Tag Archives: The Gazette

Montreal Gazette returns to being The Gazette after 9 years as a blue square

Two newspapers, one with a blue square "Montreal Gazette" logo on the front and the other with an Old English-style "The Gazette" logo

The Montreal Gazette’s front page, before (left) and after (right)

The Gazette is The Gazette again.

On Thursday, my employer brought back the familiar Old English-style logo that had graced its cover for decades (until Postmedia’s 2014 design changes that unified layout styles in broadsheets across the country). Friday’s paper was the first with the old logo, combined with a large Aislin cartoon to mark the occasion.

An editor’s note that appears in a wrap around Friday’s edition and was also posted online says the change “is more than symbolic, and serves as a powerful reminder that although the journalism of today is different than in generations past — and even though we tell stories using digital tools that would never have been imaginable in the 18th century — our high standards and promise to seek the truth remain the same.”

Postmedia also issued a press release on the matter. The rebrand (unrebrand?) comes with a new tagline: “There with you then. Here with you now” — which gets added to a long list of Gazette marketing slogans including “The English Language, daily.” “The Gazette IS Montreal” and “Words matter.”

Besides the logo, and a reconfiguration of the skyboxes to fit its new shape, the paper is the same as it was on Thursday. But there’s a bit of a morale boost among its staff.

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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.

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For my newspaper, 15 years feels like a lifetime

It was 15 years ago today that I walked into the offices of The Gazette, got trained on how to use their software, and began my career as a professional copy editor.

More than a third of my life has been spent employed by this newspaper. And in that time, I’ve never wanted to do anything else, because there’s always something new.

In the past week, as I’ve been doing some pandemic-related cleaning up of old stuff, I went through some old issues I had lying around from years ago, and it amazes me how much this newspaper has changed in that decade and a half.

Of course, I’ve worked with many people who would tell stories about the good ol’ days of hot type, constantly-crashing computer systems, typesetters, darkrooms, presses in the building, managers working late with ashtrays on their desks and alcohol inside them. But those were long before my time, and those times changed mainly because of technology.

In the past 15 years, though, it’s the business that has changed the most. The revenue side of the newspaper business model has crumbled away, and years of cutbacks have forced a much more efficient newsroom that focuses on its core mission to the detriment of the rest. Meanwhile, the demands of an increasingly online readership (and the hope that digital revenue will take over from print before the business collapses) have meant more resources being focused on digital platforms that didn’t exist back then.

To give you an idea of how things have changed, I figured I’d give you a tour of The Gazette in May 2005.

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Yet more journalists of tomorrow

Concordia journalism bursary winners from 2014-15.

Concordia journalism bursary winners from 2015-16.

On Monday, the Montreal Gazette will be presenting awards in the form of bursaries to students in Concordia University’s Journalism department. As has become sort of a tradition for the past half-decade, I’m so lazy that I’m only now writing up my interviews with the winners of last year’s awards (which to be fair, were given out in January) and the year before (uhh, my dog ate it?).

I chatted with each of them briefly about their origins, their futures, and what they think about journalism. Here’s what they had to say:

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Montreal Gazette loses managing editor to Ottawa Citizen/Sun

Michelle Richardson, who in 2004 was a copy editing intern on the Montreal Gazette news desk, will become the next editor-in-chief of the Ottawa Citizen and Sun, it was announced on Monday.

She succeeds Andrew Potter, who left as Citizen editor to return to academia — funny enough, at McGill in Montreal. Keith Bonnell, who was the Sun’s editor, will be deputy editor for the two papers’ merged newsroom.

The company says it hired her for the job mainly because of her success helping to guide the Gazette through a tough digital transition.

I won’t go into too much detail because she’s a close colleague, but I will say it sucks to be losing yet another strong, young talent, even if she’s staying in the Postmedia family.

Richardson was the copy editing intern the year before I was. So I just assume I’ll also be offered an editor-in-chief position some time in 2017.

UPDATE: Concordia University with a brief profile of Richardson.

Dave Stubbs leaves Montreal Gazette to become columnist for NHL.com

Dave Stubbs, a veteran sports columnist for the Montreal Gazette who has been mainly covering hockey — with occasional sidesteps into auto racing and other sports where necessary — is leaving the paper, taking on a new job as a columnist for NHL.com.

