The Montreal Gazette is looking for ways to increase its bottom line, so they have instituted user fees for online viewing. The Gazette wants the online community, perusing of the rag, and I do mean “rag” in the true journalistic definition, to pay for news that is old, usually ripped off the news wires. The grammar is enough to cause English teachers, everywhere, to convulse.
This is not a new issue; the Gazette has had a steady decline in readership for years, enough of a decline that they ceased publishing on Sundays. This wasn’t a great loss as the Sunday edition was, usually, a monumental waste of time. Our home gave up receiving the Gazette years ago; I had, quite frankly, enough of stale news, pages of adverts and little in the way of interesting content. It was boring. It was maddening with the lack of proofreading so evident on every page. There would be times when the paper would sit, untouched, on my table until I put it in the bin to be used as bird cage liner.
In a city, as diverse as Montreal, with all the intrigue and the colourful characters, it would seem to me that an interesting, thought provoking, newspaper would be a no-brainer. It should be a no-brainer. A little research into the demographics of readership is not neurosurgery. Change the absurd and out of date format to one that is easier to read – smaller pages for a start. You can’t read the Gazette on a bus or the train. You can’t read it at Tim Horton’s while drinking your morning coffee and having the mandatory bagel breakfast.
Try articles written by Montrealers, news relevant to people living in Quebec. Not recycled Toronto or Reuters fare. I am positive, absolutely so, that a call to the public to submit articles would bring in a landslide of material, at little to no cost. People love to see their writing in hard copy, love the sense of contributing to the community (without too much effort) and the vanity factor. Never underestimate vanity – everyone loves to see their name credited.
The newspaper publishing mentality needs to undergo a radical modernization. Journalists are a dying breed. News can be gleaned from social networking sites, from blogs, from current event web pages, newspapers are going the way of the dinosaur unless they can keep up. The old guard manning the boards of directors are so, very sadly, out of step with the rest of the world that the news biz is bleeding out, at an alarming rate.
I am not paying stupid amounts for a newspaper as absolutely irrelevant as the Montreal Gazette. The criticisms against the paper are myriad and longstanding, the obvious disregard for public opinion is the reason for the terminal illness afflicting the Gazette.
Cures are available but the ignorance of the Gazette management will bring about a terminal phase. The Gazette may not even have a future in the catching of bird feces.