A lament for the Globe and Mail, at least the printed version

Consider this a rant. This is the last week that people in Atlantic Canada will be able to receive a print version of the Globe and Mail, either by home delivery or in stores. They say they cannot afford us anymore, and so as of this Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, the Globe – the same paper that proclaims itself “Canada’s National Newspaper” – will cease printing in our region or sending copies from elsewhere.

Our choices until Friday

I get it, most of you don’t read your news in printed form anymore. You read it online. You watch it online. And your reading habits are the reason why newspapers are having such financial challenges. It’s hard to keep those ad revenues flowing when circulation is down. Just today, Postmedia and Torstar announced a deal that will see a few dozen small community newspapers shut in southern Ontario. Finding a new business model that works is not easy in this online world; just ask the retail business.

I happen to be one of that dying breed that still reads the print newspapers (at least until Friday), even though I spend a frightening amount of time each day devouring news online as well. Reading the paper is one of the ways we start the day in our house. We discuss what we’re reading with each other, and save the crosswords and Sudokus to do later. Crosswords and Sudokus are not screen-friendly!

I say I understand the financial challenges that newspapers face, and I mean it, but I do have a few problems with this decision by the Globe and Mail. They aren’t ceasing home delivery or retail availability of their newspapers elsewhere in Canada. I understand that our region – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, and Newfoundland and Labrador – doesn’t have a large population, but are they still delivering to northern Ontario and northern B.C.? Do they fly papers into Whitehorse or Iqaluit? Or are we in Atlantic Canada just an easier mark than anywhere else? We’re a politically expedient choice. Easy decision.

When the Globe communicated to their subscribers some months ago that this would be happening, for reasons known only to them they thought they were softening the blow by announcing that although they would no longer be offering any access to their print version anywhere in our entire region, they would be adding a new reporter based in Halifax to cover Atlantic news. Interesting. This is basically admitting that they’ve called themselves “Canada’s National Newspaper” (their tagline) for decades but never actually had a reporter covering Atlantic news. Maybe that explains why they barely cover the story of our university hockey team (Go UNB V-Reds!) as we keep winning Canada’s University Men’s Hockey Championship (six times since 2007, including both of the past two years), as opposed to having several stories about McGill’s men’s hockey team making the playoffs and having a good shot at winning, when in fact McGill lost to UNB. I happen to be a graduate of both schools, but just sayin’. New Brunswick team versus Montreal team; what’s newsworthy to the Globe?

Globe and Mail, I really do understand that newspapers are struggling with many challenges in this digital age. And I understand that as fewer people subscribe to print newspapers, tough decisions have to be made. I only ask for a little equity with respect to which areas continue to get served with print newspapers and which ones don’t. If you treat all the areas in Canada that no longer have sufficient print subscribers to cover your costs the same, we in Atlantic Canada will understand. But as it stands, I do not believe that is the case.

And I have lots of company in thinking that it is time you gave some second thought to changing your tagline. At the very least it should be something like “Kind of Canada’s National Newspaper, but mostly Southern Ontario, with a little bit of Quebec, Alberta, and B.C.” or, if it needs to be shorter, “Canada’s Almost National Newspaper.”

I wish you well in your quest for financial security. We need good news reporting; we’ve all been reminded time and time again this past year just how important good journalism is! I will read you online and continue to read our local paper in print (thank you, Daily Gleaner). And, Globe and Mail, may I say that I hope reinstating Tabatha Southey will be at the top of your list for when you get your money issues figured out!

RIP, Globe print version

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12 Responses to A lament for the Globe and Mail, at least the printed version

  1. Jane, I didn’t know that. Sorry to hear. I too, love newspapers and ‘real’ books, but I suspect our generation is experiencing what many others did at a time of great change. I’m betting there were many people who liked horse-and-buggy better than the new smoke-belching automobiles!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Hi Cynthia. Yes, enjoy your print versions of newspapers in the center of the Canadian universe (Ontario) while you still can! I love your analogy to newspapers on paper and horse and buggy versus online news only and cars! Human-driven cars moving to self-driving cars might be an even closer analogy, but yours is more fun for sure!

  2. Roy McCarthy says:

    It’s sad indeed. For the moment we still have our Jersey Evening Post but their huge newsroom is now like a ghost town. Good journalism is dying along with printed news. People simply won’t stick with a long, well-written article on a screen. More and more the shallow soundbite now passes for reportage. Gutenberg must be spinning.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Yes, it’s very sad for the job losses and loss of local/regional news, probably due to a double whammy. One is the immediacy and addictive mess of online news, which changes the business model as local advertisers lose their paper audience. The other reason, at least on this side of the pond, is that big media conglomerates are merging, which of course is all about money and influence, and they have no interest in supporting the smaller papers. Even worse is the extreme polarization of many news sources, which is causing more and more distrust. Indeed, all very sad.

      • Roy McCarthy says:

        The advertisers pulling out of print in favour of cheap/free online exposure has most to do with the decline I think.

        Very true about the polarisation. People are now tending to ‘follow’ those outlets that correspond with their own views, so discourse is lost or one is shot down quickly if airing opposing thoughts.

  3. jennypellett says:

    I have to say that I’ve been guilty of subscribing to my favourite newspaper online. However, while I was waiting for my sister to arrive at a cafe the other day, I had the chance to pick up a broadsheet while I was waiting. Oh, the joy! Reading a proper paper and tussling with folding it the correct way to make it small table friendly.
    I grew up with skimming newspapers as my first job as a press cuttings assistant. Just the smell of the paper is nostalgic. I hope your rant reaches the decision makers here, Jane. There’s nothing like the real thing.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I know. I actually subscribe to the Guardian, the New York Times, and the Washington Post online. The great thing about online access is that you can access it anywhere, not just within its normal jurisdiction. But I will miss it when print newspapers are gone for good. Sigh.

  4. I also still like a print copy. You build a strong case for the fact that the Globe and Mail is not really national when it chooses to ignore eastern Canada. It will be interesting to see where the newspapers go in the future.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks for the moral support, Fran. Yes, it will be interesting to see indeed. I fear the slippery slope is gathering speed, simply because they can’t make a financial go of it with paper. My brother in Toronto says that when he goes into a coffee shop to read his paper, he’s the only one with a printed copy instead of reading on a device. The expression “May we live in interesting times” is coming to fruition in many ways! 😉

  5. alesiablogs says:

    I still buy books to read even though I own an iPad and have the Kindle app available to me. There is just something about a book in my hand. We are still getting the newspapers here in Seattle. I agree with you. I think it is wrong to get rid of the hold in your hand newspaper. How are our kids ever going to understand our history when everything is getting wrapped up in some cloud? I even bought clothes for my sons at a store today along with two books for me. I am not going to trust an online site for their clothes thats for sure. I need to make sure that I am getting products without holes! haha. I guess your paper has holes now!! Like so big you can not even see them!!! Just Joking Jane! I hate it just like you.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      I know, Alesia. I’m afraid those of us who cling to our cherished ‘real’ books and ‘real’ newspapers are a dying breed, dying very slowly over a long period of time of course, but without as much access to print reading material as we would like! Seattle being the holy grail of coffee houses where people go to read, I hope it will be the last holdout!! 🙂

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