Tag Archives: newspapers

Groupe Capitales Médias files for creditor protection — What’s next?

Updated Aug. 21 with news of Métro Média’s interest.

Groupe Capitales Médias, the newspaper company started by Martin Cauchon when he bought six daily newspapers from Gesca in 2015, made good on rumours that it wouldn’t make it to the end of the month, filing for creditor protection on Monday.

The newspapers continue producing while their journalists await their fate:

  • Le Soleil in Quebec City
  • Le Nouvelliste in Trois-Rivières
  • Le Quotidien in Saguenay (which also publishes the weekly Le Progrès)
  • La Tribune in Sherbrooke
  • La Voix de l’Est in Granby
  • Le Droit in Ottawa/Gatineau

The stakes are serious, because there isn’t a lot of competition in this space. Quebec City has Le Journal de Québec, but Trois-Rivières, Saguenay and Granby don’t have other daily newspapers. Sherbrooke and Ottawa/Gatineau have English dailies but no other French ones. And Le Droit represents not only francophones of the national capital region, but Ontario francophones as a whole. Simply put, except for Quebec City there is no direct competitor that will take these newspapers’ places.

Without them, a lot of news will simply go unreported.

The Quebec government has stepped in with an emergency $5-million loan, which will get it to the end of the year. By that time, a new plan will need to be in place. That likely means new ownership, but in what form?

There’s no end to speculation about the group’s future. So let’s break down the suggestions and analyze them here:

Quebecor

The media empire is reportedly in talks with GCM. It makes sense on a few levels: Quebecor is already in the print media space, it owns TV stations in Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Saguenay and Trois-Rivières (and has an affiliate in Gatineau) that could benefit from news synergies.

But Quebecor has already owned regional newspapers, back when it was a competitor to Transcontinental in the community newspaper wars. That war ended with Quebecor selling all its weeklies to Transcontinental, and later Transcontinental selling all its papers to local owners for peanuts. Quebecor tried expanding to Saguenay with a Saguenay edition of Le Journal de Québec, but that edition quietly closed. (Quebecor also owned a weekly in Saguenay, but locked out its employees and later saw it disappear entirely.)

There’s also the competition concern in Quebec City, where Quebecor would own both daily newspapers. It’s unclear what the government would do about this. The Competition Bureau had no problem with Postmedia buying Sun Media, and owning both daily paid-subscription newspapers in Ottawa, Calgary and Edmonton. But it’s still investigating the community newspaper deal between Postmedia and Torstar, in which newspapers were swapped and immediately shut down.

If Quebecor did buy the chain (or the chain minus Le Soleil), it would be an admission that having a media empire is better than having no local media at all.

La Presse

These six newspapers used to belong to the same company as La Presse, which was at the time owned by Power Corp. But as La Presse shifted to a tablet-based publication, and the others maintained their print products, at some point it was decided to separate them, and Cauchon (with a source of funding that remains unclear) stepped in and bought them (for an amount we still don’t know).

Despite the separation, the publications maintain links, including content sharing (which would disappear if Quebecor was the buyer).

The big advantage is that it would be the closest to maintaining the status quo. But La Presse isn’t swimming in cash either, and is making similar demands to governments for financial aid.

Le Devoir

Quebec’s only independent daily newspaper wants to help, but it doesn’t have the money. It has a particular affinity for Le Soleil. And Le Devoir has a strong presence in Quebec City already with its sizeable bureau in the National Assembly press gallery. They also have existing business partnerships — Le Devoir is going to use GCM’s software for its tablet edition, and GCM sells national ads for Le Devoir.

If Le Devoir took Le Soleil and Quebecor took the rest, that might solve competition concerns. But we’re still back to the same problem that Le Devoir doesn’t have the money to buy a newspaper, much less an entire chain.

Local owners

It’s the feel-good option: break up the chain and find local owners in each community to take control. It’s what Transcontinental did when it decided to get out of the community newspaper business. But owning a daily newspaper is much more of a financial commitment than a community one.

And selling to local owners is no guarantee. Those owners generally get their money from other industries, and are more likely to compromise their ethics when it comes to promoting those industries. And even if they’re purely altruistic, once that good will wears off, those papers could end up shutting down anyway.

Plus, selling to a series of local owners would be complicated and take time. This needs to be figured out in a matter of months.

