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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

After Dark, January 25, 2011

by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

Media in this city is in chaos again.

This week the Gazette said goodbye to another group of writers, sending them off with a golden handshake and leaving the space they took up in the newspaper to the wires and to Canwest-Global HQ to fill.

Meanwhile, the battle at Hour Magazine was being fought in the pages of the aforementioned paper with Voir Inc. owner Pierre Paquet offering his usual smug, fat-cat crap, telling, in essence, the Gaz to mind it's own business as this was an internal matter. Even while Paquet was said to the Gaz that the rumours of Hour's demise was "Facebook-generated bullshit," Facebook and Twitter were both exploding with discussion of what was or was not actually going down at the weekly.

Two things can be said right now: Paquet seems to forget that Facebook and Twitter are becoming integral to the dissemination of news (both in terms of rumour and fact); Paquet does not grasp that anything that happens to a media outlet in this city is not just a matter that affects Paquet's fortune and fiefdom, but which effects us all.

You can be sure that we, at CharPo, are following developments at the daily and the weekly closely. There are some who suggest problems at the papers could only benefit CharPo and in the strictest sense this is true. People interested in current news on Montreal English-language theatre will find it somewhere and we are more than happy to be that somewhere.

But in every other way, the gutting of the daily's A&E department (already well underway when I was pinkslipped) and the possible demise of the weekly would be catastrophic to this city and it's English-language arts community.

It's like this: several journalistic voices examining artistic output provide comment, debate and conversation—all of which serve to enrich the art itself. The fewer voices involved in the process, the more those voices carry weight and before long they are not offering comments—they are offering pronouncements and pontifications. Take it from a star artist or even a hard-core critic—we simply cannot resist abusing power. (Why do you think I recruited so many other reviewers to control me!)

Which takes us back to Pierre Paquet and what he will or will not do with our weekly. (No pun intended...none at all.) Mr. Paquet does not seem to understand that his responsibilities, when he got into the print trade, went beyond his private bank account. He became responsible not only for his writers (whom he has famously mistreated), but also for the concerns and aspirations (the art) of a community.

Yes, M. Paquet can make money even if he does it with utter contempt for the whole world (ask Lord Connie). He can even close up shop to finance his Cuban cigar habit! But we will notice. We will meddle. We will make noise (even on Facebook and Twitter, Mr. P).

It's because the people who work at the dailies and weeklies and university outlets and radio and TV and on the web are not only our friends...

...they are our voices.

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