24 Heures, Quebecor’s free daily newspaper distributed in Montreal, has undergone a metamorphosis, one that makes it look a bit more like the next reincarnation of Ici than it does the 24 Heures of old.
This month, it launched a “new platform” at 24heures.ca (no more being just a subsection of the Journal de Montréal website), where it promises to “get to the roots of issues you care about, in addition to covering daily news, and inspired by solutions journalism,” according to a message posted on that website.
The website is now broken down into categories:
- En bref, which has news
- Panorama, which has content about “social movements, innovation, digital culture, sexuality” … so lifestyle content
- Urgence climat, which is devoted to climate change, and is its own section so you know they take it seriously like the youth of today
- Porte-monnaie, which has content on money, personal finance and entrepreneurship
- Lifestyle … so more lifestyle content
- Pop, which will have “viral content”
The website has some wire content, from Agence France-Presse, Agence QMI and Quebecor’s other websites like Silo 57, but most of it so far is from 24 Heures’s own writers. And while some of it is viral-content-churnalism, there are some real stories in there as well.
The print edition has the more major transformation. It now runs weekly, on Thursdays, and it has a new design and new logo. It’s also thicker — the first two editions are 32 pages each.
But it’s the content that’s most different. The issues are themed — Black History Month for Feb. 11, sex and social media for Feb. 18. You’ll see less hard news and more feature stories and columns, and those columns are new, younger and more diverse faces.
It’ll be interesting to see how long they keep this up. A newspaper is going to put its best foot forward for a launch like this, but a year or two down the line will we see more repurposed Journal de Montréal content?
You can read the digital versions of the paper editions of 24 Heures here.
This isn’t Quebecor’s first youth-focused free weekly newspaper. In 2009, it shut down Ici, its answer to free alt-weekly Voir. That was followed by the shutdowns of Montreal’s other alt-weeklies: Hour, Mirror, and finally last June, the remnants of Voir.
The new reality of the commuter freesheet
24 Heures’s move comes after competitor Métro changed its schedule last fall. After taking almost the full month of August off, it returned on a twice-weekly schedule, publishing Wednesdays and Fridays.
Both newspapers were hit hard by the pandemic, not just because of the dramatic reduction in advertising, which is their only source of revenue, but because fewer people are taking public transit and sanitary rules prevent them from having their human distributors at rush hours handing out the paper to passersby.
Métro and 24 Heures are the last remaining free dai… uhh, right they’re not daily anymore. But anyway, they’re the last of its kind in Canada. The 24 Hours chain was a victim of the 2017 Postmedia-Torstar paper swap, while the last Metro newspapers were shut down by Torstar in 2019.
The 24 hours chain wasn’t a victim of the Postmedia / Torstar swap, they were a victim of a failing business model.
Free daily newspapers are the extreme end of an advertising sales model based on potential readership, measured almost exclusively on the model of how many newspapers were distributed on a daily basis. While there is some information based on things like destination phone numbers, URLs, or QR codes, the reality is that most of the success or failure of newspaper advertising is often measured more in feeling than in actual hard numbers. The rates for advertising are almost entirely set by the distribution, which encourages distribution well in excess of demand.
It’s important to realize that Montrealers (example) are not less informed because nobody is stuffing free newspapers into their hands at every metro station. There is little or no indication that the those free newspapers were ending up as anything other than directly in the trash or as liners for cat litter boxes.
Most people these days carry a device with access to a world of information, misinformation, and entertainment. They have little need to carry around dirty paper.
What 24 is doing here is the typical thing that newspapers have tried to do for the last 30 years or so: Shrink to profitability. We know pretty much exactly what happened to all the other weekly inkies in Montreal and most other cities. There is little reason to believe that the outcome here will be any different.
“Social movements” and “lifestyle” are pretty much opposites. Discussing discrimination and inequality has nothing to do with high market fashion.
Who is Dilbert?
Before I comment to Dilbert’s newspaper publishing expertise I would like an identity.
David Leonardo, publisher of the Saint-Lambert Journal and seven other weeklies
30 plus years of ad buying and selling experience both online and in the real world. From NHL rink boards to pay per placement online ads, radio ads, tv ads, yellow pages, and various forms of print, I have touched most of them over the years. Each of them has both a different market and a different goal, such as brand awareness versus direct measurable sales.
I was going to go on, but then I did a little research on your papers and decided I needed a chuckle:
“«C’est la norme pour M. Leonardo; il écrit des mensonges pour ensuite se rétracter quelques mois plus tard, mentionne le maire. Ça fait 40 ans qu’il dénigre la Ville et ses élus. Tous les maires y ont gouté. Le Journal de Saint-Lambert est un journal qui n’a aucune crédibilité et qui est de mauvaise foi.»”
So hey, knock yourself out! I am all for it!
I always wondered, “authority” but it’s never clear why.
The Westmount Independent shrunk a bit in the past year because of the Pandemic, but otherwise seems fine. Started in 2007, because the Westmount Examiner, by then owned by a big company, was failing at being local. Thiugh the Independent also published the NDG Free Press, but for some reason it stopped publishing.
There hasn’t been a day in my life (well except for most Sundays, holidays, and snowstorms), that the Gazette hasn’t been on the front step.
News always has to come from somewhere, regurgitating news from elsewhere is not the same thing as getting out and getting the stories.
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