The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 02.26.08


Wither Newspaperdom?

Quebec's popular tabloid Francophone daily newspaper Le Journal de Montreal often gets its own headlines in other media for it's brash, make no apologies, take no prisoners populist style. I have paid regular visits to its pages this past year just to see what kind of mess it is stirring up across la belle province.

Le Journall likes to add pepper or salt to the continually simmering, sometimes bubbling, and often boiling language soup in this province. I'm never quite sure if Le Journal is trying to build a sense of national pride or if it is just trying to sell newspapers on any given day.

Either way, our English daily The Gazette seems to take a middle road on most language issues. This most likely caters to the apparent similar position of most Anglophones in the flock. If something is simmering here, we just leave it at the back of the stove and hope it doesn't boil over.

The difference being that Le Journal puts the broth on the front burner and turns up the heat once in awhile. The Gazette prefers to take a non-confrontational approach or an approach that will not offend it seems.

I like my Gazoo very much but admit I want them to defend my interests linguistically or otherwise and those of the community for which the venerable newspaper was founded.

Why I am turning to a Francophone tabloid to get a tangible sense of a united community is curious and disconcerting, and perhaps this reveals some insight into reported declining circulation numbers at our English daily. In my view it is simply a matter of wanting more spice and meat in our soup instead of the white bread and potatoes often being served.

Perhaps the content on the menu simply reflects the needs and wants of a white bread readership? After all, as a middle-aged white Anglo male, I am an unfortunate example of a demographic that will not ensure the continuance of the print edition of the newspaper for more than another few years.

Or any newspaper at all for that matter.

Admittedly, I could be part of the problem as a regular contributor to The Gazette's West Island edition. My column, the Food Files, could be deemed as traditional white bread too I suppose, as there is not much display of opinion in that forum.

I do like to mention more than a tablespoon of sugar on occasion and a little controversy wouldn't be a bad thing once in awhile. But then, who reads a food column for editorial stance?

The Gazette is currently suffering hardships similar to that of any newspaper. A turn toward new media by audiences is wreaking havoc on traditional media companies globally and Montreal presents an additional and possibly insurmountable challenge due to its available and oft-divided linguistic market. There is not enough space here to even mention the many challenges that English community weekly newspapers face in Quebec.

Increasingly they are becoming free distribution bilingual publications in order to survive and most are tabloid format. Is that on the horizon for The Gazette? I cannot imagine the former would ever happen but the tabloid format reality is likely, given rising newsprint and distribution costs.

Let's just hope that content remains king.

To be continued...