The new job is pretty well a perfect fit for Stubbs, who has always had a thing for history and statistics and random bits of hockey trivia (particularly when it comes to goaltenders for some reason).

But it’s a loss for the Montreal Gazette, whose parent company Postmedia hasn’t had a lot of great news recently.

There’s no word yet on whether Stubbs will be replaced. The Gazette also counts on beat writer Pat Hickey and columnist Stu Cowan for Canadiens coverage, plus Herb Zurkowsky covering the Alouettes and boxing beats.

UPDATE: Stubbs writes his farewell column on the Professional Hockey Writers Association website, since he could not do so in the Gazette.

Montreal Gazette adds NP section, makes Basem Boshra columnist

A little over a year after it “reimagined” itself with redesigns on four platforms, the Montreal Gazette — my employer — made some minor changes last week, particularly in print.

The daily “Context” section, which included national and world news stories as well as the editorial and opinion pages, has been eliminated, replaced by “NP in the Montreal Gazette”, a section of content from the National Post.

National Post section in the Montreal Gazette

National Post section in the Montreal Gazette

The NP section, which will be six to 12 pages long, is National Post content presented using the National Post stylesheet. It includes national and world news, opinions and columnists like Andrew Coyne, Michael Den Tandt and Christie Blatchford. Similar sections exist in the Edmonton Journal and Windsor Star, and should follow for other papers.

Doing national and international news this way saves resources because the layouts are identical and can be copy-pasted between the local papers. And it makes it look like you get a free National Post in your Gazette.

The change comes with some challenges though. The A section, which is now just local news plus one page of local editorial, letters and opinion, gets more of the ad stacks that leave oddly-shaped holes for news copy. (Insert joke about ads disappearing from newspapers here.) And since national and international news is in another section, it might be a challenge finding local news copy to fill those spaces, especially around the holidays when there are a lot more ads.

The Saturday paper is changing a bit. In addition to Context being gone, the Saturday Extra section is being retired, and its contents scattered into other sections:

  • The main feature story will occupy clear pages in the A section (and still get that big splash on A1)
  • The weekly Viewfinder photo will go to a page in Weekend Life with Dr. Joe Schwarcz’s chemistry column and Mark Abley’s Watchwords.
  • The Instagram challenge is moving to (usually) Page A2 with Josh Freed’s column
  • Montreal Diary is being discontinued
  • Local editorial, opinion and letters move to the A section
  • Andrew Coyne and other national Postmedia columnists go to the NP section

Saturday Extra has been in the Gazette since Feb. 25, 2006. And I admit to a bit of mourning for the demise of Montreal Diary, a section with short stories about the city. My first freelance story for the Gazette was a Diary story, and many other freelance writers got their start there. But after a decade, these things get old and I can’t honestly say it would necessarily be a bad idea to move on to other things.

Another change: Letters to the editor are no longer being posted online.

People who have comments or complaints are being asked to send them to feedback@montrealgazette.com.

Meanwhile, the Gazette has also added a city columnist, which it has been missing for a while. Basem Boshra, who has had many hats but was most recently the city editor, is now writing almost daily with his take on the news of the day. His first column, re-introducing himself, is here.

The Gazette has also launched its Christmas Fund campaign, including the daily anonymous profiles about needy families written by slightly less needy freelancers.

Oh, and since a bunch of people keep asking:

  • Don Macpherson is on leave, but is expected to return. Dan Delmar is filling in as a columnist in the meantime.
  • Stone Soup isn’t in the daily comics pages anymore because it’s no longer a daily comic. And the Gazette does not have the power to force Jan Eliot to work against her will.

Gazette 2.5 app

UPDATE (Nov. 30): Today the paper updated its smartphone app, combining the pull-full-stories-from-the-web functionality of the older app and the stories-written-specifically-for-smartphone aspect of the 2.0 version. This comes after many users complained that the 2.0 app didn’t let them read all the stories the Gazette published. Like with the NP section, the new functionality of the smartphone app started with the Edmonton Journal.

Confusingly, the app actually updates the 1.0 version in the App Store and Google Play. People who have the 2.0 app installed are being asked to delete that in favour of the other one.