The Journal de Montréal talked to two of the companies that bought Transcon newspapers, and both say there’s no interest in taking over the money-losing company. (Transcontinental itself also is not interested.)

Métro Média

One group that bought newspapers from Transcontinental is interested, though. Métro Média, the group owned by businessman Mike Raffoul and which purchased Montreal’s Métro daily and community weeklies in Montreal and Quebec City, is interested, it told La Presse.

Such a takeover would provide some synergies in the national capital, and create a chain that had a presence in both Montreal and Quebec’s other large cities. But Métro Média is still new, and less experienced in paid subscription newspapers.

Employee co-op

CSN says its unions are interested in taking over the papers and having them be employee-run. It’s another feel-good option, in the same vein as a non-profit. But would an employee-run (or union-run) shop be willing to make the staffing cuts necessary to stay in the black? Would it have the financial capacity to make major investments when necessary? Would it have the courage to stand up to the CSN if that union is its de facto owner?

Maybe. None of these things are dealbreakers, but the co-op model isn’t a magic solution either.

Cogeco

La Presse said they were interested, but Cogeco has repeatedly denied it on the record. Cogeco owns radio stations in most of these markets, so there’s some synergy sense there, but considering its experience with TQS (it was an owner of the TV network when Quebecor was forced to sell it to buy Videotron and TVA in 2001, then it went bankrupt before being bought by the Rémillard family), it’s unlikely the company wants to gamble away a bunch of money for little gain.

Postmedia (or other anglo Canadian chain)

No one has seriously suggested this, but it should be included in such a list. As much as I’d love to have sister newspapers across Quebec (and Le Soleil used to be owned by Conrad Black’s Hollinger chain), the biggest problem is that Postmedia, Torstar et al don’t have any French-language news assets, so don’t stand to gain much in terms of synergy. And, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, they don’t have a lot of money lying around.

The government

Nationalizing GCM sounds like a bad idea, and the Quebec government has already ruled it out.

It doesn’t really matter

In the end, though, regardless of who buys GCM and its newspapers, the business needs to change. Even a rich owner isn’t going to cover deficits forever. That means there will need to be cuts to staff, or new revenues, or direct government support, or some combination of all those things. Le Devoir’s Brian Myles talks about following his paper’s model, focusing more on subscription revenues. The Quebec government will be expected to consider more direct support when it conducts hearings next week. And the Canadian government is putting in place a tax credit system to help. There are also proposals like taxing telecommunications companies and using that money to support news media.

Speculating about potential new owners is fun, but the real problem is that this is a broken business, and someone needs to come up with a plan to fix it.

Transcontinental/Chronicle Herald sale continues regional monopolization of newspapers

The Halifax Chronicle Herald surprised me this morning by announcing it is purchasing almost all of Transcontinental’s print assets in Atlantic Canada, including 27 newspapers, one online-only news outlet, and four of Transcon’s six printing plants. (This despite the fact that the paper is 15 months into a general strike.)

Included in the sale are newspapers like the St. John’s Telegram and Charlottetown Guardian. The sale takes effect immediately, Transcontinental said. No word on purchase price, but we’ll probably learn that at Transcontinental’s next financial report to shareholders.

This sale follows several recent region-wide newspaper selloffs, including Quebecor selling 74 community papers in Quebec to Transcontinental, Transcontinental selling its 13 Saskatchewan newspapers to Star News Publishing, Transcontinental buying all of Rogers’s business-to-business magazines, Gesca selling all its newspapers except La Presse, and swaps of newspapers between Black Press and Glacier Media in B.C. (Not to mention the whole Postmedia/Sun Media thing.)

The result of most of these transactions is that the country is being divided up regionally, and community newspapers are avoiding competition so much that their owners are swapping assets to stay away from each other’s markets.

After the Transcon/Chronicle Herald deal, the new owners (who have incorporated as Saltwire Network) made it clear they have no plans to expand into New Brunswick (beyond the purchased Sackville Tribune Post, which is on the Nova Scotia border) to avoid competing with the Irving-owned Brunswick News. The Transcontinental-Quebecor deal ended the companies’ competition in Quebec, which had heated up a few years earlier when Quebecor decided to launch some new publications on Transcontinental territory.

