The end of the Monday newspaper

If you’re a print subscriber to the Montreal Gazette, you didn’t get a copy delivered this morning.

It’s not an error, it was a choice by my employer Postmedia, which has also ended print distribution of Monday editions of the Sun and Province in Vancouver, Herald and Sun in Calgary, Journal and Sun in Edmonton, and Citizen and Sun in Ottawa.

“The decision reflects the rapidly changing news consumption habits of our readers, the needs of our advertisers and the escalating costs of printing and delivering a printed product,” wrote Gerry Nott, Senior Vice President, Editorial, in a note published in those newspapers.

The Gazette is still actually producing a Monday paper — here’s today’s edition above — but it’s only produced for ePaper readers, those through the Gazette’s ePaper site or PressReader.

Puzzles and comics changes

At the same time, the Gazette and other Postmedia papers are standardizing their comics and puzzle pages.

Daily comic strips dropped are:

(Links are to pages on the Gazette website where they can be followed online)

Remaining are:

  • Pearls Before Swine
  • For Better or For Worse
  • Dilbert
  • Pooch Café

New are:

  • Garfield (16 years after the Gazette deemed it “well past its prime”)
  • Cornered
  • Half Full
  • Big Nate
  • Adam @ Home
  • Peanuts
  • Sherman’s Lagoon
  • Baby Blues
  • Pickles
  • Luann
  • Crabgrass
  • Mike du Jour
  • Rose is Rose
  • Off the Mark
  • The Argyle Sweater
  • Lio

On the puzzles page, the only thing staying the same is the Wonderword. The New York Times crossword and Today’s Crossword has been replaced with the Universal Crossword. The bridge column and Annie’s Mailbox advice column are gone, replaced with the new Ken Ken numbers puzzle and letter puzzle 7 Little Words, and the horoscope now has a face with Eugenia Last writing it.

Inevitable downsizing of print

Postmedia isn’t the only one cutting Mondays. Coincidentally also starting today, Saltwire Network is no longer publishing Monday print editions of its four remaining daily publications — the Halifax Chronicle Herald, the Cape Breton Post, the Guardian in Charlottetown and the St. John’s Telegram. Saltwire cited similar reasons for cutting the editions.

Both Saltwire and Postmedia said there would be no job cuts among newsroom staff as a result of the change.

If you’ve picked up a Monday paper recently, the cuts shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Ads are few and far between these days. Years after classifieds dropped to a trickle of what they once were, display ads have also disappeared. The one saving grace for Mondays used to be car ads, with many newspapers running automotive sections on that day. But the car ads have dried up too, leaving reader subscriptions as the only real source of revenue. And that doesn’t nearly cover the costs associated with printing and distributing newspapers these days (to say nothing of the costs of creating them).

When the cuts were announced, I tried to compile a list of the Canadian newspapers still producing editions seven days a week. (The Gazette stopped printing a Sunday edition in 2010.) I came up with five, and quickly learned I was incorrect because one of them didn’t actually print seven days a week.

The Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Journal de Montréal and Journal de Québec. Those were the four I could come up with still printing seven days a week. Two because they’re in Canada’s largest and most highly-competitive market, and two because Pierre Karl Péladeau still believes in print and made a big stink when La Presse cut its print editions.

The trend is pretty obvious. La Presse no longer publishes in print at all. Le Soleil and its sister papers are weekly publications now. Métro and 24 Heures are no longer dailies. It may be a matter of time until most daily newspapers in Canada shift from daily to weekly or drop print entirely. That’s in part because the internet is so much more efficient a way to deliver the news. And in part because newspapers are an old person’s medium with a business model that is becoming less and less viable.

The hope is that by the time this transition is complete, those newspapers will still have newsrooms that can be sustained with their digital revenues.

9 thoughts on “The end of the Monday newspaper

  1. Dilbert

    Well, you know I would be here.

    Not a single ounce of surprise here. Print media is an expensive legacy business that is also not exactly an environmentally friendly one either. Even if the paper is 100% recycled, those newspapers don’t magically fly on a puff of air to people’s homes. The whole thing is labor intensive, time consuming, and consumes a lot of resources overall.