Among the features of the new app, which is being referred to unofficially as “version 2.5”:

  • Live weather, with current condition visible on all pages and a full page of details provided by The Weather Network
  • Ability to turn notifications on and off from within the app
  • Continuous scrolling on stories instead of being broken up into pages
  • Font size preference (3 sizes)
  • A running count of the number of stories (X of YY) on each story
  • Better functionality for photos and videos (tap a photo to read the caption, ability to watch videos from within the app)
  • No more following stories to be updated when they change

Postmedia throws in the towel on page-designed tablet apps

A final one-page edition of the Montreal Gazette iPad app asks people to download the old app instead.

A final one-page edition of the Montreal Gazette iPad app asks people to download the old app instead.

As traditional media, and newspapers in particular, attempt to deal with the rapidly changing technological universe by overhauling their business models, many experiments are being tried out. Some are successful, some are spectacular failures, and most fall somewhere in between.

It’s normal in a period of experimentation chaos that some of those experiments fail. And it’s with that mindset that Postmedia announced this week it is pulling the plug on new tablet applications it launched with the Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette and Calgary Herald, instead reverting to an old application that provides a standardized template for every story, which it simply pulls automatically from the website.

The apps offered evening editions of content from each newspaper, including some national and international news that was done centrally for all three. The original plan was for every Postmedia local paper to get a similar app when it was “reimagined”.

Like the apps from La Presse and the Toronto Star, the “2.0” Postmedia apps involved a lot of work. A professional designer created each page (and most stories were told over multiple pages), which mixed photos, video, animations, graphics and all sorts of other multimedia and interactive elements to create a rich, visually appealing environment.

At its peak, the Gazette iPad app had seven people working on it exclusively full-time, including all of its designers. It was a significant investment (though nowhere near what La Presse or the Star are doing) at a time when otherwise the company was cutting back hard.

In the end, the audience — and advertising revenue — the app generated wasn’t sufficient to keep it going. When it came to Edmonton’s turn to reimagine itself on four platforms, the plan for a new tablet app was ditched. Instead, it would continue to use an older app that was fed stories automatically from the website without the need for human intervention.

The change in the tablet app was reflected in a change in strategy on another platform as well. A smartphone app in which each story was specifically written (or, more accurately, edited) for that platform also changed direction. The Edmonton Journal’s new app is a hybrid, offering some custom smartphone-friendly stories and others that are fed automatically from the website. The other newspapers’ apps will follow its lead, unless there’s another change in strategy before then.

Both tablets and smartphones can also still use the newspapers’ websites, which are responsive and readable on those platforms. The fact that so many of them choose that option is another reason for the change.

Postmedia, like Torstar, Gesca and others, is experimenting. In the big picture, it’s a good thing. But when something of such quality fails, and especially when it’s not clear why (though everyone has their theories), it’s no less sad and frustrating.

I’ll miss you, pretty app.

CROP poll of how anglos and francos drink is garbage, based on sample of 30 people

Breakdown of results of CROP poll show sample size of 31 for anglo Montrealers.

Breakdown of results of CROP poll show sample size of 31 for non-francophone Montrealers.

This morning, Éduc’alcool, an organization devoted to moderation in alcohol consumption, released the results of a poll it commissioned from polling firm CROP related to how people in Quebec drink.

The results were offered to the media under embargo yesterday, and stories appear today in the Journal de Montréal, La Presse, Métro, Rouge FM, Radio-Canada, CJAD and elsewhere that focus on interesting results outlined in the organization’s press release: that there’s a significant difference in how francophones and non-francophones in Montreal drink. Francophones drink more and more often than the rest of the city.

You won’t find a story about this in the Montreal Gazette, despite how relevant this kind of information is to its readership. It’s not because there wasn’t a journalist to cover it — a story was written about it and was set to be given good play in today’s paper. But I had it killed last night.

Well, actually the city editor is the one who made the call, but I’m the reason why, and it sounds cooler to say “I had it killed” than “I noticed something and brought it up to an authority figure”.

The reason is simple: All that data about how non-francophones in Montreal drink is based on sample sizes of 30-40 people, which is laughably small for any survey. None of the conclusions on the difference between language groups could be taken seriously, and without that data there’s really no story here.

