The English population in the Valley became more isolated last week when the Montreal Gazette abruptly announced to subscribers that it would no longer be offering print home delivery in the immediate area. As well, local retail locations will no longer sell the print edition of the only English-language daily newspaper in Quebec. The news came via email, delivered virtually with a plea to loyal readers to continue to access the Gazette through an online subscription. The message came with an apology but included no reason for the decision.
One can only assume this is related to the omnipresent labour shortage across the province as well as evolving news consumption habits, advertiser needs, and the high costs associated with printing and delivering the newspaper. These were the reasons cited behind the recently announced decision by publisher Postmedia to cut the Monday print edition at The Gazette and eight other newspapers across the country. This went into effect on October 17. It is growing cloudy in the newspaper business. This move by The Gazette suggests that times may grow darker still, and especially for those who value a print edition.
Certainly, the absence of The Gazette in local mailboxes and on store shelves will shift even more significance onto local community newspapers to maintain ties within and between English-language communities. At The Gleaner, we made a conscious decision to buck the trend toward devaluing the print edition in favour of the web. Print editions are a commitment to a newspaper and to the community and have long been part of a routine that goes with a morning coffee and the crossword. Digitization will continue to occur, and the Gleaner works constantly to improve our online offering, but we know how important the print edition is to the local community.
Like The Gazette, our paper is part of a network of English-language news sources that we need to continue to support. That The Gazette has been forced to make these decisions is sad news. It is up to all of us to keep English media alive and thriving in Quebec.