A look at which groups own more than a nominal number of newspapers in each province shows how fragmented it has become (numbers are based on a quick count and may not be exact):

  • British Columbia: Black Press (77), Glacier Media (25)
  • Alberta: Postmedia (36), Glacier Media (17), Black Press (12)
  • Saskatchewan: Glacier Media (15)
  • Manitoba: Glacier Media (9), Postmedia (9), FP Newspapers (9)
  • Ontario: Torstar (115), Postmedia (61)
  • Quebec: Transcontinental (100)
  • New Brunswick: Brunswick News (24)
  • Nova Scotia/Prince Edward Island/Newfoundland and Labrador: Saltwire Network (34)

Besides Alberta and Manitoba, no province has more than two major community newspaper publishers (as measured by number of titles). But just as importantly, no publisher operates substantial operations in more than four provinces.

As a result of the latest sale, Transcontinental will drop to being a Quebec-only newspaper publisher (except for papers in Cornwall, Ont., and its partnership in the Halifax Metro free daily).

The transactions make sense from a business perspective, and as much as we can complain about lack of competition, the truth is that healthy competition in community newspapers just isn’t possible as the industry continues its slow death march.

We may see further consolidation (particularly in western provinces) in the future, and if the situation doesn’t improve, major shutdowns. And if one of these companies goes under and is forced to shut down completely, it could leave an entire province without community media.

N.D.G. Free Press newspaper shuts down

The Free Press newspaper, which launched as the N.D.G. Free Press in 2009 and later expanded to include neighbouring west-end communities, has published its final issue, its editor told Mike Cohen and the Montreal Gazette.

Its sister paper, the Westmount Independent, will continue to publish, David Price says.

As a free paper, distributed mainly through the mail, the twice-monthly Free Press required advertising revenue to survive, but despite a recent plea to readers, the paper couldn’t find enough advertisers to become profitable.

The Free Press wasn’t the kind of news machine that you’d find at the Montreal Gazette or CBC or La Presse, but it was independent, and it tried to fill the hole left after Transcontinental shut down what was left of the old N.D.G. Monitor. There’s still The Suburban, which has a west-end edition, and of course the daily Gazette, but residents of that part of town will be less connected to what happens in their community.

City councillor Marvin Rotrand tweeted something offering hope something could be done to save the paper, but that seems too little, too late at this point.

The end of an era for La Presse as last weekday print edition is published

Among the many things that are changing as 2015 becomes 2016, La Presse is moving from a six-days-a-week newspaper to a Saturday-only one, publishing the other six days (including Sundays) on its tablet edition La Presse+.

In a note to readers, publisher Guy Crevier notes that the tablet app has more than half a million readers every week, and 70,000 new readers every week more weekly readers since Sept. 1*. And notes that with 283 employees, La Presse will still have the largest newsroom in Quebec.

We don’t know much more than we did in September when this move was announced, but it certainly feels more real now. And that’s not just for readers. With the reduction in printing, La Presse saves a lot of money, but much of that money went to people — printing plant employees, home delivery people, print advertising and layout people and others, whether directly employed by La Presse or a contractor. La Presse is cutting 158 jobs directly, which the union has been trying to fight. It recently scored a victory getting the company to offer buyouts, according to the Globe and Mail.

The Globe and other media (CBC, Radio-Canada, Journal de MontréalPresse Canadienne, CTV) have been reporting on the print edition’s demise, including interviews with print subscribers unhappy about switching to a tablet (or steadfastly refusing to do so).

For a more detailed analysis of La Presse+, I’ll point you to this post from two years ago, as well as this long series from the website NetNewsCheck.

The big thing that’s changed since then is that sales of iPads have slowed and even declined in the past two years. Whether that’s because they’re too expensive or people aren’t replacing them fast enough, I don’t know.

That’s not to say La Presse+ is doomed, since it already has those half a million readers. It’s because of La Presse+ that La Presse is more read now than the Journal de Montréal. But it emphasizes that this is a huge gamble, replacing something that’s more than a century old by something that’s about a decade old.

Not that newspapers have the luxury of playing it safe anymore.

*Corrected to note that the 70,000 new readers figure is since Sept. 1, not every week. Thanks to John D. for spotting this error.

UPDATE (Jan. 22): Le Devoir tells Radio-Canada its subscriptions have gone up 10-15% since the beginning of the year. Le Soleil and Le Nouvelliste have also reported print subscription increases. (No word on the Journal de Montréal.)