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Montreal Gazette hires Quebec City reporter Caroline Plante away from Global

Caroline Plante

Caroline Plante

Good anglophone Quebec City reporters are hard to find. Montrealers don’t want to move because their families are based here and there isn’t much going on for anglophones in the provincial capital. Plus, as the National Assembly reporter, the bar is higher. You need to be an expert (or at least very interested and motivated) in politics, and your French has to be impeccable.

So it’s no surprise that various Montreal anglo media have had trouble filling the position. CTV struggled for a while after the Kai Nagata fiasco before hiring Max Harrold from the Gazette. Now, with Harrold returning to Montreal, they’re back to figuring out what to do with the position.

The Montreal Gazette has been in a similar position since the departure of Kevin Dougherty last year. Young reporter Geoffrey Vendeville was recruited into the role, supplemented part-time by veteran Philip Authier doing analysis.

And then there’s Global News’s Caroline Plante, who has been filing reports for the little-watched Montreal newscast for the past nine years. It’s surprising that she hadn’t been poached by CTV or CBC during that time. (Global Montreal has surprisingly low turnover for a station at the bottom of the ratings — staff point to the feeling of family among its small news staff as a big reason nobody wants to leave for the competition.)

But Plante has finally gotten an offer she’s chosen not to refuse. The Montreal Gazette (my employer) has hired Plante to be its Quebec City bureau chief, effective Aug. 24.

In addition to her reporting duties, Plante is also president of the National Assembly Press Gallery.

The hiring will mean Global needs to find a new reporter in Quebec City. Its newsroom is undergoing other changes, with the departures of Domenic Fazioli, Richard Dagenais and possibly others, and the hiring of former Quebecor Media reporter Brian Daly and former City TV reporter Kelly Greig.

The difference 10 years makes

Did they know what they were getting into?

Did they know what they were getting into?

This week marks 10 years since I walked into an office building at 1010 Ste-Catherine St. W. and began a career as a professional journalist.

It was the day after the Journée nationale des patriotes, and I began an internship as a copy editor at The Gazette, a newspaper owned by the Canwest media empire.

Through the decade, the path hasn’t been easy or always positive. I was laid off three times, the second one resulting in more than a year of unemployment in which I tried doing some freelance writing and started a blog for fun. But thanks to hard work on my part, and some managers who for whatever reason thought I was worth it, they always brought me back. And now with a permanent job, I don’t have to worry (as much) that I’ll be let go because not enough people got pregnant.

In those 10 years, I’ve made many mistakes, and learned from them. I’ve grown, matured, relaxed, and become more of an adult. I went from someone who had only a passing knowledge of sports to someone who can talk with some insight about the latest news (even if I really have no opinion on what to do about the power play or what position Alex Galcheyuk should play). I went from a green newbie who had no idea of the paper’s history to one of those veterans who brings out a “Back in my day…” during intern season. Plus, of course, I have a lot more money than I did 10 years ago.

But my employer has changed, too, and in much more dramatic fashion.

The Gazette added the word “Montreal” to its name, its parent company is now Postmedia, and it has no relation to Global TV (though we still share the same building). The paper has been radically redesigned, it’s smaller in both page size and thickness, it publishes only six days a week, it has colour on every page, and some features and regular columnists have disappeared, with other new ones taking their place.

The website no longer looks like this. Instead of stories being posted automatically by a machine importing them from that morning’s paper, stories are written directly into WordPress and then copies are made for print.

A bunch of ideas were tried, some of which were successful, others not so much.

We went from editing pages in QuarkXPress 3.32 (which was already nine years old when I started) on a Power Macintosh G3 to editing stories in a web browser using brand-new MacBook Air (reporters) and MacBook Pro (editors) laptops, with a stop in between when we used PCs.

And the team is much smaller than it used to be. I took out a schedule from 10 years ago, and it listed 34 copy editors, including myself, on the news desk, and a further 13 on the features desk, or 47 total. And all of them worked for the print paper. Today, there are 20 copy editors split between four platforms. The person who first hired me no longer works there. Neither does my first boss. Or her boss. Or his boss. Or his boss. Or the CEO.

