It’s true. Transcontinental, the publishing company that owns community weekly newspapers across the province, has confirmed that, for financial reasons, it is ceasing publication of the West Island Chronicle and Westmount Examiner. Their final issues are next week.
The Montreal Gazette has the details, as well as some comments from former Chronicle/Examiner reporters.
But as much as people are reminiscing the official passing of two institutions (the Chronicle dates back to 1924, the Examiner to 1935), the mourning began long ago. The newspapers aren’t so much being shut down as they’re finally being put out of their misery.
The fact that only three people are losing their jobs because two newspapers shut down should be as clear an indication as any of how far these papers had fallen in recent years. Where once they each had a small team of reporters and editors covering stories as best they could, at the end there was only a single reporter being shared by both papers. At that point, to call what’s being done journalism might be a bit of a stretch. The reporters that have gone through there have accomplished herculean tasks, and many have better jobs at larger media outlets now, but there’s just so much that can be done with no resources.
You need only take a look at the Chronicle’s last issue to see how thin it has become, or how much of it is ads, or advertorials. There’s journalism there, too, but nothing even remotely close to what it used to be.
Fortunately, Transcontinental will give them one last issue, just after the federal election, where they can publish results and maybe say goodbye.
The shutdown follows the conversion of the former N.D.G. Monitor to an “online newspaper” in 2009. That no longer exists, its old website URL redirecting to Métro. And this summer, Transcontinental turned another old newspaper, the Huntingdon Gleaner, into an insert in a French-language weekly, getting rid of the Gleaner’s staff. (I’ll have more on that in a future story.)
So now what? Transcontinental made a reference to the western Montreal market being served by alternatives. In the West Island, there’s the weekly West Island section of the Montreal Gazette (my employer). In Westmount, there’s the Westmount Independent. And in both, there’s the Suburban. Will one or more of these boost their resources to attract the closed papers’ former readers (and their advertisers)? Or will less competition open the door to them cutting back?
UPDATE: A “wake of sorts” in memory of the West Island Chronicle is planned for Nov. 11 at Le Pionnier in Pointe-Claire.
I don’t think anyone has considered these papers as competition in many years
I don’t think anyone is left to switch away from the Examiner.
The Independent is much more reliable, coming by mail. If the flyers don’t arrive,
the Examiner doesn’t. Nobody has delivered flyers here in weeks, and only this
news of the Examiner closing reminds me I’ve not seen it lately. There was a long period
in the past where that happened, around the time the SAQ didn’t want both papers
in their outlets. And there’s nothing worth searching out a copy, even if I knew
where to find a copy.
The battle was won years ago, the Independent won.
Wait, one ad that’s not in the Independent is the Adonis ad. I guess they liked the
later printing date, or maybe they had an existing contract with TC.
The Suburban really is a different paper (and this week’s issue brings news of a
new website, with daily news online, starting Monday). It’s interesting since it’s
more regional, between the Independent, and the Gazette, but it doesn’t cover
Westmount well. It probably does a better job of covering areas that don’t
have a real weekly.
That said, the Suburban doesn’t come to this door, either. It was always sporadic,
every so often a plan to improve circulation, but it doesn’t hold. I can find copies,
but I don’t always bother.
The NDG Freepress is about on par with the Independent, but only publishes
every two weeks. I’m not finding copies around, not since DAD’s Bagels closed
down. By the time I get to Esposito, the copies are gone.
The loss of the Examiner and the Chronicle is in the past, when they were fat
and valuable. Nobody who knows only their current state will mourn them.
Michael, I can always find the NDG Free Press in the lobby of the BMO branch at Girouard and Monkland. It may be available at other banks as well.
“canary in a coal mine”. That’s my opinion here.
Long before everyone else truly accepts reality, a few more of these marginal papers will have to disappear. Then perhaps more newspapers will drop the “paper” part and move into the 21st century. Local weekly inkies are quickly becoming a thing of the past, the rotary dial telephones in a digital age.
Merely putting these small papers online isn’t likely to save them either. When you are down to 0.5 reporters per paper, there is just no way to move it all online and make it really work out.
One has to wonder how long it will be before they start to mow down the french weeklies as well. I can’t help but thinking they only keep them running to try to keep their dead tree printing presses active and paying off their costs.
Unfortunately The Chronicle has already been dead for some time. It degenerated into little more than a weekly flyer filled with french-language ads. In my house, most of the time it went straight into the recycle.
The future of print media is already here…
While it’s clear physical paper newsprint is rapidly becoming an endangered species, isn’t anyone else concerned how few English newspapers are now left in Montreal?
I mean it wasn’t that long ago both The Hour and The Mirror vanished for good. Wouldn’t surprise me to see The Montreal Gazette fold in the foreseeable future the way its going (not much left of that paper, either in size or quality).
The only printed paper I still read is The Suburban, though lately I find myself letting them pile up and then just skim through a few issues at once, looking for worthwhile articles. Generally I read the news online.
Technically TC still prints the Huntingdon Gleaner but as an much-shrunken insert in the journal St-Francois (valleyfield) which does give it more readership than during its stand-alone status previously did. Interesting detail: the gleaner is inserted in the Journal St-Francois upside down, as a kind of trigger warning for the anglais-averse.
That was fast.
The Westmount Examiner did arrive (Thursday), after 3 or 4 weeks of no delivery.
It’s just before 1am on Friday Oct. 23 now, and checking the website redirects
to some general TC webpage, about local news, no place for Quebec.
I thought the webpage might linger a tad. Maybe the webpage was gone earlier,
it’s been a few days since I checked it last.