Journal de Montréal still most read in print, La Presse most read overall in Montreal

La Presse continues to be the most-read newspaper overall in Montreal even though most of its readers don’t read it on paper, the latest readership data shows.

Results were released Thursday by Vividata, which was formed by the merger of NADbank and the Print Measurement Bureau. It determines readership of newspapers and magazines by public surveys.

The top-line data from the latest survey shows La Presse has an average daily (Monday to Friday) audience just above 1 million, who read it either in print form or online.

As we saw previously with NADbank numbers, the Journal de Montréal has more readers in print than La Presse (530,000 vs. 429,000), but the latter makes up for this by having almost twice as many digital readers (858,000 vs. 473,000).

If you compare La Presse to other newspapers, you also see that few of them have anywhere near the kind of relative success that La Presse does on digital. It has exactly twice as many digital readers as print, while most other daily newspapers in Canada have fewer digital readers than print or only slightly more. The only others with a 2:1 ratio like this are the national newspapers (the Globe and Mail and National Post) and Le Devoir (whose print readership is very low).

La Presse is now third in print readership, falling below Métro and just slightly ahead of 24 Heures on the average weekday. The Montreal Gazette is fifth overall and in print, followed by Le Devoir, though the latter has a higher online readership than the Gazette.

Data for magazines is published here. Reader’s Digest remains the most read magazine in the country according to this measurement.

Transcontinental kills the Chronicle and Examiner, the last of its English newspapers in Quebec

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?

More coverage:

UPDATE: A “wake of sorts” in memory of the West Island Chronicle is planned for Nov. 11 at Le Pionnier in Pointe-Claire.

La Presse to become a weekly newspaper on Jan. 1

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure they had the guts to do it.

Today, La Presse publisher Guy Crevier announced that as of Jan. 1, 2016, La Presse will be published in print form only once a week on Saturdays, down from six days a week. The rest of the week, it will be tablet app La Presse+ that carries the daily news.

People with print subscriptions will see them converted to Saturday-only subscriptions, be extended if they’re prepaid, or reimbursed depending on the payment plan and preference of the subscriber.

The news comes the day after the launch of Star Touch, a tablet app based on La Presse+ by the Toronto Star.

The news isn’t all that surprising. Crevier has said since the launch of La Presse+ that the tablet is now the main platform and that the print edition will eventually be discontinued. His explanation today includes a lot of numbers showing the decline of the print newspaper industry.

And La Presse+ has been successful, reaching 460,000 readers weekly. I’ve heard a lot of skepticism about those numbers, but La Presse had them independently verified, and NADbank, which surveys the population about their reading habits, confirms La Presse’s high digital readership, which makes it more read than Le Journal de Montréal when print and digital readership is combined.

But there’s a psychological shift here, perhaps more significant than the economic one. Is La Presse a daily newspaper? Does it still belong in the same category as papers like the Journal de Montréal, the Montreal Gazette and Le Devoir?

There are also worries that, even with print’s inevitable decline, putting all your eggs in the basket of a tablet app — a platform that didn’t exist more than a decade ago — is risky. Tablets became really popular when they launched, and reached 10% of the population faster than the telephone, television, smartphone or other media-related technologies. But growth has slowed in recent years, and people who watch the industry aren’t nearly as bullish on it as they once were.

And, of course, a lot of people are going to lose their jobs. The exact number isn’t known yet. Crevier is expected to meet with employees on Sept. 24 to lay down the fallout for them.

UPDATE (Sept. 24): La Presse is cutting 158 jobs (102 permanent, 56 temporary), including 43 in the newsroom. The result will be a staff size — 633 — about equal to what it was before La Presse+ launched.

Cutting down print editions means a lot of work no longer becomes necessary. From print edition designers and editors to press operators at Transcontinental to the people who actually deliver the paper door to door, it’s a lot less in expenses for La Presse and a lot less money in the hands of people whose careers depend on this newspaper.

Crevier told the Globe and Mail the paper will save $30 million a year by dropping to one day a week in print.

We’ll see how La Presse’s print subscribers feel about this decision. Many of them don’t have iPads, and will no doubt be disappointed they can’t get their daily news (or, more importantly, comics and puzzles) in the format of their choice.

