I am extremely revolted by the situation that the local press is going through these days. The cry of alarm launched by Métro Média challenges me and resounds sadly in my ears.
No, not another newsroom under threat? Not another major player in an ecosystem, so important and fragile, fighting for its survival?
I am revolted and saddened, but this is not the time to look for those responsible, to show the culprits. First and foremost, I want to express my solidarity with Métro Média and all the local media. Métro Média is a local information company based in Montreal. It owns some twenty neighborhood editions in the metropolis and in Quebec, as well as the Journal Métro, which is distributed free of charge in paper and digital format, reaching more than three million readers each week.
I am a career journalist, in solidarity with my colleagues, a natural, assumed and legitimate ally of the profession. I am a former Member of Parliament and former Minister of Culture and Communications aware that journalism is essential to democracy. I am convinced of the capabilities of levels of government when the political will is there.
I believe that the local press has been faced with a major challenge: reinventing both a digital editorial offer and a new business model. He was asked to do it in a very short period of time and in a hostile context. It seems to me that the least you can do is help him in this necessary but complex transformation.
This is what Métro Média, a historic and major player anchored and rooted in the lives of Montrealers and most certainly the most advanced in its digital transition, is asking for.
How do Montreal’s hundred elected officials want to communicate with their fellow citizens? How do they want to deploy proximity information? Through foreign digital platforms and their changing algorithms? By sponsored posts that siphon off their budgets and impair their judgment by subjecting them to the dictatorship of anonymous comments?
However, media anchored in their neighborhoods in their daily lives are there and allow a transparent and constructive exchange. They are there to ask questions, to challenge, but also to tell stories of the neighborhood and neighboring businesses, to put decisions into context, from a perspective of citizen participation, of proximity.
It seems to me that the choice is easy to make.
In closing, allow me to have a moving thought for the young journalists and all the employees of Métro Média, for whom the local press is very often a formative passage, a necessary springboard towards brilliant careers.