Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 02.27.06
Stanstead, Quebec


Extreme Column Makeover: The On-line Edition

News item: Montreal Gazette announces (another) redesign of its weekend papers, saying "Many readers told us they want more."

Get ready for a whole new me. Starting next week, this column will undergo a fantastic, reader-pleasing makeover that will provide more style and substance and fewer saturated fats. I know you'll like me, you'll really, really like me. Oh, please like me!

Many of these changes are reader-driven. We've listened to what you've had to say, usually through a glass pressed against the adjoining wall.

What we're hearing from many readers is that they like this column but sometimes find it too "cheeky." Some feel it's too "flippant" and/or "gerrymandering."

One reader described it as "soporific" but we know who you are, Lars, and you're not impressing anyone with your big words.

Mostly, however, they say they want more: more laughs, more depth, more money and more letter Q's.

We've also discovered that readers no longer have brand loyalty when it comes to their weekly dose of asinine comment and heavy-handed satire. The Internet, as it turns out, has countless would-be humourists with a million Dick Cheney jokes at the ready, free of charge.

To bring readers back, we need to reinvent the wheel, think outside the box, and indulge in many, many other clichés.

For the past seven weeks, our team of designers and prognosticators has been toiling away, tweaking copy and plucking eyebrows, to tailor this column to your needs. Here's a sneak peek at what you can expect:

  • Starting next week, this column will be hard-hitting yet inoffensive, in-depth but short enough for a bathroom break, stylish yet unpretentious, funny ha-ha but not funny strange. It will be carefully edited by a crack team of grammarians and Episcopalians to ensure content purity and comedy wholesomeness.

  • Goodbye to the stodgy photograph that accompanies this column. Starting next week, the 10-year-old shot of yours truly will be replaced by a holographic image with a new haircut, hipper glasses and multiple piercings. The image will also be "scratch-and-sniff" (whiff of desperation).

  • Based on readership surveys, the following topics will be off-limits: avian flu; airline food; Brokeback anything; boils, mine; boils, others'; self-doubts and pathetic need for validation disguised as humour; roadkill; religion; subpoenas; subpoenas envy; Idol, American and/or Canadian; lingering odours.

  • I have negotiated a contract with my children that will allow me to continue exploiting their embarrassments, bon mots, personal injuries, and teenage angst for the next five years.

  • To ensure the total humour value of the column, I will come by your house and read it to you in person. (Silly hat worn upon request.)

  • Readers will be supplied a Gag-O-Meter (patent pending) that will allow the management of this publication to measure the humour-to-dollar ratio of each column. Levels range from "complete jerk" to "somebody get this guy an HBO special."

  • For every column purchased, 10 cents will be donated to the Birthday Wish Foundation, providing wax-needy homes with birthday candles since 1973.

  • Reading the column will require no money down and no interest until January 2007!

  • The column will scratch your back in that spot where you can't reach.

  • The column will do your taxes for you and find loopholes you never imagined, many of them legal.

  • The column will find weapons of mass destruction.

  • The column will eliminate world hunger.

  • The column will have a decent ending. But not until next week.