Many of the print jobs have since been centralized, as Canwest and then Postmedia decided it was more efficient for stories that appear in different papers across the chain to be edited once. Others — including the Gazette’s entire printing plant — were eliminated as the company decided to outsource various functions it considered non-core.

There are changes I agree with, and those I strongly disagree with. There are changes that made things better, and changes that made things worse. There are changes the union has fought (and is still fighting), and there are changes everyone has accepted or welcomed. I’ve heard all the complaints, and I agree with many of them. But I also know it’s a struggle to produce quality journalism when no one wants to pay for it. And if no one finds that magic business model that saves newspapers before it’s too late and they all die, then at least I’ll have done my part to keep its heart beating one more day. Because despite everything, newspapers like the Montreal Gazette expose stories that would not otherwise be exposed. And that’s something we need as a society.

Through it all, I remain grateful, to the organization and its employees past and present who helped me grow, who gave it their all even while they worried about their future or complained about things they didn’t like, and particularly those who thought this Steve Faguy guy was worth keeping around.


Montreal Gazette loses veteran reporters, Pierre Foglia retires from La Presse

While students in Quebec were heading out on spring break last Friday, veteran journalists in two newsrooms were packing their boxes.

Friday was the last day on the job for five journalists and one administrative assistant at the Montreal Gazette. They leave as part of the latest wave of buyouts meant to reduce operating costs at the newspaper, which means they won’t be replaced. Instead, other staff’s responsibilities will be shifted to cover their work.

Sue Montgomery was the Gazette’s justice reporter. She covered the trial of Luka Magnotta and many other lowlifes before him. Reviews of her career inevitably bring up her trip to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, her coverage of the sexual abuse at Les Frères Ste-Croix at Collège Notre Dame, and her work with Antonia Zerbisias to create the hashtag #BeenRapedNeverReported in the aftermath of the Jian Ghomeshi scandal.

She was also very outspoken, sometimes to the displeasure of her employer.

In her farewell column, she writes:

I became a journalist almost 30 years ago, not so much because I loved the craft of writing, but more to give a voice to those who aren’t otherwise heard. I wasn’t interested in the politicians, who never seem to say anything meaningful, or the boring businessmen, incomprehensible sports stars or fake celebrities. None seemed real.

I was drawn to and intrigued by the everyday people like you and me who experience extraordinary loss, suffering and injustice and still manage to somehow carry on. We can all learn from such stories — about the resilience of the human spirit, empathy and strength.

You can read some of her work here. She also did an interview with CBC’s Daybreak.

Peggy Curran was the Gazette’s city columnist, returning to a writing job after a brief stint as city editor. Curran wrote in an almost poetic manner about the city and its problems (if I was nearly as good, I could have described her style better), and like Montgomery she preferred the stories about real people.

She has a wicked sense of humour, too. Along a wall of portraits of journalists past and present who have received awards for their work, there’s a photo of Curran leaning on the wall of her cubicle. Below her is a cutout of what looks like a tabloid headline she cut out and posted on her wall: “PSYCHO IRISH BITCH”.

In her farewell column, she worries about the future of the industry she’s leaving:

Being a journalist is a job of great intensity, more so as deadlines have multiplied. The daily miracle is now measured in minutes since the last update.

To do this right requires abundant energy and unconditional love.

Curran has compiled her five favourite stories here.

Pat Donnelly was the Gazette’s theatre critic (sandwiching a brief time as literary columnist), spending her evenings attending previews and performances, some of which were very good and many of which were very bad. Though in her farewell column, she focuses on the good:

As a theatre critic, I was privileged to witness one of the most exciting periods in Quebec theatre history, when Robert Lepage was first making waves, the Montreal Fringe Festival was born and Montreal’s bilingual Les Misérables won the admiration of the world. Sylvie Drapeau starred in all the best French plays. The Cirque du Soleil went from one triumph to another. Montrealer Richard Monette ruled the Stratford Festival. The biennial Festival TransAmériques, founded by the indomitable Marie-Hélène Falcon, expanded to became an annual hybrid of theatre and dance. And La Licorne, my favourite francophone theatre, began to lead the way with English surtitles.