Meanwhile, La Presse and the Star announced they are shutting down Olive Media, an advertising company they jointly owned. Some of its employees will be laid off, others will be absorbed into the respective papers’ ad teams.

UPDATE: The unions representing La Presse employees sent out a press release complaining that La Presse isn’t being more transparent about it financial situation. They also note that their contracts also expire on Dec. 31.

Meanwhile, Quebecor sent out its own press release that basically trolls La Presse, saying the Journal de Montréal won’t abandon its print readership.

Further reading

Your morning paper no longer has last night’s lottery results

Loto-Québec made a big presentation today about a group of Rona employees who are sharing in a $55-million Lotto Max jackpot they won in Friday’s draw.

But none of those employees learned about winning by reading the numbers in Saturday’s paper, because they weren’t there. Instead, the papers had the results of Thursday’s draws.

And it wasn’t a misprint or error, but rather an unfortunate consequence of a decision to push back draw times.

Starting a week ago, the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation, which includes Loto-Québec and four other lottery corporations covering Canada’s provinces and territories, pushed back the deadline to buy tickets for the Lotto 6/49 and Lotto Max draws from 9pm to 10:30pm Eastern Time. Loto-Québec decided “in the interest of consistency” to apply the same deadline to its other draws.

On the plus side, this gives people more time to buy tickets, particularly out west where the time difference put the deadline as early as 6pm. But on the minus side, it also pushes back the publication of results of the draws to around midnight, too late to make it into the next day’s newspaper.

The change also affects TV broadcast of the results, though the change is more minor. CTV Montreal used to broadcast the results at 11:30pm, just before the late-night local newscast. Now the results are broadcast around midnight. On TVA, results appear in the ticker the next morning during Salut, Bonjour and the noon news, and throughout the morning on LCN.

For newspapers, under the previous system, Loto-Québec purchased ads every day that would be filed on deadline. Often the page with the results ad would be among the last typeset, because results would come in between 10 and 10:30pm.

Results coming at midnight means they could only make some editions of the next day’s newspapers at best. So Loto-Québec is now running newspaper ads on a one-day delay. Wednesday’s paper gets Monday night’s results, Thursday’s paper gets Tuesday’s results, and so on.

It’s perhaps another sign of the declining influence of print media. The fact that there has been so little discussion about this change is perhaps another.

Le Devoir replaces its paywall with a meter as it struggles financially

As Canadian newspapers have gone back and forth over the idea of charging online readers directly for access to content, trying to find that sweet spot between encouraging them to subscribe to read high-quality reporting and getting as much ad revenue as possible through traffic to popular stories, one newspaper’s strategy has stayed the same for the past decade.

Until now.

As it made its yearly announcement of its financial situation to the public recently, Le Devoir announced that it is opening up holes in its paywall. What was previously a hard paywall that restricted access to most of its exclusive content to paid subscribers has now become a metered system similar to what most paid newspapers (including my employer’s) have adopted.

People without subscriptions will now be able to access 10 paid articles per month before the paywall comes down. (And, of course, as with any metered paywall, there are many ways around that restriction.)

This news is good for those of us who follow just one particular subject. And it might help improve their ad revenue situation slightly. But Le Devoir is facing the same troubles as other major newspapers. And as this analysis shows, the numbers are getting worse.

Le Devoir launches tablet app

After La Presse and the Montreal Gazette, Le Devoir has become the latest Montreal newspaper to launch an enhanced tablet app.

Le Devoir’s app, which like its website is available only to paid subscribers (but is free until Dec. 8), isn’t as flashy as its competitors, but it does offer some nice features, including working crossword puzzles and the ability to read in portrait or landscape mode (La Presse+ and the Gazette app are landscape-only). The app is also meant to be read offline after downloading.

It’s available for both the iPad (iPad 2+) and Android tablets (OS 4.4 and above). It promises each edition (Monday to Saturday) will be ready by 4am.

If you don’t subscribe to Le Devoir, you can buy each issue for $1.99. Or you can get a web-and-tablet subscription with no delivery for $17.75 a month, or a digital subscription plus Saturday-only paper delivery for $19.75 a month.

For more details, Le Devoir has an information page with frequently asked questions, and an introduction from publisher Bernard Descôteaux. He also explains that the print edition isn’t going anywhere, and that they don’t have the means to compete with La Presse+ directly.

