After La Presse, the Montreal Gazette and countless other newspapers across Canada and around the world, the Journal de Montréal and Journal de Québec are becoming the latest to announce they’re reducing their print schedules.
In a note to readers published Thursday evening, they announced they will no longer publish on Sundays in 2023. The last Sunday print edition will be Dec. 18, before the two holiday Sundays.
They were among only four mainstream (English or French-language) newspapers in the country still publishing print edition seven days a week. The only ones still publishing after this will be the Toronto Star and Toronto Sun. Most others are either six days a week (Monday-Saturday), five days (Tuesday-Saturday) or something less often than that.
The Journals (their notes had virtually identical wording) promise additional content in their Saturday papers to carry them through the weekend. Other papers that dropped Sunday editions, like La Presse in 2009 and the Gazette in 2010, made similar moves. But having a slightly bigger Saturday edition doesn’t compensate for not having a Sunday one.
The move is kind of inevitable, and I’m surprised it took this long, frankly. Not only does laying out, printing and distributing a paper cost a lot these days, but with no other newspapers publishing on Sundays, the Journal de Montréal couldn’t share delivery costs with their competitors. (Many of the independent contractors delivering newspapers in Montreal deliver multiple papers simultaneously.)
The Journal made it a point of touting how it wasn’t abandoning print readers like its competitors were. Only three years ago, it had a slogan about how it was a “real newspaper.” But, as the editor’s note says, times have changed. Publisher Lyne Robitaille took swipes at the big tech giants, as many newspapers like to do these days, as well as CBC/Radio-Canada, which Quebecor has long considered an unfair competitor because of its government subsidies.
The truth is that this is a reflection of both changes in readership habits and changes in business models. A new federal government bill to somehow force Facebook and Google to pay newspapers may bring some money back into the industry, but don’t expect the Sunday newspaper to return. The economic fundamentals simply aren’t there anymore.
It’s the end of an era. And if something spectacular happens on a Saturday, you’ll need to wait until Monday morning to get a sheet of paper that announces it in a way that makes it feel real.