    Separating out the newsroom from the medium is the only real way to survive, it seems. News is information, and information does has some currency and value. The delivery methods will most certainly change over time. If there was actually competition in the radio market, I could see where Postmedia might be able to make inroads in providing local and national radio news.

    Let me correct you on something: Postmedia isn’t “standardizing” their comic / puzzle pages, but instead Toronto-izing them. It is essentially their page just rolled out to everyone. Interestingly, many of the strips lost are available online, so there is little real damage. The shift in the crossword might have bigger implications for the hardcore fans, I guess.

  2. Brett

    I hope they don’t completely get rid of print newspapers. I’m 31 and prefer reading on paper then a screen. Sure I read online for breaking news but in mornings I prefer a physical paper. So does my mom who 65. Elders who aren’t tech savvy will lose out on newspapers. Not a good idea to drop the Monday edition.

  3. Michael Black

    Online shifts costs to the reader. Until 2012, I had dial up. The Gazette wasn’t very readable at that speed. It wasn’t convenient to check tv listings, or try to figure out what movie I’d started watching late, at least you had to wait for a commercial and dial up.

    With high speed it’s better, but there’s massive overhead that isn’t seen because of high speed.

    “Nobody has dialup” may be true, but it’s due to the creep of bloated webpages.

    As for comics, I remember in the past the flack the paper got for changing them. Maybe that’s why the Gazette has dropped the letter column except for Saturdays.

  4. Christopher Green

    How very sad ?
    Yes I am an older person and my Gazette had become a daily delivered source of great pleasure.
    My thanks to all who have produced print for so many years.
    Your contribution to our history will not be bettered by the economic realities of today.

  5. Dorothy

    Monday journalism in the olden days: a gut-busting headline (called a skyline) screamed across the top of page 1. It could be the rising price of citrus or a political hoo-ha that would later dominate Question Period.
    Energized the readers for the coming week.

  6. Anonymous

    I usually (not always) just pick up the Saturday edition. And I was a little surprised at what this edition has become. Really not worth the extra cost in relation to the other daily editions. At the rate this is going, I’m not sure if this paper will survive. I don’t think they have any idea on how to give anyone any reason to pick up the newspaper. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the print editions next step to just print a Wednesday, and Saturday edition only.

    They need to turn their news reporting into long form in depth articles. Something that click bait news can’t seem to handle. That’s because click bait news is more interested in clicks.

    As for the digital e-paper. I’ve tried it. Not a fan. I’ve tried reading on a screen, and there is something unnatural about it. And, I’m not just saying this about the newspaper. this includes books, magazines, comic books etc etc.

  7. Heather Miller

    I was out of town for five weeks and when I came back the Montreal Gazette was a shadow of what it was. Not the news part – I can find the news anywhere, I’m talking about the comics and crosswords, what a disaster! No more New York Times crosswords, no more Zits comic. If they want people to stop buying the MontrealGazette, they are going the right way about it.

    1. Fagstein Post author

      The New York Times crossword is still published in the Gazette, just not on the puzzles page. You can look for it in the classified section or by checking the index on page A2.

  8. Anonymous

    It started with eliminating the Sunday version of the Gazette.
    Then in 2014, the TV times went from being delivered as part of the Saturday paper, to being ‘redesigned’ in a smaller format, and available through subscription only at $3.25/month
    The creep of elimination continues.
    Offering less, is unlikely to attract readers.
    The paper gets thinner and thinner.
    The (Provincial) election was important to a good many readers. Surely a significant number of the results, while not necessarily final, were available to print as press time. Instead, readers were directed to the Gazette on-line site for results. For any number of reasons, not all readers might have the ability (or technology) to access on-line information.
    Letters to the Editor are now basically limited to Saturday only.
    Considering the many important issues we are dealing with, it is too bad that readers’ opinions are apparently something the Gazette no longer considers deserving of being expressed daily.
    We have access to the on-line edition. By choice we rarely use it….we don’t enjoy navigating through it.
    Despite The Gazette’s contention, this change represents a price increase They save by not producing/delivering the hard copy. Also, the various puzzles are not available to solve other than on-line. Instead, if we want them, we must print them off.
    What next…a Saturday only paper edition?


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