Though theatre tends not to be on the radar of most people, Donnelly did manage to stir up some controversy, when she highlighted the use of blackface at a year-end review show at Théâtre du Rideau Vert. The story spread for more than a month afterward as people (mostly white) debated how offensive it is for white actors to put on dark makeup in Quebec.

Donnelly has compiled some highlights from her career here.

Lynn Moore was a journalist in the Gazette’s business department. She specialized in natural resources until she became the coordinator of the business section, tasked with the thankless job of putting together a section with few journalists and lots of news. She was also responsible for commissioning freelance pieces, including many from me.

You can read a small selection of her stories (including several Jazz Festival reviews) here.

François Shalom also worked in business, where he specialized in aerospace, an important beat in the city that is not only home to big industry players like Bombardier, Air Transat, CAE and Héroux-Devtek, but also the International Civil Aviation Organization and International Air Transport Association.

His last day as an employee came on the same day that Bombardier did its first flight test of its CS300 aircraft, though he didn’t get a chance to cover it.

You can read some of Shalom’s stories here.

These five people were colleagues, and I could probably write a lot of the same things about all of them: they had a good sense of humour, they cared about their work, they cared about the organization they worked for and the damage it has taken from its reductions in staff and quality, and they were kind people who nevertheless had little tolerance for bullshit.

And the Gazette will be worse off for having let them go. (Matthew Hays articulates part of what the paper is losing in this piece for Rover.)

The Gazette also lost a member of its support staff: Helen Ciampini had the title of “executive assistant” but was effectively responsible, with newsroom manager June Thompson, for all the little things that kept the operation running. The Gazette has lost almost all of the administrative staff it had when I was first hired, and has struggled to cope as a result.

None of the departing staff have indicated any future plans other than vacation.

« Ceci n’est pas une chronique d’adieu »

On the same day the Gazette lost staff with a combined experience of more than 100 years, La Presse lost a columnist who just about matches that by himself. Pierre Foglia announced in his Saturday column that he’s retiring, though he plans to contribute occasional stories about books.

Foglia, who has been with La Presse since 1972, according to Presse Canadienne, has been described as a unique columnist with a poetic style and wisdom that made him the envy of his colleagues.

Journal de Montréal blogger Marie-Claude Ducas writes a piece appreciating Foglia. As does Louise Latraverse a week later in La Presse.

UPDATE: Roberto Rocha, who held jobs including technology beat writer and, more recently, data journalist, left the paper a few weeks after his colleagues.

Even more journalists of tomorrow

Once a year, my employer the Montreal Gazette hands out bursaries to promising Concordia University journalism students. For the past four years, I’ve been interviewing the winners after they receive their awards to ask them about themselves and their thoughts on the future of journalism. I posted one set of interviews in 2010 and another in 2011.

Though I did more interviews in 2012 and 2013, I never got around to posting them. Today, another set of students will be coming in to receive these bursaries, so I figured it’s time to find those dusty notebooks and finally post what these people told me, along with some updates of what they’ve done since.

So here we are, another series of profiles of, if the selection committee is right, journalism’s latest rising stars:

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Montreal Gazette loses senior manager to sudden death

Ross Teague (photo: Allen McInnis for the Montreal Gazette)

Ross Teague (photo: Allen McInnis for the Montreal Gazette)

On the copy desk of a major newspaper, like in other newsrooms, the employees have developed somewhat of an immunity to the horrors of life. On a daily basis they deal with terrible stories about people dying, whether it’s in war overseas, in a car crash in your home town, or in unusual circumstances just about anywhere. We make macabre jokes that could easily cost us our jobs if they were ever made public. Not because we don’t care about the lives lost, but because it’s how we have learned cope with the exposure without sacrificing our souls.

Ross Teague knew all about this, because he was one of us. He started working at the Montreal Gazette in 1990, and spent many nights working late putting the paper together on deadline (back when paper was the only medium, and the only deadline that counted).

By the time I got to the Gazette in 2005, Teague was a manager with a day job. In fact, he had just become the paper’s city editor, replacing the man who hired me and got poached by the Journal de Montréal before I started my first shift. Most recently, Teague was the “executive producer” of montrealgazette.com, the man responsible for everything having to do with that website.

Until Tuesday night, when he died suddenly. A heart attack, I’m told through the grapevine. He was 56.

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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.