And Mario Garcia has an interview with designer Lucia Lacava.

NADbank: La Presse has more readers overall than the Journal de Montréal

NADbank, the organization that measures newspaper readership, has come out with its mid-year national survey. Based on its large-market readership numbers:

When combining print and digital readership, La Presse and the Journal de Montréal both reach 1.241 million people a week. The difference in the official numbers is only 300, or 0.02%, which is far below the margin for error in such a survey.

Even more surprising, the daily readership of La Presse, measured by asking survey respondents which papers/websites they read the day before, is significantly higher than the Journal de Montréal, at 750,000 to 582,000.

La Presse has closed the gap with the Journal mainly through a huge increase in digital readership. The survey doesn’t distinguish between digital methods, but La Presse’s publisher Guy Crevier says this is mainly due to its now-flagship product La Presse+. Its digital readership jumped from 571,000 a week to 721,000 a week, a 26% increase.

In fact, more respondents said they read La Presse on a digital medium the day before than read the print paper. Other than the national papers Globe and Mail and National Post, no other major-market daily has more daily readers online than in print.

Even more amazing, La Presse reported slightly more daily digital readers in Montreal than the Star did in Toronto.

Excluding digital media and focusing just on print, the Journal de Montréal is still tops on weekdays and weekly, and that’s what it focused on with its press release. But on Saturday, La Presse has slightly more readers in print alone.

This dramatic increase in digital readership — and the fact that it has resulted in an increase in readership overall instead of just cannibalizing print readers — is yet another statistic justifying La Presse’s new strategy. And as if on cue, publisher Guy Crevier has another interview, in which he says 35% of La Presse’s revenues come from La Presse+, and that he doesn’t expect the print edition to still be around (at least as a daily) by 2020, or maybe even 2018.

Other facts in the NADbank numbers:

  • More than three years after 24 Heures became the official newspaper of the metro system, Métro still has more readers overall (300,000 vs. 270,000).
  • Métro and 24 Heures both get more than 90% of their readership from their print product. Their online readership is so low NADbank warns the numbers are statistically unreliable.
  • Only two papers in Montreal had more than half their weekly readers reading on any given day: La Presse and The Gazette. Readers of these publications are more likely to be everyday readers, compared to occasional readers for the others. (The Gazette has more daily readers than Métro or 24 Heures, but fewer weekly readers, because of this.)
  • More people said they read The Gazette online the previous day than the Journal de Montréal, despite the Journal’s gains online. The Gazette’s weekly online readership is up 37% from the previous report.
  • The Globe and Mail beats the National Post in both print and digital in all major markets. (In Edmonton, the Post has more daily digital readers, but fewer weekly digital readers and fewer readers overall.)
  • This isn’t new, but I just noticed it now: The Journal de Montréal has more readers in its home market than the Toronto Sun, daily and weekly.

Montreal Gazette redesigns paper, launches new website and iPad and smartphone apps

Monday and Tuesday editions of the Montreal Gazette

Monday and Tuesday editions of the Montreal Gazette

The project called The Gazette Reimagined went live at 12am on Tuesday, with a four-platform relaunch that includes a dramatic print redesign, a new website and new iPad and smartphone apps.

The new website went live at midnight, though it may take a bit of time for the DNS changes to propagate through the Internet. The new smartphone apps are in the Apple app store and Google Play store, and the new iPad app is also in the Apple app store. (The old smartphone and tablet apps will remain available, for those who want to read website stories on their smartphone but don’t want to use the mobile website.)

Editor Lucinda Chodan explains the general changes in a note to readers that appears on Page A2. There’s also a news (well, business) story about the changes and a podcast interview with Chodan an managing editor Michelle Richardson. But for the more attention-to-detail crowd, here’s some nitty gritty about what’s going on that I can finally tell you.

Continue reading

Alt-weekly death spiral spreads to Toronto

A little over a week ago was the second anniversary of the death of Mirror, the last of two alternative weekly newspapers in Montreal. That move came less than two months after the other, Hour, finally ceased production. It’s been five years since the death of ICI, and one year since Voir’s Montreal edition cut costs by going biweekly instead of weekly (it also killed editions in Mauricie, Saguenay, Gatineau and Estrie in the span of about a year).

