This entry has been corrected. See below.
It was early in the morning on Saturday, Jan 24, 2009, when the Journal de Montréal changed forever. After an agreement with its union not to engage in work disruptions expired, management locked out all 253 unionized employees, starting a battle that would last more than two years.
The union, knowing this was coming, simultaneously launched a new website called Rue Frontenac, in which locked-out journalists would continue doing their jobs, showing readers that it’s the journalists, not the logo, that really matters.
The solidarity among locked-out workers was impressive, as was their dedication to their craft. But the union’s hefty strike fund kept their income going, and that wasn’t going to last forever.
When it all ended in 2011, the victory went more to the Journal than to the workers. The deal, approved during a heated meeting of the union’s members, meant only a quarter of those locked-out would be re-hired. The rest would split a $20-million severance package.
The deal allowed Rue Frontenac to stay alive, spun off from the union into an independent entity. It was eventually sold, but the staff quickly quit and pulled all their content in protest after learning the identity of someone connected to the new owner and finding that they would pose a threat to their journalistic integrity. The pulled content was eventually posted to a new archival website. RueFrontenac.com now simply redirects to another website owned by that new owner, La Métropole.
Where are they now?
The union treated “253” as a magical number throughout the lockout, but the reality was it was a lot more complicated than that. The employees consisted of people from various departments, some were part-time, some temporary, some on leave for various reasons. I don’t have a list of those 253 people, nor the time to contact them all, but I was curious where the journalists ended up five years later (and more than two years after Rue Frontenac ended).
Of all the journalists that were locked out of the Journal, only
one two news reporters — Daniel Renaud and Isabelle Maher — returned after the lockout. (Other departments like sports and photo had more people come back.) The conflict had become so bitter, and the journalists so disgusted with its resolution, that the reaction to the offer to come back was more “over my dead body” than “yes please”.
And Renaud didn’t last long. He now works for La Presse.
The result was that even though the lockout was started so that the Journal could lay off staff, and even though the resolution meant much of that staff wouldn’t come back, the end result is that the paper had to actually start hiring journalists.
What about the rest? Many are still in journalism, and some have moved on to other things. Here’s a partial list, some based off of this list that Michel Rousseau put together for Trente in 2012:
Still at the Journal de Montréal
- Marc Beaudet, editorial cartoonist
- Jonathan Bernier, sports reporter
- Michael Flookes, editor
- Marc de Foy, sports columnist
- Maxime Demers, arts reporter
- Pierre Durocher, sports reporter
- Agnès Gaudet, arts reporter
- Mario Leclerc, manager
- Dave Lévesque, sports reporter
- Isabelle Maher, reporter
- Benoit Pelosse, photographer
- Chantal Poirier, photographer
- Pierre-Paul Poulin, photographer
La Presse (Gesca) was the biggest beneficiary of Rue Frontenac talent:
- Hugo-Sébastien Aubert, photographer
- Alain Bisson, head of weekend content
- Jean-François Codère, technology reporter
- Jean-Philippe Décarie, business columnist
- Gabrielle Duchaine, news reporter
- Marie-Eve Fournier, business reporter
- Olivier Jean, photographer
- Vincent Larouche, investigative reporter
- Réal Marchessault, editor
- Philippe Meilleur, editor
- Fabrice de Pierrebourg, investigative reporter
- Pascal Ratthé, photographer (Le Soleil)
- Daniel Renaud, organized crime reporter
- Michel Rousseau, editor
- David Santerre, news reporter
- Marie Tousignant, editor
- Patrick Gauthier, editor
- François Foisy, “secrétaire de rédaction national”
- Claudia Larochelle, hosts Lire on ARTV
- Martin Leclerc, hockey columnist
- Chantal Léveillé, editor-in-chief of Radio-Canada Sports
- Philippe Rezzonico, culture blogger
- Marco Fortier, political reporter
- Louis Gagné, editor
- Annik MH de Carufel, photographer
- Jessica Nadeau, National Assembly correspondent
- Roger Leblond, blogger and statistician
- Bertrand Raymond, blogger and analyst
- Éric d’Argenzio, Journal de St-Michel
- Géraldine Martin, editor-in-chief, Les Affaires
- Jean-Philippe Pineault, regional news director
- Marilou Séguin, chef de nouvelles, ChamblyExpress.ca/Coup d’oeil/Le Richelieu
- Mathieu Boivin, journalist, FM93
- Louis Senay, editor, 98.5 fm
- Yvon Laprade, La Terre de chez nous (also contributes to La Presse)
- Jean-Paul Sylvain, La Métropole
- Serge Touchette, LNH.com
- Rogerio Barbosa, photographer
- Martin Bouffard, cameraman (Radio-Canada)
- Daniel Cloutier, boxing writer
- Alain Décarie, photographer
- Bruno Dubois, graphic designer
- Claude Giguère, journalist
- Maude Goyer, for Yahoo!, Véro magazine, Rythme FM
- Myriam Lafrenière, photographer
- Pascale Lévesque, working for Radio-Canada’s Entrée principale, Pénélope and Médium Large
- Charles Poulin, MSN, TC Media
- Gilles Renaud, photographer
- Pascal Rinfret, designer
- André Rousseau, sports blogger
- Frédérique Tiéfry, editor
- Serge Vleminckx, university sports (Radio-Canada, 98.5)
Public relations or other communications media
- Martin Bisaillon, distribution manager for AETIOS Productions
- Valérie Dufour, NDP in Ottawa
- Jean-Michel Nahas, Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys
- David Patry, NDP in Quebec
- Philippe Renault co-founded his own agency
- Charles Rooke, director of communications for Alouettes
- Caroline Roy, Direction
- Geneviève Tremblay, Cirque du Soleil
- Gilles Vachet, junior AAA hockey
- Richard Bousquet, lecturer at UQAM
- Jean-Guy Fugère, math teacher
Other non-media jobs
- Mélanie Brisson, IT coordinator, city of Sainte-Julie
- Jérôme Dussault, crown prosecutor
- Dominic Fugère, general manager of the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières (also contributes to RDS)
- Guy Madore, real estate
- Noée Murchison, Office des personnes handicapées du Québec
- Luc Laforce
- François Robert
- Michel Sénécal
- Pablo Durand
Some of these could easily be outdated, incorrect, miscategorized or incomplete. And I’m missing a bunch of names. Let me know of any corrections below or by email.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post said that Daniel Renaud was the only news reporter to go back to the Journal de Montréal. Isabelle Maher also returned to the paper after the lockout. I’ve also updated titles and added names based on people’s suggestions.