The Times They Are A-Changin'
The daily, the Fringe and the future
By Gaëtan L. Charlebois
I was going to spend this entire editorial documenting how profoundly our daily, its arts editor and its culture critic botched coverage of the Fringe this year but I realized that would simply be over-hammering the nails into the coffin of the once solid institution. Suffice it to say that I have rarely seen a newspaper department so woefully inept, writing so lazy and such an utter misunderstanding and misuse of the internet - especially of blogging, Twitter and Facebook.
But what does this all mean to the rest of us?
...the Montreal English-speaking community, in matters of culture, will have to turn to internet media...
Well, it's sad news, yes, but not unexpected. It also means that the Montreal English-speaking community, in matters of culture, will have to turn to internet media (like The Charlebois Post, The Rover, Midnight Poutine and private bloggers like Richard Burnett) much faster than they might have been prepared to. Speaking for many of us (the content providers) we were simply not prepared - this Fringe - for the massive media hole that was driven into our community by the daily's absence. I don't know about my colleague, Marianne Ackerman over at Rover, but I suspect she too was as amazed by an explosion in her traffic as I was. We, here at CharPo, saw our average daily pageview numbers go up 700%-1000% during the Fringe. Our previous record for one day was more than doubled, as was our record for one week. Our visitors number also went through the roof.
But as exciting as this was, it was ulcer-making. The work by the dozen magnificent contributors at the site was tireless, efficient and dedicated but I nevertheless spent two or three sleepless nights concerned with how much responsibility had landed in our laps so suddenly. For the immediate future, it has already shaped our plans for coverage of MELT: one step was putting in place Valerie Cardinal as Senior Editor-Sunday Features; another is to expand our EVENT program and give it a separate aggregator (so that companies can deliver their information DIRECTLY to you).
Our daily's death of a thousand cuts (figuratively and literally) is happening at dailies all over the country...
Our daily's death of a thousand cuts (figuratively and literally) is happening at dailies all over the country and in those cities, too, there is a hole in theatre coverage. So CharPo is moving ahead with plans to go national, an exciting project where we can apply what we have learned in our work here. Moreover, the plan is to bring MELT to the attention of the nation, even while keeping the separate entity of CharPo-Montreal while integrating some of its coverage into the national site. We have already contacted theatre and journalism friends in Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton who are raring to go.
As to the Fringe? Well, we will be truly ready, next year, as will all of our friends at other sites. We, at CharPo, are dedicated to sharing all of what we have learned these last two weeks with these friends so that we can shield a vibrant local culture from anymore of the daily's future misfires.
But one thing...what the fuck is a culture critic?