Speaking of the Canadiens, they’re looking for an in-game animator. Must be pretty photogenic and of a “pleasant appearance” and be fluently bilingual.

Post wins pointless design award race

The Society for News Design has announced the winners of its annual awards.

For the uninitiated, the Society for News Design is the big newspaper design group and winning one of their awards is a badge of the highest honour for newspaper designers.

Or, at least it would be if they were more selective. The SND gives out almost a thousand awards each year, and considering there are 10,725 entries from 346 newspapers, that means that each entry has a one in ten shot of winning an award, and each newspaper should get three awards on average just for showing up.

Perhaps for that reason, the number of newspapers participating in this exercise has dropped. Notably missing from the list below is the Globe and Mail, for example.

Still, it’s seen as a penis-measuring contest, so let’s whip out those rulers. The 108 awards given to Canadian publications break down as follows:

You can seee a full list of winners by searching the database (there’s too many of them to list all on one page, after all). You’ll probably also see special pages devoted to SND wins in the above publications. Updated with links to self-laudatory stories in the four multiple-award-winning papers.

Big neighbourhood

Speaking of Concordia, the Côte-de-Neiges/Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough (which really needs a new name) is conducting a public consultation about a request from the university to make dramatic changes to its sports complex on the Loyola Campus, which would include the creation of a removable dome which could be installed over the football field to protect the Stingers from rain. (And… uhh… some educatiomanal stuff too… right…)

(Some) details in this PDF.

Google Map: A long way to walk

Google Map: A long way to walk

What I especially love is that the consultation isn’t taking place anywhere near the people most affected by this. Instead, it’s taking place 4 km away in Côte des Neiges, forcing local residents to take a half-hour transit trip or walk an hour each way.

I suppose there are worse examples (Pierrefonds, for example), but it just seems to me if you’re going to hold a public consultation about a neighbourhood project, you should hold that consultation in the neighbourhood.


It’s said that student politics are so dirty precisely because the stakes are so small.

At least with the Concordia Student Union, the stakes involve some serious money.

A week after the scandal of the year broke out, the student papers (especially The Concordian) are all over the news, even though there’s nothing actually new happening, mainly because the target of the $25,000 bribe accusation hasn’t spoken publicly about it. It’s even making the McGill papers.

Meanwhile, in other scandals keeping the CSU so busy they can’t deal with regular business: