Tag Archives: newspapers

We’re Number 2.7!

Lookin' good

Lookin' good

The Audit Bureau of Circulations (the people who measure how many people subscribe to newspapers, as opposed to NADbank which measures how many people read them) has released numbers for this summer.

Media In Canada looks at the national numbers, and InfoPresse looks at Quebec. Both cite The Gazette as bucking the trend, with a 2.7% increase (it went up more than that in the spring numbers).

The National Post went down considerably (20% due mostly, I’m guessing, to their decision to not publish Mondays this summer), the Globe went down too (8%), as did Le Soleil (5%) and, just barely, La Presse and Le Devoir (less than 1%).

Sun Media, which owns the Journal de Montréal and Journal de Québec, is part of rival CCAB, and so numbers aren’t available for those newspapers.

Still, a conclusion is hard not to reach here. The Gazette is the only paper with a significant circulation increase, and it is also the only paper that currently employs me.

I expect my huge bonus cheque will be waiting for me in my office mailbox this week.

The Link looks at media democracy

The Link, one of the student-run papers at Concordia University, focuses this week on the challenges facing the news media in its Media Democracy special issue.

The eight-page insert is part of the weekly paper, available for free on campus or for download in this 10MB PDF file. Or you can read the stories online.

Among the articles is this interview with some know-it-all complaining about his doomed career.

Also in this section:

The Free Press ain’t free

Rumours, reported by the CBC last week, that the Winnipeg Free Press would cut its Sunday edition and simultaneously come out with a newsstand-only Sunday tabloid have turned out to be exactly true.

Friday’s paper contained a headline noting the most important part of the story: “More in Saturday Free Press“!

Yeah. So the newspaper will, starting Oct. 31/Nov. 1, be moving some Sunday regular features (i.e. comics) to the Saturday paper, and the new Sunday tabloid (called “On7“) will be newsstand-only to save on the cost of home delivery (the FP story even suggests carriers will welcome this news because they’d get to sleep in once a week).

What the story doesn’t say is that seven-day subscription rates, now that they have become six-day subscription rates, won’t change. On7 will be $1 or $1.25 an issue.

It’s true that La Presse (Sundays) and the Victoria Times-Colonist (Mondays) have cut a day off the week, and the National Post did so temporarily this summer (Mondays). But none of those was paired with a new product that they refused to deliver to home subscribers.

As the union told the CBC: “If you are a seven-day home subscriber, you will have to go out and buy this product. I would be a little p-o’d at that.”

One organization that’s not pissed off is the competition, the Winnipeg Sun. Their article on the subject points out that the Sun will be the only paper with home delivery on Sundays, offers quotes from the Sun’s publisher saying if they subscribe to his paper, “after a week or two I’ll bet they won’t miss their old paper at all”, and even helpfully offers the phone number of their circulation department.

Stay classy, Sun.

Rue Frontenac, paper edition

Rue Frontenac, with Quebecor's Journal de Montréal and 24 Heures

Rue Frontenac, with Quebecor's Journal de Montréal and 24 Heures

As Montreal’s favourite hockey team suffered yet another preseason loss, many fans had in their hands a new newspaper put together by some very experienced journalists. Rue Frontenac, the news website put together by the 253 locked-out workers of the Journal de Montréal since January, put together its first printed product, a special section on the Canadiens.

You’ll recall that when the Journal de Québec was locked out in 2007-08, they printed their own free newspaper MédiaMatinQuébec to compete with their employer as a pressure tactic. When the Journal de Montréal faced the same fate, it was determined that the larger city, not to mention the existence of two free dailies (one owned by Quebecor) meant doing the same here wouldn’t work as well, so it was decided that RueFrontenac.com would be an online-only operation.

But then, online only gets you so far.

The publication, coordinated by Jean-Guy Fuguère, is strictly a Canadiens season lookahead, with commentary from veterans like Marc De Foy and Bertrand Raymond, as well as union-sympathizing stars Martin Brodeur and Jacques Demers. It’s 40 pages long, and has a few advertisements, from Molson, Chambly Mazda, various unions and Georges Laraque’s WeTeam Ice.

You can get it in PDF format on Rue Frontenac’s website. They will also be distributing 50,000 copies of the paper over the coming days.

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Can you feel the love, t.o.night?

t.o.night, the new free Toronto evening newspaper, launched on Tuesday.

Reaction has been mixed:

  • blogTO, which is a content partner with t.o.night (the paper has a page devoted to content from the blog), has a blog post with pictures of Day 1.
  • Torontoist, which is blogTO’s main competitor in the Toronto alt-blog scene, has a much more critical post which picks out all of t.o.night’s flaws (making the blog look a bit like sour grapes in the process).
  • Eye Weekly is also highly critical of t.o.night, predicting it won’t last because of its many flaws (like misspelling a word on the front page).

CBC and the Doon Valley Journal have previews of the new paper.

The Bluffer’s Guide this week in The Gazette looks at t.o.night and evening newspapers in general. It also debunks one of the arguments used by t.o.night’s backers that this concept worked in London (England) by pointing out that the free evening daily there probably won’t last another month.

I can feel it coming in the air: t.o.night (UPDATED)

Note: This post has been updated with clarifications and a correction from a blogTO comment below.

t.o.night newspaper mockup from Blog.TO

t.o.night newspaper mockup from BlogTO

It’s being compared to Dose because it’s new, hip and aimed at a younger audience. The comparison is perhaps more apt because it’s a cheap junk rag in an over-saturated market that’s doomed to inevitable failure within two years.

It’s called “t.o.night“, it’s a free, advertising-supported newspaper which will be distributed in Toronto in the fall. It will contain mostly wire copy and wire images with a minimum of local content and no original journalism, and will be handed out to transit users.

Now, you ask, how is this different from Metro or 24 Hours, which have that exact same business model (ditto for Dose)? Well, t.o.night will be an afternoon paper, and will be printed on glossy paper. Ta-Da!

The brainchild behind this newspaper launch in quite possibly the worst market for newspaper launches ever is a 24-year-old business school graduate who saw a similar thing in Melbourne, Australia, and thought it could work here.

Of course, there are differences between Melbourne and Toronto. Melbourne only has two major dailies, and no freesheet competition. Toronto is home to two major local dailies (the Star and Sun), two freesheets (Metro and 24 Hours) and two “national” newspapers that obsess about everything Toronto (the National Post and Globe and Mail). Metro, the Globe reports, has tried afternoon papers and failed for various logistical reasons.

Part of me kind of likes the idea of an afternoon paper which can set itself apart by at least having different news than the morning papers. But afternoon papers died off for good reasons, and coming out at a different time isn’t going to be enough for t.o.night to separate itself from the other freesheets.

One thing that t.o.night is doing different is getting content from blogs. It has reached a “partnership” with blogTO (the sister publication of Montreal’s Midnight Poutine) to use its content, similar I suppose to the deal its competitor Torontoist has with the Globe and Mail (UPDATE: Except as blogTO’s Tim clarified below, that the Torontoist/Globe deal involves website links, and the blogTO deal involves actual syndication of content in the printed paper).

The hitch, of course, is that blogTO doesn’t pay its contributors (UPDATE: Though it does pay its regular editorial staff). So t.o.night is trying to take the blog’s idea of making money off the free work of others (oh but don’t worry, they’ll get a byline!) Tim says that unpaid “community contributions” won’t appear in t.o.night, only the work of paid writers. He wouldn’t say how much blogTO’s writers are paid.

As much as I like seeing a new voice in the newspaper scene, I have to agree with Torontoist’s skepticism here (even though it can’t really criticize blogTO without being hypocritical): the paper will offer little of value (basically anything that breaks after the morning papers go to press and that Canadian Press can publish before 11am), and will only serve to dilute the market for advertising at a time when the other papers can least handle a drop in ad revenue.

Then again, maybe it will finally make commuters realize that a free newspaper with nothing but wire copy and advertising isn’t worth even that price.

UPDATE: A quick hit from the New York Times’ media blog.

Print media isn’t dead yet, SF Chronicle hopes

The San Francisco Chronicle’s 15-year deal with Montreal-based Transcontinental to print its newspaper officially began today, and the paper heralded the new (outsourced) presses that allow for more colour. That, of course, is being mocked in the usual places.

You’ll recall that Transcontinental signed an 18-year deal with the Globe and Mail to print their newspaper last year.

UPDATE: A short piece in the New York Times that questions the point.

Dimanche vide

"Bienvenue aux lecteurs du dimanche" reads the Gazette

"Bienvenue aux lecteurs du dimanche" reads the Gazette

Well that’s it. There’s no La Presse today, and there won’t be any next Sunday, or the Sunday after that.

The painful decision to cut out the most expendable of the seven daily editions, made last month, has finally seen its effect. Except for a blog post from Chantal Guy, there isn’t much mention of it today, probably because everything has already been said.

I’ll note a couple of things though, both involving my newspaper. First is that today’s cover has a note which I’m sure some old lady in the West Island will ask to have translated for her, welcoming former La Presse readers who are so desperate for a paper to read on Sunday that they’ll grab the anglo rag. There’s no article inside or anything, just the banner.

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a newspaper has tried to move in on the Sunday market left empty by another:

The other is a notice in yesterday’s paper that warns readers in some far-away areas that the delivery of their Sunday paper will be delayed because The Gazette subcontracted delivery in those areas to La Presse and now there’s no one to bring their newspapers to them. It’s one of those little secrets of newspapers that often the same person will deliver competing papers to an area (especially when there are few readers in that area, as one would expect for Trois Rivières and Sorel). La Presse’s cancellation of its Sunday edition was sudden and caught my paper a bit flat-footed.


... and again the next week

... and again the next week

Another newspaper doesn’t like Mondays

Message from the publisher in Victoria Times-Colonist, May 9, Page A2

Message from the publisher in Victoria Times-Colonist, May 9, Page A2

The Victoria Times-Colonist announced in Saturday’s paper that, because of the weakened economy and the business crisis facing newspapers, the TC will stop printing on Mondays as of June 22.

That’s a week before the National Post does a similar cost-cutting measure. The difference is that the TC move isn’t temporary and they’re not producing a smaller online-only edition, just promising to post breaking news online seven days a week.

(The TC story is closed to comments, but the Globe and Mail story about it is open.)

The Times-Colonist case is also unusual because the newspaper will still print both Saturdays and Sundays. Unlike most other Canadian newspapers, the TC has a strong Sunday paper with plenty of advertising.

I’m not sure if this is a coincidence, but the this-week-in-history column in Sunday’s paper focuses on the decision of Victoria’s two newspapers, the Times and Colonist, to move in together and share space, though keep their editorial matters separate. We all know how that turned out.

Newspapers think newspapers have bright future ahead

In case you missed it (you ungrateful non-newspaper-readers), the Financial Post and Canwest News Service ran a series this week on the future of newspapers, which unless you’ve been living under a rock recently you’ve noticed are in a bit of business trouble. But these writers know newspapers are better than those other media.

The series is in five parts:

  1. David Akin on the general state of the newspaper industry (which, in case you’re wondering, does talk a bit about Canwest and its debt crisis)
  2. Akin on how advertisers are best served by the print medium and by newspaper publishers
  3. Akin on the difference between Canadian and U.S. newspapers (though you could just say we’re a few years behind them on the death spiral)
  4. Randy Boswell on how newspapers are a trustworthy medium that other media rely on
  5. Kirk Lapointe with a very optimistic look at how newspapers are repositioning themselves as online destinations.

As part of the series, Canwest’s newspapers were also encouraged to write about their individual histories and connections with their communities. The Gazette got young reporter Jason Magder to do a piece on the paper’s connection with its community.

Other Canwest papers also wrote self-congratulatory pieces:

The National Post also asked its “opinion-makers” about their thoughts on newspapers:

As if underscoring how far newspapers have to go, in neither of the three above cases could I find one page linking all these related stories together.

Finally, unrelated to any of the above, Stuart McLean writes in the Globe and Mail about why he loves newspapers.

Canadian newspaper readership stable

It seems to go against conventional wisdom, but NADBank results released this morning show that readership at major Canadian newspapers remains stable, with three quarters of Canadians reading at least one daily newspaper each week. Online numbers also remain stable, which is disappointing because they represent so little.

Both the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail cherry-picked results to declare victory. The Star has more print readers on a daily, Saturday and weekly basis, but the Globe has more online readers and a higher total readership of both online and print (the Globe also says it won “key” demographics and implies that its readers are smarter). Other newspapers trumpeted their gains, especially the Calgary Herald, whose readership jumped 7% over last year,

In Montreal, the Journal de Montréal is still the undisputed print leader, with 578,800 having read it “yesterday” and 1,129,600 in the last week, 40% more than second-place La Presse (even throwing in Cyberpresse readers, against the Journal’s lack of a website, the paper still comes up short). Note that this is all before the lockout.

For those who care about comparing competing papers, there’s not much new here. The market percentages are almost identical to last year. A slight uptick in online readers for Cyberpresse, but only from 9% to 11% of the market.

In terms of raw numbers:

  • The Journal de Montréal lost about 3% of its weekday and Sunday readers.
  • La Presse lost about 30,000 weekly print readers but gained about 26,000 weekly online readers.
  • The Gazette (my paper) gained modestly in all categories, but online growth is robust, rising 11% since it relaunched its website last fall. In the Greater Montreal Area, it rose 31%. (Still, most of the website’s traffic comes from outside Quebec, an oddity among Canwest’s papers)
  • Metro lost almost 5% of its weekly readers, and though it gained almost 20% online, its web readership is still negligible.
  • 24 Heures gained 2.4% in weekly readers (perhaps partially at Metro’s expense). Its online numbers are similarly negligible.

In general, 49% of Montrealers 18 and over read a newspaper on the average weekday, 74% read at least one a week, and 76% read a newspaper or go to a newspaper’s website in a week (which means a tiny number – 4% nationally – go to newspaper websites but don’t subscribe). Freebie newspaper readership is at 24% here, with 717,000 people having read either Metro or 24 Heures in the past five weekdays.

The newspaper shutdown has begun

The final issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Tuesday March 17, 2009

The final issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Tuesday March 17, 2009

If you follow media, you probably don’t need me to tell you that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer finally pulled the plug on its money-losing but historic print edition, and will attempt to make a go at producing a news website with a few dozen journalists. It will be a test case for other major newspapers thinking of doing the same. If they succeed in making such a venture profitable, others will surely follow. If not, others might try, or they might decide to close up shop completely.

Meanwhile, in Denver, where another city has become a one-newspaper town, former staff at the Rocky Mountain News are trying to do the same thing, even though their publisher decided not to. So they’ve made a pledge that if they can get 50,000 people to subscribe for $5 a month, they’ll start up an online newspaper.

In Canada, big papers are still here, and for the most part still profitable. But the smaller papers are dying off. Sun Media this week closed two underperforming small newspapers in Alberta, the Jasper Booster and Morinville Redwater Town & Country Examiner (UPDATE: The Edmonton Journal explores some of the lives affected by these shutdowns and other layoffs). They weren’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last small newspapers to throw in the towel in this economy where even journalism students don’t read papers and journalists are thinking of some desperate ideas to keep the business model going. While the number of consumers of information is about the same, the shift of advertising dollars is not, and that’s going to put negative pressure on people like me who would like to make a living off the collection, packaging and redistribution of information.

The trends are encouraging for journalism, but not for journalists. Plz I can haz bizniss modul nao?