Now, Canada’s largest city is feeling our pain. Word came out Wednesday that The Grid (a successor to Eye Weekly) is shutting down immediately after years of losing money for its parent Torstar. Thursday will be its last issue.

The shutdown leaves NOW as the only alt-weekly left in Toronto.

The Grid’s end is particularly painful for those who appreciated its award-winning design. While other papers were cutting back on the little things and going as cookie-cutter as possible to save money, The Grid put in the extra effort and created a paper that was as interesting to look at as it was to read.

NADbank: Journal de Montréal is still king, but…

NADbank, the company that measures newspaper readership through audience surveys, came out with its latest report recently, which on the surface doesn’t show much to write home about. Overall, the Journal de Montréal is still the most read newspaper in the metro area with 1.17 million readers, or 1.25 million if you include digital. (Quebecor has its press release crowing about this with some cherry-picked numbers, as well as some slides comparing its demographics with La Presse.)

But reading a bit deeper into the numbers and we see some interesting facts popping up.

La Presse has two and a half times the Journal’s digital readership. Two major changes explain this. First is La Presse+, the iPad app launched last year that’s the new flagship product for that company. But even with all the hype, the data shows only a 3% increase in the number of people reporting they read La Presse in a digital format in 2013. The bigger factor is a 9% drop in the Journal de Montréal’s digital readership, which is probably explained mainly by the setup of a paywall in September 2012.

Métro has more weekly print readers than La Presse. Even though La Presse’s print readership is up by 5%, Métro’s up by twice that, and can now claim to be the #2 most read newspaper in Montreal. (It already claims to be the #1 paper on the island.) Métro has 903,900 print readers a week compared to La Presse’s 879,200. And that’s with Métro putting out one fewer edition a week. But La Presse has 28% more people reporting they read that newspaper “yesterday” (i.e. the day before the survey was taken), meaning La Presse’s readership is more loyal and more interested than Métro’s.

24 Heures shows double-digit gains in print readers. Compared to 2012, 24 Heures had a great year, at least in print (and it doesn’t hesitate to tell people that). The number of people reporting having read the paper the day before shot up 25%, from 252,900 to 317,300. Weekly, the paper is up 15.5%. But three years after 24 Heures wrestled away the right to distribute its paper exclusively in the metro system, it still hasn’t managed to beat Métro in readership. Métro now has 10% more readers than 24 Heures though, and that margin is smaller than it used to be. And 24 Heures is now effectively tied with La Presse in terms of print readers on weekdays (it reports to be slightly ahead, while NADbank’s numbers report it slightly behind).

Several papers are showing double-digit drops in digital readership. Whether it’s paywalls or disinterest or something else, there’s a lot fewer people reading newspapers online. Overall, the market showed an 8% drop in weekly digital readership, while print gained 2%. Other major markets showed little change in digital readership. Here, the smaller papers took the biggest hit. 24 Heures’s digital readership is down 21%, the Globe and Mail’s is down 19%, and the National Post’s is down 18%.

As for The Gazette, the numbers put out by NADbank show modest drops across the board, though internally the paper is reporting increases, particularly in digital. Overall, it has 240,000 print readers on an average weekday and 499,000 people read it in either print or digital format every week (which I’m sure I can extrapolate into meaning that half a million people read every article I publish in that paper).

For the full numbers for each paper, you can read this chart from NADbank. The chart below shows the difference between those numbers and the previous year’s.

Change Yesterday print Yesterday total Weekday total Saturday print Sunday print Weekly print Weekly digital Total weekly
Any +2.80% -0.11% +1.67% +6.40% +4.43% +2.20% -8.39% -0.75%
La Presse +2.53% -0.54% +2.10% +8.13% +5.31% +3.24% +1.25%
Journal de Montréal +6.40% +18.13% -1.40% +17.20% +4.43% +0.52% -8.86% -1.73%
The Gazette -1.63% -1.21% -10.18% -3.39% -8.20% -0.56% -10.06%
Métro +12.59% +9.97% +11.19% +11.19% +9.17% +9.72%
24 Heures +25.46% +22.40% +15.53% +15.53% -21.56% +12.97%
Globe and Mail +11.58% -9.71% +7.63% +37.56% +5.87% -18.53% -16.40%
National Post -3.70% -20.35% +23.23% +62.35% +22.72% -18.18% -1.94%

Further reading